(c) Michael Osbun
In 2003, a report authored by a team of
Their growing international leverage is real. In 2000, the BRICs accounted for 16 percent of global GDP. Today, their share is 22 percent, and that number is expected to rise sharply in years to come. The impact of the financial crisis and global recession on developed world economies has only magnified their importance.
Over time, the BRICs will exert more political influence, and their governments will cooperate on the (very few) issues that serve the interests of all four countries more or less equally. For example, the BRICs mean to increase their formal and informal influence within the
But the BRICs won't form a coherent bloc anytime soon, because considerable differences in their respective strengths, weaknesses and interests will limit their willingness to cooperate on the issues they say they care about.
Their differences are considerable.
Much of the divergence is explained by sharp differences in the structures of their economies.
There are also important differences in their approaches to
Nor will they agree anytime soon on concrete steps to replace the dollar as the world's reserve currency.
Nor should we overlook the longstanding rivalries within the group.
Over time, the BRICs will exert increasing influence on global financial and political institutions. Their economies will continue to account for a sizeable portion of the increase in global GDP, and their political influence will grow as a result. But there will always be clear limits on the compatibility of their interests and the coherence of any collective plans. Critics of
Obama, Solana Mean Business About Two-State Solution
by William Pfaff
The Israeli press reports with alarm that the United States has threatened to reduce by $1 billion the guarantee the U.S. Treasury customarily provides for Israel state borrowings, which assure them the best commercial terms. This is evidence that the Obama government is serious about halting Israel's colonization of the Palestinian territories -- and about imposing, rather than merely inviting, a two-state Middle East solution.
A once-fashionable subject in America's think tanks was futurology. It worked by projecting what were thought to be plausible developments in the situation of a given subject that would lead to a series of 'branching points,' expected eventually to lead the analyst to unforeseen conclusions about what could happen.
However, unexpected developments actually were fairly uncommon, since nearly everyone started with a bias toward one or another desirable outcome.
In Iraq, tension was reported to be increasing between the Americans and the Iraqi military and security forces, who were supposed to take over the Americans' responsibilities. Move to another front: Pakistan-Afghanistan. Here there was also supposed to be a straightforward job to do: drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan, into the Tribal Areas of the Pakistan border. There, the Pakistan army, with American urging and help, would defeat and disarm them.
America's Homeland Security Surplus
Janet Napolitano, Barack Obama's secretary of Homeland Security gave a talk at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, meant to convince American civil libertarians and security specialists that the country can be kept safe, and neighborly as well.
(c) 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.