Categories
Uncategorized

Hyper-imperialism: an international webinar – Saturday 9 March 2024

No Cold War presents an international webinar on ‘Hyper-imperialism’.

Saturday 9 March
9:00 ET, 14:00 GMT, 16:00 South Africa Standard Time, 22:00 China Standard Time

REGISTER HERE.

Speakers:

· Cheng Enfu – Chief Editor, World Marxist Review (China)
· Joao Pedro Stedile – Landless Workers’ Movement (Brazil)
· Rania Khalek – Breakthrough News (Lebanon)
· Carlos Ron – President, Simon Bolivar Institute (Venezuela)
· Shannon Ebrahim – Director, Department of International Relations, personal capacity (South Africa)
· Darini Rajasingham-Senanyake – Political commentator (Sri Lanka)
· Lowkey – Journalist and rapper (UK)
· Mikaela Erskog – Tricontintental: Institute for Social Research (South Africa)
· Jodie Evans – Co-founder, Code Pink (United States)
· Gisela Cernadas – Global South Insights (Argentina)
· Imani Na UMOJA – Executive Member, West African People’s Organisation (Guinea Bissau)

Chair:
· Vijay Prashad, No Cold War

Co-sponsors: ALBA Movimientos | Pan Africanism Today | Simon Bolivar Institute | International Strategy Center | Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

This online event will be an opportunity to discuss a new publication from the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and Global South Insights: ‘Hyper-Imperialism: A Dangerous Decadent New Stage.’

This document is published at a time of great threats to humanity as NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine continues, the US-backed Israeli assault on Gaza intensifies and the massive US-led military build-up in the Pacific escalates.

Meanwhile, global warming threatens all living creatures on the planet while economic stagnation deepens and persists. If left and progressive social forces are to mount an effective offensive to overcome these crises, we must start by developing a common discourse and understanding of the global situation. We hope this document can be a spark in igniting such conversations.

At this webinar you will hear analysis and insights from speakers across the world on imperialism today, the global order, and regional possibilities and challenges in building the global movement for peace – against the US-led war drive.

Categories
Uncategorized

Briefing: The War in Ukraine Must End

The New Cold War is rapidly heating up, with severe consequences for people around the world. Our series, Briefings, provides the key facts on these matters of global concern.

Two years ago, on 24 February 2022, Russian forces entered Ukraine. This act was not the start of the war in Ukraine. Rather, it was the acceleration of a conflict that dates back to at least 2014. That year, at the behest of the United States, a new government was imposed on Ukraine, aiming to bring the country closer to the European Union. This initiated the sustained persecution of the country’s Russian-speaking population. The conflict moved swiftly, with Crimea de facto becoming part of Russia once again and the Donbass region of Ukraine becoming a frontline in the conflict between Ukrainian far-right nationalists and Russian speakers. In May 2019, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took office and pledged to end the battle in the Donbass. Instead, due to pressure from NATO, the conflict intensified, eventually leading to the Russian intervention three years later. It is imperative for the people of Ukraine, Russia, and the world that the war be halted and that the issues be transferred from the battlefield to the negotiating table.

What has been the impact of the war?

In any conflict, casualty figures become a matter of dispute. However, there is little disagreement that over 500,000 Ukrainian and Russian soldiers have died or been injured in this war, that over six million Ukrainians have fled the country, and that over seven million Ukrainians have been internally displaced (out of a pre-war population of nearly 44 million). If the war is not brought to a halt, tens of thousands more will be killed and tens of millions more will suffer.

Ukraine’s economy has been devastated, shrinking by 29% in 2022 alone, according to the World Bank. The impact of the war ricocheted across the globe, causing wheat prices to rise by 21% and some fertilisers to rise by 40% within the first month of the conflict. Global South countries were hit particularly hard by sharp increases in food and energy prices in many regions while the European economy inches towards a recession. In other countries, astronomic amounts of resources have been diverted to the war which instead could have been used for social and economic spending. The US and Europe have already spent well over $200 billion on the war. In December 2023, the head of the Ukrainian armed forces asked US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin for a further $350–400 billion to pursue ‘victory’.

In reality, no amount of money will lead to a military triumph. It is clear, particularly after the failure of the Ukrainian ‘counter-offensive’, that there has been no significant change in the military situation, nor is there a credible prospect of one. The continued payment of such huge human and economic costs would be purposeless.

What issues need to be resolved?

