Op-Ed Commentary by Chris Devonshire-Ellis – August 9th, 2022
The world is moving away from the US and Washington is trying to delay the inevitable as the SE8 bloc begins to emerge.
The United States foreign policy is well known for being both ineffective and at times overly assertive, but recent 2022 events have shown a marked deterioration in even its fairly low policy standards. Instead, the methodology appears a crude attempt to stave off the emergence of a new SE8 bloc exclusive of any of the G7 nations.
Avoiding the current Russia-Ukraine conflict could well have been managed if Washington had heeded Moscow’s warnings about not positioning NATO troops in Ukraine, and that Ukraine was not to join NATO, to which US President Biden meekly stated that the decision was up to Kiev, not Washington. That ‘up to Kiev’ status has certainly changed since then, with the US feeding billions of dollars worth of weapons into the country in the resulting conflict, which is more likely now to rumble on, possibly for years, causing immense damage not just to Ukraine, but also Russia and the EU.
More recently, we have the Taiwan debacle and the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island, in what appears to be political grandstanding by the US for no apparent gain. Biden washed his hands of the whole scenario again by stating “I can’t stop a private visit” while an enraged China has subsequently issued sanctions on Taiwanese products, barring many from import, and hosted on-going war games around the island. Washington now calls that ‘unprovoked’ which is clear nonsense – none of this would have occurred had Pelosi not been so egotistical and stayed away.
Washington’s behaviour is nothing more akin than a little boy pinching his sibling only to get a thwack upside the head for doing so, then complaining about it. This isn’t diplomacy – it’s foolish, dangerous, and a very low-quality level of politicking.
Much of the US positioning, and especially when it comes to Russia has also been low-level. What is disappointing is that no-one within the EU appears able to stand up to it either. Does no-one recognize that the imposition of massive trade sanctions upon Russia (just shy of 6,000 individual measures) renders the entire structure of the World Trade Organization useless? That body, since 1995, has acted as an intergovernmental organization that regulates and facilitates international trade. Governments use the organization to establish, revise, and enforce the rules that govern international trade. Have the US or EU taken their Russian grievances to the WTO to debate and agree to punitive measures against Russia? Did they abide by the existing international rule of law? No, they didn’t – they acted completely unilaterally.
It is also a slap in the face for the other global members of the WTO, which apart from the United States, Canada, EU, UK, Australia, and New Zealand includes another 132 countries that were not consulted over trade sanctions that are affecting all. It is hardly surprising that those nations are gradually coming to the opinion that they are regarded as ‘outside’ and not part of the West’s decision-making process. That in turn is fueling a move towards multipolarity, where everyone gets a say.
Of course, it could all be a grand design to deliberately create an “Us v Them” style world, where the so-called West has deliberately chosen to close itself off from the rest of the world, and only trade between each other. If so, the world has completely flipped on its axis: the last time that was attempted it was the Soviet Union and China who did much of the isolation. This time, it is the West who are ripping up trade agreements, imposing tariffs and introducing sanctions, while it is Russia and China who are championing free trade and new partnerships.
Time and opportunity, however are not on the West’s side. Measured in PPP terms, as is the economic norm, China’s economy is already close to parity with that of the US, while the BRICS nations alone have more GDP clout than the G7. An SE8 (SouthEast8) of the five BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa is already beginning to form, and likely to do so with Turkiye, Indonesia and Mexico all potential – and very likely candidates. One just has to add in a smattering of other larger economies and energy plays such as the Gulf States, Argentina, Thailand, Nigeria, and Egypt to get an idea of how quickly this could gain momentum.
The question that countries, including those in Europe, need to ask is: Which side of the fence am I going to be on? It is that determinant that has now arisen as the defining factor in the makeup of the 21st century, and it is this process that are living through right now. Nothing is going to be the same.
Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal commentary, belong solely to the contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Asia Briefing Limited or Dezan Shira & Associates.