New BRICS explodes the international order

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By JOSÉ LUÍS FIORI*

The most important effects and consequences of the expansion of the bloc will not be immediate, and will manifest themselves in the form of successive waves, each time stronger.

The historical importance of the expansion of the BRICS

In a very short and direct way: the incorporation of the six new members of the BRICS – Saudi Arabia, Iran, Argentina, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Ethiopia – means a true “systemic explosion” of the international order built and controlled by the Europeans and their direct descendants a long time ago. at least three centuries. But its most important effects and consequences will not be immediate, and will manifest themselves in the form of successive waves, each time stronger.

Precisely because the BRICS is not a military organization like NATO, nor is it an economic organization like the European Union. It was born as a meeting point – almost informal – and a space for geopolitical and economic convergence, between countries located outside the central core of the great traditional powers, concentrated on the axis of the North Atlantic. Countries that are neither backward nor underdeveloped nor dependent and which already are, or propose to be, great economic and political powers within their respective regional boards. In fact, the original BRICS group itself already includes three of the five richest economies in the world, taking into account their “purchasing power parity”.

Calling them the “global south” seems to me to be an anodyne and geographic way of renaming the former “third world” countries, mostly former European colonies. The numbers are being widely disseminated and everyone already knows that after the incorporation of the six new partners, the BRICS group will have more than 40% of the world's population and about 40% of the world's GDP, which in itself already speaks of the importance of this group and its expansion decided at the Johannesburg meeting.

Now, despite the fact that the BRICS has so far had a much more proactive stance than it would contest, there is no doubt that in recent years, due to the growing bellicosity between the United States and China, and mainly due to the war in the territory of Ukraine between the NATO countries and Russia, the BRICS ended up undergoing a change in nature, becoming a resistance organization, above all, with regard to the economic and financial structures and institutions used by the US and its European and Asian allies, which operate as a true weapons of war in times of intensified competition and escalation of conflicts between these countries gathered in the G7 and the other countries that they now call the “global south”, despite the geographic incorrectness of the expression since their main enemy at this moment, Russia is to the north of almost all the G7 countries.

In any case, one thing is certain, after Johannesburg, the BRICS is already an unavoidable point of reference within the international system, and depending on the reaction of the United States and the Europeans, it could become, in the coming years, a power group with the capacity of ever narrowing the horizon of Euro-American domination of the world.

A new commercial organization?

There is no doubt that from 2024 BRICS+ will be bringing together some of the countries with the largest oil and gas reserves in the world, in addition to including some of its largest grain and food producers. Not to mention the strategic mineral resources that are concentrated in these same countries, associated with old nuclear technologies and new technologies associated with quantum computing, artificial intelligence and robotics. But I don't believe in the possibility that any new commercial organization will be born out of it, not least because it would be rebarbative in relation to OPEC, in the case of oil and gas.

I do not believe this is the group's objective, nor do I believe it is necessary for them to exercise their power to influence the global markets for these products in other ways. But I do believe that the greatest power and the greatest economic blow dealt against American and G7 interests will come from the other side, and will hit the monetary and financial power of the dollar and the United States.

In fact, the Johannesburg meeting did not create a new currency or openly discuss the creation of such a currency. But in a discreet way, he anticipated the replacement of the dollar in energy transactions between the member countries of the group and these countries with all their “zones of influence”. And this is perhaps the biggest blow dealt to date against the hegemony of the dollar, since the Accords of Bretton Woods, in 1944, and since the great agreement signed between the United States and Saudi Arabia, shortly after the Second World War, when the intermediation of the dollar was established and guaranteed in all major operations on the world oil market.

military action

I think that the Brics will never become a military organization, nor has this ever been or will be its objective. From a military point of view, Russia's strategic alliance with China, which has been consolidated over the last two years, is in itself a counterpoint to the military power of the US and Europe. And I don't think that China or Russia want to have any kind of compromise with their new partners, from the point of view of their mutual defense, as Russia has, for example, with Belarus.

A major defeat for the United States

As a result, the pressures and promises of the Department of State have increased day by day, exactly on top of Brazil, India, and South Africa, three founding members of the BRICS. Incidentally, from this point of view, the recurrent pilgrimage of Messrs Anthony Blinken and John Sullivan, and the ubiquitous Mrs Victoria Nuland, has been pathetic, trying to convince – without much success – African, Latin American, or even Asian governments to support sanctions economic policies applied by the United States against Russia, due to the war in Ukraine.

An unequivocal sign of loss of leadership that was repeated just now in the case of the military coup in Niger, when neither the United States nor the Europeans managed, so far at least, to convince some of their former African colonies to invade Niger, that is to say, convince them to do the same thing that they attribute and criticize in Russia, with regard to Ukraine.

Did Lula lose with this expansion?

There is nothing to suggest that Lula and Brazil lost power or influence with the expansion of the BRICS, nor that he did anything he disagreed with by submitting to China or anyone else. On the contrary, my impression is that he managed to recover, at least in part, what Brazil lost and submitted to during the governments of Michel Temer and Jair Bolsonaro.

It is a completely different thing to understand that Lula alone cannot transform Brazil overnight into a power equivalent to China, or even India, from an economic and technological point of view, or even Russia, from a military point of view. . These countries struggled for many years to become powers capable of projecting their influence on a global scale. What this meeting made clear is that Brazil will still need time to get where they are.