1. The position of Ukraine regarding military blocs. At the end of the Cold War, Europe had an opportunity to pursue peaceful economic development. A coherent and balanced economy with enormous potential could have been formed by reducing military spending while combining Western Europe’s high value-added manufacturing and service industries with the former Soviet Union’s energy, raw materials, agriculture, and high-technology industries such as space. In East Asia, which overcame a period of even greater Cold War division and conflict (as seen in the Korean and successive Vietnam and Indochina wars), a focus on mutually beneficial economic development and an avoidance of military and political blocs led it to become the world’s most rapidly growing economic region. This is evidenced by the fact that, since 1990, the GDP of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has grown by more than 400%. However, in Europe, the US insisted that such policies not be followed and that, instead, the region was to expand the NATO military bloc into Eastern Europe, breaking the commitment it had made at the time of German reunification that NATO would not advance ‘one inch eastward’ towards Russia. The US was fully aware that NATO’s expansion would greatly inflame tensions with Russia and across Europe. Of particular sensitivity was the possibility of Ukraine’s entry into NATO, which would bring the nuclear-armed bloc within immediate striking range of Moscow. Numerous experts on Eastern Europe and Russia strongly and repeatedly advised against such expansion of NATO. Most famously, George Kennan, the original architect of US Cold War policy, predicted in 1997 that, ‘expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold War era’. In December 2021, Russia proposed an agreement that Ukraine would not become a NATO member. In negotiations in March 2022, Ukraine proposed adopting a neutral status in exchange for security guarantees, inspired by NATO’s collective defence clause, which could have involved Poland, Israel, Turkey, and Canada as guarantors. This was blocked by NATO, directly conveyed by way of an urgent visit from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Ukraine in May 2022, thereby preventing a rapid end of the war.

2. The position of the Russian-speaking minority in the territory of the Ukrainian state (as it was formed in 1991). A 2001 census found that nearly 30% of Ukraine’s population considered Russian to be their native language. States with large linguistic and ethnic minority populations can only maintain their unity if the rights of such minorities are respected. The policies of the Ukrainian government after 2014, which included suppressing the official use of the Russian language in numerous spheres, were therefore bound to lead to an explosive crisis within the Ukrainian state. As the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, which certainly cannot be accused of being pro-Russian, stated: ‘the current Law on National Minorities is far from providing adequate guarantees for the protection of minorities… many other provisions which restrict the use of minority languages have already been in force since 16 July 2019’. There are only two ways to resolve this situation: restoration of the full linguistic and other rights of the Russian-speaking minority within the borders of the old Ukrainian state or the secession of these regions from Ukraine. Which outcome is realised will be a key subject of the negotiations. Nonetheless, it is clear that any attempt to maintain the Russian-speaking minority within the Ukrainian state while continuing to deprive them of their rights will not succeed, nor will any attempt by Russia to impose another state on the Ukrainian-speaking population of western and northern Ukraine.

All efforts to resolve these issues by military means will continue to be futile and will only result in further intense suffering, above all for the Ukrainian people. These realities will become increasingly obvious if the war continues – which is why it must be brought to a halt as rapidly as possible and negotiations must commence.

Categories
Uncategorized

Webinar: Building solidarity with Gaza’s health sector

Join No Cold War’s next webinar on Wednesday 20 December 2023 – organised alongside the People’s Health Movement.

09:00 EST | 14:00 UTC | 15:00 Brussels | 16:00 Palestine

Register your place here.

“Apocalyptic!” That’s how the Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations are describing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Two and a half months into the war, the health system has collapsed completely. People are literally starving and communicable diseases are rampant. Humanitarian agencies are describing the situation as the worst they’ve ever seen.

Fortunately, resistance to the war is growing the world over. People are clamoring for an urgent ceasefire and in the diplomatic arena, including the United Nations General Assembly, Israel and the United States are increasingly isolated.

All over the world, individuals and organizations want to express their solidarity with Palestine.

Health and health care are a human right and should be restored.

We want to discuss with Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, Dr. Mads Gilbert and Fiona Ben Chekroun what we can do to support the people of Palestine, and in particular Gaza, in their struggle for health.

Categories
Uncategorized

Statement: Israel and the US’s assault on Gaza intensifies – increasing global solidarity is crucial

The US veto of the UN Security Council resolution for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the only country to vote against this, shows the total isolation of the US and Israel from world public opinion and other countries positions. But Israel and the US will continue with their massacres in Gaza unless there is a further escalation of international action against these policies – to a level that forces the US to recognise that it is suffering intolerable damage to its international position.

In just over nine weeks Israel has killed more than 17,000 people including over 7,000 children. In Gaza hospitals, schools, refugee camps and basic infrastructure for survival have been targeted, making large parts of its territory unfit for human life. According to UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, more than 60% of Gaza’s housing has been destroyed or damaged, and 85% of the population has been forced from their homes. The aim of this is simply ethnic cleansing – to attempt to make it impossible for Palestinians to live in Gaza.

