The end of the United States hegemonic cycle


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Hegemony is a concept derived from the Greek ἡγέομαι (hegemony), which means to be a guide or carry forward. It has been used in international relations to name a state that retains preeminence over others, particularly the stronger ones. Briefly, it can be enunciated here that the three requirements for considering a state as hegemonic power are: 1) preponderance of power, 2) willingness to use that power for specific purposes, and 3) leadership based on the explicit consent of others.

Throughout the modern era, only three States have achieved world hegemony: the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. These hegemonies, like all social phenomena, have had periods of a certain duration (little more than a century) that have been called hegemonic cycles, which consist of five phases: emergence, deployment, apogee, decline and extinction. Now, each phase corresponds to the promotion of ideas and values of some ideology. As the national power of a hegemonic State evolves, it tends to be guided by a certain ideology, which translates into an international behavior that favors certain economic policies and stimulates some types of alliances and international organizations with specific vocations.

Hegemonic political cycles

In its emergency phase, it has been observed in the hegemonies the propensity to favor a progressive-revolutionary ideology, conceived as a set of ideas tending to implement a very deep or total reform in various spheres of human activity. Under this ideology, the State plays a fundamental role, which acts as the impeller and guarantor of social processes. In fact, if the state does not catalyze the metamorphosis that society experiences, the hegemony that is in its emergency phase can be interrupted and truncated. In terms of its implications outwards, the use of the progressive-revolutionary ideology obeys to the necessity to acquire or to increase the power. Hence, in this phase, the emerging hegemonic power envisages alliances -with some consolidated world powers, as with other ascending powers- to try to increase its national power. Thus, the United Provinces in the second half of the sixteenth century, the United Kingdom in the mid-eighteenth century and the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century, assumed progressive-revolutionary ideologies for the development of their hegemonies.

In the phases of deployment and apogee, hegemonic powers assume a liberal ideology. The advancement achieved by the hegemonic country in the previous phase increases the centralization of capital around its main cities, raises living standards throughout its society and becomes the “lighthouse” for development, for which the shift towards liberalism is implemented with the purpose of consolidating its competitive advantages. But hegemonic power also drives liberalism to neutralize possible competitor states. Thus, at this stage the hegemony is especially concerned not to increase its power, but to consolidate and demonstrate it; and precisely the most propitious environment to do this is in free competition. Thereby the United Provinces in the first half of the seventeenth century, the United Kingdom in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth and the United States in the mid-twentieth, assumed and promoted liberalism (philosophical, economic and political) as hegemonic ideologies.

Finally, in the phases of decline and extinction, hegemonies tend to orient their international politics from a conservative ideology. Why does the hegemonic country turn ideologically from liberalism to conservatism? The answer lies in the previous phase, because in fact, liberalism engenders its own decline. The competitive advantages achieved decades ago by the hegemonic power are spread among rival states thanks to the system of free competition established by it: liberalism leads to the democratization of the technological and productive advantages of the country, especially its opponents. Thus, the hegemonic power loses its advantage and, in relative terms, begins to decline. To curb structural changes, the declining country gradually gives up the liberal ideology and assumes a conservative type: at this time, it will seek to preserve its international power and statu quo. The United Provinces in the second half of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth century, the United Kingdom in the second half of the nineteenth and the United States in the last two decades of the twentieth assumed, with different shades, conservative positions in the face of the irrepressible reductions of its national power, always causing criticism of its leadership and rejection of its international policy.

Reduction of US power and turn to conservatism

Since the last decade of the nineteenth century, the international system entered a dynamic characterized by the hegemony of the United States: its emergency phase or rise occurred from the late nineteenth century to the First World War. Between 1914 and 1944, the United States deployed its power and consolidated its hegemony. Finally, from 1945 to 1981, pass a period of hegemonic heyday characterized not only by the preponderance of its national power, but also by the willingness to use it in the definition of the new international governance. However, in the last quarter of the twentieth century, US hegemony began to show signs of exhaustion. As shown in the following graph, after a momentary increase in the World Power Index between 1983 and 1984 (due to the drastic adjustments made by the reaganomics), US national capacities stagnated for the rest of the decade 1980s and throughout the 1990s, and then declined drastically after 2001.