The others give unequivocal signs that they respect the Brazilian president and his ethical and charismatic world leadership, but this does not change overnight the vision that the world has built of Brazil when seeing its political and economic elite surrender their country and the Brazilian State (as it is being seen now) in the hands of a gang of petty crooks and pickpockets. And even more, knowing now about the participation that prominent members of the Brazilian Armed Forces had in all the corruption, and in all the coup dealings of a president who came from their own ranks.

What the corporate press fails to understand is that Brazil left the Johannesburg meeting the size it is today in the world, the size it was after six years of destruction of its State and its foreign policy, corrected as far as possible , and until now, for the incessant work of Brazilian foreign policy and for the world leadership conquered by President Lula.

Are the new members of the block “dictatorships”?

This separation and polarization between democratic and authoritarian countries was an idea of ​​the Biden government's foreign policy that did not have greater international repercussions. Just look at the two meetings that Joe Biden organized with the aim of mobilizing world public opinion and which were an absolute failure. But the most important thing here is not that, it is just that the BRICS never set out to be a group of democratic countries, much less a missionary group that preaches the faith in democracy. It is a pragmatic group whose principle is the Chinese idea of ​​absolute respect for the political and cultural autonomy of each of its members and their peoples.

Parallel between the BRICS and the movement of non-aligned countries

They are proposals and organizations that were born in very different geopolitical moments. The Non-Aligned Movement was born in the shadow of the Cold War and worldwide polarization between the socialist world and Western capitalist countries. It was a confrontation and a bipolarization with a strong ideological connotation and a global dimension. The BRICS, on the other hand, was born in a world that is increasingly fragmented and that is increasingly intolerant of any and all types of polarization in the world system.

And now it is expanding into the open space precisely because of the loss of European and American leadership, especially after the failure of its attempt to universalize its economic sanctions against Russia. After all, a group of only 30 or 40 countries, a minority within the United Nations system, have aligned themselves with the United States and NATO. The purpose of the sanctions was to isolate and weaken Russia economically, but it ended up isolating the G7 and weakening the European economy, which has already been surpassed in purchasing power by Russia itself, despite the fact that this country is under the most intense economic attack ever launched against any other country in the world, at any time in history.

Impact on the war in Ukraine

I think the order of the factors is reversed. The simple Russian invasion and resistance within the territory of Ukraine, in the face of the mobilization and direct intervention of the United States and all NATO partner countries, has already broken with the “world order” established by the United States and its allies after the end of the War. Cold.

Furthermore, the war in Ukraine accelerated the formation of a strategic alliance between Russia and China, which took some giant diplomatic steps in the shadow of the war itself, towards closer economic and strategic relations and the extension of its influence over Ukraine. the Middle East and Africa. Including this recent and successful expansion of the BRICS.

European societies themselves are beginning to realize and react to the fact that the United States is behaving more and more on the defensive, and acting in a completely reactive manner, in the face of the Russian military initiative, and in the face of the Chinese economic initiative. In this sense, it can even be said that the war in Ukraine hastened the decline of the cultural hegemony of European values, and has significantly shrunk the power of the US global military empire.

Argentina's place in the BRICS

I consider Argentina's entry into the BRICS a diplomatic victory for Brazil, and an extremely important step in the construction of a “co-prosperity zone” in the La Plata Basin. A decision and a step whose effects, however, should occur over time, not immediately. But there is no mistaking it: this tightening of the alliance between Brazil and Argentina, as predicted by the American geopolitician Nicholas Spykmen, back in 1944, will be seen today as it was in the past as a “red line” for the interests of the USA and its support network within the continent.

And much more so, in this case, in which it takes place within an organization economically led by China, and which still counts on the participation of the great “devil of the West” at this moment, which is Russia. From this point of view, it is necessary to look carefully at the immediate future, because if the next Argentine presidential elections are not won by the extreme right forces opposed to Argentina's participation in the BRICS, it is not impossible that Argentina will fall into line with the calls “hybrid wars” that are changing governments and regimes around the world that are considered enemies or obstacles to the Euro-American global power project

A new global leadership?

Everything indicates that China does not propose to replace the United States and its European allies as the hegemonic center of the world system, at least in the first half of the XNUMXst century. Nor does Russia have the possibility of achieving this goal. Even so, the alliance between Russian military strength and China's extraordinary technological and economic success should have an “exemplary” impact on the rest of the world. Much more so now that China has explicitly taken over and declared leadership of a “global developmentalist” project (occupied by the US after World War II), proposing the construction of an “inclusive world” with positive sums among all peoples of the universe, not excluding the North Atlantic.

As can be seen in the BRICS expansion strategy itself, now bringing into the organization representatives of all the great civilizations that dominated the world until the XNUMXth century, and that after that were displaced, defeated or subjected by the victorious expansion of European colonialism , which in the second half of the XNUMXth century was replaced by the global military and financial empire of the United States. As we have already said, this empire is facing its limits, these limits are increasing, but this does not automatically mean that China will immediately replace this position of global leadership.

* Jose Luis Fiori Professor Emeritus at UFRJ. Author, among other books, of The Myth of Babel and the Struggle for Global Power (Vozes).

Text based on an interview given to Eleonora de Lucena and Rodolfo Lucena on the website Tutameia.


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