Visiting ‘Up the Country’

I must apologize for a bit of turbulence in the blog posts – read that as missing a few appointed posts. I am in China right now and in Beijing – or as the locals like to say – Yanjing (sparrow capital. The old but venerated name for Beijing.). So apologies. But hopefully the gaps won’t be too severe.

I would like to thank Arthur Stein, my UCLA colleague and friend, who as readers notice fills in periodically with his excellent blog posts on IR and all things pertinent to it.

I will avoid the usual clichés about the ‘new’ China. I’m sure you have grown ‘jaded’ (couldn’t resist) with the usual ‘gosh, golly’ expressions over the rapid growth, etc. etc.  Continue reading

Relative Success, Failure, and the Hierarchy of Nations

The conversation about Rising BRICSAM is about changes in the hierarchy of international power and influence. It is interesting to think about the general factors that create changes in the size distributions of actors in competition.

Stability and instability.

It might be instructive to compare the rise and decline of nations with that of firms. The hierarchy of firms changes dramatically in relatively short periods of time. Of the top 100 firms in 1912, only 52 survived to 1995, only 28 were larger then, and only 19 remained in the 100. Continue reading

G8 Outreach and the Absence of Hothouse International Institutions

Alan’s post on Monday focused on the views of G8 members about the possibility of expanding their membership. This post was drafted before Alan’s and focuses instead on the G-8’s outreach efforts.

I’ve described in previous posts the different bases for constructing international groupings and how the BRIC and IBSA originated but have not expanded so far.

There is still another way to construct an international grouping, and that is through the workings of external actors. Institutions can be constructed in an artificial hothouse environment, at the instigation of others. The Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) came into being in April 1948 and emerged from Secretary of State Marshall’s desire to have a coordinated vision for postwar reconstruction and an integrated request for aid. Similarly, Continue reading

To Enlarge; or not to Enlarge – That is a Question

So is the challenge to legitimacy and the inability of the G7/8 today to solve key global problems – global finance, and climate change but two key problems – leading the Great powers to welcome enlargement? No. That’s not it exactly. The current enlargement plans – if that is what the HP process is (more on that in a moment) – appears to have been built on earlier enlargement efforts of the G7/8. In fact the G7/8 as great power organization, is itself a product of enlargement, since its initiation in 1975 was 5 and today is somewhat imperfectly the G8.

But enlargement models have periodically arisen. Thus, much praise has accompanied the emergence – at the Finance ministerial level – of the G20 created after the Asian financial crisis. In this forum China, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa Continue reading

More than you ever wanted to know!

For information on the G7/8 there is one must stop. It is the G8 Research Group. This Group is led by University of Toronto’s political science professor, director and co-founder of the G8 Research Group. It is a major if not the major global source on G7/8. Indeed, at the website you can find documents and analysis on every annual meeting, plus obligations undertaken by the member countries – The United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, (the EU is also present), Japan Russia. It is a treasure trove. And John Kirton, well he’s a walking encyclopedia. All you need do is ask him anything about any of the Leaders’ Summits, and in a flash John will tell you exactly what was decided in any of Continue reading

The Creation of Clubs: The BRIC

In a previous post, I distinguished three bases for grouping countries. In this blog, I discuss the BRIC and its possible expansion to BRICSAM in that context.

The Creation of Clubs

States form international institutions self-consciously to achieve some objective(s). The institutions can be organized along areal or functional lines. They can be universal and include all members of some specified set or they can be clubs of subsets. Creating any institution then requires some agreement on purpose, membership, and procedure.

Most groupings emerge from the vision of political leaders and their political needs. The BRIC case was somewhat different.

Origins of the term in objective analysis

The term BRIC was coined in 2001 by Jim O’Neill, head of global economic research at Goldman Sachs. It was a Continue reading

Objective, Subjective, and Socially Constructed Groupings in International Politics

BRICSAM is being proffered as a new grouping of states. Alan has written a set of excellent blogs asking whether the BRICSAM states have comparable wealth and power positions and whether all the countries fit in the same category or class. What began as a Goldman Sachs grouping of BRICs was expanded by CIGI with the addition of SAM (South Africa, Mexico and somewhat more problematically ASEAN (in some form)).

The exercise raises the question of how groupings of states emerge and how categories of states develop in international politics.

Objective Grouping

Some groupings emerge from some objective criterion. States can be assigned as elements to a set by some observable attribute: the set of nuclear powers, the set of oil producers, the set of democracies, the set of Latin America states, the Continue reading

“BRIC by BRIC” Part I

Whether we look at the UNSC-P5 or the industrialized G7/8, or other global governance institutions, the refrain is the same – the organization cannot get the work done given current membership. The organization neither has the economic heft, in some cases, or the diplomatic leadership, in other cases, or both, to make decisions. But constructing the path to new global governance architecture – devising membership reform – is not simple. Indeed the redistribution of power in the international system and accommodating new leadership is the key dilemma in reform. Exploring the development of G7/8 enlargement is the purpose of a paper by Timothy Shaw (his appointments span the world but currently he is at the University of the West Indies and CIGI Senior Fellow) , Agata Antkiewicz (Senior Researcher at CIGI) and Andrew Cooper (Associate Director and CIGI Distinguished Fellow) (Shaw et al.) for the economic diplomacy Project at CIGI. The paper Continue reading

Africa’s Champion?

South Africa is a central player in the O5. But is it a BRIC or the extension – B(R)ICSAM/BRICSAM? This a more difficult question. In CIGI Distinguished Fellow Andy Cooper’s Heiligendamm Process Project, we have been fortunate to have Brendan Vickers join us and prepare a chapter on South Africa (SA) entitled, “South Africa: Global Reformism, Global Apartheid and the Heiligendamm Process.” Brendan, by the way, is currently a senior researcher in the multilateral programme at the Institute for Global Dialogue in South Africa (IDG). Before his appointment to IDG, Brendan was Deputy Director responsible for International and Trade in the Office of the President of South Africa.

On economic leverage, it would appear that SA is simply too small to be part of BRICSAM. Currently, SA has a GDP (PPP) of only USD$467 billion which places it as the 25th largest economy in the world. As Brendan suggest, “… there is little objective economic rationale for the country’s inclusion into the O5, let alone an expanded G13.” Brendan characterizes SA as a middle-income developing country with many of the development problems that this brings. Indeed, as he points Continue reading