Conservation of the statu quo and erosion of leadership

The US hegemonic decline was accelerated with the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 completely changed the priorities of the newly initiated government of George W. Bush (2001-2009): the war against terrorism became the central issue of its internal and external policy. This was reflected in the National Security Strategy of 2002, whose approaches had repercussions not only on the creation of the powerful Department of National Security, but also on the definition of a foreign policy characterized by the search of the re-positioning of its country through a strong unilateralism, a minimum of cooperation and domination in certain international affairs. Bush and his “hawks” projected the United States as the only actor capable of defending the market, preserve freedom and fight the “axis of evil.”

This hard-neoconservative policy of the beginnings of the 21st century was unsustainable for the hegemonic country because it increased the economic, political and social costs to the point of dissipating all its leadership. The turning point was the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Certainly, Barack Obama’s government stabilized the national economy and managed to show a different facet of his country to the world. However, the stagnation of American hegemony is not a simple political discourse, but a phenomenon that accumulates evidence day by day.

Aware of these realities, during his candidacy and in his first days as president, Donald Trump has been directed to stop bearing the costs of continuing to exercise global hegemony. Certainly, the United States will enjoy a very important power endowment, so it will remain the main power of the world. However, Trump would be reluctant to use that power for specific purposes, bringing his country back to national priorities and giving leadership in managing certain issues on the international agenda to other powers. But is this an unprecedented fact? A long-standing historical review confirms that the old hegemonic powers followed behavior patterns like what the United States could experience in the coming years: the Netherlands in the first decades of the eighteenth century and the United Kingdom in the late nineteenth century.

Trump, the redefinition of the United States and the new world order

The redefinition of the United States’ role with Trump’s presidency will have a direct impact on the future of other countries: several world powers -until now US strategic partners in the G7, the European Union and the NATO- could be seriously affected by the lack of leadership and commitment of the ex-hegemonic power. This change will generate power gaps in the international structure that could well be occupied by regional powers that have shown themselves as “emerging” since the first years of the 21st century, specifically China, India and Russia. All of this will lead to significant adjustments in the “clubs of powers”, especially between the G7, the BRICS Forum and the G20.

Undoubtedly, Trump does not intend to shut the United States out of the world or to remove it from globalization, but we may see in his government a sort of American “splendid isolation”, that is, the conduct of his country as an ex-hegemonic world power that will act with greater prudence and caution. All of this should not be a cause for concern, but simply a recognition that the role of the United States in the twenty-first century will be a very different one from that of the previous one.

Source: Foreign Affairs Latinoamérica

Development and results of World Power Index


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Material capacities are related to the macroeconomic activity, defense and research in the State; semi-material capacities, which are intermediate and secondary, relate to the individual wealth, the overall situation of the population and the welfare of society-national; finally, the immaterial capacities that are related to tourism and cultural attractiveness of a country, its cosmopolitanism and the international scope of its media, its universities and think tanks. Measuring these capacities through MCI, SMCI IMCI and add them, is possible to obtain data that provides a multivariate and multidimensional reading of the capacities of a state: the World Power Index (WPI). WPI is understood as

the numerical expression of the relation between three composite indexes that illustrate the material, semi-material and immaterial capacities that has a nation-state to exercise its power in the international system (Morales Ruvalcaba, 2016: 259).

Applications of World Index Power

To be computed, the WPI needs the maximum and minimum values that may exist worldwide. To consider, this statistical tool allows identify the specific position of any country in the hierarchy of world power and thereby proceed to design a model of international structure in which each category of States has its own characteristics and roles.

WPI has become analysis technique with huge heuristic potential for several scholars of international relations, particularly for the members of the Research Group on World Policy, who have developed as case studies: MéxicoBrasilChina, the G7BRICSLatin Americasubregional powers and, from a broader historical perspective, political cycles of world hegemonies.

World Power Index components


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The power of a State is relative to the power of the rest of the state actors from the international system. Likewise, an index is a figure which expresses a relative relationship among a data sequence. An indicator is an absolute value, so it does not reflect a correlation with other values; instead, an index -which is constructed from a consideration of the maximum and minimum values- reaches more clearly show this relativity.

However, there is a huge disparity between the maximum and minimum values internationally. To overcome this problem, the WPI submits each of the values to a logarithm with base 10. This process allows approximate the most extreme data, but equally keeping their original values. So, the WPI is formulated on the basis of three sub-indices that relate the economic-military power, socio-institutional power and communicative-cultural power of a state.

