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Future of the Non-aligned

K.P. Misra

By Peter Willetts
Popular, Bombay, 1978, pp. xxi 310, Rs. 96.00

VOLUME IV NUMBER 1 July/August 1979

During the last three decades, about a dozen books have been produced by western scholars on the theory and practice of nonalignment. Of these mostly American and British scholars the latter have shown relatively greater sensitivity and understanding of the philosophical foundation and practical implications of the nonaligned movement. Peter Willetts, Lecturer in International Relations at the City University in London, now joins their ranks. Nonalignment can be analysed from the two interrelated stand-points—as a foreign policy perspective of numerous new nations who have acquired political independence in the years since the end of the Second World War and their broad international movement whose objective is to bring about substantive and structural transformation in international relation­ships. Peter Willetts confines himself essentially to the second. The book begins with an analysis of events which culminated in the holding of the first summit conference of nonaligned countries in Belgrade in 1961. Though it is claimed by the author that it ‘breaks new ground’, it appears that facts and interpretations, well known to the stu­dents of the subject have been neatly re­counted. The author's assertion that ‘if there is any point at which nonalignment was concerned, it was in the 1956 Suez­-Hungary Crisis’, seems to ignore the foreign policy perspective of at least a decade preceding this event of a country like India. In a now famous broadcast in 1946, Jawaharlal Nehru said: ‘We pro­pose, as far as possible, to keep away from the power politics of groups, alig­ned against one another ...’ Even if the earlier antecedents of non-alignment are not taken into account, this oft-quoted sentence which unambiguously conceives nonalignment can be ignored only at the cost of the authenticity of the study. One may overlook the author's char­acterization of India's action in 1971 in what was then East Pakistan as ‘in­vasion’ as a typical western prejudice, but it is difficult to concede that non­alignment is an ideology. The policies, and arising out of them the roles of the non-aligned countries in international relations in recent decades perhaps do not permit us to create a close-knit and coherent theoretical model or ideology. Of course, they do constitute a broad framework of general principles. Ideo­logies, on the other hand, as Edward Shils (whom the author himself quotes), has pointed out ‘as compared with other patterns of beliefs ... are relatively highly systematized or integrated .. ,’ Thus non­alignment ...

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