The Non-Align Movement (NAM) is an organization with 118 member states designed to represent the countries that do not wish to align themselves to the major powers of the world. This particular organization seems to have a major role in the future of international relations because of the strong voices within it calling for an end of the imperialistic behavior of the United States and its allies.
The purpose for which NAM was created was that of providing a voice to the countries which disapproved with the influence and hegemonic power of the great powers of the Cold War, US and USSR. As the Cold War ended, NAM seemed to be less needed and its existence, inefficient. But in the light of contemporary political events, the emergence of US and its allies as new great powers brought NAM in the attention of its members, which sought that the organization must regroup itself and continue its mission of fighting against the imperialistic views of a nation.
Several leaders seemed to be strong opinion leaders inside of NAM, but one character distinguishes himself from the rest through his strong anti-American and anti-imperialistic discourse – Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela. His personal opinions and his foreign policy seem to fit perfectly to the role of NAM and through this organization, Chavez has the capability to influence other leaders and to accomplish his mission, that of destroying the sovereignty of only one superpower.
Many countries show support to the movement against US imperialism, as can be proved by the great number of members of NAM, but four countries stand as representative due to their strong and claimed anti-American position. These countries are perceived as an “axis of evil” due to their behavior and they are perceived as a threat to the United States and to international safety. Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, and North Korea have repeatedly shown their position against United States and against US assuming the role of a world leader, claiming that US is not only non-representative as a leader of all countries, but that it’s hegemony is seriously threatening the independence of other nations.
Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, and Iran have stated in the past years their strong position against the imperialistic behavior of US and boldly criticized the involvement of US in Iraq or Afghanistan, as well as the leading position of US in the international arena. The world has witnessed in the past years a very open war of declarations for now between the leaders of these four nations and US. Although many other members of NAM agree with the position of the so-called “axis of evil”, no other leader has proved to be as committed as the four leaders to the fight against US world leadership. This is why the influence of Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, and North Korea in NAM is very important because these countries not only have the power to influence other NAM members in their position regarding the US, but they also have the power to represent the other 114 countries belonging to NAM regarding the organization’s position to the United States.
Fidel Castro, the well-known dictator of Cuba and one of US’ strongest critics, holds a very influential position in NAM and has close connections with many of the world’s leaders, most of them disagreeing with the emergence of US as a world leader. Following the 2006 Summit of NAM, Cuba holds the presidency of the organization and it was also the host of the summit, which proves that Cuba’s position in the organization is now as strong as it can be. Considering Castro’s position regarding US, it is easy to conclude that the position of NAM and the influence of Cuba in the organization is strongly a non-American one.
At the 2006 Summit Raul Castro Ruz, the brother of Fidel Castro and his replacement following Castro’s medical problems, stated the need for a non-align movement against the leadership of US: “The current international situation, characterized by the one superpower’s irrational attempts to control the world, aided by its allies, shows that we need to be increasingly united in defense of the principles and purposes upon which the Non-Aligned Movement was established.”
One of the most sensitive subjects in the past years has been that of nuclear weapons, as the US and its allies hold a strong position against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. This proved to be a strong point of disagreement between US and its allies and members of NAM, as proved in the speech of Raul Castro: “We defend the right of our countries to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Let us call for a general and complete disarmament, including nuclear weapons. Let us reject the dangerous US doctrine of the ‘preventive’ use of nuclear weapons, even against countries that don’t have them and against supposed terrorist groups. Let us denounce the hypocrisy of the US government, which while supporting Israel’s bid to increase their nuclear store, is threatening Iran in an attempt to prevent the peaceful use of nuclear energy.”
This is one of the main topics of disagreement, as NAM disapproves with the assumed role of a world leader of the US and disagrees with western intentions to impose their rules on the world. Cuba’s position on this subject reflects the position of NAM and most of all, it sustains nuclear active countries such as Iran and North Korea. This is one of the main reasons of concern from the US regarding the axis of evil, as the countries forming the axis are not only increasingly anti-American, but also pro-nuclear.
In the light of the support shown to NAM by its member countries, the influence exercised over the organization by Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, and Iran can be seen as increasingly threatening to the US and eventually to world security. Due to the fact that Cuba now holds the leadership of NAM, Hugo Chavez will use his close relations with Fidel Castro in order to impose his strong position against the hegemony of US. The close relationship between Cuba and Venezuela places Chavez in a strategic position.
