The leaders of the fi counties (Brazil, Russia, India, China, S Africa) met for a Summit in Johannesberg from 22-25 August). Russia attended virtually because of an arrest warrant against its leader for atrocities in Ukraine by the Russian Wagner group responsible for a coup in Niger. So why was BRICS meeting in Africa to condone atrocities in Ukraine?
BRICS could at the very least censured Russia for the crime of stealing Ukrainian children while shelling their parents in an illegal war that continues to violate all the laws put in place by the international community after the brutalities of the Second World War. Instead, BRICS invited six new members into the group ((Saudi Arabia,Iran,Ethiopia,Egypt, Argentina, UAE).
New members will join BRICS as of 1 January. Already they have been dubbed “The Bad Boys Club” and they will introduce their own currency to sidestep sastern sanctions imposed to gain compliance with international law in lieu of armed conflict. The new currency is also a bid to undercut the US dollar as the gold standard of international trade. In short, BRICS has fired the shot heard round the world about global law and order, complete with the Wagner tie between Ukraine and Niger.
On the morning of the Summit opening, the head of the Wagner group came out of hiding to announce that Russia was in Africa to bring prosperity and happiness to the African people. There was no mention of how bombing Ukrainian ports bringing grain to Africa was was a way to promote happiness. Wagner chief Prigozhin has since died and he cannot be asked. But his demise may be a clue about what Africa can expect with BRICS,
BRICS was founded in 2009, the same year as the conservative Tea Party after the US elected the first non-white leader of a western industrialized country. South Africa joined the group a year later at China’s invitation. Including an African country seemed a logical choice since the aim was to balance out the north/south global divide. Since Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the east/west divide has come into sharper relief with the entire foundation of civilization itself at the center.
The Second World War was the great global showdown between the use of force versus the laborious process of working out differences through dialogue and bargaining. With the nuclear bomb as the ultimate bargaining chip, the United Nations was established as a forum and rules for conflict were set out in the Geneva Conventions. Those provided for the protection of civilians, proper treatment of combatants and first and foremost, no invasion of any other of the world’s near-200 countries. Russia has violated those rules for more than a year and a half. BRICS has declared that was fine with them and it’s up to the rest of the world to decide where it stands on law and order, freedom and democracy.
After the Second World War, Russia was given free reign to conduct a Communist experiment on half of Europe and a chunk of Asia. An Iron Curtain kept atrocities in the dark from the outside world, including through the “economic extraction of resources” that Wagner is now carrying out for Russia on the continent of Africa. When Eastern Europe and the former Societ satellites got tired of being fleeced, they tore down the Berlin wall dividing East from West and a year later the Soviet Union collapsed.
Former Russian captives are still digging out from the massive corruption that Russian oligarchs have now spread throughout the world. Their method of operation is unabashedly transparent in the democracy-leaning spunky Ukraine and more gingerly in the more fragile democracy of Niger.
Like many of today’s near-200 independent countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America and island nations of the world, Niger bears the scars of a European expansionist period that ended with the Second World War. Niger, like many of its sibling emergents, bears additional layers of scars from clumsy Western attempts to make amends for the sins of the fathers. But Niger, like others, can look to Ukraine for which way the better future lies.
Imperfect Western democracy may be tone deaf to the needs of emerging nations. They may need activist intervention to be responsive. They may be busy with their own versions of history’s missteps and crimes. They may make mistakes and even look foolish. But they will also not condone somebody who mistreats you the way BRICS appears to be doing with Russia against both Ukraine and Niger.