09/04/2012 01:01 pm ET Updated Nov 04, 2012

Can 120 (Non-Aligned) Countries be Wrong?

During the Cold War, we used to joke about the Non-Aligned Movement, because it really wasn't non-aligned. On the contrary, it was aligned against the West and against colonialism. It wasn't really, as it claimed, non-aligned as between East and West, as between the Communist world and the so-called Free World, because it contained, of all things, Communist China!

Its heavies, from its founding in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955, were Nehru, Nasser, Tito, Sukarno and Chou-en-lai, none of whom could be mistaken as friends of the West.

Not particularly relevant during the Cold War, what possibly can the Non-Aligned Movement represent today? The Cold War is over. Has the movement outlived its usefulness? The answer is no, despite the Movement's outmoded Cold War origins. It serves as a rallying point for all those countries who want to push back against what they see as the dominating attitudes and policies of the United States, and to a lesser degree, the West in general.

For example: as if to demonstrate the problem of the legitimacy of a preventive attack against Iran, the Movement's 120 members, meeting in Tehran on August 30, unanimously supported Iran's nuclear energy program and criticized American-sponsored attempts to use sanctions against Iran.

Much as it is tempting to deride the Non-Aligned Movement as an anachronism, we should ponder the symbolic implications of this expression of disapproval of a preventive attack on Iran by representatives of 120 of the world's countries, meeting in Tehran in the presence of the United Nations Secretary-General.

Although the meeting was not an unalloyed success for Tehran, with the Sunni members unwilling to give an expression of support to the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, the Iranians pulled out all the stops in organizing the conference, including the display of the calcinated vehicles of three assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists.