Iran chaired, hosted and led the recently rejuvenated Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) meeting in Teheran, attended by delegates from 120 countries, including 31 heads of state and 29 foreign secretaries of state. Even the United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, notorious mouthpiece of Washington, felt obligated to address, a forum attended by two-thirds of the member countries of the UN, despite State Department and Israeli objections. Any objective evaluation of the meeting, its venue, the attendance, resolutions and political impact leads to one paramount conclusion: the NAM meeting was a strategic diplomatic victory for Iran and a major defeat for the US, Israel and the European Union. The entire US-Israeli-EU diplomatic and propaganda effort to isolate and stigmatize Iran, especially over the past decade, was shredded.
The Politics of Attendance
Attendance by representatives of 120 countries demonstrates that Iran is not a ‘pariah state’; it is an accepted member of the international community.The presence of 60 heads of state and foreign secretaries demonstrates that Iran is considered a noteworthy and significant political actor, not a “terrorist state” to be isolated and shunned. The proceedings, debates and discussions among and between the delegates and Iranian leaders convinced those attending that Teheran gives primacy to reasonable dialogue in resolving international conflicts.
Both in terms of form and content the NAM meeting highlighted the superiority of Iran’s diplomacy over and against Washington’s bellicose posturing and improvised diversionary tactics. The fact that the meeting took place in Teheran, that Iran was elected chair, that a major part of the NAM agenda and subsequent resolutions coincided with Iran’s democratic foreign policy, highlights Washington’s policy failures and its isolation on issues of major concern to the larger international community. Pandering to the domestic Zionist power configuration has a high cost in the sphere of international politics.
NAM Resolutions: Iran versus Washington – Israel
The centerpiece of US and Israeli strategic policy has been to claim that Iran’s nuclear program including the enrichment of uranium, are a threat to world peace and in particular to Israel and the Gulf states. The NAM meeting repudiated that position, affirming Iran’s right to develop a peaceful nuclear program including the enrichment of uranium. NAM rejected western sanctions against Iran and other countries. In fact many of the leading members, including India, brought delegations of business executives in pursuit of new economic contracts.
NAM declared its support for a nuclear free Middle East and called for an independent Palestinian state based on 1969 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, in total repudiation of Washington’s unconditional support of the nuclear armed Jewish state.
NAM rejected Egyptian Prime Minister Morsi’s proposal to support the Western backed armed mercenaries invading Syria, major blow to Washington’s effort to secure international support for regime change. NAM unanimously approved several resolutions which affirmed its anti-imperialist principles in direct opposition to US imperial positions: it rejected the US blockade of Cuba; it affirmed Argentine sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands (dubbed the ‘Falklands’ by Anglo-American pundits); it opposed the Paraguayan coup; it supported Ecuador in its dispute with Great Britain on asylum for Assange; it selected Venezuela as the site for the next NAM meeting; it rejected terrorism in all of its forms and modalities, including the state sponsored variant.
Western Propaganda Media: Self Serving Diversions
The resounding diplomatic successes of the Iranian hosts of the NAM meeting were countered by a mass media blitz directed at diverting attention to relatively marginal events. The Financial and New York Times, the BBC and the Washington Post featured a speech by Egyptian Prime Minister Morsi calling for NAM support for the Western backed armed mercenaries invading Syria. The media omitted mentioning that no delegation took up his proposal. NAM not only ignored Morsi but unanimously approved a resolution opposing western intervention and affirming the right of self-determination, clearly applicable to the case of Syria.
While NAM defended Iran’s right to develop its peaceful nuclear program, the mass media publicized a dubious “report” authored by US favorite, Yukiya Amano of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) questioning Iran’s compliance with his directives. Not surprisingly the report Amano carried no weight in the deliberations of the 130 delegates, given his notoriety as a front-man for Israeli and US pro-war propaganda.
Overall the mass media deliberately ignored or underplayed the resolutions, dialogue and democratic procedures of the NAM meeting in an effort to cover up the enormous political gulf between the US, Israel, the EU and the vast majority of the international community.
Political Impact of the NAM Conference
NAM seriously undermined the images of the Mid-East conflicts which US policymakers and their acolytes in the EU and Gulf States project: the political reality, which came out of the meetings emphasized that it is the US. Israel and the EU who are outside the mainstream international community. It is the US and EU who lack political allies in the pursuit of colonial wars. It is the Israeli occupation of Palestine and Washington’s policies of ‘regime change’ in Syria and Iran which lack allies. Its Iran’s peaceful nuclear program which has legitimacy not Israel’s nuclear arsenal. The Iranian leadership gained prestige via its openness to international dialogue. In contrast its regional Gulf adversaries, who rely on to multi-billion dollar US arms purchases and military bases were denigrated and discredited.
The Iranian proposals to reform the United Nations to make it more democratic and responsive to emerging countries and less a tool of US-EU policymakers resonated throughout the conference. The emphasis on free trade, was manifest in the large economic delegations who attended eager to sign agreements in defiance of US-Israel-EU sanctions.
Temporarily the NAM conference may have lessened the threat of a military attack against Iran, at least by the US and the EU – by demonstrating the political cost of alienating two thirds of the UN Assembly. Nevertheless by demonstrating Israel’s total isolation, (and truly pariah status in the international community), NAM may have heightened the pathological paranoia of the Israeli leadership and hastened its move toward a catastrophic war.
The follow-up of the NAM resolutions requires a permanent organization, a minimum coordinating secretariat to ensure compliance and rapid responses to crises. Otherwise the good intentions and positive moves toward peace via dialogue will be inconsequential.
The mobilization of the NAM members in the UN General Assembly is crucial to withstand the blackmail, bribes, threats and corruption which are used by the Western powers to secure majorities on crucial votes regarding US sanctions, coups and military intervention. Trade, investment and cultural boycotts of Israel should be promoted and enforced, until the Jewish State ends its occupation of Palestine. Clearly Iran, as the newly elected leader of NAM, has a major role to play in ensuring that the Tehran meeting of 2012 becomes the bases for a revitalization of the Movement. Iran can play a constructive leadership role providing it continues to promote a plural collective format based on common anti-imperialist principles.
James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York.