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Kadafi Says He's Unaligned With the Nonaligned

September 07, 1986|G.H. Jansen | G.H. Jansen has attended most of the nonaligned summits since the movement's foundation 25 years ago and is the author of "Afro-Asia and Nonalignment."

HARARE, ZIMBABWE — If the Nonaligned Movement is the battleground for friends and influence between the Soviet Union and the United States, then at the eighth summit conference, in terms of speeches and declarations, the Soviet Union has won hands down. But in terms of level of representation the United States has scored some points.

Libya's Moammar Kadafi, however, scored none at all.

From the very start of the movement in Belgrade in 1961, the Big Two had very different approaches to the nonaligned. Under the influence of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who thought that neutralism in the Cold War was "immoral," the United States, then and now, has disapproved of nonalignment--which is why close U.S. friends and allies like Japan, South Korea and Turkey have not joined up. On the other hand, the Soviet Union never openly disapproved of the movement (it was simply a poor second-best to going communist) and so Soviet allies like North Korea, Cuba and South Yemen have joined the movement, and of course by doing so robbed it of any real meaning.

Despite that background, the course of U.S. policy on a whole variety of issues has turned the nonaligned against it. Hence in the political declaration of this summit, its central document, there are 54 separate condemnations of the United States by name, while there were 30 in the document of the seventh New Delhi summit and a mere 14 in the document of the Havana conference, supposedly heavily influenced by the communist host country. And there is not a single unfriendly reference to the Soviet Union, which is not even named in the section on Afghanistan.

What has happened is that on all the issues that are important to the nonaligned such as disarmament, nuclear-free zones, the militarization of outer space, the Arab-Israeli dispute, South Africa and Namibia, Angola and Nicaragua, the nonaligned have found that the United States is their main antagonist, standing behind the local antagonist such as the Israelis, UNITA and the contras. So in the judgment of this conference and in speech after speech, the condemnation of U.S. policy runs through like an angry, insistent drum roll.

The Soviets of late have warmed their rather cool evaluation of the nonaligned. They have even said that they no longer insist that the Soviet Union should be regarded as "the natural ally" of the nonaligned, which Fidel Castro tried to do at Havana. Now, they say, it is sufficient if the two parties see each other as "objective allies"--agreeing, that is, on their political and economic objectives. General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev sent a warm message to the summit and the Soviet Union has sent an influential unofficial delegation to the meeting.

So there was really no need for Kadafi to turn up here to try to push the conference into an even more anti-American position. But presumably the presence here of 1,000 journalists from all over the world was an irresistible temptation to the flamboyant colonel.

Kadafi's denunciation of the Nonaligned Movement as outmoded and worthless has, in effect, done it a great deal of good. Delegates here make the point that such criticism could come only from someone so obviously out of touch with reality as the colonel.

Taking his dreams for reality, Kadafi claimed that his forces had shot down 15 U.S. planes and had destroyed the Italian island of Lampedusa. These wild claims were, accordingly, on a par with his equally wild accusations that the Commonwealth and Francophone countries were all stooges and agents of the United States. Not even the most ardent U.S. propagandist has made such flattering claims.

Delegates greeted Kadafi's remarks with stony silence, punctuated by laughter; he compensated with chanting ("Down, Down, U.S.A.") from female cheerleaders who accompanied him.

Spontaneous cheers greeted the retort to Kadafi's attack by Zimbabwe Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, the new chairman of the movement. In effect, he said that if Kadafi thought the nonaligned were worthless, then the nonaligned could not but assume that, for them, Kadafi himself had become irrelevant.

At a more pragmatic level, the United States showed that it, too, had influence on the nonaligned. Anticipating, correctly, that there would be a lot of anti-Americanism at Harare, the United States has been working for months on its friends and allies within the movement not to come to Harare--or at least not to send a high-ranking delegation. This is the explanation given by the Zimbabweans and some of the delegations for the fact, very disappointing to their Zimbabwean hosts, that of the 101 heads of state or government who should have attended, only 50 actually arrived and some countries are represented not even by their foreign minister.

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