Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Drezner and the BRIC

Dan Drezner warns against overemphasizing the power and influence of the BRIC in international affairs. But I think he is too quick to dismiss the grouping, even though he's right about the challenges it faces and its structural weaknesses.

For me, what is most important at this point is that there is now a regular set of meetings taking place between four major powers that otherwise might not and would not meet. That to me is significant in and of itself.

This is what I posted, in part, on Dan's site:

... we should not overestimate the power and relevance of the BRIC. But I think we should also recognize that at this point in its existence, simply continuing to exist marks a major step forward for the BRIC. Yekaterinburg-2008, the first BRIC meeting, ended up not becoming a one-hit wonder. Despite predictions to the contrary (especially after the Russia-Georgia war), India and Brazil still see value in being associated with Russia and China in this format. Each time the BRIC meets--whether in a summit or at the UN--it is one more bean filling the sack. Each time the BRIC meets it moves the concept further away from a Goldman Sachs reports and gets the foreign ministries of the four countries used to preparing for these summits. There is also a particular view of international politics, as underdeveloped as it may be right now, which stresses state sovereignty. (The 2008 summit, for instance, produced a unanimous conclusion on not supporting independence for Kosovo.)

If in 2015 the BRIC summits are like the G-8, issuing meaningless and uneforceable declarations, that will be a separate question.

Not hyping the BRIC as representing a real challenge in 2009 to an American-led global order makes perfect sense. But it could easily evolve into a way for these four states to use their assets to renegotiate the terms of their positions within that order.


For reference, your link is to the National Interest Online but your comment is to Dan's posting on the Foreign Policy website (

I agree with your comment. I would only add that it is hard to see what interests the BRIC powers will have in common, in the longer run, to justify meeting as a separate group if the influence of the United States diminishes.
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