The BRIC Block thus, has everything it needs to tell the Western world to go to hell and govern comfortably without the competition and righteous interference from them. In fact, they have just discovered this new formula to circumvent the Western sanctions via the Ruble/Rupee and Ruble/Yuan facilities being readied as we speak. So, they are in a much stronger position than the current crescendo in the Western Media indicates.
No one ever realized the monumental global implications of their actions when they established the BRIC block for economic and political cooperation in 2001. Brazil, Russia, India and China came together to promote their common interests and increase cooperation/collaboration to achieve those. Together, with only 20% of global GDP, it seemed an innocuous and logical thing to do and had no anti-Western or aggressive agenda. Even the West welcomed it, inviting them to join the G-20 in 2018.
A lot has happened in the past 10 years that fundamentally changed the geopolitics such that the BRIC group is now totally aligned in every respect, a diametrically opposite of the Western world and a competing, self-sufficient economic block that can sustain and thrive with no economic relations with the West whatsoever!
The main factors leading to this paradigm shift are:
1] Global Political Realignment :
The world has taken a hard turn to the right and anti-democratic, pro-autocracy forces have dominated to such an extent that 75% of the world is now ruled by dictators, autocrats and pseudo autocrats cleverly operating under the guise of democracy. Western style liberal democracy is on a major retreat all over the world, including in the U.S.
Russia, China and Brazil, the three main BRIC countries are clearly in the overt autocratic mode where they find democracy and free enterprise a distinct disadvantage. Brazil’s Bolesaro, an openly Trump admirer, can’t wait to show the Western world it’s place and is already filling China’s food grains needs so well that China actually reneged on their pledge to purchase the U.S. grain!
Turkey, Philippines, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Iran, plus many Eastern European and African countries are not too far behind on the autocratic path.
India is a curious case though. They have perfected the art of autocracy in the garb of democratic norms. Like a bat claiming to be a bird or an animal depending on which side is winning, they can seamlessly traverse between the democratic and autocratic Avatars! The trend is clear though and their latest siding with Russia against the West on the Ukraine issue completes the transformation to the Dark Side. Powerful Indian middle class, the main source of strength for Prime Minister Modi, has the Jekyll and Hyde type split personality of vocally hating America while standing in the line at the American Consulate for a Green Card to join their children there!
The Indian governing party has various front organizations that do their bidding with a covert official sanction, like the powerful Hindu Sena [Hindu Army] organization openly supporting Russia. RSS, the parent organization of the governing party, which makes no bones about their goal to establish a theocratic Hindu State and whose Founders always exhibited sympathies for the Fascist ideology, has been curiously mum on the Ukrainian issue, signaling silent approval, while outwardly professing that 'the whole world is one big family'!
Given that India has soft peddled her border dispute with China and has now joined hands with them to support Russia, including getting ready a Ruble/Rupee facility to help circumvent the sanctions exposes the doublespeak about democracy and peace etc.
2] BRIC Block, The Economic Behemoth :
In addition to these major players, the usual suspects like Iran, Venezuela, etc. can be relied upon to complete this self-sufficient block representing exactly half the world’s population, as together they have the basic pillars for a strong economy, totally independent of the West. The African nations and most Asian nations can be relied upon to play an opportunistic, self-serving role in playing both sides per their advantage, with an eye on profits, not principles.
In fact, the BRIC Block may actually hold some trump cards like the Rare Metals, Gas, Fertilizers and cheap skilled labor to even outdo the West.
Here are the main pillars for an independent economic block:
- Rare Earth Metals—Russia and China
- Food grains—Brazil
- Cheap goods—China
- Efficient mass production—China
- Tech talent—India
- Global fertilizer supply—Russia
- Young, English speaking skilled labor—India
- Cyber, military and space technology—Russia, China
The only major pillar they lack is the young, creative talent to develop the future economy. They will never have that in an autocratic, command and control system. They produce armies of worker bees, but not the 'out of the box' thinkers and rebels. India too will never have creative talent for a different reason. The ancient culture puts a premium on unquestioned obedience and any challenge to the conventional thinking is viewed as a sign of arrogance, disrespect, violation of cultural norms and is severely discouraged. India thus produces armies of Call Center workers but not a single Elon Musk, Steve Jobs or Zuckerberg.