Material Capacities Index (MCI)

Material Capacities Index (MCI) was first published in the book Potencias medias y potencias regionales en el sistema político internacional de Guerra Fría y Posguerra Fría. In an improvement of this, all the original indicators remained and Total reserves (includes gold, current US $) was added as a new indicator. The MCI is a composite index that seeks to reflect more broadly the economic and military power of states from considering six variables:

  • national production,
  • total area,
  • military expenditure,
  • spending on research and development,
  • international commerce,
  • foreign-exchange reserves.

MCI results for the rest of the world have been published for the first time in Poder, estructura y hegemonía: pautas para el estudio de la gobernanza internacional. Volumen I: Índice de Poder Mundial, work that summarizes annual results from 1975 to 2013.

Semi-Material Capacities Index (SMCI)

Semi-Material Capacities Index was also first published in the book Potencias medias y potencias regionales en el sistema político internacional de Guerra Fría y Posguerra Fría, but with the name of Intangible Capacities Index. In a review of it, its name was changed to Semi-Material Capacities Index (SMCI) because it was not intended measure communicative-cultural or immaterial power, but the dimension that corresponds to the socio-institutional power and it is theoretically placed between power material and immaterial power: “semi-material” power.

To maintain methodological congruence with the MCI, the Human Development Index (which was originally considered to weigh the semi-material capacities) was removed because it is a composite index. Instead, they were embedded one pair of simple indexes. Thus, SMCI is a composite index that seeks to refer the socio-institutional power of a State from considering six variables:

  • national production per capita,
  • population,
  • per capita consumption,
  • per capita energy consumption,
  • spending on education,
  • health spending.

SMCI results for the rest of the world are also available in Poder, estructura y hegemonía: pautas para el estudio de la gobernanza internacional. Volumen I: Índice de Poder Mundial, from 1975 to 2013.

Immaterial Capacities Index (IMCI)

Immaterial Capacities Index (IMCI) represents the first attempt to measure the communicative-cultural power or what has been expressed by others as soft power or symbolic power. IMCI is another composite index, made from six variables that are intended to reflect more broadly cultural communicative power of a State from:

  • government expenditure,
  • international tourism receipts,
  • official development assistance per capita,
  • number of telephone lines,
  • number of articles in scientific and technical journals,
  • stock of international migrants.

IMCI results for other countries are available on Poder, estructura y hegemonía: pautas para el estudio de la gobernanza internacional. Volumen I: Índice de Poder Mundial for the period 1975-2013.

World Power Index


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World Power Index (WPI) is defined as the numeric expression that expresses the Imprimiraccumulation of national capabilities that a State has to exercise its power in the international system. The WPI is resulting from the addition of 18 indicators, which are
themselves organized through three composite indexes:

  • Material Capacities Index (MCI),
  • Semi-Material Capacities Index (SMCI),
  • Immaterial Capacities Index (IMCI).

The WPI is presented as a quantitative analysis technique, seeks help to overcome the hermeneutics underlying the subjective interpretation of power in international relations. Thus, the WPI contributes to the accurate comparison of national capacities and the study of the international structure.


According to Karl Höhn, “power formulas seek to measure mathematically the power resources of a given set of countries in order to make those countries comparable to one another. A power formula typically consists of quantified power indicators”. In that sense, World Power Index is just a proposal made and used by Mexican scholars to approach the study of the power of states and the analysis of the international structure.

The WPI went through two preliminary tests, which were subject to revision. The first, published in 2008 and named Structural Positioning Indicator (SPI), expressed national power as a combination of material factors (which were set as hard capacities) and intangible factors (identified as soft skills). These sets of factors were processed through a mathematical function that considered both: metric and ordinal variables. Although it proved to be a useful tool to define and explain the roles of some countries in the international system (specifically Mexico and Brazil), the SPI showed certain shortcomings: 1) if included or subtracted from the analysis any State, the “ranks” built the position of countries resulted significantly altered, and thus, all the SPI; 2) not had an exact Human Poverty Index (indispensable for measuring soft capacities) for the vast majority of states included in analysis; 3) was inoperative handle a structural positioning indicator 3639.111 for US and 0.025 for Burundi; 4) it was very difficult to obtain information for a longer time space that would show trends in the medium and long term. After this exercise, it continued rehearsing in the measurement of power. In 2011 was published the second trial as part of the book Potencias medias y potencias regionales en el sistema político internacional de Guerra Fría y Posguerra Fría. The main limitation of this second test resided in their inability to distinguish theoretically and methodologically between immaterial capacities and semi-materials capacities: the dichotomous view of hard power/soft power of Joseph Nye finally prevailed and engage the index (although not theoretical findings about the nature, characteristics and roles of the powers studied). With its diffusion, the Index was subject to various critiques and observations, which that contributed to its improvement. All this led to the third and most comprehensive test of WPI. New World Power Index, published in 2015 as part of Volume I of the work Power, Structure and Hegemony. Vol. I: World Power Index not only considers the three dimensions of national power as ontological and epistemological starting point, but also it presents first results of WPI (and their respective sub-indexes) to more than 160 countries.

