As some commentators recently noted, one of the strategic plans of BRICS, a group of nations that have come together with the aim of serving as a counterforce to the United Nations, UN and its subsidiaries known as Bretton Woods institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, IMF and World Trade Organization, WTO, etc., is to create a new world monetary union and payment system.
The aim is to have an alternative to the United States of America, USA and Europe as well as some Asian countries led political and financial systems that are currently driven by the US dollar and operated with Western bias.
That perhaps explains why some concerned Nigerians have been vilifying our political leaders for not joining or for being rejected, during the 15th edition of the BRICS meeting of the member nations held in South Africa from 22-24th August where Nigeria was an observer.
Critics also worry that president Bola Tinubu is currently leading a powerful team of top Nigerian government officials and business titans and moguls to India to attend the G20 meeting being hosted by India from 9 to 10th of this month with South Africa as a full member, while Nigeria is only attending as an observer nation.
When would Nigeria be an active member of these global and regional power blocs, critics wonder?
To clear the fog and enlighten commentators who might have been in too much hurry, hence they jumped into conclusions on whether or not being a member of BRICS has ramifications or is a product of political brinkmanship for our country, the pertinent question to ask would be: Are BRICS and G20 assets or liabilities?
It is amazing that not many pundits are aware that Nigeria is actually the first African nation to be considered being a member of the group currently known as BRICS before South Africa.
That is because one of the key criteria that Mr. Jim O’Neil, then chief economist of Goldman Sachs in Europe who coined the term BRlCS considered while compiling the list of the emerging economies with the potentials to have the fastest GDP growth in their economies in 2050 is the value of natural resources from the country.
So, in 2001, Mr. O’Neil and his team had segmented four identified countries into a group which he aptly branded BRIC.
It was only Nigeria owing to the boom in crude oil sales and petrol dollar income between early 1990s to early 2000s that stood neck to neck with countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China that were also natural resource rich and which was reflected in their significant GDP growth rate.
It is important to note that BRIC countries as the group was then known, was comprised of only four countries that were natural resources endowed. And they were from four regions of the world. Brazil from South America, Russia from Eastern Europe/northern Asia and India from South Asia, while China is from east/Asia pacific.
Only the African continent had no representation in the arrangement, hence the quest to add an African country and the choice was between Nigeria and South Africa.
At that time, the odds favored Nigeria due to her oil wealth and being on track to transit from military rule to a democratic country with a general election scheduled for 12 June,1993.
But following Nigeria’s inability to go through with the transition from military to democratic rule under military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida’s political transition program of 1985/1993, which featured Chief MKO Abiola whose election was annulled before the results were fully announced on June 12, 1993, there was a struggle between the military and the forces of democracy (as Chief Abiola was fighting to reclaim his mandate) and the fall outs tarnished the image of Nigeria, and made our country not appealing enough to be on the BRIC list.
Otherwise, the name could have been BRINC-Brazil, Russia, India, Nigeria and China, not BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa which it is today.
Of course, dropping the consideration of Nigeria from the list had the influence of other externalities.
These include the release of the iconic prisoner of conscience, Mr. Nelson Mandela from South African prison in 1990, after 33 years of incarceration and his subsequent election as president of the former apartheid country in 1994, which was quite epochal, as such had positively reverberated across the world.
That event happened one year after Nigeria had in 1993 sunken deeper into autocracy via the annulment of Abiola’s election and South Africa was emerging from apartheid to the election of Mandela as president with global accolades.
After annulling the election adjudged to have been the freest in Nigeria, Gen. Babangida stepped aside and handed over to late Chief Ernest Shonekan, ex-chairman of UAC- a British owned business conglomerate who became the interim head of a short lived Interim National Government, ING from August to November 1993.
Chief Shonekan’s administration was toppled in another coup d’etat after barely four months on the job by then Chief of Army Staff, Gen Sani Abacha that was left behind by Babangida when he famously ‘stepped aside’.
Following the emergence of Gen. Abacha as military head of state (1993-1998) which ushered in another era of military dictatorship, even as a popular ex head of state, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo was jailed ostensibly for plotting a coup, but actually for criticizing Gen Abacha who had a fragile ego.
