The time has come for the nonaligned world to come to the aid of the United States, the Soviet Union, and the world. The United States and the Soviet Union are on a collision course. Leave them alone and sooner or later, someplace (probably in the nonaligned world), the confrontation by accident, design, or misperception will precipitate the holocaust the world must fear.
Without passing judgment on rights or wrongs, economic systems, human rights, strategic doctrines, or numbers of missiles, it seems clear that the warmakers in the super- powers are in ascendancy over the diplomats. As George Kennan has written:
"I can think of no instance in modern history where such a breakdown of political communication and such a triumph of unrestrained military suspicions as now marks Soviet-American relations has not led, in the end, to armed conflict" (The New York Times, Feb. 1).
When US-Soviet political communication is breaking down and military suspicions are escalating, who is to save the superpowers from themselves?
At this critical time in world history there is an opportunity for nonaligned nations to take action to keep the superpowers militarily apart and help them reestablish rational communication.
The superpowers will not welcome the suggestion that the nonaligned intervene in their quarrels. For too long the interventions of the United States and the Soviet Union -- ranging from economic assistance to covert and paramilitary operations, to the training and arming of the military forces of the nonaligned -- have been used to persuade the nonaligned to choose sides and so serve the self-defined interests of the superpowers, not the interests of the nonaligned.
It would be presumptuous for a citizen of a superpower to try to define the interests of the nonaligned nations, as they relate to relations between the superpowers. It may not be presumptuous, however, to suggest that those interests go much beyond posting military "keep off" signs or playing off the superpowers against each other. The nonaligned will be in fallout areas if there is a nuclear exchange.
The Afghanistan crisis illustrated immediately the dangers which great-power confrontations pose for aligned and nonaligned alike. It also illustrated the role which nonaligned nations can play when danger threatens -- witness, for example, press reports of efforts being made by India and Pakistan to develop a regional response to defuse the dangers of a superpower confrontation in Asia.
There will be dangerous superpower confrontations in the future.Nonaligned nations with their resources and influence can begin now, without choosing sides , to take actions which will keep the superpowers apart. There is no need to wait for the next crisis. For example, the nonaligned might demand that the superpowers proceed immediately to negotiate a nonintervention pact, forswearing the stationing of combat forces in any nonaligned nation; they might insist that there be agreements for mutual superpower withdrawals of combat forces from such places as Afghanistan, Cuba, and Korea; they could insist on speed to reach agreement for balanced force reductions in Europe; and they could mount a concerted effort to force resumption of consideration of the SALT II agreement and insist the superpowers move rapidly to SALT III.
The nonaligned nations have power to make their views known and effective. They are the source of much of the energy and raw materials which make superpower military machines so dangerous.
To push the superpowers by every means possible away from the renewal of tensions of the cold war and back to the path of detente would be a service which the nonaligned could perform for us all. The sooner they begin, the better.