ISSN 2330-717X

US To NATO: China To BRICS – OpEd

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The month of May-June 2022 has been the global calendar of important global multilateral interactions. Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United States gathered for the  first-ever Special Summit  held in Washington, D.C., on 12-13 May 2022. The Quad Security Dialogue  a group made of four nations, India, Japan, the US, and Australia held its Quad leader summit on the 24th of May in Tokyo to discuss the development of the Indo-Pacific economically and threats rising across the Indo-Pacific region. 9th Summit of the Americas held in the United States in first week June for the first time playing host since the inaugural meeting in 1994. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit (SCO-RATS) 2022 anti-terror body Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure  was held between May 16-19 in Delhi. 14th BRICS Summit, convened under the Chairship of President Xi Jinping of China on 23-24 June 2022, in a virtual format. Group of Seven (G-7) Summit, Krün, Germany from June 26–28. 2022 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit, Madrid from June 29 to 30. NATO leaders will also take the decision to invite Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO.

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Aim of all the summits was  unique that was to bring together their own existing multilateral forums, expand trans-continental by adding new members or enlarge the area of influence economically. And above all  how both US and China can counter each other through their blocs of influence or associations .

NATO

NATO, the only global military bloc led by the US, plans to expand to the Asia-Pacific region with Russia-Ukraine conflict as an excuse for this expansion exercise. The main mission of NATO from the very beginning was the unification of military and economic resources to counter the Soviet Union. NATO led by the US was instrumental in the collapse of the Soviet Union. America’s successful fulfillment of its tasks in Europe led Russia-Ukraine conflict made Biden Administration to think about using the potential and experience of the bloc in another part of the world by having identified China as the most serious threat to the international order and US in particular and to do this diplomatically and schematically has formed new groupings of nations to contain  the growing Chinese economic and military power through Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure projects across continents. US efforts are aimed at uniting all Asian and European allies, their military, economic and geo-strategic resources to recreate American global ambitions and counter the emerging China challenges.

The result is the formation of AUKUS (Australia-UK- US)  , a military group. Similarly the QUAD (US-Australia, India-Japan) group was created for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework but is not a  grouping of military nature so far. ASEAN summit in the US seeks to solidify ties with Southeast Asian countries as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy in response to China’s expansion.Earlier US Vice President Kamala Harris said that “the US and ASEAN have a shared  vision for this region, and together will guard against threats to international rules and norms,” appearing to allude to Beijing’s military presence in the South China Sea.ASEAN brings together ten Southeast Asian states; Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. 

BRICS

THE 14th BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) Summit was virtually held on June 23 with China as the host and now the most influential and powerful post Russia-Ukraine conflict.What distinguishes it from other multilateral forums is that:

It serves as a counter to US-led western countries which have been dominating global economics, politics and development. 

Provides a platform for voicing the concerns and aspirations of developing countries, which outnumber the West in terms of population, resources, and, increasingly, in their contribution to global development.

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BRICS, along with other forums, such as the SCO is an innovative endeavour to  push forward a new non-western  global development, which is equitable, environmentally sustainable and fulfills the sociolect-economic needs of the majority of the world’s population, especially the poor.

BRICS seeks to include more member nations into the organisation (Iran and Argentina).

BRICS on the positive side  has provided a forum for the leaders of the five member countries to meet regularly and exchange views of common interest to themselves and to the world at large and form a d pragmatic 21st-century front  to counter a multipolar world .

BRICS The negative side

On the negative side there is a clear lack of traditional logic behind the coming together of these countries falling in different continents.

They are dispersed geographically; their economies are in different stages of development. There seems to be no common ground other than all emerging economies.

Each member of BRICS also has their own reason to sustain this movement. Russia sees BRICS as a geopolitical counterweight to the eastward expansion of the Western system. For South Africa, BRICS is a means to legitimize its role as a gateway to and powerhouse of the African continent. BRICS allows Brazil to collaborate as a geopolitical counterweight, despite its geographical location. China participates in the forum  BRICS to spread its political influence and economic growth.

However, the weakest  link is the strained bilateral relations among the member countries India and China (Galwan standoff). It is necessary for China to urgently address India’s legitimate concerns.

India and Brazil have close ties to the US, which pursues an aggressive anti-China and anti-Russia policy.

As regards the future of BRICS, its leaders should seriously apply their minds on how to make it more effective and China needs to take the members along if it really wants to be a counter force to the West and it can only happen if China resolves the border issue with India. The idea of BRICS  seeking to include more member nations into the organisation, is highly relevant for China today if it wants to counter US and the West. 

US-led NATO has been a source of many wars and potential hotspots, be it Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, or the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which must be brought to an end soon. The legitimate concerns of Ukraine and Russia should be addressed. The world community should urge the US and its allies to give an assurance that NATO will not be expanded eastwards to threaten Russia’s security. The Ukraine war has provided an opportunity to the BRICS along with other like-minded emerging market nations to increase dialogue and cooperation on geopolitical conflicts which not only threaten peace and also negatively impact the global economy. The sharp rise in oil and food prices in the aftermath of the Ukraine war is a convincing ground for the BRICS to go ahead to convince the UN and the world to end the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Over the years, skepticism has been expressed about the BRICS initiative especially when the interests of India, China and the immediate neighbours will tend to clash on almost all issues on all platforms! Now India is attaching more importance to Quad and has moved closer to the US led Quad and  the G7. It may be fair to assume that BRICS may one day become a thing of the past. India knows that China is the dominant force in Asia at the moment but also knows it cannot compete with China on its own, and thus it hopes to contain China together with the stronger convergence of like-minded countries the result of its joining the Quad. China has shown concerns over the Quad partnership.In the end analysis If China wants to be what US is to NATO for the expanded version of the future BRICS then China has to decide on what kind of relations it maintains with its neighbour India, an influential member of the world community”.

Patial RC

Patial RC is a retired Infantry officer of the Indian Army and possesses unique experience of serving in active CI Ops across the country and in Sri Lanka. Patial RC is a regular writer on military and travel matters in military professional journals. The veteran is a keen mountaineer and a trekker.

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