Thereafter, Gen. Abacha also ordered the arrest ,trial and sentencing to death of an environmental rights activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa and nine other agitators, famously known as the Ogoni Nine, who he accused of murdering fellow four Ogoni chiefs that had been accused of being pliant and compromised by the national military government which they were accusing of be-spoiling their environment via irresponsible oil/gas exploitation activities by Royal Dutch Shell company, with no benefit to the indigenes.
The above catalogued outrageous and tyrannical practices that continued to occur in Nigeria had rippling effects across the globe and further damaged Nigeria’s reputation in the eyes of those sympathetic to democracy as the dastardly acts portrayed our country as being under repressive and despotic leadership.
At the same time the positive events surrounding Mandela’s release from jail and subsequent election as president elevated South Africa’s profile as the most stable and democratic nation in the African continent.
In effect, while the downwards spiral of Nigeria’s tattered image accelerated by tyrannical leadership in Nigeria earned her international sanctions and negatively impacted the nation’s economy, the mercurial personality of Mandela who was a prisoner of conscience that fought for the end of apartheid and got elected president one year after Nigeria failed to pull through her transition from dictatorship to democracy, guaranteed South Africa a place in Jim O’Neil’s list of emerging global economic power countries, that he tagged BRICS, instead of BRINC if Nigeria had made it.
Hence, in 2010, South Africa representing the African continent was invited as the 5th member of the economic group which originally had four countries and thus effectively shut out Nigeria that was handicapped economically and had poor democracy credentials.
That is the narrative of how Nigeria could not earn a place at the table when BRICS was a mere grouping of four countries aggregated in pursuit of the business interest of Goldman Sachs and its clients.
The above is also a snapshot of the leadership rivalry between South Africa and Nigeria which the former rather than the latter won, irrespective of the fact that Nigeria played a pivotal role in the liberation of South Africa from minority white supremacists who had over several decades operated an oppressive apartheid regime of ruling over majority black citizens.
Of course, there was also the issue of Nigeria being wary of the implications of challenging the status quo, particularly because she was somehow beholden to her former colonizer, the UK and had also developed some affinity with the USA, both of which are leaders of the current world order that is being challenged by promoters of BRICS.
The reason for delving into the past with the narrative about the competition between the two African giants is to underscore the fact that Nigeria never applied to join BRICS as being speculated in some quarters and which compelled Vice President Kashim Shettima, who attended the last BRICS meeting hosted by South Africa on behalf of President Bola Tinubu to debunk the misinformation.
At the end of the last conference in South Africa which was held from 22-24 August, six countries were invited to join from January 2024, the existing five core members.
That would increase the number of member countries to 11.
So, one wonders what the new name of the body of countries would be, since BRICS is an acronym formed from the first letters of the names of the five countries that the organization currently comprises.
Is it going to be termed ‘G 11’?
My guess is that they would cross that bridge when they get there in January 2024.
Meanwhile, it is imperative to note that at the time that BRICS was formed, being part of the economic grouping was an asset to countries that got qualified to be put in that cadre, basically because it made the countries attractive to institutional investors.
But currently it may be a liability, simply because the motive has changed from business to the pursuit of political goals.
As earlier stated, the formation of BRICS was actually driven by the business interest of Goldman Sachs, Europe whose Chief Economist at that time, Mr. Jim O’Neil was inspired to coin the name BRIC in the course of seeking how to create value in terms of profit for the bank’s clients.
By aggregating the economic potentials of the initial four countries-Brazil, Russia, India and China that were exhibiting capacity to be the next new investment frontier and power houses of the future beyond Europe and North America, Mr. O’Neill hoped that by packaging the countries as a group he would be able to convince his clients to invest in BRICS countries that he had projected would overtake the economies and yield more financial returns than the developed G7 countries markets.
Notably, the four foundation countries are from different zones: Brazil from South America, Russia from eastern Europe, India from south east Asia and China from Asia pacific.
To increase the number to five so that all the continents including Africa would be represented, the choice of the country that had the best fit was between Nigeria and South Africa.
The contest had been ongoing since the members were just four nations in 2001 and the term BRIC was still being used, until it finally got resolved in 2010 in favor of South Africa and the name became BRICS.
The decision was made easier as Nigeria’s economy that was very buoyant during the formative years of BRICS (2001) was facing headwinds owing to dastardly activities of military dictators and tyrannical rulers such as Gens. Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha that attracted international sanctions against the country resulting in the economy going south and crude oil prices, which is the mainstay of the country tanking, resulting in her edge over South Africa, getting erased.