Being ancient and cunning cultures, what they cannot invent, they copy and steal. Although deplorable, this is indeed a real factor that may fill the creativity gap somewhat, but will never catch up to the free thinking and diverse West. The Democratic countries can of course, neutralize this with the wholesale import of the Chinese scientists and Indian Techies who are dying to make their mark in the Silicon Valley. The Western advantage in creativity and cutting edge technology will always be their strong suit.
It’s obvious that the BRIC Block has most of the above and more. The 'more' part consists of an authoritarian ruling system that can command and control the resources at will, without having to go through the lengthy democratic process. It’s bad for the people, but suits the purpose for action in a hurry.
3] Congruent Socio Political Interests of the BRIC Block :
The BRIC countries have intertwined interests that include conveniently circumventing the human rights, religious freedom, and use of the government machinery to crush the opponents and maintain an iron grip on the people. Hatred of religious and ethnic Minorities is the common theme that binds these nations further, even superseding the economic interests.
Autocrats love this set up and Putin’s 'Mini Me' copycats all over the world have adopted this pattern. Even half of the people in the West, particularly the Trumpist Hard Right and the White Nationalists all over the West not only don’t care, but actually admire Putin and are secretly rooting for him to win!
The BRIC Block thus, has everything it needs to tell the Western world to go to hell and govern comfortably without the competition and righteous interference from them. In fact, they have just discovered this new formula to circumvent the Western sanctions via the Ruble/Rupee and Ruble/Yuan facilities being readied as we speak. So, they are in a much stronger position than the current crescendo in the Western Media indicates. Seizing a few yachts may sound wonderful, but the bulk of their money must have been converted into Crypto currencies already, and assets stashed away in friendly countries and with proxies.
One big asset that the BRIC Block has is their people who, for the most part, are compliant, obedient and happy with less, not demanding more. Democracy is a new and alien concept to them; so, they are not losing sleep over the loss thereof, as what little prosperity they have today is a lot more than they ever had.
4] The Final Divorce :
The claims of the sanctions bringing Russia to her knees are highly exaggerated and Russia will soon manage with the help from other BRIC countries, who are chomping at the bit to show the Western world it’s place. Even Cuba weathered the sanctions for over 50 years! The assumption that Russia will crumble without the Western technology is laughable, as Russia and China have quite advanced technologies in military, space, cosmology, quantum computing and mass manufacturing, etc.
The Empire thus, is far from crumbling. The BRIC Block can function on the lines of the old Comecon barter system and through other currencies like the Rupee and Yuan. In fact, the current events and sanctions have merely accelerated the informal amalgamation of the BRIC Block into a well structured alliance, hardly needing the West for anything!
5] The divorce is good for the Western Democracies too :
The democratic Western Block may also be better off with this divorce. All they need from the BRIC Block is the Tech talent from India and cheap goods from China. The 'make in America' push by Biden may actually result in the production of critical tech products in the U.S. and kill two birds in one stone by starting mega manufacturing factories for the low end goods in the rural and semi-urban places where the local people can make decent living without relocation and disruption of their family and social life. Increased cost may actually be offset by the transportation savings and the West may have to pay a bit more for their trinkets.
Rare Metals for the futuristic economy will be the biggest challenge, but that’s where the American ingenuity comes in. Good example is the Iron Ion batteries for electricity storage that may be a game changer. Western democracies need to brace for some power games by the BRIC Block that may involve strategic use of fertilizers, gas, rare metals and cyber power, to name a few. But there is no challenge America and the Western world has not overcome, if they put their minds to it!
The current sanctions have actually strengthened the BRIC unity and brought this final divorce with the Western economies in sharp focus. So, it may actually happen sooner, rather than later.
Underestimate the BRIC Block at your own peril!
- Sunil Deshmukh
(The author is a US-based philanthropist and corporate leader of Wall Street. He is the Originator of the prestigious 'Maharashtra Foundation Awards for Literature and Social work'. )