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The Rise of BRIC: Too Soon to Make Assumptions
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By Zachary K. Ochoa Since the dawn of American hegemony in international relations, the world has been on the lookout for the state that may one day replace the U.S. as the predominant global power. In the nineties, it was believed that Japan’s economic might would reign supreme. When Japan’s economy stagnated, the world’s eyes then turned to a resurgent Germany as a part of the growing European Union. However, it has become clear that the old powers of Europe are too busy focusing on their own economic survival to make a play for global prominence. Today, it is a general assumption that the BRIC countries will replace the powers that be in international relations. Brazil, Russia, India and China are seen as the modern rising powers, and so the question has now become whether or not one of these countries will rise to challenge the U.S. as the dominant country. Will the world see a shift to BRIC that dramatically alters the global balance of power? Based on the current state of these countries, the answer is that it is too soon to tell. The BRIC countries face too many problems in terms of division, economic uncertainty and international opposition to justify an assumption of global preeminence. In order to fully grasp this, it is important to understand that BRIC does not really exist. BRIC is not an organization, a coalition or anything resembling an alliance. It is simply a name referring to a collection of countries that are not aligned with one another in any significant way. In fact, the majority of these countries are at odds with one another on several major issues ranging from border disputes to military antagonism. Global strength means that a state must be possess the capability to project power beyond its traditional boundaries. Therefore, BRIC will not be able to exercise its influence globally until it acquires regional stability at home. However, the main argument for the rise of BRIC is based not in political strength, but in economic advancement. The argument that states that BRIC will overcome the current largest economies in the world is the basis for the claim that global power will eventually shift to these nations. However, this is an over-simplistic view of global economics. Yes, it is true that BRIC may one day come to possess the lion’s share of the global economy, but this does not represent true economic might. Power in international relations isn’t about numerical strength, but relative strength. If countries like China and India develop giant economies, what will really count is how it stacks up on a per capita basis against the other major powers of the world. In other words, it doesn’t matter if India has a larger economy than the U.S. if the majority of India’s population is living in poverty and the U.S. citizenry is among the wealthiest in the world. The BRIC countries will need to make great strides in the realms of poverty, corruption and economic development if they are ever going to see a power shift in their direction. Additionally, if they are ever going to rise to the top of the international system, they will need to start making friends in high places. Even if global power is shifting towards BRIC, the majority of it still lies in the West and its allies. It may in fact come to pass that the United States will be either replaced or challenged for its leading role in world affairs, but it will almost certainly remain as a significant player in global politics. Based on this, any BRIC country that hopes to transcend its rivals must do so on a foundation of alliances, trust and international cooperation. Basically, nothing short of systemic war will allow a BRIC country to dominate the other major players against their will. Put plainly, the BRIC countries will need to convince the rest of the world that their leadership is in their best interests, anything less will not bear fruit. The BRIC nations face competition, economic shortcomings and PR challenges that prevent them from being hailed as the next great leaders of the world. If they are ever going to replace the powers that be, they must first learn how to cooperate with one another. On top of that, they will need to make great strides in their domestic economics that rival that of the West. Finally, if they are going to one day lead the international community, they will need to build the kind of relationships that will foster and support that leadership. This is not to say that a power shift to BRIC is impossible, this only means that there are many more conditions that must be met before this event can occurs. It is undeniable that Brazil, Russia, India and China are great powers in their own right, and it doesn’t stretch the imagination too much to picture one of them rising to challenge the United States. Only time will tell if this will ever come to pass.

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Tue, September 10, 2013 02:56 AM (about 95047 hours ago)
Good of you to point out that BRIC is not really a bloc just an adhoc set of economies put together by some whizkids at Goldman Sachs actually. Yes it is futile to talk about them as one entity - there is no cooperation like the EU etc.

However, one can say power is not concentrated in the West anymore and has spread out more evenly around the world.

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