But the real motive for the creation of BRICS group of countries by Goldman Sachs which was purely business driven got hijacked by politicians who have converted it into a new platform to serve as a counter force to the United Nations and her offsprings of Bretton Woods institutions- the World bank, International Monetary Fund, IMF and the World Trade Organization, WTO amongst others.
It is generally believed in the global south that the aforementioned institutions are the operating arms of the UN deployed for the purpose of perpetrating and sustaining the stranglehold of the G7 on the rest of the world.
It is worth highlighting the fact that G7 is a body of the seven most industrialized countries in the world-US, UK, Canada, France, Italy, Germany and Japan.
Five of the 15 members of the UN Security Council are G7 members and the five are the permanent members of the Council that have the veto power on decisions made by the rest of the world. These are: US, UK, France, China and Russia.
It is amazing how seven out of 93 member nations of the UN have succeeded in literally running rings around the free world comprising a population in excess of 8.1 billion.
Little wonder the list of the countries that have been cleared to join BRICS in January next year is like a laundry list of countries that are unhappy with the continued use of the dollar as the world reserve currency, and are resisting the tele-guiding of the rest of the world based on Western values and cultures.
From Africa, there are two countries-Egypt and Ethiopia.
The Arab world has three-Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, UAE and Iran, while South America features one- Argentina.
It is remarkable that most of the six incoming countries into BRICS on the first day of January next year do not have democracy credentials such as respect for the rule of law- a fulcrum of democracy as their guardrail of governance.
That is evident by the fact that Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iran are under the rule of monarchy, Egypt is currently not a reference point for democracy in Africa, Ethiopia has been fighting an unending separatist war with Eritrea and Argentinian, although a reference point for democracy in South America, may be on the BRICS platform on the prodding of its South American-Brazil.
Otherwise there appears not to be anything spectacular about the BRICS group to lure or attract new members into joining, except the palpable growing anger of the aforementioned global south countries against the Western powers, with the pair of Russia and China as cheerleaders.
While Russia has the agenda of returning to the days of USSR Union of Soviet Socialist Republics which president Putin is still romanticizing through the war it launched against Ukraine, China fantasizes about the day she would replace the USA as the world’s largest economy and change the world order from its current bi-polar status.
And there is no doubt that the duo is well within their rights to have such legitimate aspirations as long as they are pursued within the ambit of the rule of law and global best practice in terms of social responsibility and morality.
But the truth about BRICS is that there have been no extraordinary developments within the group, and they have been unable to grow out of the rudimentary stages of their formation to develop a monetary union or payment system which they have been craving and which is the hallmark of the United Nations and its agencies.
The only exception is that they have been presenting a common front in the UN and other global fora, plus the fact that India a core member of the group just landed a spacecraft in the moon and her population just zoomed past that of China.
One development that is clearly notable is that three of the countries out of the six are Arab countries.
That development reflects the increasing level of discontent from the Arab world against the West which was on display when the Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, infamously gave a fist bump welcome to the US President Joe Biden during a recent visit to the kingdom by the leader of the free world, Biden to solicit the support of Saudi Arabia, the leader of OPEC for increase in crude oil supply into the market to ease the pressure on demand and reduce pump price of gasoline in the USA.
It may be recalled that the price of gasoline (petrol) had risen and it was presenting a major threat to the success of the ruling Democratic Party during midterm elections.
Despite the best efforts of President Biden to curry the favor of the Saudi crown prince to ease supply to facilitate electoral victory of his party, his request was not honored, majorly because Biden as a presidential candidate had endorsed the USA security agencies such as the CIA report that the crown prince authorized the murder of the Saudi Arabia/USA columnist for Washington Post, Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey in October 2018.
Biden has since then turned to Venezuela, the USA neighbor in the Caribbean for help in boosting oil supply, which was obliged and his party went on to prevail in the midterm elections by winning more states in the senate.
Since then, apparently the ice between Saudi Arabia and the USA has not thawed and the choice to join forces with the political enemies of the USA-China, Russia and Iran is therefore unsurprising.
Earlier, China had successfully brokered peace between Saudi Arabia and Iran that had been arch enemies and had been fighting proxy wars across the world, since a wedge was put between both countries by the Sunni and Shiite divide in the Islamic world.
