The third world after Afghanistan

Until recently, the natural determination of newly independent countries to demonstrate their independence has too often led them to express an automatic rejection of Western policies and attitudes. The causes are bound up in history. Countries with highly developed cultures of their own have sometimes felt that the West was trying to force its own values upon them.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has caused many countries of the third world to question still more closely whether independence from the West necessarily entails a tilt towards the East. Cuba has tried to argue that the interests of the nonaligned countries and the interest of what Cuba calls the socialist countries are convergent if not identical. Objectively, of course, this was never so. The Soviet aid record is abysmal. The Russians are ready enough to provide arms, military advisers, and secret policemen, but they have rarely spent substantial sums on aid for economic development. Since 1975, indeed, there has been a new flow of resources from the noncommunist developing world to the Soviet Union.

We all know that the Western record is very much better. And it is, of course, a truism that it is with the West that the nonaligned countries conduct the vast proportion of their trade. It is to the West that they look for new technology; and it is with the West that they continue to discuss their ideas for a new international economic order, the North/South dialogue. They know well enough that there is little point in appealing to the Russians for any of these things.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has demonstrated, in the most forceful possible way, the true nature of the threat to the concept of nonalignment. It has reduced the Cubans, the chairman of the nonaligned movement, to an embarrassed silence -- which makes an interesting contrast with their noisy performance at the recent nonaligned summit conference. It has hled to the massive support of the nonaligned countries for the resolution in the UN General Assembly which condemned the Russian invasion.

I do not believe that this represents a decisive turn by the nonaligned towards the West. We do not expect this. Their interests will not always lie with ours. They will continue to tell us, no doubt, when their views diverge.

But I believe that the Soviet action will have demonstrated to them that the community of interests between us is greater than they had generally appreciated. For us, it is sufficient that the counries of the third world should look at the issues without preconception.

The third world do not want or need our lectures, they do not want us to import a crude East-West rivalry into their concerns. They do not want us to complicate their own disputes by seeming to give assistance to one at the expense of the other. Yet, at the same time, they look to the West for support and assistance, and we must give it to them.

We must ensure, for example, that our aid strengthens the social and political fabric in those counries. In the final analysis, only they themselves can safeguard their security by developing their economies an their institutions while maintaining watchfulness against outside aggression and internal dissension. A united people is the surest defense for any country.

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