However, this is an entirely secondary topic. The more important question is whether the goal of the BRICS nations — namely China, India, Russia, Brazil and South Africa, and soon many of the “Global South” — is to actually turn against the West and create an unfriendly bloc.
The speculation is fueled by numerous reports about China’s alliance with Russia, Russia’s military cooperation with India, and Brazil’s conservative approach in the context of the war in Ukraine. According to many Western commentators, these countries have a common interest in opposing the West, and their failure to openly side with Ukraine is a sign that they are conspiring against it.
There is a grain of truth in this approach, but only a grain.
What attracts BRICS countries to each other?
– When BRICS was formed in 2009, it was suggested that it would be a powerful organization. Its mission was to strengthen the position of the “Global South” on the international stage, and primarily to undermine the Bretton Woods Agreement, the foundation of the West’s dominance over the global financial institutions – former Polish ambassador to India Prof. . Piotr Klodkowski.
The Bretton Woods Agreement was signed in 1944 and became the basis of the financial system in which the West led and the dollar was its most important instrument of influence and pressure. Although the so-called Bretton Woods system has undergone major changes over the years, the position of the US currency is still indisputable and Americans have much of a say in global capital flows.
When the financial crisis hit the United States in 2008, the major states of the “Global South” that were hostile to Washington’s actions began to make demands to change the rules of the global economy. The era of American hegemony in the world — and in the United States — is over, and Washington can feel confident sharing its influence with other nations.
BRICS nations were keen to criticize the US for illegally occupying Iraq, imposing economic sanctions on smaller countries and pursuing its interests at the expense of the “international community”. To this day, despite all their differences, they are united by a desire to change the global political and economic system to one that better reflects their interests.
However, the process is slow: they are not yet strong and not united enough. This is because, although the status of China and India has risen significantly since the formation of the BRICS, their currencies still lack a counterweight to the dollar. According to Kotkowski, this is because these currencies “do not inspire confidence and are politicized”.
The rest of the text is below the video.
Conflicting interests are paramount
This process did not proceed as many commentators had hoped because the BRICS was not a unified organization and its member countries did not have converged interests in key areas.
– If you add up the GDP of the individual BRICS countries, the system looks like a huge force. But that’s not the case. China, Russia and India do not have that many common interests. It is true that all three are interested in weakening the hegemony of the West, but Kotkovsky assesses that China and Russia want to completely change the system, and only India wants to change it.
The dynamics of relations in this triangle ensure that a common and coherent anti-Western agenda is impossible. India is co-creating the so-called QUAD, referred to as the “Asian NATO”, which is used to contain China. India fears the rise of China’s power and therefore cooperates with the US. This has not pleased Beijing, which is close to India’s arch-enemy, Pakistan. Russia then maintains good relations with both China and India, but due to differences between Beijing and New Delhi, this does not translate into very serious trilateral cooperation.
– Thanks to BRICS, the voice of the “Global South” is very audible, but each member of this group plays his own piano. For example, if China wants to use the BRICS organization to promote its Belt and Road initiative, it will be opposed in India. It is primarily a network of contacts at the highest level, but the conflict of interests is very clear. The “global south” is as divided as the rest of the world, Kotkowski maintains.
This does not mean that the BRICS countries are not using this platform for their own purposes. – Russia has “strategic depth” in Asia, where it can improve its economic potential and can use BRICS for this purpose. In turn, India wants to use BRICS only to prevent cooperation between Russia and China, says a former ambassador to India.
The BRICS was once like the US
The willingness of the BRICS nations to transform the global economic system is reminiscent of a certain historical analogy.
Well, in 1823, US President James Monroe declared that the European colonial powers had no right to interfere in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere, and that the United States would regard such interference as a threat to its security. This assumption is still valid in American politics today and is known as the Monroe Doctrine.
The US President’s statement is not surprising because every power jealously guards its right to maintain its sphere of influence in its surroundings and acts aggressively when it is violated. Another thing was even more interesting. Well, at that time, the Americans basically had no way of enforcing their position. Britain’s navy ruled the seas, and London, not Washington, had the most say in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere.
Almost two hundred years later, at the first BRIC summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia in 2009 (then without South Africa), the leaders of China, Russia, India and Brazil expressed “a strong need for a stable, predictable and multilateral international monetary system.” This happened during the Great Financial Crisis and the collapse of America’s global position, but the BRIC countries had no real possibility of changing the status quo, namely the undivided rule of the dollar in global financial markets.
Both President Monroe’s statement and the position of the BRIC countries are an expression of revisionist and superpower aspirations. Revisionist because their goal is to change the existing order to suit their own interests. The Great Powers, because they are submitted countries, and because of their size and capacity, deserve a more prominent place on the international stage.
The analogy is that every power – be it democratic or authoritarian – seeks to expand its sphere of influence in various areas of international politics. BRICS countries are realizing what the US did in the early 19th century: existing international norms and institutions do not match the current balance of power in the world, and they themselves are losing out.
Although the divergence of interests among the BRICS countries is too great to call the system a “counterweight to the West”, many countries are sending a signal to it that the existing institutions are not adapted to the realities of the second decade. 21st century.
The long-term future of the world’s political and financial institutions, as well as the dollar’s position in global trade, depends on what the US does with this signal.
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