That China was able to help both countries mend fences is a feat that was never contemplated in the Western world.
In fact, in conventional thinking, it was easier to expect Saudi Arabia and Israel to patch up their religious differences, than imagine a Saudi Arabia and Iran brotherhood.
But the emerging new order has trumped old thinking.
So, basically, BRICS has become a gathering of countries that are aggrieved and have an axe to grind with the current hegemonic powers of the countries of the Western hemisphere led by the USA.
The significant large number of Islamic countries that would be joining BRICS next January, which since its founding had no largely Muslim country, is jolting.
With a list of Islamic countries-Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iran (except Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen) looking like what the 43rd president of the USA, George W Bush labeled ‘axis of evil’, after the terrorist attack in New York and Washington DC in September 2001, BRICS appear to be gaining notoriety or popularity (depending on who you ask) and the world needs to watch it as it may be a force for bad or good.
By and large, BRICS is not dissimilar to the Concept of Medium Powers which is a proposal for medium term economic and political power to bound together and forge a common front in order to have a better bargaining power politically and economically to engage the first tier countries that present themselves as G7 and members of the security council of the UN which is an exclusive club from which Africa has been shut out and the proposal to admit her has remained in abeyance since its founding in 1945.
Over the years, the concept of BRICS had become unviable to Goldman Sachs researchers, so it had to undergo an evolution by morphing into an Emerging Markets Equity Funds concept with a wider sphere of coverage.
That is what it was until it was hijacked by politicians to pursue their peculiar interests.
It is significant to note that of the five BRICS members, only three are super powers. These are Russia, China and India and they all have disparate agendas which they are pursuing and hoping to achieve by leveraging the same platform.
Russia needed to re-assert itself in the world order after suffering the humiliation of splintering of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR into multiple nations including Ukraine, which it is currently fighting to reclaim after annexing Crimea in 2014, which was originally part of Ukraine.
So, Russia’s involvement in BRICS, in my reckoning, may be to pursue its imperialist interests currently being prosecuted through its invasion of Ukraine and following the meltdown of the USSR in 1998.
For China, it’s current position as the second richest economy in the world with a GDP of $17.73 USD, second only to the USA’s $23.32 USD as at 2021, that it intends to overtake by 2030, a new world economic order away from being under the influence and direction of the current system curated by her arch rival, the USA and Europeans controlled UN and its subdivisions like the World Bank, IMF and WTO, may be the motivation.
BRICS offers her the spread her influence to the region’s hitherto under the wings of the USA and Europe.
Especially so, as her economy is presently facing severe head winds and contracting as opposed to growing in multiple digits which it had been associated with.
Totally eclipsing Japan, her former colonial master may also be a raison d’etre for rallying countries with similar grievances against the global West into BRICS with a view to using them as counterforce to Western countries dominance of global politics and economic matters.
Is it not curious that it is the same year 2001 that China joined WTO that BRICS was founded?
With respect to India, she has overtaken China in population (India-1.428 versus China-1.425b) and it is currently marketing itself on global television with her ‘Make in India’ slogan.
That implies that it is positioning to being the world’s new manufacturing hub/factory in replacement of China that had been playing that role since it came out of its reclusive mode, or more appropriately defined, state of autarky in 2001 to join the World Trade Organization.
What is more, India has just landed a spacecraft on the moon, making her the 4th nation in the world to so do.
With the others being the USA, Soviet Union and China.
Regarding the other two members of BRICS, Brazil and South Africa, they can both be said to be enjoying the joy ride as passengers in the BRICS train.
For Brazil, which is a South American neighbor of the USA that is in North America, it is a way of showing relevance.
But she could benefit more from cooperating with the USA than from China, Russia or India, her far flung partners in BRICS.
In the case of South Africa, her ambition to triumph over Nigeria, her arch rival in Africa, may be the motivation for being the 5th member of BRICS.
Already, South Africa is a member of the G20 countries which wield the highest influence in the global economy after G7.
Her membership of BRICS may be helping her because ordinarily, Nigeria with a bigger market and larger population size on the continent ought to represent Africa in the august body.
Perhaps, arising from her inability to play her cards right on the international stage, Nigeria lost that privilege to South Africa and her deserved privilege of being the permanent member of the security council of the UN which is currently being canvassed, is also at risk of being lost to South Africa, if Nigeria does not do the required hard work of joining formidable global networks.
