This article appears in the September 15, 2023 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
Prof. Georgy Toloraya
BRICS: A War Prevention Medicine
This is the prepared text, as edited, of the video presentation that Prof. Gregory Toloraya delivered to Panel 1, “The Strategic Situation After the Historic BRICS Summit,” of the Schiller Institute’s Sept 9, 2023 conference, “Let Us Join Hands with the Global Majority!” Prof. Toloraya is a retired Russian senior diplomat with the rank of Minister-Counselor and is Deputy Chairman of the Russian National Committee on BRICS Research. Subheads have been added.
Good morning. It’s a great honor for me to join the conference on the Global Majority efforts to create a new chapter in world history. I’m dealing with BRICS already 13 years. And I would long have expected this day to come, the day when the BRICS would become a real actor in world politics. But I was really amazed that this day came so soon.
I would say that the recent [BRICS] summit in late August in Johannesburg [South Africa], was truly an historic event. It would go into history as historic, even for technical reasons, because this was the date, and this was the summit, when the membership in BRICS expanded twofold, which nobody, including myself, has expected. Moreover, substantially, this is truly an historic summit, because this is the first time that the BRICS has declared itself to be on the way, and to be capable of creating a new world order: It’s really a tide change.
Now 20 to 40 countries are interested in joining BRICS, in this or that forum, and this is something that nobody has expected, including myself.
Russia’s SMO Triggered a New Chapter of History
What happened? I think that the answer lies in the open confrontation which started with the special military operation of Russia in Ukraine, in February 2022, and it signaled the real, new chapter of history, when the Western countries tried to forcefully pressure the new centers of power, not to allow the appearance of a new world order.
So, this is a turbulent moment of history.
But the result was that the majority of the countries, the Global Majority, did not support these efforts by the West, although on paper and in declaratory, including in the United Nations, many countries do accuse Russia of aggression. But still, they do not agree with the Western policies of trying to keep its dominance in the global affairs and to set the rules to which all others should obey.
So there’s a new situation, when the Global Majority wants a new model, a new model of international relations which is not based on the traditional model, which was used after the Second World War, when major countries, the “global masters,” dictate to others what they should do. And now the countries want to have equal partnership, to have many, maybe competing centers of power which play their own role, think with their own head, and doing their own policies.
Is a Global Westphalian System Possible?
In the long run, it may remind some of what was in European history in the Peace of Westphalia system, which was based on the sovereignty of nation-states, equality, non-interference, and trying to accommodate the interests of the partners. So maybe we are on the way to a global Westphalian system. However, we shouldn’t forget that the Westphalian system was the result of the Thirty Years’ War—and maybe we are in the process of such a war. And Ukraine is just the beginning, and we may have another thirty years, or several decades of wars in different parts of the world, before, finally, such a system would emerge. This is a bad scenario.
However, war may not last for 30 years. It may last just for 30 minutes, if the major global powers would just launch their nuclear ballistic missiles. Then the war would be over—in 30 minutes: This will be the end of the world.
We shouldn’t, of course, agree to this, either.
So the only way is to find a way to negotiate, to try to find a solution before it comes to this. And for this, I think the crucial thing is the change in the Western policies. The Global Majority doesn’t want to accept the policy of dominance, of dictate, of sanctions, of interference into internal affairs, of de facto robbery when the national assets are being confiscated voluntarily and unilaterally.
The BRICS Is Open to Cooperation with the West
So it’s not Russia and China which are isolated, which I hear often in different Western-sponsored forums, it’s rather the Western countries that are isolated. And BRICS, during this summit meeting, has shown its desire to accommodate the West. BRICS is not anti-Western. It’s not against the U.S. as a country. It’s not against the Western civilization. It’s not against Europe. BRICS has open arms to cooperate with these countries, to include them: BRICS is an inclusive structure. And so it’s open to dialogue, it’s open to cooperation, but not on the terms of “master and servant,” but on equal terms. And that’s what all of us should work for.
And, especially, I think that the U.S. is important in this area: The U.S. is a country with a rich history, with great natural resources, technology, finance, a land-rich population. And of course, this country plays a major role in this world, and may be very important for the future of mankind: But on equal terms, on terms of cooperation, with the newly emerging BRICS union, and Global Majority.
I wish I would see it happen. I’ve waited for 13 years to see the BRICS to become a real force in international relations. I hope that the next step, when the West would be included and involved into this process, can come sooner than that.
And good luck to everybody. Thank you.