The recent NATO summit held in Spain included as guests the nations of Australia, New Zealand and Japan. By expanding the invited countries, NATO was signaling that it was the longer confined to the North Atlantic, as its name consistently represents, but instead was expanding its sphere of influence to the Asia and Pacific region. The motives are obvious. It wishes to contain the inexorable rise of China, as the dominant power in Asia, and indeed, increasingly to the rest of the world.
The meeting was attended on behalf of Australia, by the newly elected Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Any hope that the new Labor government would hold a different view on China from that of its unlamented predecessor, the Liberal – National coalition, were soon dashed by the attitude taken towards China by the Australian Prime Minister.
Speaking to reporters in the course of the meeting, Albanese referred to the “rules based international order”, a term invented by the Americans and intended to convey some sort of legitimacy on what is actually a narrow western nations-based view of international affairs. As Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has recently remarked, there is no such thing as the rules based international order. Rather, the appropriate nomenclature for the world’s law-based system, is “international law”, a term recognized and applied by the vast majority of the world’s nations.
The approach of NATO and that of the five nations grouping of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) could not be more different. BRICS has recently held its 14th summit in Beijing. It was attended by a group of other nations, including Iran and Argentina, both of whom have recently formally applied to join BRICS, but also others such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Mexico. All of these nations have failed to join the Western led sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine.
There are multiple reasons for doing so, not least because they recognize that Ukraine is far from being the democratic country it is falsely portrayed as being in the Western media. The Western media have conveniently forgotten a number of relevant facts about Ukraine, including that the government came to power in a United States backed coup in 2014, has refused to implement the 2015 Minsk agreement, and has recently portrayed its true political instincts by the banning of at least nine opposition parties.
The ”I” part of the BRICS is India, which plays a delicate balancing role in the organization, also being as it is, a member of the so-called “Quad” nations that have is their raison d’etre the containment of China.
The contrast between BRICS and the West could not be greater. China for example, has replaced both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as the world’s largest net creditor over the past decade. It has hosted a huge number of investments in developing countries across the Global South, through the BRI and other initiatives.
The IMF and World Bank have morphed into weapons of economic coercion, under which the United States has used them to support its ambition as being the world’s leading power. Rather than using coercion as the means of control, the Chinese have developed an entirely different system, best represented by the New Development Bank which China established in 2014. They recognized that the key to a stable security framework is economic and financial development.
The move by NATO beyond its North Atlantic emphasis to the Asia Pacific region is an attempt to create a serious challenge to China’s predominance in its own region. China’s president Xi recognizes the real meaning of NATO’s expansion. In his address to BRICS Xi denounced what he called “small circles” built upon hegemony as desired and practiced by NATO.
China clearly sees BRIC as playing a serious role in countering the United States led Western system. Part of this is the development of an alternative to the dominance of the dollar as the instrument of international trade and replacing it with trade conducted in the national currencies of the countries concerned.
The difference in approach was personified by the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in announcing that Argentina and Iran had applied to join BRICS. She contrasted the approach of BRICS to that of the United States as a development that has happened “while the White House was thinking what to disconnect, ban or spoil in the world.”
A further comment on recent developments was made by Russian Senator Aleksey Pushkov who stated that BRICS was capable of becoming an alternative, and even a counterweight, to the G7.It unites the leading countries in the non- western world, and was a “breakthrough” that not only undermined the Wests efforts to isolate Russia, but also “considerably expanded the top economic political organization of the non-western world.”
In his address to the BRICS meeting, Xi described BRICS as a “big family” as opposed to the United States led NATO which Xi labelled:” hegemonic little circles.” Unfortunately, these hegemonic little circles will not go down without a fight. Therein lies the danger to the world. Fabio Vighi has recently (thephilosophicalsalon.com ) put the choice facing the world as “either we begin to emancipate from the commodity, value and money forms, and thus from the capital forms as such, or we will be dragged into a new dark age of violence and regression”.
The SCO and BRICS are both showing that an alternative does exist. The question will be whether we are smart enough to recognize the choice facing us, or do we succumb to the mindless triviality so sadly eminent in the recent Madrid meeting of NATO.
James O’Neill, an Australian-based former Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.