The Soviet Union suffered a devastating blow at the hands of the United Nations General Assembly Jan. 14. But most third-world nations still cannot bring themselves to apply the same criteria to condemn the East as they do to West.
The 104-to-18 vote (with 18 abstentions) in favor of the resolution calling for "the immediate, unconditional, and total withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan" is so overwhelming that, in the eyes of analysts here, it deals a severe moral and political defeat to the Soviet Union.
The resolution, however, fails to call the Soviet Union by name as it would have had the United States, Britain, or France been called on the UN carpet in a similar situation.
One key nonaligned diplomat regrets this "timidity" but believes that "the experience of pointing a finger at the Soviet Union as the aggressor is still new for many third-world countries. . . . They have not yet gotten used to accepting the treacherousness of a superpower that pleaded for a 'natural alliance' between itself and the anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist coalition of nonaligned countries."
Coming on the heels of two votes condemning Vietnam's aggression against Cambodia, the vote on Afghanistan represents a dramatic shift of the world community and a new perception of the Soviet Union by many third-world nations.
An indication of the true measure of nonaligned anger at the Soviet Union is reflected in the failure of an attempt by India, hours before the vote took place, to soften the blow to the Soviet Union.
India, with the halfhearted support of a few nonaligned countries dependent on Soviet military supplies, tried to draft a second resolution that would have obliquely refered to American and Chinese meddling in Afghanistan. Thus the USSR would not have been singled out as the culprit.
This move was, however, so sternly opposed by Pakistan, Bangladesh, and others, that it had to be dropped. India's initiative, in the opinion of one third-world ambassador, amounted to "dangerously sticking out its neck," and was a clear indication of Indira Gandhi's pro-Soviet tilt.
More remarkable was the fact that even though the Cuba's permanent representative, Roa Kuri, voted against the resolutions in order to support the Communist camp in the broader context of its confrontation with the West, he could not bring himself to utter a single word to justify -- let alone mention -- Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. How the world voted For (104)
Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Britain, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon , Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, France, Gabon, Gambia, West Germany , Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait , Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Rwanda, St. Lucia, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Surinam, Swaziland, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States, Upper Volta, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yugoslavia, Zaire. Against (18)
Afghanistan, Angola, Bulgaria, Byelorussia, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia, East Germany, Grenada, Hungary, Laos, Mongolia, Mozambique, Poland, South Yemen, Soviet Union, Ukraine, Vietnam. Abstained (18)
Algeria, Benin, Burundi, Congo, Cyprus, Equatorial Guinea, Finland, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Madagascar, Mali, Nicaragua, Sao Tome and Principe, Syria, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia. Absent, or not voting (12)
Bhutan, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Dominica, Libya, Rumania, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sudan.