As Secretary General Guterres powerfully summarised: “More than 1.1 million people have sought refuge in UNRWA facilities across Gaza…  Others have nowhere to shelter and find themselves on the street. Explosive remnants of war are rendering areas uninhabitable. There is no effective protection of civilians.

“The health care system in Gaza is collapsing. Hospitals have turned into battlegrounds. Only 14 hospitals out of 36 facilities are even partially functional… Under these circumstances, more people will die untreated in the coming days and weeks. Nowhere is safe in Gaza.”

In an attempt to prevent reporting of the real situation in Gaza, and crimes which it is committing, Israel has specifically targeted independent witnesses of Israel’s atrocities including UN personnel and journalists.

It was this desperate situation in Gaza that led Guterres to take the action, unprecedented during his Secretary Generalship, of invoking Article 99 of the UN Charter, which states that the Secretary General: “may bring to attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion, may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.”

Simultaneously with massacres in Gaza Israel has escalated its attacks on the West Bank where Israeli soldiers and settlers are pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing, killing over 200 Palestinians, and forcing entire Palestinian villages to flee.

The catastrophic situation in Gaza indicates the future which the US’s current foreign policy agenda threatens to bring to the entire world.

It is the US which is entirely sustaining Israel’s attack and the US which could bring it to an end at any time.

The US provides Israel with $3.8 billion in military aid annually and the Biden administration has proposed an additional $14.3 billion in military assistance as part of a $105 billion national security package. Since 7 October alone the United Sates has sent 200 planes to Israel carrying 10,000 tons of military equipment. 

It is clear the US and Israel’s offensive against the Palestinians is being carried out in blatant disregard of international organisations and the overwhelming majority of international public opinion.

The latest US veto in the UN Security Council is just the latest in such a series of US violations. On 27 October the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, unhindered access to humanitarian aid and for Israel to revoke its call for northern Gaza’s evacuation. 120 countries voted in favour and only 14 nations, including the US and Israel, voted against.

Simultaneously, with these US positions, across many countries around the world, tens of millions of people have mobilised in the largest series of popular demonstrations this century in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Israel and the US are defying this overwhelming international majority in order to continue with their assault on Gaza.

This action has the most profound consequences – not only for the Palestinian people but the entire world. 

They show that the claim of the US that it represents international public opinion is a lie. It demonstrates that the claim of the US that it bases itself on a rules based international order is equally a lie. The US, acting in this case with Israel, is instead claiming a right to impose by force its will on the overwhelming majority of the world regardless of the opinion of the rest of the world, represented by international organisations, governments and social and political movements. If the US and Israel succeed in this attack, this ultra-dangerous and disastrous US policy will inevitably be extended to further countries.

It is crucial that the global majority call the US and Israel to order – first and foremost to halt the suffering of the Palestinian people, but also to defend the interests of humanity as a whole.

The US will only force Israel to halt when the US understands that it will suffer enormous damage to its international position if it does not do so. Every measure must be taken to secure this.

This includes:

– Intensifying the international popular actions demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

– Unrelenting action in the UN demanding a ceasefire.

– Isolating Israel internationally – following the lead of countries and cities that have suspended relations with Israel or withdrawn their ambassadors.

– Demanding that the International Criminal Court commence action against the war crimes authorised by Netanyahu and others.

– Step up the international consumer boycotts of companies complicit with Israeli apartheid.

Categories
Uncategorized

Webinar: Urgent Medical Crisis in Gaza

On Tuesday 21 November 2023 No Cold War, Viva Salud and the People’s Health Movement invite you to an important international webinar on the ‘Urgent Medical Crisis in Gaza.’

15:00 Brussels | 17:00 Jordan | 09:00 EST

Join us on zoom by clicking here.
Webinar ID: 810 6280 1821

Speakers:

  • Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, Member of the Palestinian National Council Palestine
  • Dr. Aed Yaghi, Director of Palestinian Medical Relief Society in Gaza
  • Dr. Hanne Bosselaers, Medicine for the People (MPLP), Belgium,
  • Dr. Mads Gilbert, worked at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, Norway
  • Dr. Rupa Marya, Do No Harm Coalition, USA
  • Moderated by Wim De Ceukelaire, People’s Health Movement

“We are witnessing the destruction of life and property on a horrific scale,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus said in reference to the current Israeli aggression on Palestine. In Gaza, the health sector is on the front lines of the war. At least 200 doctors, nurses, and paramedics have been killed. Some 25 hospitals and 250 medical facilities are out of operation. More than 2,000 patients with cancer; 1,000 with kidney disease; 50,000 with cardiovascular disease and 60,000 with diabetes are at risk amid treatment interruption. Up to 200 women are giving birth every day in the worst imaginable conditions.

