April 21, 2010

BRIC Countries Summit

-- GeoPolitical Monitor

Last week’s BRIC countries summit in Brasilia witnessed the
beginning of what will surely become a trend over the next few
decades: BRIC coordination against the United States on important
issues in international society.

From the invention of the ‘BRIC’ acronym by Goldman Sachs up until
now, BRIC countries have tended to focus on the economic realm and
avoided seeking to transplant the bloc’s economic clout into the
political arena. The growing influence of BRIC countries and the lack
of any institutional alternative for coordination preclude that this
will not be the case forever.

At Brasilia, the leaders of the BRIC countries laid the groundwork for
future forays into international politics.

According to reports, the prospect of Iran sanctions figured
prominently in summit discussions, though it didn’t make it into the
final communiqué. During the summit, a senior Indian official was
quoted as saying, “All of us agreed that we don’t think sanctions
will help solve the current problems with Iran.” That the BRIC
countries would come down against Iran sanctions is no surprise, for
all of them have a stake in protecting the Iranian energy sector.
China and India need an unencumbered Iranian energy sector for their
own imports, while Russia and Brazil are motivated by other political
considerations. What is surprising however is that the BRIC forum
carries enough sway to dislodge India from concert with American
interests; accord that has been taken for granted in post-nuclear
compromise US-Indian relations. As American decline continues to erode
Washington’s once-unrivaled international influence, the appeal of
the BRIC forum for voicing opposition will only increase.

Though it’s easy to discount this kind of language as pompous
ceremony, the BRIC countries call for a, “multipolar, equitable, and
democratic world order” is also significant enough to warrant
analysis. It is a manifestation of the BRIC countries’ desire to
reform certain elements of the current international order. Broadly
speaking, this would entail an overhaul the United Nations and the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) to make them more representative of
the developing world and consequently less dominated by American

Interpret this statement as a warning shot for future BRIC efforts to
usurp the US dollar as global reserve currency under the auspices of
the IMF. Another goal is an overhaul of the United Nations Security
Council, though it is one that carries a divide within the bloc, for
veto-welding members of the BRIC countries are hesitant to see their
power diluted.

The ‘democratic world order’ spoken of in the BRIC countries
communiqué does not refer to internal democracy, but rather is lip
service paid to China’s conception of international society. In
Beijing’s view, international society should hold state sovereignty
as sacrosanct and international institutions should simply enable
state cooperation while respecting sovereignty. This view precludes
any international criticism of human rights or outside support of
self- determination, or ‘splittist’, movements. If, in the future,
BRIC countries codify their cooperation in the form of a charter, this
conception of international relations will likely be adopted as a
means to delegitimize the possibility of any new ‘humanitarian
interventions’ by NATO.

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