WPI components

The power of a State is relative to the power of the rest of the state actors from the international system. Likewise, an index is a figure which expresses a relative relationship among a data sequence. An indicator is an absolute value, so it does not reflect a correlation with other values; instead, an index -which is constructed from a consideration of the maximum and minimum values- reaches more clearly show this relativity.

However, there is a huge disparity between the maximum and minimum values internationally. To overcome this problem, the WPI submits each of the values to a logarithm with base 10. This process allows approximate the most extreme data, but equally keeping their original values. So, the WPI is formulated on the basis of three sub-indices that relate the economic-military power (Material Capacities Index), socio-institutional power (Semi-Material Capacities Index) and communicative-cultural power (Immaterial Capacities Index) of a state.

Critical voices on the International Positioning Index by Galtung, Mora and Schwartzman


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Source:  Las promesas del ascenso estructural de los países de América Latina (Daniel Morales y Alberto Rocha, 2015)


Our first review has to do with the “structure” concept of the authors. Even though the title of the text is “The Latin American system of nations: a structural analysis”, this document lacks the meaning -or even a conceptual approach- regarding the international structure. On such work, there is only a reflection about absolute variables (global, analytical and structural), relative variables and relational variables, but there isn’t any statement about specific statistics used to analyze them, much less any conceptualization of the international structure.

The second criticism –very related to the preceding one- lies on the absence of any theory of power. According to Kenneth Waltz, one of the main theoretical referents for the study of the international structures, “the States have different positions based on their power” (thumb_capelletiWaltz 2005, 40). But, on what lies such power? What are the aspects of the national power that are observed to the structural analysis and what elements can be expendable? Galtung, Mora and Schwartzman provide limited clarity on this respect, which leads to a further problem.

Third review: partiality on the selected indicators. As we can observe, some of the indicators used by Galtung, Mora and Schwartzman to define the international Latin American structure are quite unconvincing and even improper. That is to say, why only to consider economic aspects and leaving out those martial and weaponry expenses?  If the International Positioning System is directed to assess the social-economic indicators, why to omit the energy supply as well as research and development costs (essential to industrial development), per capita consumption, government expenditure or the percentage of active people in the services industry? Moreover, how does white people percentage contributes to international positioning? On this respect, since 1973, Rolando Franco had noticed that on the work by Galtung, Mora y Schwartzman:

the criteria under which dimensions and indicators were selected doesn’t seem to be properly justified, specially the one related to race (Franco 1973, 24).

We widely agree with Franco and we believe that arbitrariness of the selected indicators responds to the absence of a theory of power which directs their structural study.

Our fourth and last critique stands on the outcome from the International Positioning Index. Although very possibly Argentina has been the main Latin American power during the entire 19th century and up to the mid of 20th century, it is not easy to conceive that at the end of the 60’s it still was the first power on the territory, as well as it is hard to comprehend that Cuba had had a higher international positioning than Mexico or Brazil and so had taken the second place. The partiality of the International Positioning Index is manifested by the “subjective” stratification, which ranked on top 5 precisely Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Venezuela (in that same order). Our diagnosis lies in the fact that given the arbitrariness in the indicators of the International Positioning Index, its resultant reading may be certainly skewed.

Even if the outcomes delivered by the International Positioning Index came to be experimentally less convincing than the subjective stratification, the intellectuals also presented a significant pattern:

the ideal is to use the simplest possible methodology, and try to see if the result is theoretically meaningful (Galtung, Mora and Schwartzman 1969, 162).

