Despite its recent expansion, the BRICS ‘alliance’ is nothing more than vaporware. Claims of the death of the American-led world order have been greatly exaggerated.
In geopolitical commentary circles, much has been made of the recent expansion of the Global South-centered multilateral association known as BRICS. This grouping of developing world nations is named after its early members – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – and has long been touted as the future pivot of geopolitics, economics, and world organization, displacing the regnant Western-led order. Now that the loose partnership has grown beyond its acronymic members to include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Argentina, the usual skeptics and opponents of the postwar system – isolationists, the horseshoe of far-right and far-left, self-proclaimed ‘anti-imperialists’ (merely anti-American), useful idiots – have gone into overdrive.
BRICS has been lauded as a full-on movement against the power of “Global NATO,” meant to proffer a more benign, anti-Western vision to reshuffle the world order. BRICS would be an alternative to the hegemony of American interests in international organizations, creating something akin to a new version of the Cold War Non-Aligned Movement – a group that, in contrast to its branding, served Soviet interests. According to the proponents of this idea, BRICS shows that legacy world institutions – including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization – are not irreplaceable and should be reformed to focus on “equitable, inclusive” outcomes. They point to the many initiatives undertaken by the bloc to compete with the liberal order: a massive submarine cable project, the New Development Bank meant to rival the World Bank/IMF, and a push for de-dollarization of international trade. The addition of new members to the group has produced headlines like “American Power Just Took a Big Hit” (in the New York Times) and claims of a “rebalance” of the world order and the replacement of the US dollar as the global currency by a BRICS-created option.
But are these dire predictions of doom for the world system we so benefit from actually accurate? Will the 21st century be one led by a solid BRICS alliance?Read More »