Friday, April 30, 2010

Engaging the Southern Democracies

My thoughts on reaching out to the India-Brazil-South Africa forum, which at its recent summit in Brasilia pointendly reaffirmed its commitment to being a "league of democracies" rather than a group of rising, non-Western powers.

Of course, it will fall on deaf ears. Foreign policy-making is so reactive these days, and geared to what immediate political benefit can be generated, that the long hard slog of institution-building doesn't seem to appeal ...

An interesting article, although I wonder if the IBSA countries would draw closer to the West if doing so means association with the military commitments of the United States.

You might have added that the BRIC alignment may have less reason to continue if the West recedes, while the IBSA alignment could grow stronger. However, it is hard for me to see the IBSA countries distancing themselves from their regional identities and interests, if that would be a consequence of joining the club of Euro-Atlantic powers.

I would consider as a whole the forty percent of the world that belongs to smaller countries, including IBSA. America needs not just to elevate its view of the three IBSA countries but to begin to treat their regions also as future partners. The South American and African Unions are at a very early stage of integration but could be pulled closer together by the engines of Brazil and South Africa. India is more isolated in its region, but India will eventually use its naval power to keep the Indian Ocean free of other great powers, creating at least a common military space.

I agree that we need to overcome the compartmentalism in U.S. thinking. This could begin with reform in academic categories, so that "South America" can emerge from "Latin America" and "Africa" can replace "Sub-Saharan Africa" (Middle East Studies would still overlap with African Studies). The Cold War division of Europe in European Studies also needs to come down, and instead of "South Asia" there should be a stronger emphasis on "Indian Ocean". These new headings may accord more with realities in the 21st century.
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