We agree with them and their words echo our research. Based on this, it is our will to continue and update their work in Las promesas del ascenso estructural de los países de América Latina.

Subregional Powers in the International System of the Post-Cold War: New Actors in International Politics?


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In previous work, we have advanced towards the identification and differentiation of three categories of powers: world powers, middle powers and regional powers. But beyond the world powers and middle powers that are in the core of the world-system, and regional powers that are located in the semi-periphery, is it possible to speak of powers that are in the periphery? In terms of peripheral States, can they be classified as “powers”? What is its relevance and scope? Such “powers”, can be grouped into a new category? If so, what features would they share? The aim of this document is to propose and to debate a new category of powers in the international system: the subregional powers.

Keywords: subregional powers; international structure; national/international power; World Power Index (WPI); ascending peripheral states.

Source: Geopolítica(s). Revista de estudios sobre espacio y poder.

Hierarchy of power in Latin America


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Even though it is relevant, the structural positioning of the Latin American States as a whole has been barely studied in the International Relation Academies. This is due to the interest of characterizing and understanding only the positioning of some specific States, especially the most developed ones (for example, Brazil or Mexico) on one hand; and to the secondary importance of the vast majority of the Latin-American States into the international system (regarding certain European and Asiatic powers), on the other one.

Nevertheless, at the end of the 1960’s, a remarkable work in this matter was published on the book “Relaciones internacionales, integración y desarrollo” (International relations, integration and development), by Johan Galtung, Manuel Moral y Simon Schwartzman. Meaningfully, they all contributed to study the Latin American States as a whole from

“structural variables who define the position of the countries in a system of stratification and interaction, measured by some simple indicators” (Galtung, Mora y Schwartzman 1969, 187).

In spite of both information technology and statistical limitations from their time, on their text “El sistema latinoamericano de naciones: Un análisis estructural(The Latin American Nations System: A structural analysis), the authors came to manage the data processing in order to identify the structural positioning of 20 countries.

From the fulfillment of this study by Galtung, Mora and Schwartzman, Latin American and Caribbean reality had begun to change gradually and moderately without entailing any significant structural change. Four decades after its publication, what is it yet to be evaluated from the long desired structural ascent of the States? The assumption in Las promesas del ascenso estructural de los países de América Latina is that the promises of the structural ascent for the region would have been relatively accomplished: there are not meaningful changes in regards of social-economic development (even so the widespread growth), but instead, there are political changes regarding the structural position of some States from the region.



Such hypothesis mainly attempts to research the structural position reached by the States –ascent, stalemate and descent into the power rank of the States in the regional inter-State system- and, secondarily, to explore the social-economic development level reached by them.

Thus, the chief aims of the paper Las promesas del ascenso estructural de los países de América Latina  are to make a brief theoretical-methodological proposal for the measurement of the inter-State/international power, to determine the shape of the inter-State structure in Latin American and the Caribbean for the next years and finally, to identify and assess the main achievements (ascents), disenchantment (stalemates) and frustrations (setbacks) into the structural movement of the countries in the territory.

Perspectives of the Pacific Alliance regarding other regionalization processes in Latin America


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With the arrival of the Pacific Alliance on the board of Latin American integration in 2011, the balance of power in the region were altered. Since then, it is increasingly feasible the hypothesis that the Pacific Alliance is a valuable tool instrumented by its members to exercise soft balalogo_logo_alianza del pacificoncing on Mercosur, especially its regional power Brazil. This hypothesis is strengthened not only by the notorious ideological differences of the countries of each block, but also by the increasing global geopolitical dispute between the US and China: while the Pacific Alliance -with supporters Washington Consensus- represents for United States (and the G7) a mechanism for linking with Central and South America, Mercosur -with governments ideologically closer to Beijing Consensus- operates as China (and BRICS) access to the Americas. But the prospects of the Pacific Alliance facing other schemes in the region, are explained only by external factors? Is there no sovereignty in these projects? Where are the aspirations of Latin American unity? What are the prospects for the Pacific Alliance facing the Mercosur, Unasur and the Andean Community, which are undoubtedly the most important integration schemes in the region?

