February 22, 2024

The Rules-Based Order and the BRICS

The inability of NATO-backed Ukraine to defeat the Kremlin’s forces and the commercial and economic dependency that Western countries have fallen into vis-à-vis China confirm bitter apprehensions about a rapid decline of the US-led bloc.
Keywords: BRICS, Russia, China, India, NATO, Dollar, Currency, Economic, International, Blocs, Dependency, Commercial 
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The next BRICS summit scheduled in South Africa in August is likely to announce various momentous decisions, such as the admission of new member-states, including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Argentina, and Egypt and set a timetable for the introduction of a new joint currency to replace the US Dollar in international trade between them. Although little is publicly known about the features and the asset backing envisioned for this international digital monetary instrument, the concept has certainly been discussed and largely agreed upon by the concerned governments as multiple official and semi-official statements indicate. The likelihood that this rival to the Greenback may come into being in the short or medium term has set alarm bells ringing in the financial citadels of the Western world and especially in the United States, already shaken by the parlous state of their economy and the declining status of a rapidly devaluing Dollar (in terms of purchasing power). The economic threat posed by this future monetary vehicle combines with the challenge posed to American supremacy by Russia and China and incites Washington DC to use all its political, diplomatic, military and judicial arsenal in order to derail this process. The inability of NATO-backed Ukraine to defeat the Kremlin’s forces and the commercial and economic dependency that Western countries have fallen into vis-à-vis China confirm bitter apprehensions about a rapid decline of the US-led bloc.

One cannot but view in that context Russian President Putin’s inculpation by the International Criminal Court, on the questionable charges of children’s kidnapping according to testimonies collected only in belligerent Ukraine, by a Prosecutor who appears to have been highly susceptible to pressure. 

The ICC can certainly be influenced by the Western powers that host and largely finance it and has shown its inability or unwillingness to investigate the USA which is not a party to it as Congress has not ratified the country’s adhesion. When the Court tried to prosecute certain US servicemen accused of committing war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan,  the US Government threatened the judges with direct retaliation and nipped the process in the bud. However, the US, faithful to its unilateralist vision of a world order in which it is the supreme authority, is eager to use the ICC as an instrument in the service of its own interests. The Government’s priority now is to neutralize Putin in any way possible, according to at least one prominent American legislator which may dovetail with earlier attempts against the Russian President’s life, possibly foreign-backed. 

In line with this ‘pull all the stops’ strategy, the American government and its allies are now applying the greatest pressure on South Africa to arrest the Russian head of State if and when he comes to participate in the August BRICS summit. Clearly, the intent is to prevent the gathering from fulfilling its agenda by embroiling its members in a legal controversy about the primacy of international law over the diplomatic immunity of heads of state in foreign countries. The sabotage tactic can be effective if South Africa, the host state, faces damaging economic and diplomatic sanctions that might topple its fragile political edifice, given its ethnically divided society and an economy still under heavy ‘Western’ influence.  The South African spokesman has indeed recalled that, though foreign heads of state have diplomatic immunity, the latter does not supersede arrest warrants from a supra-national judicial authority although the ICC (to which Pretoria is a signatory) cannot compel a sovereign state to comply with its demands. 

Similar pressure tactics and threats are being implemented by the G-7 Clan towards the G20 and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation – both chaired by India this year – which the United States and its subalterns are holding hostage to the Ukrainian question. There is a realisation in Western circles that Ukraine cannot win this war on the battlefield so that only a major geopolitical upset can turn the table on Russia. Humanitarian and other moral concerns are mere fig leaves over the naked resolve to maintain hegemony through the ‘rules-based order’ system. It is enough to recall that a rapidly growing percentage of the world’s population is now under some kind of sanctions, most unilaterally decreed by the United States with the support of its allies, to realise that mankind is split between the Club of the sanctioning powers and the rest of the world, which can fall victims to these sanctions at the will of the US Congress and the White House. India has had that experience in the last decades and faces it once again, in connection to its energy trade with Russia

Going back to the decolonisation process, which took place from the late 1940s onwards, history shows that former colonies became legally free but remained under the supervision and tutelage of their erstwhile overseas masters, although the rise of the Communist Bloc around the USSR gave them some leeway between two far-from-ideal political and economic options. The partnership of convenience between the US and China from the early 1970s and the breakdown of the Soviet Union almost two decades later shattered the balance of power and heralded the famous ‘unipolar moment’ that is slowly passing. The concerted attempt by the NATO-led ‘first world’ nations to retain global control through neo-liberal economic strategies, ‘color revolutions’ and managed socio-ethical disruptions intended to undermine internal stability and foster confusion and conflicts (the LGBTX campaign, NGO ‘pro-human rights’ activism, WHO mandated policies against real or decreed ‘pandemics’ at al.) has bought some time for the hegemon but its own internal woes spell doom. The foreign policy entrusted to NATO has two geopolitical goals: first weaken and if possible shatter Russia into various parts and secondly slow down and eventually reverse China’s technological and military rise. It is assumed that other, lesser ‘problems’, such as Iran and North Korea can be more easily taken care of once those two principal challengers are cut down to size.

India is being courted by the US while being harshly criticized in the globalist ‘legacy media’ on various grounds but in reality for professing constructive multi-alignment. The recent offer from the US Congress of NATO-Plus status to New Delhi is predicated on India’s acceptance of the broader US agenda, against a promise of technology transfer and business incentives but it will necessarily entail the loss of strategic autonomy and independent decision-making. It should be kept in mind that any country or personality, legal or physical, can always fall under the sway of US sanctions if it ceases to comply with the prescribed ‘rules-based code of behaviour’, all the more so if it contributes to any initiative regarded as an existential threat to the Superpower’s status. And the BRICS, at last potentially, matches that one-sided, self-serving definition of what goes against the global order. 

As the Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr. S Jaishankar pointed out in the preparatory BRICS Foreign Ministers meeting, the problems posed by the economic inequity which allows certain powers to impose their will on others, legally or not, must be addressed by the organisation if it is to solve them.

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Côme Carpentier de Gourdon

Côme Carpentier de Gourdon is Distinguished Fellow with India Foundation and is also the Convener of the Editorial Board of the WORLD AFFAIRS JOURNAL. He is an associate of the International Institute for Social and Economic Studies (IISES), Vienna, Austria. Côme Carpentier is an author of various books and several articles, essays and papers

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