Courtesy Reuters

North-South Policy -- What's the Problem?

The dramatic events in Iran and Afghanistan during the past year would seem to assure that East-West relations will remain the central concern of U.S. foreign policy as well as a heavily influential factor in all other arenas of U.S. foreign relations. The Carter Administration's return to an East-West security rationale for the foreign assistance programs which were sent to Congress in February is highly suggestive of future trends.

However, despite the all too obvious East-West implications of events in the "arc of crisis," these same events raise equally important questions about what we now call North-South relations; that is, relations between the wealthy, industrialized countries of the non-communist world (the "North") and the countries of the so-called developing world (the "South"). The ever-growing potential for the interplay of these two axes in world politics has been clearly demonstrated in recent months. From the September 1979 Havana Conference of the Nonaligned Movement to the November and January 1980 votes on Iran and Afghanistan within the United Nations and the January 1980 Islamabad Conference, it has become clearer than ever before that the nations of the South-as a whole and in various constituent groups-represent a diplomatic entity capable of independent actions which can significantly influence an ever-broadening range of U.S. foreign policy objectives.

Properly analyzed, the recent events in the Middle East should lead to a serious reconsideration of the present strained and tenuous relationship between the United States and the developing world. Yet the record of the past decade leaves no room for optimism, and the assertion of Realpolitik priorities in the Middle East may well add further impediments to a fundamental reexamination of North-South relations.1

The complete absence of such a reevaluation throughout the 1970s helps to account for much of the conflict between the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the developing countries during that decade. Notwithstanding all the talk of a shift in the North from a policy of "confrontation" to one of "

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