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Up Next: XV BRICS Summit
Lavrov's Article and Global Times Editorial
The 15th BRICS Summit and first in-person since Covid begins tomorrow the 22nd and runs through the 24th. This year’s theme is BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism; and aside from the BRICS five, sixty other global figures are invited. The Summit provides an excellent opportunity to assess the differences between BRICS and the strange Summit that was just concluded between Japan, South Korea and their boss the Outlaw US Empire. Both items that will appear below offer excellent juxtapositions with what was produced at Camp David.
The first is Sergey Lavrov's article for the South African Ubuntu magazine, “BRICS: A Course for a Fair World Order,” As most know, Lavrov will represent Russia at the Summit with Putin attending via video link. Lavrov continues the same line of thought displayed in his recent interview. The second item is today’s Global Times editorial, “US and Western countries could have met the 'BRICS' halfway,” and conveys the main reasons why BRICS is so popular—more than 40 nations want to join from all parts of the world, except the West, although France’s Macron did try to get an invitation; so, why he was denied one ought to be mulled over by readers. The two items could be read as Good Cop/Bad Cop, although that might be too harsh a label to pin to the editorial, which does do a good job of politely explaining the situation. Neither is rather long, so the overall read will be somewhat short. Lavrov:
On the eve of the BRICS summit, I would like to share with dear readers my thoughts on the prospects for cooperation within the framework of the BRICS in the current geopolitical context.
Today, tectonic shifts are taking place in the world. The possibility of dominance of one country or even a small group of states is fading into oblivion. The model of international development, built on the exploitation of the resources of the World Majority in order to maintain the well-being of the "golden billion", is hopelessly outdated. It does not reflect the aspirations of all humankind.
A more just multipolar world order is being born before our eyes. New centers of economic growth and global political decision-making in Eurasia, the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America are guided primarily by their own interests and put national sovereignty at the forefront. And on this basis, they achieve impressive success in various fields.
Attempts by the "collective West" to reverse this trend in the name of preserving its own hegemony have the exact opposite effect. The world community is tired of blackmail and pressure from Western elites, from their colonial, racist manners. Therefore, for example, not only Russia, but also a number of other states are consistently reducing their dependence on the US dollar, switching to the use of alternative payment systems and settlements in national currencies. Here I recall the wise words of N. Mandela: "When water begins to boil, it is absurd to stop heating it." And it really is.
Russia, a state-civilization, the largest Eurasian and Euro-Pacific power, continues to work on the further democratization of international life, on the formation of an architecture of interstate relations that would be based on the values of equal and indivisible security, cultural and civilizational diversity and would provide equal opportunities for development to all members of the world community without exception. As President Vladimir Putin noted in his Address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on February 21, 2023: "In the modern world, there should be no division into so-called 'civilised countries' and all the rest... An honest partnership is needed, in principle, denying any exclusivity, especially aggressive ones. In our opinion, all this is consonant with the philosophy of Ubuntu, which preaches interconnectedness between peoples and people.
In this context, Russia has consistently advocated strengthening the position of the African continent in the multipolar world order. We will continue to support our African friends as they seek to play an increasingly important role in addressing the key challenges of our time. This fully applies to the process of reforming the UN Security Council, within the framework of which, in our deep conviction, the legitimate interests of developing countries, including Africa, must be ensured.
Multilateral diplomacy does not remain aloof from global trends. A symbol of true multipolarity, an example of honest interstate communication is the activities of such an association as BRICS. Within its framework, states with different political systems, original value platforms, and independent foreign policy effectively interact in various fields. I think it would not be an exaggeration to say that the "five" is a kind of cooperative "grid" draped over the traditional North-South and West-East lines.
Indeed, we have something to present to our public. Through joint efforts, BRICS has managed to create a culture of dialogue based on the principles of equality, respect for the choice of one's own development path and consideration of each other's interests. This helps us to find common ground and "solutions" even on the most difficult issues.
The place and significance of BRICS today, its ability to influence the formation of the global agenda are determined by objective factors. The numbers speak for themselves. The population of the states of the association is more than 40%, and the territory exceeds a quarter of the world's land. According to experts' forecasts, in 2023 the "five" will provide about 31.5% of world GDP (at purchasing power parity), while the share of the Group of Seven in this indicator has fallen to 30%.
