Juan Cole writes: In his acceptance speech in Charlotte, N.C., President Barack Obama said, “The Iranian government must face a world that stays united against its nuclear ambitions.” It wasn’t much noted in the Western press, but in fact the recent Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Tehran last month delivered a slap in the face to the Israeli-American financial and commercial war on Iran over its nuclear enrichment program. The 120 countries of the movement, representing some two-thirds of United Nations member states and 55 percent of the world’s population, refused to boycott Iran. More, they upheld Iran’s right to pursue nuclear-powered electricity. But given that the U.S. and Europe constitute half of the world’s gross domestic product and maintain its most powerful standing armies, does the meeting’s symbolic gesture really matter?
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon defied severe pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and attended the Tehran summit. Some reports suggested that Ban went because he was annoyed by the vehemence of the Israeli government. India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not only insisted on attending but brought a big delegation of businessmen with him looking for deals with Iran. For the first time since 1979, an Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, flew to Tehran, signaling an end to Cairo’s decades of obsequiousness toward the U.S.
The final communiqué upheld Iran’s right to pursue the enrichment of uranium for energy purposes and rejected the United States’ boycotts and sanctions on Iran. It further warned that any attack on nuclear facilities would be illegal under international law and a violation of basic human rights. It stressed Palestinian rights, including the right of Palestinian refugees to return home to what is now Israel. In other words, the Non-Aligned Movement document contained the opposite of everything Netanyahu and Hillary Clinton say on each of these points. [Continue reading…]