Health conditions are deteriorating fast. Numbers of respiratory and skin infections, as well as malnutrition are on the rise. Cases of diarrhea are rampant as the sewage system breaks down. Even on the West Bank, health conditions are deteriorating and health facilities are targeted by the Israeli occupation forces.

This webinar will pay tribute to the Palestinian doctors and health professionals who are still providing service to their communities in spite of these dire conditions. It will also discuss the challenges they face on the terrain and provide examples of the solidarity among their colleagues and friends abroad. Finally, it will put forward some conditions and demands necessary to bring health, safety and humanity back to patients and health workers alike, with an unconditional ‘ceasefire now’ as a starter.

Categories
Uncategorized

Briefing: The US and NATO Militarise Northeast Asia

The New Cold War is rapidly heating up, with severe consequences for people around the world. Our series, Briefings, provides the key facts on these matters of global concern.

On 22 October, the United States, Japan, and South Korea held their first-ever joint aerial drill. The military exercise took place after US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol gathered at Camp David in August ‘to inaugurate a new era of trilateral partnership’. Although North Korea has frequently been invoked as a regional bogeyman to justify militarisation, the formation of a trilateral alliance between the US, Japan, and South Korea is a key element of Washington’s efforts to contain China. The militarisation of Northeast Asia threatens to divide the region into antagonistic blocs, undermining decades of mutually beneficial economic cooperation, and raises the likelihood of a conflict breaking out, in particular over Taiwan, entangling neighbouring countries through a web of alliances.

The Remilitarisation of Japan

In recent years, encouraged by the United States, Japan has undergone its most extensive militarisation since the end of the Second World War. After Japan’s defeat, a new postwar constitution was drafted by US occupation officials and came into effect in 1947. Under this ‘peace constitution’, Japan pledged to ‘forever renounce war […] and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes’. However, with the Chinese Revolution in 1949 and the breakout of the Korean War in 1950, the US quickly reversed its course in Japan. According to US State Department historians, ‘the idea of a re-armed and militant Japan no longer alarmed US officials; instead, the real threat appeared to be the creep of communism, particularly in Asia’. The cause of amending and circumventing Japan’s ‘peace constitution’ was taken up by the right-wing nationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which received millions of dollars in support from the US Central Intelligence Agency during the Cold War and has ruled the country almost without interruption (except for 1993–1994 and 2009–2012) since 1955.

Over the past decade, the LDP has transformed Japan’s defence policy. In 2014, unable to amend the constitution, the LDP government led by Shinzo Abe ‘re-interpreted’ it to allow for ‘proactive pacifism’ and lifted a ban on Japanese troops engaging in combat overseas, enabling the country to participate in military interventions to aid allies such as the US. In 2022, the Kishida administration labeled China ‘the greatest strategic challenge ever to securing the peace and stability of Japan’ and announced plans to double military spending to 2% of gross domestic product (on par with NATO countries) by 2027, overturning Japan’s postwar cap that limited military spending to 1% of GDP. The administration also ended a policy dating back to 1956 that limited Japan’s missile capability to defend against incoming missiles and adopted a policy that allows for counter-strike abilities. This move has paved the way for Japan to purchase 400 US Tomahawk missiles beginning in 2025, with the ability to strike Chinese and Russian naval bases located on the countries’ eastern coasts.

Absolving Japanese Colonialism

Historically, Washington’s efforts to create multilateral alliances in the Asia-Pacific have failed due to the legacy of Japanese colonialism. During the Cold War, the US resorted to a network of bilateral alliances with countries in the region known as the San Francisco System. The initial step in creating this system was the San Francisco Peace Treaty (1951), which established peaceful relations between the Allied Powers and Japan. To expedite the integration of Japan as an ally, the US excluded the victims of Japanese colonialism (including China, the Kuomintang-led administration in Taiwan, and both Koreas) from the San Francisco peace conference and excused Tokyo from taking responsibility for its colonial and war crimes (including massacres, sexual slavery, human experimentation, and forced labour).

The new trilateral alliance between the US, Japan, and South Korea has been able to overcome previous impediments because South Korea’s Yoon administration has waived away Japan’s responsibility for the crimes committed during its colonial rule over Korea (1910–1945). More specifically, the Yoon administration abandoned a 2018 South Korean Supreme Court ruling holding Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi responsible for the forced labour of Koreans. Rather than finally being held accountable, Japan has once again been let off the hook.

Towards an Asian NATO?

In 2022, NATO named China a security challenge for the first time. That year’s summit was also the first attended by leaders from the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand (these four countries participated again in 2023). Meanwhile, in May, it was reported that NATO was planning to open a ‘liaison office’ in Japan, though the proposal appears to have been shelved – for now.

