As the ninth annual BRICS gathering, held this year in China, comes to an end, it’s time to point out that this acronym, which stands for five nations that represent some 23% of the world’s economy and 43 % of its population, is almost totally absent from the Western media. Yet the very fact that 43% of the world’s population only accounts for 23% of its wealth should make the ‘developed world’ take notice.
In what may seem like a contradiction, the reason why it has not done so in the eleven years since the organization’s founding, is that the BRICS embody the world’s challenge to American hegemony. Most Americans have never heard of the word, let alone being aware that it stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa.
Coincidentally, as I write this, Peter Lavelle’s Crosstalk on RT is discussing this very issue and specifically, who stands to gain from the US refusal to acknowledge the growing list of international economic organizations centered around Russia and China. Dmitry Babich commented that the US doesn’t even notice the Eurasian Economic Union, while Marc Svoboda asserted that Russians and their allies actually want to be decoupled from the West. Svoboda also mentioned that Iran and Egypt had both accepted invitations to the BRICS meeting, foreshadowing the possibility of a gradual healing of the Sunni-Shia rift. (For a discussion of this issue see my http://www.otherjones.com/search?q=Sunni-Shia, http://www.otherjones.com/2013/07/the-us-chooses-capitalist-muslims.html and http://www.otherjones.com/2017/08/sooner-or-later-donald-trump-will-have.html.)
Dare I suggest that when Emanuel Macron, France’s new under-forty president invites the two Libyan heads of government to meet in Paris, he is following Vladimir Putin’s example? The problem with that initiative was that it was done without Italian involvement, despite the fact that, as one diplomat put it, Italy is the “European member state that has the most granular understanding of the situation on the ground.” Apparently, Macron needs to be more attentive to the Putin style.
For decades the US dictated the behavior of the world community but since Vladimir Putin acted on the socialist principle of non-interference in Syria by assisting the government under attack by the US and its proxies, the US is no longer seen as the ‘indispensable nation’, as Obama liked to say, and that in fact, it is responsible for much of what is wrong with the world.
As populations increasingly notice how differently from their American counterpart the Russian and Chinese Presidents interact with the world, the BRICS, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Shanghai Development Bank and the various other ‘peripheral’ international institutions will become household words. (As I was writing this, Kiril Dmitriev, the head of Russia’s Direct Investment Fund was telling RT’s Lindsey Graham about deals with Japan and South Korea….)
P.S. Thursday, September 7: On the heels of the BRICS meeting in China, Russia, China, India etc., are meeting with hundreds of world business and political representatives at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok — including representatives of both Koreas. Discussion of the Korean crisis was headlined.
Meanwhile, the White House announced that President Trump has invited a group of countries — minus Russia! — to discuss reforming the UN. He should have had a look at the General Assembly’s voting record: it seems unlikely that the world will accept even greater US leadership of the organization.