Today, the strategic partnership within the BRICS is gaining momentum. And the association itself offers the world creative, forward-looking initiatives aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring food and energy security, healthy growth of the world economy, resolving conflicts, combating climate change, including through the prism of a just energy transition.
To solve these problems, an extensive network of mechanisms has been created. The Economic Partnership Strategy until 2025 is being implemented, which defines the guidelines for cooperation in the medium term. The BRICS Energy Research Platform, launched at the Russian initiative, is functioning. The BRICS Centre for Vaccine Research and Development has been launched, designed to contribute to the development of effective responses to the challenges to the epidemic well-being of our states. Initiatives were approved to eliminate safe havens for corrupt officials and criminal assets, trade and investment for sustainable development, and expand cooperation in the field of supply chains. The BRICS Food Security Strategy was adopted.
Among the unconditional priorities are strengthening the capacity of the New Development Bank, the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement, improving payment mechanisms, and increasing the role of national currencies in mutual settlements. It is planned that these issues will be the focus of attention at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg.
Our goal is not to replace the existing multilateral mechanisms, much less to become a new "collective hegemon". On the contrary, the members of the five countries consistently advocate the creation of conditions for the development of all states, which excludes the bloc logic of the Cold War and zero-sum geopolitical games. BRICS strives to offer inclusive solutions based on a collective approach.
Proceeding from this, we are consistently working on the development of interaction between the association and the states of the World Majority. In particular, one of the priorities of South Africa's chairmanship was to strengthen cooperation with African countries. We fully share this approach. We are ready to contribute to economic growth on the continent and the strengthening of security there, including its food and energy components. The results of the second Russia-Africa Summit held in St. Petersburg on July 27-28, 2023 are clear evidence of this.
In this context, it is natural that our association has many like-minded people around the world. BRICS is seen as a positive force that is able to strengthen the solidarity of the countries of the Global South and the East, to become one of the pillars of a new, more just polycentric world order.
The Five is ready to respond to this request. That's why we started the expansion process. It is symbolic that it acquired such momentum in the year of the chairmanship of South Africa, a country that was adopted in BRICS as a result of a consensus political decision.
I am convinced that the fifteenth anniversary summit will be another milestone in our strategic partnership relations and will determine the key priorities for the coming years. We highly appreciate the efforts of the South African Chairmanship in this area, including the intensification of work to improve the entire range of mechanisms for the functioning of the association and deepen dialogue with third countries. [My Emphasis]
The standard message from both BRICS and SCO is that they aren’t aimed at any one nation or bloc and seek cooperation with all nations, an outstretched hand that’s been refused by the West so far. Why that is provides the rationale for the following editorial:
The 15th BRICS Summit will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa from August 22 to 24. This marks the first in-person summit of the BRICS nations since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. South Africa, as the host country, has dedicated significant effort to this event. Over 60 global leaders and political heavyweights have been invited to attend. This summit is not only the largest in scale since the establishment of the BRICS cooperation mechanism, but also the largest gathering of its kind in the "Global South" in recent years. This reflects the increasing expectations being placed on the BRICS cooperation mechanism by more and more countries.
The theme of this summit is "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism." This theme itself adequately explains the reason for the wide attendance at the BRICS summit: The more uncertain the international environment becomes, the stronger the appeal and centripetal force of concepts such as openness, inclusivity, cooperation, and win-win.
It's reported that more than 40 countries have expressed desire to join the BRICS mechanism, and the issue of expansion is one of the topics that will get most attention at this year's South Africa BRICS summit. The BRICS mechanism is demonstrating a vigorous trend of growth and strengthening. Leaving aside other matters, this has greatly exceeded the expectations of Western countries and the US. Among the many emerging international developments that have been misjudged by the US and the West due to arrogance and biases, the BRICS cooperation mechanism is one of the most representative. Even today, this misperception continues.
Regarding this BRICS summit, the reporting from Western media has two major characteristics. First, it exaggerates the internal "divergences" within the BRICS mechanism, such as hyping up the China-India discord. South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor rebuked some media outlets for fabricating rumors which are "baseless attempts to undermine the event." Second, it distorts the interpretation of the BRICS mechanism's stance and nature, bringing the "China threat theory" that they have been propagating into the context of BRICS countries, attempting to portray the BRICS mechanism as a geopolitical rival to the Group of Seven (G7).
