Trade Wars

Economic giant heading west

Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, Russian President Vladimir Putin, second left, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, center, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, second right, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, right , at the BRICS summit in Brasilia on November 14, 2019. — Middle East Monitor

THE G7 summit in Elmau, Germany, June 26-28, and the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, two days later, were virtually useless in terms of real solutions to the ongoing global crises – the war in Ukraine, impending famines, climate change and more. But both events were significant nonetheless, as they provide a stark example of the powerlessness of the West, amid rapidly changing global dynamics.

As has been the case since the start of the Russo-Ukrainian war, the West has tried to show unity, even though it has repeatedly become clear that such unity does not exist. As France, Germany and Italy pay a heavy price for the post-war energy crisis, Briton Boris Johnson is adding fuel to the fire in hopes of making his country relevant on the world stage following the Brexit humiliation. Meanwhile, the Joe Biden administration in the United States is exploiting the war to restore Washington’s credibility and leadership over the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – especially after the disastrous tenure of Donald Trump, who nearly failed. break the historical alliance.

Even the fact that several African countries are becoming vulnerable to famines – due to the disruption of food supplies from the Black Sea and the consequent rise in prices – did not seem to disturb the leaders of some of the least developed countries. richest in the world. They still insist on not interfering in the global food market, although soaring prices have already pushed tens of millions below the poverty line.

Although the West had little reserve of credibility to begin with, the current obsession of Western leaders with maintaining thousands of sanctions against Russia, continuing NATO expansion, dumping even more “weapons killings” in Ukraine and maintaining their global hegemony at all costs have all pushed their credibility to a new low.

From the outset of the war in Ukraine, the West championed the same “moral” dilemma posed by George W Bush at the start of his so-called “war on terror”. “You are either with us or with the terrorist,” he said in October 2009. But the ongoing conflict between Russia and NATO cannot be reduced to mere self-serving cliches. We can, in fact, want the end of the war, and still oppose American-Western unilateralism. The reason American diktats have worked in the past, however, is that unlike the current geopolitical atmosphere, a few have dared to oppose Washington’s policy.

The times have changed. Russia, China, India, as well as many other countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America are navigating every available space to counter stifling Western domination. These countries have made it clear that they will not participate in isolating Russia in the service of NATO’s expansionist agenda. On the contrary, they have taken many steps to develop alternatives to the Western-dominated global economy, and in particular to the US dollar which for five decades has played the role of a commodity and not a currency. in itself. The latter has been Washington’s most effective weapon, coupled with numerous US-orchestrated crises, sanctions and, as in the case of Iraq and Venezuela, among others, mass hunger. .

China and others understand that the current conflict is not about Ukraine versus Russia, but something much bigger. If Washington and Europe emerge victorious, and if Moscow is pushed back behind the proverbial “Iron Curtain”, Beijing will have no choice but to make painful concessions to the resurgent West. This, in turn, would cap China’s global economic growth and weaken its case for the One China policy.

China is not wrong. Almost immediately after NATO’s unlimited military support for Ukraine and the ensuing economic war against Russia, Washington and its allies began threatening China over Taiwan. Many provocative statements, as well as military maneuvers and high-level visits by US politicians to Taipei, were intended to underscore US dominance in the Pacific.

There are two main reasons why the West has invested more in the current confrontational approach against China, at a time when, arguably, it would have been more beneficial to exercise a degree of diplomacy and compromise. First, the West’s fear that Beijing may misinterpret its action as weakness and a form of appeasement; and, second, the West’s historical relationship with China has always been based on intimidation, if not outright humiliation. From the Portuguese occupation of Macau in the 16th century, to the British Opium Wars in the mid-19th century, to Trump’s trade war against China, the West has always viewed China as a subject, not a partner.

This is precisely why Beijing has not joined in the chorus of Western condemnations of Russia. Although the current war in Ukraine does not directly benefit China, the geopolitical results of the war could be critical for China’s future as a global power.

While NATO continues to insist on its expansion in order to illustrate its durability and unity, it is the alternative world order led by Russia and China that deserves serious attention. According to Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Beijing and Moscow are working to further develop the BRICS club of major emerging economies to act as a counterbalance to the G7. The German paper is correct. The latest BRICS summit on June 23 was intended as a message to the G7 that the West is no longer in charge and that Russia, China and the South are preparing for a long fight against Western domination.

In his speech at the BRICS summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed the creation of an “international reserve currency based on the basket of currencies of our countries”. The fact that the ruble alone has managed to survive, indeed thrive, under recent Western sanctions gives hope that the combined BRICS currencies may eventually succeed in ousting the US dollar as the dominant currency in the world.

Reportedly, it was Chinese President Xi Jinping who requested that the date of the BRICS summit be changed from July 4 to June 23, so that it does not appear to be a response to the G7 summit in Germany. This further highlights how the BRICS are beginning to see themselves as a direct competitor to the G7. The fact that Argentina and Iran are applying for BRICS membership also illustrates that the economic alliance is turning into a political, indeed geopolitical, entity.

The coming global struggle may be the most consequential since World War II. While NATO will continue to fight for its relevance, Russia, China and others will invest in various economic, political and even military infrastructures, in the hope of creating a permanent and lasting counterweight to Western domination. The outcome of this conflict is likely to shape the future of humanity.

DissidentVoice.org, July 16. Ramzy Baroud is an author, journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs at Zaim University in Istanbul.