The US-Japan-South Korea trilateral alliance is a major step towards achieving NATO-level capabilities in Asia, namely interoperability with respect to armed forces, infrastructure, and information. The agreement reached at the Camp David meeting in August commits each country to annual meetings and military exercises. These war exercises allow the three militaries to practice sharing data and coordinating their activities in real time. In addition, the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) between Japan and South Korea – much sought after by the US – expands military intelligence sharing between the two countries to not only be ‘limited to the DPRK’s missiles and nuclear programs but also includ[e] the threats from China and Russia’. This allows the US, Japan, and South Korea to develop a common operational picture, the foundation of interoperability in the Northeast Asian military theatre.

Waging Peace

Earlier this year, in reference to the Asia-Pacific, US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns declared that his country is ‘the leader in this region’. While China has proposed a concept of ‘indivisible security’, meaning the security of one country is dependent on the security of all, the US is taking a hostile approach that seeks to form exclusive blocs. Washington’s hegemonic attitude towards Asia is stoking tensions and pushing the region towards conflict and war – particularly over Taiwan, which Beijing has called a ‘red line’ issue. Defusing the situation in Northeast Asia will require moving away from a strategy that is centred on maintaining US dominance. Those positioned to lead this movement are the people who are already struggling on the frontlines, from Gangjeong villagers who have opposed a naval base for US warships since 2007 and Okinawans fighting to no longer be the US’s unsinkable aircraft carrier to the people of Taiwan who may ultimately have the most to lose from war in the region.

Categories
Uncategorized

Statement: Israel’s murderous war on Gaza – fully sustained by the West

For over two weeks the Israeli military has been pummelling the Palestinians in Gaza, killing over six thousand people including more than 2,000 children. Israel’s bombing has been indiscriminate. Homes, hospitals, schools and vital infrastructure have been destroyed. Whole neighbourhoods have been flattened and entire families wiped out.    

The 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza are suffering a terrible humanitarian catastrophe as a result of what Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has described as “a complete siege on Gaza…” in which “no electricity, no food, no water, no gas” is allowed to enter. 

Israel’s siege on Gaza has been widely condemned across the world, including by the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, as “collective punishment” of the Palestinian people in contravention with international humanitarian law. A tiny number of trucks have been allowed into Gaza in recent days which the World Health Organisation has described as “a drop in the ocean of need right now.”

Many millions of people around the world have marched to end this slaughter by Israel – in a clear indication that world public opinion is in solidarity with the Palestinians. 

Indeed, Israel’s international isolation has been further confirmed this week as it demanded that Guterres resign his position as UN Secretary General for stating the indisputable fact that “the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum.” Guterres said in a speech at the UN that “the Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced and their homes demolished. Their hopes for a political solution to their plight have been vanishing.”

Nonetheless, the Western countries continue to arm Israel and to veto resolutions in the United Nations (UN) to end the bombing.

On 16 October the United States, France, United Kingdom and Japan voted against a resolution at the UN Security Council calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. Then on 18 October the United States was the only country to veto another resolution, introduced by Brazil, calling for a “humanitarian pause.” 

The US has been arming Israel to the teeth for decades. In 2022 the US provided Israel with $3.3 billion in aid, 99.7% of which went to the Israeli military. 

The Biden administration has proposed a $105 billion national security package which threatens to increase conflict on three fronts globally: continuing the conflict in Ukraine, boosting military assistance to Israel and increasing the US’s military involvement in Taiwan. 

In the case of Israel $14.3 billion in military assistance is being proposed to strengthen Israel’s military capacity. 

Since 7 October, the US has deployed the U.S.S Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, where it joins another aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Gerald Ford, in a show of support for Israel. The United States has also moved an aircraft carrier and attack ships to the Persian Gulf and has deployed advanced missile defence systems to the region. The UK has followed Washington’s lead, sending Royal Navy ships to the eastern Mediterranean. 

Without this diplomatic, political and military support from the United States, European Union member States and institutions and other Western countries Israel would not be in a position to wage its murderous war on Gaza and to sustain its occupation and colonization of Palestine. 

End this slaughter. End the Israeli occupation of Palestine. No more arms exports and transfers to Israel. No more arms purchases from Israel.

In Israel’s war on Gaza, there is only one side to choose for those who want peace and justice to prevail: opposing unilateral militarism, colonial oppression and repression, and following a multilateral approach, human rights and international law.

Categories
Uncategorized

Briefing: The BRICS at a Historic Crossroads

The New Cold War is rapidly heating up, with severe consequences for people around the world. Our series, Briefings, provides the key facts on these matters of global concern.