It is obvious that the attention given by the US and the West to the BRICS mechanism has been increasing year by year. In this process, their attitude has gradually shifted from underestimation and badmouthing out of arrogance to vigilance and precaution out of prejudice. At the same time, their aggressiveness toward the BRICS mechanism has also been growing stronger. At the beginning of the establishment of the BRICS, the US and the West generally believed that it would not last long and did not consider the possibility of the group's development and growth. However, after 17 years, as the BRICS is becoming even stronger, the US and the West have failed to reflect on why their judgments were wrong. Instead, they have shifted their misjudgment of the BRICS mechanism from one extreme to another.
The US and the West have both served as the backdrop and external environment for the birth of the BRICS mechanism, and have consistently acted as a mirror for the BRICS mechanism. The reason why the BRICS mechanism has such great appeal and attraction is, on the one hand, because the mechanism itself has developed well and has adapted to and satisfied the needs and calls of the times. On the other hand, it also reflects the general disappointment of many developing countries with the global governance system dominated and interfered by the US and the West. As China has repeatedly emphasized, "the traditional global governing system has become dysfunctional, deficient and missing in action, and the international community urgently expects the BRICS mechanism to strengthen unity and cooperation."
An article in American magazine The Nation on August 17 claimed that the expansion of the BRICS agenda indicates a hunger for countering the serious shortcomings of the US-led global order. It pointed out that the multiple failures of the US-led world order to substantially support two core requirements of Global South states - economic development and safeguarding sovereignty - are creating a demand for alternative structures for ordering the world. The BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) are two major responses to these failures.
It must be said that this article is relatively objective and touches on the key points. However, such voice appears to be alone in the Western world and has not resonated much, nor has it prompted Western governments to adjust and correct their foreign policies. Viewing the development of the BRICS mechanism from a confrontational perspective and considering it as a threat to Western hegemony is becoming increasingly popular in Western societies. An Indian diplomat bluntly pointed out, "this threat perception emanates out of a morbid fear of extinction."
"Anti-Westernism" has never been on the agenda of the BRICS. The establishment and development of the BRICS cooperation mechanism is proof of the awakening of independent consciousness and the strengthening of autonomy of non-Western countries. This is not about confronting the West or stealing the limelight from the West. For the interests of all humanity, the most ideal state should be that the efforts and explorations of the BRICS align with the adjustments and self-corrections of the West, forming a joint force to address global challenges. However, the problem now is that the West has been unable to overcome its arrogance and prejudice, and non-Western countries cannot wait for the West to awaken. Instead, they are taking action and making efforts through mechanisms such as the BRICS to pave a new path for the reform of the global governance system, hoping that Western countries can catch up soon. [My Emphasis]
One of the grand faults displayed by the West and particularly the Outlaw US Empire is the inability to objectively analyze and assess realities and instead attempt to bend everything to the chosen narrative. Why that is can be explained by the addiction of Western political and economic elites to Megalomania and Pleonexia that’s been ongoing for many generations and the underlying concept formulated by the 15th Century Papal Bulls that established the grounds for what would become the “Golden Billion.” As Lavrov stated, what BRICS and its kin are attempting to establish is a more just system which first and foremost exists in the system of international trade and its financing thus the ability of nations to develop. Lots of hype existed earlier this year as many thought the Summit would announce the debut of a BRICS currency, but much needs to be put into place before such a currency can be announced. What’s most likely are major trading nations will establish Central Bank Digital Currencies to facilitate trade which will require the construction of supporting infrastructure in the form of messaging systems and clearing hubs and their connection to a myriad of central and regional banks within nations and internationally. And those mechanisms must all be tested and tuned prior to the establishment of one central trading currency that won’t be any nation’s national currency. There’s one very important political aspect to this new system and that’s the creation of a balancing mechanism related to the trade imbalances that will occur. Several methods are theorized but will need to be trialed first to judge performance. And given the current pace of development, the entire system might be ready as early as January 2026.
Now we get to await the developments that will emerge from the Summit and which nations become the + members.
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