Before thinking of a board of directors for the world, it seems to me more important to think of its balance, through the constitution of alliances capable of limiting the excessive power that a particular country might want to take, Valdai Club expert Jacques Sapir writes.
The idea championed by President Putin seems to be to transform the informal group of permanent members of the United Nations Security Council into a form of world quasi-government, or a forum where major security issues could be discussed. This idea is tantamount to “resuscitating” the great alliance which triumphed during the Second World War. We can understand why Vladimir Putin expressed this idea when we commemorated the liberation of the concentration camp which was the most emblematic of Nazi barbarism, Auschwitz, and as we are preparing to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the allied victory. So the idea is interesting, but it comes up against various obstacles.
First of all, the group of permanent members, China, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Russia, represents only imperfectly – whether economically or militarily – the dominant countries today. At a minimum, India, but also Germany and Japan, should be integrated, and the latter two are the losers of the Second World War. This group of eight countries would certainly have more legitimacy than the five permanent members of the Security Council.
But what about the “intermediate powers”? They’re certainly less important, but their regional influence is self-evident. I am thinking about Iran and Israel, but also Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia, Brazil and Australia. It seems difficult to me to exclude them at length, especially since we know that Israel possesses atomic weaponry and that Iran and Saudi Arabia are engaged today in a dangerous competition.
Another problem is that of the role of the United Nations. If we convened such a board of directors, whether with five or with eight countries, it would result in partially depriving the United Nations of its legitimacy and authority. Would it not be better to strengthen the United Nations, for example by making the United States reconsider its position, which consists of neglecting this organisation?
Clearly, the G7 is now obsolete. Its share of world GDP is now lower than that of the BRICS. However, there is another organisation, which would be worthy of greater power: the G20. From an economic standpoint, using the G20 makes more sense that using the UN Security Council’s permanent members. Another important step that could be discussed with an impact greater than what President Putin proposed would be to put the IMF and the World Bank under the Security Council’s authority.
It is clear that important relations unite the countries that President Putin thought of. Their indirect role is obvious. However, I do not believe in the possibility of strengthening their direct role. The most important risk today is that a country, the United States today, another tomorrow, will decide to act without consulting with the other countries, or even to do so against the opinion of the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council. The only guarantee we have here is the formation of networks of alliances which could curb the unilateralist wills of certain countries.
Before thinking of a board of directors for the world, it seems to me more important to think of its balance, through the constitution of alliances capable of limiting the excessive power that a particular country might want to take.