The upcoming fifteenth BRICS Summit (22–24 August) in Johannesburg, South Africa, has the potential to make history. The heads of state of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa will gather for their first face-to-face meeting since the 2019 summit in Brasilia, Brazil. The meeting will take place eighteen months since the beginning of military conflict in Ukraine, which has not only raised tensions between the US-led Western powers and Russia to a level unseen since the Cold War but also sharpened differences between the Global North and South.

There are growing cracks in the unipolar international order imposed by Washington and Brussels on the rest of the world through the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the international financial system, the control of information flows (in both traditional and social media networks), and the indiscriminate use of unilateral sanctions against an increasing number of countries. As United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres recently put it, ‘the post-Cold War period is over. A transition is under way to a new global order’.

In this global context, three of the most important debates to monitor at the Johannesburg summit are: (1) the possible expansion of BRICS membership, (2) the expansion of the membership of its New Development Bank (NDB), and (3) the NDB’s role in creating alternatives to the use of the US dollar. According to Anil Sooklal, South Africa’s ambassador to BRICS, twenty-two countries have formally applied to join the group (including Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Algeria, Mexico, and Indonesia) and a further two dozen have expressed interest. Even with numerous challenges to overcome, the BRICS are now seen as a major driving force of the world economy and of economic developments across the Global South in particular.

The BRICS Today

In the middle of the last decade, the BRICS experienced a number of problems. With the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India (2014) and the coup against President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil (2016), two of the group’s member countries became headed by right-wing governments more favourable to Washington Both India and Brazil retreated in their participation in the group. The de facto absence of Brazil, which from the outset had been one of the key driving forces behind the BRICS, represented a significant loss for the consolidation of the group. These developments undermined and hampered the progress of the NDB and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), established in 2015 – which represented the greatest institutional achievement of the BRICS to date. Although the NDB has made some progress it has fallen short of its original objectives. To date, the bank has approved some $32.8 billion in financing (in fact, less than that has been issued), while the CRA – which has $100 billion in funds to assist countries that have a shortage of US dollars in their international reserves and are facing short-term balance of payments or liquidity pressures – has never been activated.

However, developments in recent years have reinvigorated the BRICS project. The decisions of Moscow and Beijing to respond to escalations of aggression in the New Cold War by Washington and Brussels; the return of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to the presidency of Brazil in 2022 and the consequent appointment of Dilma Rousseff to the presidency of the NDB; and the relative estrangement, to varying degrees, of India and South Africa from the Western powers have resulted in a ‘perfect storm’ that seems to have rebuilt a sense of political unity in the BRICS (despite unresolved tensions between India and China). Added to this is the growing weight of the BRICS in the global economy and strengthened economic interaction between its members. In 2020, the global share of the BRICS’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in purchasing power parity terms – 31.5 percent – overtook that of the Group of Seven (G7) – 30.7 percent – and this gap is expected to grow. Bilateral trade among BRICS countries has also grown robustly: Brazil and China are breaking records every year, reaching $150 billion in 2022; Russian exports to India tripled from April to December 2022, year-on-year, expanding to $32.8 billion; while trade between China and Russia jumped from $147 billion in 2021 to $190 billion in 2022, an increase of nearly 30 percent.

What’s at Stake in Johannesburg?

Faced with this dynamic international situation and growing requests for expansion, the BRICS face a number of important questions:

In addition to providing concrete responses to interested applicants, expansion has the potential to increase the political and economic weight of the BRICS and, eventually, strengthen other regional platforms that its members belong to. But expansion also requires having to decide on the specific form that membership should take and may increase the complexity of consensus building, with a risk of slowing the progress of decision making and initiatives. How should these matters be dealt with?

How can the NDB’s financing capacity be increased, as well as its coordination with other development banks of the Global South and other multilateral banks? And, above all, how can the NDB, in partnership with the BRICS’ network of think tanks, promote the formulation of a new development policy for the Global South?

Since the BRICS member countries have solid international reserves (with South Africa having a little less), it’s unlikely that they will need to use the CRA, instead, this fund could provide countries in need with an alternative to the political blackmail of the International Monetary Fund, which requires developing countries to enact devastating austerity measures in exchange for loans.

BRICS is reported to be discussing the creation of a reserve currency that would enable trade and investment without the use of the US dollar. If this were established it could be one more step in efforts to create alternatives to the dollar, but questions remain. How could the stability of such a reserve currency be ensured? How could it be articulated with newly created trade mechanisms which do not use the dollar, such as bilateral China-Russia, China-Brazil, Russia-India, and other arrangements? 

How can cooperation and technology transfer support the re-industrialisation of countries like Brazil and South Africa, especially in strategic sectors such as biotech, information technology, artificial intelligence, and renewable energies, while also fighting poverty and inequality, and achieving other basic demands of the peoples of the South?