Hope is not lost because with President Tinubu who is savvy in leadership and world affairs currently at the helm of affairs in Aso Rock Villa, and vigorously driving the Renewed Hope manifesto of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, no stone would be left unturned to ensure that Nigeria regains her pre-eminence as the leader of the continent of Africa with all the appurtenances.
That said, a significant event that influenced the conversion of BRICS into a forum for emerging and medium size countries to assert themselves via a sort of collective bargaining arrangement is the Concept of Medium powers which was formed in 1975 by Nigeria.
It was actually the brainchild of Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, who is one of the finest brains in foreign affairs on this side of the hemisphere.
As one time Director General of Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, and minister of Foreign Affairs during the reign of Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and an alumnus of both the Fletcher school of Law & Diplomacy and university of Oxford, Prof. Akinyemi had along with 50 Nigerian scholars that he assembled floated the novel idea, Concept of Medium Powers.
But perhaps owing to extraneous factors, the innovative, visionary and dynamic scholar was not allowed to implement it by his boss.
Probably, the idea which was floated as far back as 1975 and was to be implemented when he assumed the role of minister in 1985 was considered ahead of its time.
Hence it did not see the light of day.
The following was the goal:
• The Concert of Medium Powers was an informal and flexible consultative organ that comprised sixteen countries that were regional powers in terms of the significant amount of their regional influence.
• These countries were Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Senegal, Sweden, Switzerland, Venezuela, Yugoslavia and Nigeria.
That is according to the archival records of Landmark University: prog.Imu.edu.ng.
Although the vision/mission that underscored the Concept of Medium Power remain relevant, Nigerian president Bola Ahmed Tinubu is currently over burdened by the challenge of pulling the country back from the brinks of collapse and lifting her up by its booth straps economically that becoming the leader of medium power countries of the world may be inauspicious at the present time.
After BRICS was conceived and adopted, there has also been MINTs which were forged out of the first alphabets of the name of five countries, namely: Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Basically, MINTs shares characteristics with BRICS which is a club of countries rich in natural resources and agglomerated by Goldman Sachs for similar economic reasons for which BRICS was founded.
As records from the British House of Commons library indicate, MINTs acronym has its origin in a strategic plan from the Japanese company Panasonic in 2010. The giant electronics and electrical firm used the term “MINTS + B” to denote Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Balkans, parts of the world where growth in sales could be achieved.
But it was Fidelity Investment and Research Group operating out of Boston Massachusetts, USA that first adopted it for its market segmentation work. After which it got popularized by Mr. Jim O’Neil, the ubiquitous chief economist of Goldman Sachs who had also coined BRICS.
Leveraging on his huge clout in the global financial services space, he latched on to the concept of MINTs and gave it more currency.
Similar regional power blocks had been formed around the world in the past.
They came with a lot of promise,but most of them fizzled out shortly after.
The opposite is the case with the United Nations, an UN institution formed after world war ll in 1945.
It is remarkable that the UN initially known as League of Nations has survived for two years shy of 80 years, which is quite remarkable and commendable.
What is unfolding and fueling the new fervor of resistance to the established institutions is a manifestation of a pattern of deviance by the countries that have formed BRICS, for instance.
Emile Durkheim, the French sociologist argues that deviance is an inevitable part of how society functions. He further posits that “it is a basis for change and innovation, and it is also a way of defining or clarifying important social norms”.
As Durkheim further explained, deviance is a product of inequality.
Somehow, inequality has crept into leadership of the world. More so because those leading the world are capitalists from the global north that are largely champions of capitalism which breeds inequality.
Max Weber in his Theory of Stratification Hierarchy talks about three spheres of activity for analytical purposes: economic, social and political, and, within each sphere, power is designated accordingly into class, status and political.
He believes that: “society is split between owners and laborers”
The leaders of the existing world order, most of whom are in the global north, based on Weber’s theory, are in the mold of ‘owners’ and majority of those in the global south are ‘laborers’.
In my view, the stratification and resultant inequality across the world is being fueled by the concept of capitalism without conscience which has left an alarming number of the world’s population of 8.1 billion people pinning away in the valley of poverty while a privileged few are reveling atop the mountain of surplus.
But a few countries that did not toe the capitalist path have also made progress with applying capitalist principles.
For instance before China joined the WTO in 2021, her per capita income was in the region of $155-175. Nigeria’s was in the range of $350-400 which is twice that of China.
