The geopolitical and economic alliance known as BRICS recently rocked the world stage by approving the addition of five powerful new members – Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Turkey. This expansion packs a momentous punch, pairing major energy producers with developing nations that boast nearly half the world’s population.
The move bolsters BRICS’ strength and reach extensively almost overnight. But what are the wider implications of the alliance’s growth? And what does it portend for the future balance of global power and America’s standing?
BRICS – An Alternative to Western Supremacy
BRICS was established in 2009 as an association of major emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Together, they account for over 40% of the world’s population and around 30% of global GDP.
The bloc was envisioned partly as a counterweight to Western-dominated institutions like the G7 and World Bank, where decision-making power lies predominantly with the U.S. and its European allies. BRICS enables its members – especially China and Russia – to collaborate more closely on financial, economic and political matters without relying as heavily on relations with the West.
The new additions take this motive further. Major oil exporters Iran and Saudi Arabia provide energy security along with economic growth opportunities. Egypt serves as Africa’s gateway with the Muslim world and Middle East. Turkey bridges Europe and Asia with substantial regional clout.
Collectively, the expanded BRICS alliance covers nearly every corner of the world. Its motives run deeper than dollars and barrels of crude. There is a desire to expedite a shift toward a new multipolar global order where developing countries hold greater sway versus the post-WWII structure built by America and its allies.
Strengthening Adversaries & Alternatives to the U.S.
The BRICS enlargement is a big win for key U.S. adversaries China and Russia. With the West economically isolating Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, BRICS not only offers Vladimir Putin respite but the prospect of reducing reliance on U.S. and EU markets long-term.
Trade with BRICS members already accounts for nearly a quarter of Russia’s total. And the expanded alliance promises even more investment and technological cooperation with Beijing and New Delhi to help further circumvent Western sanctions.
For China, the new BRICS presents an opportunity to accelerate several key objectives:
- Strengthening economic ties with and influence over the Middle East, a region critical for supply of China’s top import – oil and gas. Closer coordination with Middle East producers within BRICS facilitates this, allowing deals and partnerships to be struck with reduced U.S. interference.
- Boosting international use of China’s currency, the yuan. More trade with BRICS members means wider adoption of yuan for payment settlements, further establishing it as a global currency and credible alternative to the U.S. dollar.
- Spearheading its vision of a Global South coalition led by Beijing as a counterforce to U.S. leadership of world affairs. Xi Jinping has long sought to position China as an advocate for developing countries. The expanded BRICS alliance realization of this ambition.
Collectively, these outcomes promise to bolster China’s economic, diplomatic and political strength globally while eroding traditional American dominance – all while enabling Beijing to claim it isn’t pursuing unilateral power or coercion.
Implications for U.S: Can Washington Afford to Be Left Out?
The formation of this larger BRICS bloc possesses undeniable geopolitical and economic significance. It represents developing countries across Latin America, Africa and Asia choosing to foster stronger ties with American rivals over the U.S.
The collective represents a substantial share of global GDP, population, resources, and future growth. Its emphasis is on increasing sustainability and prosperity in developing nations – where U.S. relations have weakened in recent years.
Meanwhile, bodies like the G7 and IMF where America and Europe lead the way are perceived as losing relevance and favoritism of Western capitalism.
The U.S. approach to recent international issues like the Ukraine invasion, Iran relations, climate change have also alienated it from many countries drawn to BRICS’ multilateralism. Washington will face pressure to review its stances if it wants to remain highly involved in international matters.
A new emerging-market bloc that threatens dollar dominance and boasts China and Russia as leaders certainly creates headaches the U.S. would prefer to avoid. It risks accelerating America’s displacement as the world’s sole superpower and strengthening its top two geopolitical adversaries. This could cause national security implications down the road.
Upholding global peace, prosperity and stability requires productive engagement between Washington and BRICS countries – especially China. If America intends to retain its influence over world affairs, renewing diplomatic and economic ties with BRICS member states may trump taking an oppositional stance.
The Future Is Multipolar
The latest BRICS expansion signals a global order transitioning from U.S. unipolar dominance to multipolar cooperation between developed and emerging countries. This promises to reshape geopolitics and economics in the 21st century.
America and Europe ruled the 20th century almost unchallenged following WWII’s devastation of prior powers. But present-day priorities like sustainable development, climate action, poverty reduction, and technological integration have seen leadership start to shift outside the West.
BRICS now boasts demographic and economic strength America can longer easily overpower or ignore. Its emphasis resonates widely with developing countries. And its enlarged membership covers diverse, essential world regions – positioning it as a formidable global force.
Flexibility will serve Washington better than attempting to cling to power structures of the past. Progress requires acknowledging seismic shifts driven by BRICS. The bloc’s evolution demonstrates emerging nations resolute in having their voices equally heard and heeded going forward.
The world is becoming wider. Power is dispersing between established and rising powers. An international order centered solely around U.S. interests may no longer be sustainable or beneficial for global prosperity.
America’s stance toward the new emerging BRICS alliance may ultimately determine whether the 21st century unfolds cooperatively through strengthened multilateralism – or fractiously through heightened suspicion and competition between the West and Global South.
The choice ahead is Washington’s. But BRICS’ direction seems clear – with or without U.S. blessing.