Leaders representing 71 countries of the Global South have been invited to attend the meeting in Johannesburg. Xi, Putin, Lula, Modi, Ramaphosa, and Dilma have a lot of work to do, to answer these questions and make progress on the urgent matters in global development.

Categories
Uncategorized

Briefing: Europe Needs an Independent Foreign Policy

The New Cold War is rapidly heating up, with severe consequences for people around the world. Our series, Briefings, provides the key facts on these matters of global concern.

The war in Ukraine has been accompanied by a strengthening of the US’s grip and influence on Europe. An important supply of Russian gas was replaced by US shale gas. European Union (EU) programmes originally designed to fortify Europe’s industrial base now serve the acquisition of US-made weapons. Under US pressure, many European countries have contributed to escalating war in Ukraine instead of pushing for a political solution to bring about peace.

At the same time, the US wants Europe to decouple from China, which would further reduce Europe’s global role and run counter to its own interests. Instead of following the US’s confrontational and damaging New Cold War agenda, it is in the interests of Europe’s people for their countries to establish an independent foreign policy that embraces global cooperation and a diverse set of international relations.

Europe’s Growing Dependence on the US

The Ukraine war, and the ensuing spiral of sanctions and counter sanctions, led to a rapid decoupling of EU-Russia trade relations. Losing a trade partner has limited the EU’s options and increased dependence on the US, a reality that is most visible in the EU’s energy policy. As a result of the war in Ukraine, Europe reduced its dependence on Russian gas, only to increase its dependence on more expensive US liquefied natural gas (LNG). The US took advantage of this energy crisis, selling its LNG to Europe at prices well above production cost. In 2022, the US accounted for more than half of the LNG imported into Europe. This gives the US additional power to pressure EU leaders: if US shipments of LNG were diverted elsewhere, Europe would immediately face great economic and social difficulty.

Washington has started pushing European companies to relocate to the US, using lower energy prices as an argument. As German Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck said, the US is ‘hoovering up investments from Europe’ – i.e., it is actively promoting the region’s deindustrialisation.

The US Inflation Reduction Act (2022) and the CHIPS and Science Act (2022) directly serve this purpose, offering $370 billion and $52 billion in subsidies, respectively, to attract clean energy and semiconductor industries to the US. The impact of these measures is already being felt in Europe: Tesla is reportedly discussing relocating its battery construction project from Germany to the US, and Volkswagen paused a planned battery plant in Eastern Europe, instead moving forward with its first North American electric battery plant in Canada, where it is eligible to receive US subsides.

EU dependence on the US also applies in other areas. A 2013 report by the French Senate asked unambiguously: ‘Is the European Union a colony of the digital world?’. The 2018 US Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act and the 1978 US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allow US companies extensive access to EU telecommunications including data and phone calls, giving them access to state secrets. The EU is being spied on continuously.

Rising Militarisation Is Against the Interests of Europe

EU discussions on strategic vulnerabilities focus mostly on China and Russia while the influence of the US is all but ignored. The US operates a massive network of over 200 US military bases and 60,000 troops in Europe, and, through NATO, it imposes ‘complementarity’ on European defence actions, meaning that European members of the alliance can act together with the US but not independently of it. Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright famously summarised this as ‘the three Ds’: no ‘de-linking’ European decision-making from NATO, no ‘duplicating’ NATO’s efforts, no ‘discriminating’ against NATO’s non-EU members. Furthermore, in order to guarantee dependence, the US refrains from sharing the most important military technologies with European countries, including much of the data and software connected to the F-35 fighter jets they purchased.

For many years, the US has been calling for European governments to increase their military spending. In 2022, military spending in Western and Central Europe surged to €316 billion, returning to levels not seen since the end of the first Cold War. In addition, European states and EU institutions sent over €25 billion in military aid to Ukraine. Prior to the war, Germany, Britain, and France were already amongst the top ten highest military spenders in the world. Now, Germany has approved €100 billion for a special military upgrading fund and committed to spend 2% of its GDP on defence. Meanwhile, Britain announced its ambition to increase its military spending from 2.2% to 2.5% of its GDP and France announced that it will increase its military spending to around €60 billion by 2030 – approximately double its 2017 allocation.

This surge in military spending is taking place while Europe experiences its worst cost of living crisis in decades and the climate crisis deepens. Across Europe, millions of people have taken to the streets in protest. The hundreds of billions of euros being spent on the military should instead be redirected to tackling these urgent problems.

Decoupling from China Would Be Disastrous

The EU would suffer from a US-China conflict. A significant part of EU exports to the US contains Chinese inputs, and conversely, EU goods exports to China often contain US inputs. Tighter export controls imposed by the US on exports to China or vice versa will therefore hit EU companies, but the impact will go much further.

