by Fernando Esteche *
To measure and appreciate the historical moment we are experiencing, we must establish that the BRICS Summit in South Africa is the unappealable consolidation of the new world order: It is the arrival of Multipolarity.
The expansion of the BRICS and the countries that were incorporated as members also define geopolitical conditions that surpass in all comparable indices the Group of 7 itself, up to this point the brain and engine of global development, lords and masters of major global regulatory decisions; they now face a block that by far exceeds their capabilities, their potential, and their possibilities.
There are many issues to consider when incorporating each country. On the one hand, the history of each country in relation to the bloc; on the other hand, the geopolitical positioning of each of them; also the demographic issue that results in markets; finally, among so many other variables, the productive potential of each state.
An eminently political GEO calculation cannot be noticed when looking at the map and noticing that the block controls, for example, two of the most important choke points of the energy trade such as the Suez Canal and the Strait of Hormuz, the latter also causing recurring tensions in the area that suddenly becomes harmonious and collaborative; Egypt, Arabia, the Emirates and Somalia on one side, and the Islamic Republic of Iran on the other. On the other hand, between Argentina and Brazil they have the pluvial navigation system that flows through the Paraná and Río de La Plata and through which an important amount of world grain trade circulates.
The members concentrate a determining portion in the production and commercialization of energy, being in a position to resolve both the regulation of the production dynamics, and the international price, as well as the exchange currency, being that in the same block. The main producers are found with very important importers, which allows it to be a kind of two-way OPEC.
The incorporation of Argentina as the first Spanish-speaking and second Latin American country to the bloc, which is between the third and fourth largest economies in Latin America, consolidates the bloc as such, with global deployment and taking into account the capacities and potentialities in food and energy production that our territory offers. But this confronts the Argentine political leadership with the formidable possibility of getting rid of the traps of political and economic production imposed by the monetary fund.
The concrete thing is that now it cannot be said that there is no other way than monetary fundization because there is another way which is to join the BRICS, which is to use the contingent reserves agreement and the new development bank of the BRICS that allow countries With financial and financing crises, which are two different things, being able to resolve it outside the dollar and the draconian impositions proposed by the Monetary Fund.
It will remain in the hands of the political leadership of 2024, whether it is able to develop that or not. They must also decide whether we join the bloc merely as a supplier of raw materials or promote a strategic development plan for productive recovery and territorial integration that takes advantage of the possibility of investments offered by the New Development Bank.
Argentina faces, with this contingency of the BRICS, the possibility of beginning a process of recovery of sovereignty, or the danger of consolidating its re-primarization, its economic colonization, and offering itself as a supplier to Chinese, Indian, Russian, etc. demands.
Those who manage Argentine foreign trade are not Argentine, those who manage the Paraná-Río de La Plata river navigability system are not Argentine either, those who manage agricultural exports are not Argentine either, nor are any of the niches of foreign trade that we are going to explore.
While at the Council of Americas; Bullrich and Milei made a profession of Atlanticist faith, deploring the agreement to join the BRICS and ensuring that in their eventual and unlikely governments they would withdraw from the agreement; The businessmen applauded them with reluctance and austerity, and at the exit they faced questions from the media making surprising statements such as that of Eurnekian who sarcastically relativized the fact that membership in the BRICS will upset the United States by saying “you can have a wife and also a lover, and nothing happens”; or Urtubey, brother of the leader and business leader from Salta, who proposed the inscrutable formula of “separating business from politics.”
The ones that import the most food to China and India are multinational companies that can take advantage of some customs tax exemption without much interest in whether it is about trading with BRICS or with whomever, their own diffuse nationality imposes on them as a national insignia the possibility of business and nothing else.
Ignorant Bullrich and gross Milei spoke of challenging the agreement for “ideological” reasons; they believe that Putin’s increasingly nationalist and orthodox Russia has something to do with the remote Soviet Union. They don’t want to have anything to do with Iran even though the whole world trades with Iran, including currently the big Argentine oil companies; and they speak of the rest of the countries with contempt without considering India’s military alliance with the United States in the QUAD, or that Saudi Arabia is the fourth largest buyer of weapons from the United States; or whatever one might begin to see in the multiple alignments of each of these countries. The only ones who come up with an automatic alignment with decadent Atlanticism is the Argentine opposition cipaya leadership.
The absence in the family photo
Everyone knows that in diplomacy, the so-called “family photo” in addition to being a historical record, accounts for the role of each person in the matter in question: Whether they appear on a par, one is higher than the other, who has whom to this next, whether a leader is positioned in the back or front row and so on.
At the BRICS summit, of so rare historical significance, there was no Argentine representative; not even the ambassador in Johannesburg consul, nor the embassy doorman – nobody, none.
One day before the scheduled trip, given the uncertainty about the possibility of Argentine entry despite the word and explicit support of each of the five founding members, the government decided not to participate in response to two issues.
The most important one for the President: not to return empty-handed and expose himself to media coverage; the government doubted what had been done diplomatically, not by the Foreign Ministry, but fundamentally by the Argentine embassies of China, Russia, and Brazil, despite the Foreign Ministry, the old and already resigned Secretary for Strategic Affairs Gustavo Beliz, and the stupid from Buenos Aires who knows nothing of diplomacy and geopolitics but occasionally sends an ambassador and allows himself to present his opinion to the point of causing these errors.
The other issue, more important for Massa and less for Fernández, was the agreement that the Minister of Economy was simultaneously making in Washington with Kristalina Georgieva on the special drawing rights that will oxygenate the impositions of programmed disbursements and will allow him to feed the treasury of the dollar to keep it more or less regulated. In this framework, the absence at the BRICS summit was a gesture of alignment after having rushed an expiration with a surprising agreement with Qatar and the explicit request of China (second contributor on the IMF board) to resolve the “Argentine problem” to risk of being China itself the one that would finance Argentina.
Argentina, trapped in its erratic foreign policy, falls prey to its own bureaucratic inertia and ends up being the protagonist of a party that it does not attend. The application for admission had already been made by Alberto Fernández to President Xi Jinping with a protocol note.
The result is a great victory of significance, despite the pusillanimity of Argentina’s foreign policy.
No one traveled to South Africa and they were missing from the photo.
In a hurry and with the information offered by the mainstream media, the most celebratory claim that Lula acted as Argentine ambassador and created this possibility all by himself. That is the myopia of those who fail to understand the diplomatic acuity of China, Russia and India, who obviously would not depend on Rio’s loquacity to make a decision but rather on their own calculation of convenience and the long term, very studied, not improvised; which also hits in the face of Atlanticist consolidation in our region by offering a country like Argentina, which is intended as a North American counterweight against Lula’s autonomism, entry and access to the NBD and the Contingent Reserve Agreement.
* * Fernando Esteche is PhD in Social Communication (UNLP), full professor of International Relations (FPyCS – UNLP), professor of Contemporary Latin American History at the University of Plata, Buenos Aires and the director of PIA Global.