Point-blank: A flatter world

Mohamed Salmawy
Thursday 20 Oct 2022

According to Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, speaking at a dinner banquet held in his honour during his visit to Egypt last weekend, the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) has been hijacked by a radical force that lacks the political independence that once characterised relations between NAM nations and the great powers.


He believes that Egypt and India should coordinate more closely on international issues in order to forge a strong and unified stance that other NAM members can emulate. He added that this was one of the items on the agenda of the discussions with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukri. 

For those unfamiliar with him, Jaishankar is an important international political and intellectual figure. He has served as India’s ambassador to the US, China, Singapore, the Czech Republic, Russia, Hungary, Japan and Sri Lanka. He has good personal relations with many world leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.    

Two years ago, he published The Indian Way: Strategies for an Uncertain World, which presents strategies Third World countries could follow in order to create a strong international bloc and free themselves of dependency on the great powers. This important book is an attempt to revive the influence and dynamism NAM enjoyed at its height in the 1960s and 1970s. Yet he does not refer to the members of his proposed bloc as non-aligned but rather as “independent-minded.”   As he points out, some countries belong neither to the East nor the West and they are neither a member of NATO nor in Russia’s sphere, but they do not act independently. In his opinion, what NAM needs in today’s world is that missing ingredient. 

Perhaps Egypt and India’s position on the Russian-Ukrainian war is the best example of the independence the Indian minister has in mind. He fears that this war will drag on as there is no sign of an effective negotiation process in sight. He simultaneously predicts it will lead to a significant decline in US hegemony. The US will remain a dominant power, he said, but it will weaken and be forced to share dominance with other world powers such as Russia and China. This will make the world “flatter” as it will eliminate the protrusion of a single hegemone. 

*A version of this article appears in print in the 20 October, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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