The BRICS summit in Goa is an event that the Western mainstream media will doubtless ignore. In spite of this, it represents a halcyon moment in the ongoing realignment of geopolitical power and influence.
The fact that Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa may speak with a unified voice in respect of Syria is no small achievement.
Even if Brazil takes a neutral stance in light of her internal political coup against former President Rousseff, a statement on Syria from such large powers cannot be easily dismissed, much though failed politicians in some countries will try to dismiss it.
But the significance is even greater than a single statement on Syria.
In order to understand this, one needs to understand that during the Cold War things weren’t simply a matter of ‘East versus West’, ‘USSR vs USA’. There were not two factions in the Cold War but four.
Here’s why they matter more now than at any time since 1991.
The four blocks were as follows:
–A Soviet Allied Bloc
–An American Allied Bloc
–A Chinese Allied Bloc
–The Non-Aligned Movement
After Stalin’s death in 1953 China and the USSR drifted further and further apart. The formal split and the subsequent creation of separate blocs was formalised in 1961 when Khrushchev’s anti-Stalin policies were denounced by the Chinese as traitorous revisionism.
This led not only to the creation of a new Chinese-centred communist bloc but ultimately, also to the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The Non-Aligned Movement’s catalyst has roots in the deepening rifts between Stalin’s Soviet Union and Tito’s Yugoslavia, which began deteriorating as early as the 1940s.
By 1961, Tito along with Egypt’s Nasser, India’s Nehru, Indonesia’s Sukarno and Ghana’s Nkrumah, consecrated the Non-Aligned Movement, a league of states which consciously chose to pursue global relations on the basis of not being tied to either of the two emergent Communist blocs nor to NATO.
By the 1980s the Non Aligned Movement had come to encompass the majority of the Arab world, the majority of the African states, and much of south-east Asia.
There were of course some anomalies.
Cuba was a founding member of the group in spite of its close Soviet alliance.
Pakistan, generally a NATO ally, joined in 1979, as did Iran after the Islamic revolution.
Albania, which abandoned the Soviet led Warsaw Pact for the Chinese bloc in 1968, remained isolated from the movement, even when relations with China broke off in the aftermath of Nixon’s entente with Mao.
Another notable exception was South Africa, whose apartheid regime found itself in conflict with the emergent independent states of Asia and much of the rest of Africa. South Africa ultimately joined the movement upon Mandela’s presidency in 1994.
Today, the BRICS represent key members of each group.
Russia and China are once again united as allies in both geo-politics and trade.
India was always been a key partner of the Soviet Union and through the BRICS, India and China may eventually become closer partners as opposed to regional rivals.
Brazil is an observer in the Non-Aligned movement and is an increasingly important economic-powerhouse in a surging Latin America – this despite the recent political and economic turmoil in that country.
Modern post-apartheid South Africa is a beacon of hope for a continent plagued by under-development. This is especially true now that Libya, once Africa’s strongest economy, has been destroyed by Hillary Clinton and NATO.
This all adds up to a BRICS which has the ability to unite the majority of the world. It is the US and its NATO allies who look increasingly isolated.
Of course much depends on the political will of the BRICS and their natural allies to speak with a unified voice, especially in matters of global security.
Just as it was in the Cold war of the 20th century, the Arab world will likely be the fulcrum around which the ultimate success or failure of the BRICS will swing.
Should the majority of the non-Wahhabi Arab world grow closer to the BRICS rather than to the NATO bloc, which has decimated secular Arab state after secular Arab state, this could well be the ultimate triumph for this young but internationally vital organisation.
It would also represent Vladimir Putin’s ultimate geo-political triumph.