The US has increased pressure on a variety of EU countries, companies, and institutions to scale down or stop cooperation with Chinese projects, in particular lobbying for Europe to join its tech war against China. This pressure has borne fruit, with ten EU states having restricted or banned the Chinese technology company Huawei from their 5G networks as Germany considers a similar measure. Meanwhile, the Netherlands has blocked exports of chip-making machinery to China by the key Dutch semiconductor company ASML.

In 2020, China overtook the US’s position as the EU’s main trading partner, and in 2022, China was the EU’s largest source for imported goods and its third largest market for exported goods. The US push for European companies to restrict or end relations with China would mean limiting Europe’s trade options, and incidentally increasing its dependence on Washington. This would be detrimental not just to the EU’s autonomy, but also to regional social and economic conditions.

Europe Should Embrace Global Cooperation, Not Confrontation

Since the end of the Second World War, no single foreign power has wielded more power over European policy than the US. If Europe allows itself to be locked into a US-led bloc, not only will this reinforce its technological dependence on the US, but the region could become de-industrialised. Moreover, this will put Europe at odds not only with China, but also with other major developing countries, including India, Brazil, and South Africa, that refuse to align themselves with one country or another.

Rather than follow the US into conflicts around the world, an independent Europe must redirect its security strategy towards territorial defence, collective security for the continent, and building constructive international links by decisively breaking away from paternalistic and exploitative trade relations with developing countries. Instead, fair, respectful, and equal relationships with the Global South can offer Europe the necessary and valuable diversification of political and economic partners that it urgently needs.

An independent and interconnected Europe is in the interests of the European people. This would allow vast resources to be diverted away from military spending and towards addressing the climate and cost of living crises, such as by building a green industrial base. The European people have every reason to support the development of an independent foreign policy that rejects US dominance and militarisation in favour of embracing international cooperation and a more democratic world order.

Categories
Uncategorized

Statement: At G7 Summit, Hiroshima Once Again Used for Cold War Agenda

The 49th Group of Seven (G7) summit took place this past weekend in Hiroshima, Japan, from 19-21 May. Leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States gathered to discuss and coordinate their global strategies, with China and Russia at the top of the agenda. 

The summit took place at the very site where, on 6 August 1945, the US dropped a nuclear bomb, killing approximately 70,000 people instantly (the death toll rose to roughly 140,000 by the end of the year). That horrific act of violence – intended to send a warning to the Soviet Union – ushered in the Cold War; it is a disturbing historical parallel that, 78 years later, the US and its allies returned to Hiroshima to ramp up a New Cold War against China and Russia.

At the summit, the G7 leaders prepared a ‘unified response’ against what they term China’s ‘economic coercion’, unveiling a new ‘Coordination Platform’ to this end. This initiative is the latest step in a years-long diplomatic campaign by the Biden administration to pressure its allies to support its tech war against China, in which the US has enacted numerous trade and investment restrictions seeking to ‘kneecap’ China’s advanced technological industries. This year, both ​​US Senator Bob Menendez, Democratic Party chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and former UK Prime Minister Liz Truss have called for the formation of an ‘economic NATO’ and coordinated sanctions against China. 

For the United States to talk of ‘economic coercion’ when it has, by far, the most extensive track record of imposing unilateral economic sanctions and coercive measures against other countries – including the six decades-long blockade against Cuba – is a most astonishing display of hypocrisy. 

Meanwhile, the G7 leaders declared that they would tighten sanctions against Russia and continue to ‘support Ukraine for as long as it takes’. With Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in attendance, US President Joe Biden pledged an additional $375 million in additional military aid to the country – on top of the $37 billion that the US has already provided since the start of the war –  and also gave permission to G7 members to send their stocks of US-made F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

It is disappointing that the G7 leaders did not use this opportunity to put forward any serious proposals to resolve the war in Ukraine and establish a lasting peace, but rather doubled down on their commitment to prolong the conflict. While the G7 attempted to court the Global South by inviting leaders from countries such as Brazil, India, and Indonesia, the perspective of developing countries on the conflict was not taken seriously at the summit. In fact, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, an outspoken advocate for dialogue and a peaceful resolution of the war, was snubbed by Zelenskyy despite making repeated efforts to meet.

Instead, the United States and its allies appear intent on provoking another major power conflict – with China. As part of its broader efforts to militarise the Asia-Pacific, in the lead-up to the G7 summit, it was widely reported that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is planning to open a ‘liaison office’ in Japan, the first of its kind in the region. 

The G7 leaders should use their experience in Hiroshima to reflect on the immense human cost of the first Cold War and abandon their efforts to revive such conflicts today. The world needs solutions to address the urgent crises of climate change, poverty, hunger, and development, not divisive political agendas that push humanity down the path of war and destruction.