On Ukraine, it is extremely difficult to get any airing for anti-war opinions. On the mainstream media, it is simply impossible to get a hearing,” Craig Murray said. The human rights campaigner and former diplomat sat with “MintPress News” to discuss forever wars, whistleblowing and a future conflict with China. “There’s a universal media consensus on stoking the proxy war, pouring in billions and billions of dollars, pouring in more and more advanced weapons systems. And anybody on social media who attempts to counter that narrative is marked as disinformation or a Russian state asset,” Murray lamented, noting that even during the Iraq War, there was more space for dissenting opinions.
Pepe and Michael and I are going to discuss the apparently unending series of summits and read their tea leaves to see what they tell us about how the world is changing. And that summitry has been pretty exhausting. There was the fateful NATO summit in July, where much to his chagrin, President Zelensky failed to get even a timetable to get into NATO after having prostrated his country before NATO and having long ago so faithfully let NATO into Ukraine. And then there was the BRICS summit in Johannesburg in August, where the organization defied pessimistic predictions and admitted six new members.
Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro took a historic trip to China this September. There, the two nations signed 31 comprehensive agreements and formally “upgraded” their relations to an “all-weather strategic partnership”, one of Beijing’s highest designations. China and Venezuela jointly blasted the “hegemonism” of the Western powers. Beijing formally condemned the illegal sanctions that Washington has imposed on Caracas. Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized this his government will “firmly support” Venezuela’s “just cause against external interference”. The global political and economic order is changing rapidly.
The president of China, Xi Jinping, hosted a welcoming ceremony for the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, and the Venezuelan delegation accompanying him, held at the entrance of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The two heads of state announced the elevation of the China-Venezuela relations to an “all-weather strategic partnership,” as reported by the Xinhua news agency. The ceremony, held this Wednesday, September 13, began with a roll of drums, signaling the arrival of Xi Jinping and his wife. They descended the stairs of the People’s Palace and took their seats of honor next to the red carpet. Shortly after, President Maduro arrived in a presidential motorcade.
In the United Kingdom, the BBC prepared and published data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in January about different nations’ growth forecasts for 2023 and 2024. The BBC foregrounded some really bad news for the UK. Of nine major industrial economies—the G7 (the US, Canada, Japan, Germany, the UK, France, and Canada), plus Russia, and China—the UK would be the only one to suffer real economic decline: a contraction in its 2023 GDP (its total annual, national output of goods and services). So dubious a distinction for the UK followed the long political night of rule by the Conservative Party. That night’s darker moments included austerity after the severe 2008-2009 global capitalist crash, scapegoating Europe for the UK’s economic troubles, Brexit taking place during the peak of that scapegoating, enjoyment of COVID cocktail parties by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government that it prohibited for the British public, and endless, transparent, and cringeworthy lying to the public when caught and exposed.
At the zenith of the mass protests in Egypt on January 25, 2011, Twitter, Facebook and other Western-based social media platforms appeared to be the most essential tools for the Egyptian Revolution. Though some observers later contested the use of the terms ‘Twitter Revolution’ or ‘Social Media Revolution,’ one cannot deny the centrality of these platforms in the discussion around the events that attempted to redefine the power structures of Egypt. It was hardly a surprise that, on January 26, the Egyptian regime decided to block access to social media in a desperate attempt to prevent the spread of the protests.
On the last day of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, the five founding states (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) welcomed six new members: Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The BRICS partnership now encompasses 47.3 percent of the world’s population, with a combined global Gross Domestic Product (by purchasing power parity, or PPP,) of 36.4 percent. In comparison, though the G7 states (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) account for merely 10 percent of the world’s population, their share of the global GDP (by PPP) is 30.4 percent.
In its summit in Johannesburg, South Africa this August, BRICS invited six new members: Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The bloc now represents 37% of global GDP (measured at purchasing power parity, or PPP), as well as 40% of global oil production and roughly 1/3rd of global gas production. The inclusion of top oil producers like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have long priced their crude in dollars, is a direct challenge to the US petrodollar system. All of the invited nations have indicated that they will officially join the extended BRICS+ bloc on 1 January 2024.
When US Acting Deputy Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, traveled to South Africa on July 29, her reputation as a blunt instrument of Washington’s hegemonic interests preceded her. According to a veteran South African official who attended meetings with the senior US diplomat in Pretoria, however, Nuland and her team were demonstrably unprepared to grapple with recent developments on the African continent — particularly the military coup that removed Niger’s pro-Western government hours before she launched her multi-stop tour of the region. “In over 20 years working with the Americans, I have never seen them so desperate,” the official told The Grayzone, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Speakers at civil society’s BRICS-from-below dialogues, which preceded a protest march against wars, human rights violations, inequality and climate change, highlighted problematic methods of governance that suppress working-class people. From India violating human rights in Kashmir and Russia invading Ukraine, to China funding fossil fuel projects across Africa, the BRICS bloc leaves activists with much to be desired. They suggest that the bloc upholds the current world order instead of creating a new citizen-friendly world order. Makhadzi Tshivuwa is an heir to the land where the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone (MMSEZ) is being developed.
The first day of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg saw calls for a more democratic global economic order with greater participation of countries from the Global South. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa set the tone by underlining that BRICS stands for inclusiveness and transparency in its development agenda and must continue to do so. Speaking on the second day, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said that India fully supports the expansion of the bloc, adding that it welcomed “moving forward with consensus on this.” India also reiterated its proposal for the African Union’s membership in the G20.
In recent days, a series of articles in the mainstream Western media have clearly demonstrated the concern of Western powers about the possible growth of the BRICS bloc, which over 20 more countries are interested in joining. Reuters, citing anonymous sources in the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, said that Brasilia would oppose the expansion and that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not attend the summit. A couple of days after the Reuters article, Brazilian President Lula da Silva was emphatic in reaffirming his position in favor of expansion, and sources denied rumors that Modi would skip the meeting.
In 2003, high officials from Brazil, India, and South Africa met in Mexico to discuss their mutual interests in the trade of pharmaceutical drugs. India was and is one of the world’s largest producers of various drugs, including those used to treat HIV-AIDS; Brazil and South Africa were both in need of affordable drugs for patients infected with HIV as well as a host of other treatable ailments. But these three countries were barred from easily trading with each other because of strict intellectual property laws established by the World Trade Organisation. Just a few months prior to their meeting, the three countries formed a grouping, known as IBSA.
Reuters carried a speculative report earlier this month (reversed the next day) that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi might not attend the BRICS summit in Johannesburg in person and furthermore that India disfavoured an expansion of the grouping. Reuters’ long history of cold war skulduggery notwithstanding, the gullible Indian media fell for the rumour mongering. It created some confusion, but only momentarily. South Africa is conscious that, with the state of play in its bilateral ties with the U.S. being what it is, President Cyril Rampaphosa’s excellent personal relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, BRICS’ sojourn on the ‘de-dollarisation’ pathway and its expansion plans, there are high expectations of Modi’s constructive role.