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BRICS and the Deepening of Tension in the Pacific

The following Discussion Note was first published by No2Nato via our Telegram channel. It is intended for use in fostering discussion and critical thinking and does not always represent the views the of the Workers Party. The full series of Discussion Notes is only available on Telegram with selected topics reproduced here. Photo credit: Press Service of Russian Foreign Ministry, where on June 1-2, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took part in a BRICS Foreign Ministers Meeting in Cape Town chaired by South Africa.

DISCUSSION NOTE – The BRICS and the Deepening of Tension in the Pacific

The BRICS meeting of foreign ministers appeared to show some solidarity with Russia against the West. It is our judgement that the ICC arrest warrant for Putin has back-fired as far as the emerging world is concerned. It looks like Western ‘bullying’. If Putin turns up in South Africa, he is unlikely to be arrested. If he does not turn up, it may be touted as a moral victory for the West but only to the West – the South may see it as an example of imperialist attempts to control their agenda. If he is arrested, we can assume an escalation of war to unprecedented proportions and Putin’s replacement by a tougher ‘hawk’. The West would appear to have delivered yet another magnificent own goal as far as global influence is concerned.

Who is on side with the core BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa]?  China has indicated that it is happy with more countries joining the Group as counterweight to Western hegemony. Of course, any country joining BRICS is accepting Russia as colleague. Iran and Saudi Arabia were both in Cape Town for the Meeting which would have been unthinkable only a few months ago. Venezuela, Argentina, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates have expressed interest. If all these countries joined, this would mean that the major players in South America (the US’ back yard) and the Gulf would be aligned with a Group accepting of both Russia and China.

The US response appears to be to double down on support for opposition figures in all these countries which, of course, simply increases incumbent resentment of Washington. Even where the US does not officially support such oppositions, those oppositions [such as Rahul Gandhi] are appearing in Washington, sponsored by Congressional supporters and talking ‘democracy and human rights’. This back-fired for the West in Turkey and has alienated not merely Russia but China and Saudi Arabia. The US may be expected now to move against the most vulnerable regime (in South Africa). This could be dangerous in terms of the potential for violence. US ideology has merely triggered a revival of anti-imperialist discourse that has not been seen as a force since the 1970s.

We see a similar clash of ideologies emerging (this time more focused on the Sino-American clash of political cultures) at the Asian Security Summit where the chances of Sino-American rapprochement look very slim indeed. The US still holds most of the cards in East Asia and the Pacific because of local perception of Chinese threat to the region but, as in Europe, Allies are getting nervous of the implications of this. They are trading nations with links to China that are more important economically to them than they are for Washington. Australia in particular, though committed to the Western Alliance strategically, is trying to steer a middle course given that China is the major market for its natural resources.

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