Emerging Nations: Is the Handwriting on the Wall for the West?

When the BRICS—the emerging nations coalition of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—decided to make their own version of the International Monetary Fund or World Bank in early 2013, many saw it as a brazen affront to the West.
"Reactions from around the world, whether welcoming or critical of the step, all pointed in the same direction: here is further proof of the West's decline in the world," the European center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace stated. "The new bank, observers said, would be the embodiment—and enabling instrument—of an alternative model of global governance."
Continuing, the institution stated, "For some in the West, the announcement by the BRICS was nothing short of a declaration of war."
Among the major players in the West, the U.S. has been running on the fumes of its tremendous 20th-century growth while recording dismal economic growth numbers. Europe is also struggling and continues to marinate in its failures. At first glance, the continent can seem reminiscent of Babylon circa 539 BC. The biblical book of Daniel records the story: The empire had some years before reached its peak of military might and financial prosperity under Nebuchadnezzar II. To emphasize the extent of this economic greatness, the Bible from then on connects Nebuchadnezzar's governance to global trade, gourmet foods, and top-shelf luxury.
After the king's death, however, the city-state of Babylon suffered years of misguided leadership and financial imprudence. During a wild citywide party in the empire's capital, a supernatural finger began to write on a wall in the palace of the drunken ruler Belshazzar. The meaning of the ominous "handwriting on the wall" was that Babylon would fall to the rising empire of the Medes and Persians. That night, Belshazzar was slain by invading armies and the city overrun.
But is this a true parallel?
Both America and Europe are grappling with severe problems at home, leaving emerging nations confidently surging forward. Chinese President Xi Jinping stated: "The potential of Brics development is infinite…The real potential of Brics co-operation is yet to be realised" (BBC).
The economic clout of China, Russia and India alone is formidable, with a combined 2012 gross domestic product of about $19.66 trillion. By comparison, the United States was $15.66 trillion and Europe was $16.22 trillion.
In 1998, China had the seventh largest GDP of $979 billion. Today it is number two ($12.38 trillion) and quickly moving to overtake the United States. A struggling post-Soviet Russia was in 16th place in 1998. By 2012, however, it shot to seventh place. It now boasts a GDP of $2.05 trillion.
Yet there are many more emerging nations than just the BRICS. The Inter Press Service reported: "This dramatic change in global dynamics…goes well beyond the BRICS. More than forty developing countries are estimated to have made unusually rapid human development strides in recent decades…Together, they represent most of the world's population and a growing proportion of its trade and economic output."
With glaring weak spots in the United States and Europe's financial defenses, these emerging nations seem to have picked a strategic time to act. This raises the question: Is the handwriting on the wall for the West?
Stumbling Bloc
The answer to the West's fall and the BRICS' rise is not so simple. Progress on its proposed bank has nearly halted. Terms used include those such as "in principle" members agree that such a financial institution is "feasible," but that "more talks" are needed. This is similar language to when the idea was first proposed in 2012.
A Project Syndicatearticle "BRICS Without Mortar" highlighted issues facing the coalition: "Indeed, while the BRICS may be helpful in coordinating certain diplomatic tactics, the term lumps together highly disparate countries. Not only is South Africa miniscule compared to the others, but China's economy is larger than those of all of the other members combined. Likewise, India, Brazil, and South Africa are democracies, and occasionally meet...read more...

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