Today, records reveal that Nigeria has grown only by five folds, $2,449.00, while China’s has leaped forward 50 folds to $12,150.00 per capita.
Why is that so? China was not beholden or tele-guided by Western dogma as Nigeria is wont to, but developed her own pathway to growth which she has followed religiously.
So, the difference between China and Nigeria is that while the former remained tied to the apron strings of her colonizer Britain, conversely, China, at first went into its shelf as a recluse, developed a robust competitive edge by setting her own agenda, and at the opportune time, joined the rest of the world to compete on the WTO platform.
It is by so doing that China became the manufacturing hub of the world and Nigeria has remained a primary producer of raw materials for the industrialized world’s factories and thus remains stagnated-progress wise.
In 2011, The Economist magazine of the UK, had in an article by one of its reporters titled, ‘Africa Rising’ appraising African growth opportunities made the following positive observation about the growth potentials of Nigeria: “I could see the sun. Africa now has a real chance of following in the footsteps of Asia. So, from a hopeless continent to a rising one,” he wrote.
But unfortunately, over a decade after the positive projection, our country is still punching below its weight.
The narrative about inequality and injustice leading to conflicts between the global north who are mostly comprised of the ‘haves’ and global south that constitute the bulk of the ‘laborers’ owing to unfair trade practices and other aspects of global leadership skewed in favor of the global north, are justifying and fueling the challenge of the status quo by the likes of BRICS.
And it reminds me of the thesis that l wrote in fulfilment of a master’s degree from the Fletcher School Law and Diplomacy with the title is: “Darfur. Why The Super Powers Failed To Help”.
It is focused on the hypocrisy of the leaders of the global north such as the USA, UK, Canada, France, essentially the members of North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, who intervened by stopping the horrific ethnic cleansing war in Bosnia -Herzegovina (1992-1995) which was formerly part of Yugoslavia.
Yet the same NATO had failed to intervene in Rwanda genocide that took place in 1994, exhibiting similar characteristics to ethnic the cleansing between ethnic groups in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Keeping in mind that the Super Powers had ostensibly regretted being blindsided in Rwanda and vowed to never let such insensitivity to the sanctity of human lives happen again, NATO watched the armed conflict between North and South Sudan as the warlords engaged in mutual self-destruction via the secessionist war that commenced in 1950s without intervening until the separation of both countries in 2011.
Granted that Rwanda and Sudan are not NATO members as such it was not under obligation to intervene, as the conveners and leaders of the G7 lording it over the rest of the world economically, it was incumbent on the Super Powers to prevent human carnage wherever it is about to occur, as they are currently doing in Ukraine that was invaded by Russia in February 2022.
Tracing the origin of terrorism to inequality amongst the peoples of the world driven by unfair trade practices foisted on the south by the global north which is stoking the anger of the ‘haves’ against the ‘have-not’, and highlighting the fact that most of the conflicts were triggered by struggle over natural resources ownership and exploration, especially crude oil; l concluded the thesis by proposing that instead of labeling countries in the region where most of the terrorists that attacked Washington DC and New York in September, 2011 hail from as ‘Axis of Evil’ that needed to be crushed with military force, they should be treated with empathy and compassion to get to the root cause of their hate, which is capitalism.
As it may be recalled, it is President George W. Bush the 43rd USA president that had, on the heels of the 9/11 terrorist attack, tagged the terrorist hot bed as ‘axis of evil’.
That is as opposed to making conscious efforts to tone down capitalism’s negative fallouts by being less exploitative and trading in more mutually beneficial ways that could have reduced the hate from countries like Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and some African countries in the Maghreb and Sahel regions that appear hell bent on hurting the Western countries that they deem as their oppressors and sources of socioeconomic misfortune.
It is unsurprising that the cost of fighting terrorism has been found to be far higher than the price of preventing it.
Based on Brown University research team’s report, it is true of the USA:
“$8 trillion estimate accounts for all direct costs of the country’s post-9/11 wars, including Department of Defense Overseas Contingency Operations funding; State Department war expenditures and counterterror war-related costs, including war-related increases to the Pentagon’s base budget; care for veterans”.
On Afghanistan alone, it is estimated that the USA had spent not less than $2 trillion.
When broken down, it amounts to about $300m every day for the 20 years that the war lasted. That is according to White House website, whitehouse.gov.
