To each his own. The idea might not have found place among the celebratory principles that guided the formation of the non-aligned movement five decades ago, but it is unlikely that it did not cross the minds of the founding fathers. In trying to stay away from aligning with any one bloc, NAM members in 1961 were voicing their right to make their own choices and form their own beliefs. That is what 120 member nations have done by attending the 16th summit in Tehran amidst severe pressure from the United States of America and Israel to give it a miss. The response to Tehran’s hosting of the summit has been so overwhelming that it has prompted Iran to project the meet as evidence of the failure of the isolationist policies of the West. The presence of the United Nations secretary-general, Ban ki-Moon, despite warnings, as well as that of Egypt’s president and India’s prime minister, together with top representatives from nations such as Sudan, North Korea and Zimbabwe, known for their rebellious disposition, have given substance to Iran’s posturing. But the US and Israel, both of whom feel betrayed, should draw satisfaction from the fact that the summit did not turn out to be an unqualified success for Iran. Tehran was heavily reprimanded by Mohamed Morsi for its support for the repressive regime in Syria. It also drew criticism from the UN secretary-general for its aggressive stand against neighbours and its human rights violations. Neither was its effort to play a victim, emphasized by the showcasing of the ‘martyrhood’ of its nuclear scientists, fully endorsed by the attending nations. So Israel’s latest attempts to avenge its humiliation by damning the world for its failure to give Iran an ultimatum and notching up its threat of a unilateral attack against Iran are misplaced.
There is no reason to believe that the ‘world’ has fallen hook, line and sinker for Iran’s version of the pursuit of its nuclear programme. But members states do uphold a nation’s right to peaceful use of nuclear technology. If Iran has been allowed to fall through the loophole of this principle it is as much because of its undeniable strategic importance as the refusal of NAM nations to let go of their right to chart their own diplomatic course. Both Mr Morsi, by voicing the derision of Arab states, and Manmohan Singh, by furthering India’s economic alliance with Iran, have upheld this.