See­ing the BRICS from a New An­gle

Global Asia - - BOOK REVIEWS - Re­viewed by Tae­hwan Kim

Since the term BRIC was first coined in a 2001 Gold­man Sachs re­port, much has been said and writ­ten about the grow­ing im­por­tance of the Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia and China group­ing, in par­tic­u­lar their eco­nomic po­tency. But lit­tle has been said, out­side of anal­y­sis on China, about how the four fare in terms of soft power. This vol­ume ex­plores this im­por­tant but ne­glected side of the story.

The story of the BRICS (South Africa was added in 2011) is not merely about a group of states claim­ing a greater share of global hard power, it is also about an ef­fort to change the un­der­ly­ing prin­ci­ples on which the global or­der is founded. As the BRICS slowly emerge as an al­ter­na­tive fo­rum that can stand up to the dom­i­nant world­view of es­tab­lished economies, soft power is in­creas­ingly seen as a cru­cial el­e­ment of their power in­ven­tory. Five of the seven ar­ti­cles in this vol­ume as­sess the soft power of the bloc’s in­di­vid­ual na­tions, while two ex­am­ine the BRICS as an en­tity.

The au­thors con­tend that al­though the BRICS coun­tries fall short of the lead­ing Western pow­ers in most di­men­sions of soft power, they still can be ex­pected to change the in­ter­na­tional land­scape of rel­a­tive in­flu­ence, par­tic­u­larly when their ef­fort to dele­git­imize the cur­rent in­ter­na­tional or­der cre­ate the con­di­tions for the emer­gence of a re­vi­sion­ist, coun­ter­hege­monic coali­tion. When the BRICS coun­tries ad­vo­cate counter-lib­eral val­ues and prin­ci­ples over lib­eral ones to be shared by non-lib­eral de­vel­op­ing states, their soft power be­comes in­flu­en­tial. But is this still soft power in its orig­i­nal sense? We may need to rethink the lib­er­ally-bi­ased no­tion of soft power.

Putin views Rus­sia’s po­si­tion in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity as a ‘be­sieged fortress.’

Emerg­ing Pow­ers in In­ter­na­tional Pol­i­tics: The BRICS and Soft Power Edited byMathilde Chatin & Gi­ulio M. Gal­larotti Rout­ledge, 2018, 180 pages, $140.00 (Hard­cover)

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