Compare that humongous sum to a paltry $3 billion that the same USA is reported to have spent on humanitarian services in Iraq.
My point is that if the USA had applied half of the trillions of dollars that had been expended in prosecuting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on humanitarian services or on boosting productivity in the so called ‘axis of evil’ whose citizens are living in very rough and tough terrain, hence they are hardened and always on edge, there would not be so much angst and hate that are fueling terrorism in the world.
The panacea being proposed towards ending global terrorism can also be extrapolated towards ending local terrorism in Africa driven by ISWAP, Al-Shabab and in Nigeria, Boko Haram, etc.
In conclusion, while one is not suggesting that neutralizing the toxic contents of capitalism would end religious extremism and other antisocial behaviors, it would certainly go a long way in reducing conflicts around the world.
One is also not unaware that wars boost arms manufacturing business which creates employment and enhances the GDP of nations with thriving arms industries.
And l am not proposing the adoption of welfarism which is the opposite of capitalism.
But l am drawing attention to the need for all men and women of goodwill to elect to pursue greater good of the world which should supersede the interests of a few individuals and nations.
My point therefore is that there is the need for the world to re-imagine capitalism with a view to reducing its negative fallouts that promote inequality and offer breeding ground for hate that manifest as terrorism.
In that regard, for the world to be a better place for all, with peoples from all the 95 nations living together in harmony, l am romanticizing Scandinavian countries or Nordic democracy which has a good dose of socialism, termed: Social democracy.
Wikipedia puts it this way:
“The Nordic model refers to the standards followed in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland. These nations are known for high living standards and low-income disparity. The Nordic model merges free-market capitalism with a generous welfare system.
Mr. Alfred Nobel is a Swedish chemist and engineer that earned his wealth from producing deadly dynamite and other explosives used for producing mines and later bequeathed the wealth amassed from his investment invention in instituting the Nobel prize which is the highest reward for warriors against war and promoters of peace amongst others.
Similarly, the leaders of the world when it was bi-Polar, the USA and Russia agreed to work against nuclear proliferation to prevent or ward off nuclear warfare that could have ended up causing an apocalypse if it had remained not contained.
Currently, leaders of technology firms such as Elon Musk of Tesla, Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple and IBM’s Grady Booch have recently signed a letter calling for a pause on the race to Artificial Intelligence, AI deployment, irrespective of what they stand to gain personally in light of the new advances in AI models without properly considering broader consequences.
As Centraleyes.com, a tech watch dog recently wrote: “There is a need, they say, for oversight of AI developments to make sure new technology will operate within public interests and to make sure things don’t go horribly down a dangerous path”.
In like manner, the G7 can decide to review the fundamentals of capitalism by making it less exploitative and giving it a more human face.
Think of the dire consequences of Terrorism on humanity.
Records reveal that about 3,000 lives were lost in 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington DC in 2001, plus another estimated 2,500 lives of American servicemen that were also lost in the 20 years long war in Afghanistan before the country pulled out in 2021.
Those are just two catastrophes perpetrated by terrorists against the USA.
If the carnage described above is weighed against the good feelings engendered for capitalists when they triumph over their victims in the global south, it would be clear that it is not worth the blood of Americans being shed by terrorists as repercussion for the side effects of capitalism.
The grim picture painted above is just from two specific losses to terrorists by the USA and the same gloomy situation can be extrapolated,although to a lesser extent for her allies in NATO such as the Uk, France, Germany, Italy, etc.
Of course, the losses suffered by the global north in terms of lives and properties pale into nothing compared to the massive losses in the countries considered to be the hotbeds of terrorism.
The reinvigoration of BRICS on the back of Russia/Ukraine war that pundits are warning could lead to a third world war, if more diplomacy manoeuvring is not deployed, and the escalating trade conflicts between China and the USA, plus the brewing sovereignty tensions between China and Taiwan with the USA on the side of Taiwan are ill winds that are blowing across the world that do not bode humankind well.
And that is why the shot in the arm that may be given BRICS when six more countries discontented with the status quo from across the world join the group in January next year must compel leaders of the current world order to pay more than a passing interest to the concerns of advocates for a peaceful world devoid of intractable conflicts and terrorism by rethinking the concept of capitalism.
In my view, that is the prism from which the dawn of a new BRICS should be considered.