THE NONALIGNED movement is like the United Nations, only more so. Evidently braced by one another's company, member governments seem to feel liberated--and obligated--to attack the United States on the fashionable political issues of the day, notwithstanding the unfairness, irrelevance or unhelpfulness of the attacks. These same governments then put out their hand and ask the United States for money. There is no point in getting too stirred up about the familiar pattern, although it would be interesting to have explained some day how it is that a nation that is consigned to the outer darkness for its alleged political iniquity can be expected to have the enlightenment and selflessness to recognize its accusers' just economic needs.

Those (self-described) nonaligned met again last week in New Delhi. From all reports, Indira Gandhi, leader of the host nation, tried hard to rescue the movement from the steep tilt in which it was left by its immediate past president, Fidel Castro. Some observers thought she did well: they counted only 11 chastisements of the United States in the final document--as if the number mattered. Are you surprised that the tender hearts of the nonaligned could not bring themselves to chastise by name the Soviet Union for its continuing aggression against one of the group's own, Afghanistan? We have no doubt that a high-minded and condescending justification will be forthcoming. What else is new?

It has not been possible for some years to know what the nonaligned movement stands for, especially when various of its members creep around later to explain that they didn't mean what they said, they just had to go along with the crowd. The familiar result constitutes a certain argument for the United States' simply taking a deep breath and waiting for the quadrennial spasm to pass. To do that, however, would be to treat the nonaligned like children who can be excused the errors of their adolescent ways.

We reject that approach and, we note, so does the State Department, which issued a brief calm statement yesterday concluding with the hope that the nonaligned movement would find its way to a more faithful application of the principles of nonalignment in the future.