Following the 2006 Summit, NAM seems to be more active in reaffirming its role and its position, calling for a greater cooperation between developing nations. The collaboration might be made on different issues, but one thing is clear – a close cooperation between developing countries means that these countries will be influenced by their chosen leader, Cuba, thus sustaining the “axis of evil”.
One of the most visible anti-American leaders is Hugo Chavez. He is the democratically elected President of Venezuela since 1999 and although his regime was based on democratic principles, it is clear that his regime is increasingly authoritarian. Chavez is not satisfied with being only the leader of Venezuela, but he also has a strong desire to create cooperation among South-American countries and to propose Venezuela as a model for success.
Chavez had a strong anti-American discourse in recent years, even threatening to cut-off oil exports to US in the beginning of 2005. Due to Chavez’s discourse, he is perceived as being the greatest problem for US in South America due to the fact that he proposes an alternative to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (F.T.A.A.) led by the US. Chavez created a clear cause in forming an alternative for South America that would be led by South American countries without any intervention from the United States.
Chavez’s vision of a “new socialist society” for South America is clearly independent from Washington and wishes to provide an alternative to model sustained by US. He claims that South America must remain united and he believes that his system can help underdeveloped countries become more competitive in the international arena. Chavez claims that his “new socialist society, based on cooperatives that would eliminate poverty and subordinate private business to broader social aims” is the answer to the problems of developing countries, especially in South America.
Chavez is promoting his cause worldwide through strong anti-American discourse and pro-socialist measures designed to bring prosperity in developing countries, prosperity that once obtained can be used to incline the balance of power on the side of developing countries. Chavez does not only sustain another type of economic development for developing countries, but he also calls for a new world order, as he did at the UN Summit in 2005. In his address during the Summit, Chavez stated: “We must not allow a handful of nations to reinterpret the principles of international law with impunity, in order to impose doctrines such as preemptive war, and the so-called duty to protect, which are incompatible with effective International Law”.
Although Chavez’s influence can not be seen as too important in the UN as the United States is a permanent member, his discourse and his position will be considered in the NAM, which is after all the second largest international organization in the world. Not only that Chavez’s economical plans appeal to the members of NAM, most of them developing nations, but his political beliefs can find a strong support inside the organization, due to the close connections between Chavez and Castro, the current leader of NAM.
The friendship between Chavez and Castro, shown so often on television, is used by Chavez to influence the members of NAM in his socialistic views and in creating a new world order. Chavez’s model for an alternative to market democracy seems to appeal to numerous developing countries and leaders that look up to the model of leadership proposed by Castro. This is why Chavez is seen as dangerous by developed nations – because his economic model appeals to the not so democratic developing countries.
As Chavez seems to propose a solution for many underdeveloped countries, his influence can grow as his position consolidates in NAM. Chavez believes that his model of socialism will transform Venezuela into an economically stronger country, “self-sufficient and developed a state as possible — a “small major power,” as he calls it”. This strong desire to show US that they are not he only superpower and that they are not representative for many other countries is characteristic to Chavez’s politics and he could find a way to appeal to other countries that do not wish to align to western principles of market economy and democracy or that dislike the emergence of a single world power.
Chavez calls for a strong, unified block that will stand independent from US and due to the high influence he has in NAM that might be achieved. First of all, Chavez hopes to provide an example of success to other nations. So far, his success is not proved, but in case his scenario will happen, he will be able to influence a great deal of countries to follow his example.
Chavez’s cause seems to be that of questioning world leadership of US or any other emerging superpower which whishes to impose itself as a leader of other nations. Chavez found support for his cause in the NAM as he sustains that all nations have the right to be sovereign and that no other nation can interfere in their internal business. His discourse about uniting against the imperialistic views of great powers is the type of discourse that led to the existence of NAM and so Chavez’s views are shared by the members of NAM, which see the organization as a defender of small nations against the influence of great powers on the international arena.
His ambitions might be too great for what he can do and his discourse might be a little too enthusiastic comparing to his possibilities, but this remains to be seen in the future. For now, the President of Venezuela has attracted a great deal of support from the other important critics of US, Iran, Cuba, and North Korea. Due to the close relations between these four countries, unified in their mission to fight against US hegemony, US could be faced with a large block of states supporting a non-American politics.
As Cuba now holds the presidency of NAM, it is clear that the organization will be highly influenced by the politics sustained by the four countries forming the “axis of evil”. Not only that Chavez sustains his fellow “friends”, Iran and North Korea, but he publicly showed support for these countries in the nuclear crisis. It is more than clear that these four countries will sustain each other in a common goal, that of destroying US supremacy. The strong cooperation between US’ most renowned enemies is obvious to anyone, as none of the actors involved hides it. But what is more problematic for US and its allies is whether the “axis of evil” will enlarge itself due to the influence of Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and North Korea in NAM, which proves to regain its powers.
What worries world leaders is that Chavez and his politics seems to appeal to a great number of actors, all dissatisfied with the self-claimed role of US as a world leader. Since Chavez proposes a model of development to developing countries and he has a very convincing anti-American discourse, he manages to capture the attention of many developing countries, not only South-American. It is no wonder that Chavez’s discourse touches so many countries, as many developing countries which followed the pattern shown by US or the European Union have failed to achieve a notable growth, which gives “rise to a powerful challenge to the liberal economic order – at the center of which sits Hugo Chavez.”
Chavez’s alternative for cooperation among developing countries instead of cooperation with institutions led by US and its allies appeals to many states, all members of NAM. It is true that Chavez could not exercise much influence on the world without his close relations with Castro and Iran and North Korea and without the support shown by these countries. Chavez understood quickly that he must use his relations with other developing countries, especially anti-American ones, in order to gain support from a greater number of states.
Hugo Chavez seems very determined to follow his cause and to attract as many supporters as possible to his ideas. He correctly saw the growing disagreement towards the politics of US and he uses this pretext to attract more and more supporters to his cause. Although Chavez’s desires reach deeper than destroying US supremacy, it seems that in this aspect he can use the support of NAM and its members, so he will use all the means to sustain his cause.
– Castro, Raul, Adress to the 14th Summit of Heads of State of the Non-Aligned Movement, September 15, 2006, Havana, available at http://www.cubasolidarity.com/aboutcuba/cubaspeaks/raul/060915nam.htm;
– Chavez calls for new international political, economic order, September 16, 2005, available at http://english.people.com.cn/200509/16/eng20050916_208939.html;
– Farrell, JoJo, Venezuela announces news agency at Non-Aligned Summit, September 16, 2006, available at http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news.php?newsno=2079;
– New Align Movement, available at http://www.tiscali.co.uk/reference/encyclopaedia/hutchinson/m0005012.html;
– Risen, Clay, Hugo Chavez’s new world order. Bloc Party, March 10, 2006, available at http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w061002;s=risen100306
– Rosen, Fred, and Burt, Jo-Marie, Hugo Chavez: Venezuela’s redeemer?, in NACLA Report on the Americas, Vol. 33, No. 6, May/June 2000, available at
– Weinstein, Michael, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez makes bid for a Bolivarian revolution, April 4, 2004, available at http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report;report_id=285;language_id=1.
 Castro, Raul, Adress to the 14th Summit of Heads of State of the Non-Aligned Movement, September 15, 2006, Havana, available at http://www.cubasolidarity.com/aboutcuba/cubaspeaks/raul/060915nam.htm;
 Ibid 2
 Farrell, JoJo, Venezuela announces news agency at Non-Aligned Summit, September 16, 2006, available at http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news.php?newsno=2079;
 Weinstein, Michael, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez makes bid for a Bolivarian revolution, April 4, 2004, available at http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report;report_id=285;language_id=1
 Weinstein, Michael, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez makes bid for a Bolivarian revolution, April 4, 2004, available at http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report;report_id=285;language_id=1;
 Chavez calls for new international political, economic order, September 16, 2005, available at http://english.people.com.cn/200509/16/eng20050916_208939.html
 Ibid 6
 Weinstein, Michael, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez makes bid for a Bolivarian revolution,
 Risen, Clay, Hugo Chavez’s new world order. Bloc Party, March 10, 2006, available at http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w061002;s=risen100306;