By Kester Kenn Klomegah
Some experts say that the many unresolved issues between the BRICS countries and the US will stand in the way, whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins. BRICS Journal asks academics and journalists for their political take
“The basic approach will not change, US-centrism and commitment to US leadership/hegemony is an integral part of the American political mindset.” – Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs
“… the US still looks at BRICS as individual countries, albeit important countries. That may change when the BRICS development bank starts to make serious loans.” – David H Shinn, adjunct professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University
“The BRICS exchange has led to enhanced cooperation among the members along a wide range of policy areas where ministerial and expert-level work is conducted.” – Scott Firsing, an adjunct professor of International Politics and National Security at Coastal Carolina University
“The India-Brazil-SA (IBSA) members of BRICS are all viewed individually and in bilateral terms. US policy overall is to ‘cherry pick’ among different countries in accordance with whatever agenda it has in play,” Francis Kornegay, senior research fellow at the Institute of Global Dialogue at the University of South Africa
With a few months to the next US presidential elections, media experts and scholars are discussing how the US foreign policy will be restructured under the new president and its implications for the BRICS countries. Later this year, the Republican Party’s nominee Donald Trump or the former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, representing the Democrats, will replace President Barrack Obama in the White House in Washington, DC. Some experts say that whether Trump or Clinton wins, US policy will generally seek to intimidate Russia, and this would lead to high tensions between the US and Russia.
“The US view on BRICS is swinging between utter hostility and disparaging neglect. There are two ways [the US] interprets [BRICS]: it is an anti-American alliance forged by ugly Putin on the first hand, or that BRICS is a virtual non-existent fantasy by failing giants. [Subconsciously, perhaps they are] concerned by the emergence of something big and non-Western, but never articulate it because they don’t want to legitimise it,” says FYODOR LUKYANOV, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs and a member of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy in Moscow.
Lukyanov does not foresee a significant role will be played by Trump or Clinton in reshaping BRICS. The basic approach will not change, US-centrism and commitment to US leadership/hegemony is an integral part of the American political mindset. Although he does think that Trump could engender further hostility.
DAVID H SHINN, adjunct professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University in the US, however, explains that the US looks at BRICS as an organization. It still looks at BRICS as individual countries, albeit important countries. That may change when the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) starts to make serious loans.
According to an agreement made during the group’s sixth summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, in July 2014, the BRICS member countries established the NDB, with an initial authorised capital of $100 billion at its disposal. The bank officially started its operations in the Chinese city of Shanghai on 21 July, 2015.
Shinn, who is a former US ambassador to Ethiopia (1996-99) and Burkina Faso (1987-90), says: “To the best of my knowledge, Trump has said nothing about BRICS and I doubt he has given any thought to the organisation. Clinton, having served as Secretary of State for four years, is clearly familiar with BRICS, but I don’t believe she has discussed them so far during the campaign. I doubt that the election of either Clinton or Trump would change the US approach to BRICS as an organisation. But there could be significant differences in the way the two candidates deal with individual member countries, especially Russia and China.”