Voices from across the globe unite against the New Cold War, advocate New Non-Alignment

A webinar organized by the No Cold War campaign in collaboration with several progressive movements and platforms highlighted the ongoing transition towards a multipolar world and the need for a new Non-Aligned Movement

June 18, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Activists protest the provocative visit of former US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in August 2022. Photo: Pivot to Peace/Twitter

Social movements and research institutions came together on Saturday, June 17, to flag the emerging Cold War narratives pushed by western imperialism and to call for a new movement for “non-alignment” in the Global South.

The call was made over a webinar titled ‘The New Non-Alignment and the New Cold War’, organized by the No Cold War campaign and the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, along with ALBA Movimientos, Pan-Africanism Today, the South Korea-based International Strategy Center and the International Peoples’ Assembly.

The call for a new “non-alignment” is significant considering the history of the 20th century. The emergence of the Non-Aligned Movement in the 1960s led by Global South countries like India, Egypt, Indonesia, and Yugoslavia, among others, offered a significant alternative for smaller and recently decolonized nations to assert their sovereignty, while also supporting ongoing anti-colonial struggles around the world.

The webinar had progressive public figures, activists, and intellectuals speak about the emerging tendency of the US-led coalition of western and aligned governments resorting to Cold War-era rhetoric as they geopolitically target China.

“The United States has led a major policy shift in the world,” said Vijay Prashad, director of the Tricontinental, and among the prominent figures in the No Cold War campaign. Opening the event, Prashad highlighted that the US and its allies in Europe and Japan are increasingly anxious about their declining stature in the world and worried about the rise of China, and also to a certain extent, Russia.

“The West began a tactic of using all means necessary, including trade wars, information wars and the build up of a massive military in the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. This build up is known as the New Cold War,” he said, outlining the emerging trends around the world.

Echoing Prashad, Sevim Dağdelen, a German lawmaker and a member of the Die Linke or The Left Party, noted that we are witnessing “a tectonic shift in international relations, and what we are talking about here is the erosion of some 500 years of Western hegemony and the end of the unipolar moment of the US empire that has prevailed since the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

The German parliamentarian highlighted the emergence of a new multipolar setup with rise of the BRICS grouping and the failure of the non-US western governments like Germany to embrace the growing multipolarity of global trade, instead choosing to confront it.

She also brought attention to the ongoing debate among the left in Germany and in other European countries, with the fundamental question being whether the European left submits to the policy of proxy wars and limits itself to just cushioning the impact of these wars on the working class, or stands in solidarity with the Global South and engages in fundamental opposition to US and NATO imperialism.

As an example of the latter, Dağdelen noted how there is a new peace movement emerging in Germany, that is “standing up to the warmongers and campaigning for a peaceful negotiated solution to the Ukraine War in the interest of its own population, as well as the populations of the Global South.”

In his concept note for the webinar Prashad had noted a “revival of sovereign politics” among Global South nations, even those led by right-wing, pro-US governments like that of Narendra Modi in India.

He cited a recent BRICS statement that called for ‘strengthening multilateralism and upholding international law, including the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations as its indispensable cornerstone.’ 

“The yankees are panic-stricken”

Similarly, Ronnie Kasrils, former Minister of Intelligence of South Africa and a Marxist militant who was part of the struggle against apartheid, reiterated the point that the resurgence of a new Cold War is a result of the US need to eliminate challenges to its hegemony from countries that are asserting their sovereignty.

“They are fighting tooth-and-nail to prevent, not countries that want to make war with them, but countries who want to develop their economies, to protect their people and sovereignty, and to have a multilateral world, not a unipolar world,” Kasrils said.

Kasrils also pointed out how nations, big and small, are increasingly asserting their sovereignty, and standing up to the diktats of the US-led world order. According to him, recent diplomatic breakthroughs made by countries like the United Arab Emirates, Mali, Saudi Arabia, and even Honduras, with China are illustrative of the changing international scenario.

“The yankees are panic-stricken… for the way their control (over these nations) are breaking down,” Kasrils added.

Kasrils also lauded the efforts of the German left for organizing a peace movement and prioritizing people’s interests over the ongoing warmongering.

Speaking from Brazil, Stephanie Weatherbee, a member of the Secretariat of the International Peoples’ Assembly, noted that the understanding of non-alignment should not be reduced to foreign policy standpoints of different countries.

Weatherbee highlighted that non-alignment also has to do with national policy issues of different countries. “One of the characteristics of unipolarity and US hegemony is that it insists upon the rest of the world, particularly the peripheral economies, making their national interests and economic development subservient to US economic interests,” she added.

“So when a country’s national economy chooses to prioritize their own economic development, domestic or national process, that too contributes to the non-alignment policy.”

Ukraine: A salutary lesson

Dağdelen stated how the ongoing confrontations by Western governments and the emerging powers like China, were exacerbated in recent years through the war in Ukraine, where the US and its allies have led a proxy war against Russia. She pointed out how the German and European involvement in the war came at a tremendous cost to the national interests of the countries involved.

She illustrated these costs borne by the populations of Europe, by the fact these countries have suffered recession and massive wage losses, including Germany where workers lost around 4% in real wages, the highest since the end of the Second World War.

Srujana Bodapati, an India-based economist at the Tricontinental, added that similar costs may await countries like India, whose governments are increasingly instigated by the US as part of its confrontations with China.

“The US wants to use India in exactly the same way that it is using Ukraine against Russia,” Srujana said, highlighting the unequal terms of an alliance with the US and the destruction borne by Ukraine in its confrontation with Russia.

“The US wants India to militarily confront China at some point, but the fate awaiting India in doing so is clear to us. So, in a way this tragedy (of Ukraine) is in a way a salutary lesson for us.”

She further commented on how Europe continues to suffer and pay a heavy cost for their confrontations with Russia, echoing Dağdelen’s words, with the example of the destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline which impacted a major energy source to Germany and others in the region and very little was done to bring those responsible to justice.

“Being a US ally, is an oxymoron,” she added. “Being an ally brings destruction upon ourselves.”