While many might assume that Mercosur is in crisis because to recent political tensions in Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil, actually this block is now celebrating 25 years of existence with greater willingness to further consolidate and expand its integration project: the best evidence is the recent addition of Bolivia to the group (Decision No. 13/15). And, although it could be ending the cycle of leftist governments in Latin America, Mercosur has been shielded from subnational partisan changes with State policies established by its decision-making bodies. In this regard, the Consejo del Mercado Común (CMC) has devised, during its 49th Regular Meeting (Asuncion, December 2015), the need to give new impetus to negotiations with third countries and groups of countries. Of all of them, the priority group of countries for Mercosur is the Unasur.

In order to optimize resources, avoid overlapping tasks and strengthen efforts, the CMC has instructed to develop an agenda of complementation and articulation between Unasur and Mercosur (Decision No. 32/14): if Bolivia has joined the Mercosur and Ecuador hosts the offices of Unasur, everything indicates that these two mercosur-APmechanisms of regionalization will end not only complementing but merging. However what will happen to Chile, Peru and Colombia which are important partners of Unasur, but not aspire to become full members of Mercosur? For them becomes strategic Andean Community.

The Andean Community was founded in 1969 -precisely by Chile, Peru, Colombia along with Bolivia- in order to establish favorable conditions for the participation of its members in the regional macro-project of the Asociación Latinoamericana de Libre Comercio. After After the departure of Chile in 1976 and the serious economic difficulties experienced during the 80’s, the Andean Community was relaunched. Although the Protocolo de Trujillo of 1996 gave new hope to the Andean integration, recent years have been disappointing for the group due to the departure of Venezuela from the Andean Community in 2006 and the because the remaining four partners have been very distant in political-ideological terms.

When so little impact on international relations and cost around US$ 5,500 million per year, many question the validity of the Andean Community and propose its extinction. What to do with this organization? One possibility would disarticulate, a fact that should only be formalized because, in practical terms, Ecuador and Bolivia have approached the Mercosur, while Peru and Colombia are driven the Pacific Alliance. However, just as it is seeking the convergence Mercosur-Unasur, the Pacific Alliance could rescue all human capital, infrastructure and expertise of the Andean Community, because: 1) organizational framework of the Andean Community is much more complex than the currently existing in the Pacific Alliance, so that the latter would not have to regress institutionally but could assist in their progress; 2) Lima and Bogota are hosting two important organs of the Andean Community (Secretariat and Parliament, respectively), whose infrastructure could be reused for the work of the Pacific Alliance; 3) contributions from Colombia and Peru are the largest of the Andean Community (each contributes US$ 2,200 million per year),  reason for which these two countries are those with the greatest power to decide on the future of the Andean group. Certainly the integration model followed by the Pacific Alliance is a simple-intergovernmental type, but if it really aspires to a “deep integration” must equip itself with greater administrative infrastructure and a more robust institutions.

Finally, it is plausible that the Andean Community (Bolivia and Ecuador even without) finished contributing to the Pacific Alliance, but this does not stoke competition with Mercosur? Perhaps in the short term. However, in the future it will be technically easier to converge to two schemes in a broader one, Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (CELAC). If realized this way, CELAC would provide two geopolitical façades: an Atlantic-African (Mercosur) and other Asian-Pacific (Pacific Alliance). If so, the Pacific Alliance would fulfill its goal of “becoming a platform of political articulation, economic and trade integration, and projection into the world, with emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region” and, at the same time, would contribute immeasurably  to the Latin American unity.

India, the innovator of BRICS


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The last February, India assumed the chairmanship of the BRICS which will stand to the next December. Until now, it was difficult to typify the India’s role in the BRICS Forum which brings together the new protagonists of the International Political System: it’s clear that China is the economic motor of group, Russia operates as the political and geopolitical mastermind, Brazil is the attractive and “savory” face of BRICS, and South Africa imply the Forum link and engagement with the less developed countries in the world (not selfless commitment, by the way). But, what does represent India? What is the India’s contribution to the BRICS?

Shashi Tharoor, former Minister of State for External Affairs of India, presume that it’s country has gone

“from the image of India as land of fakirs lying on beds of nails, and snake charmers with the Indian rope trick, to the image of India as a land of mathematical geniuses, computer wizards, software gurus” (Why nations should pursue soft power).

Certainly, the engineering is one of fastest growing sector in India, a fact that is changing its economy and society. But the innovation Indian spirit is not reduced to technology and software sector but it seems to be permeating politics, at least foreign policy.

The understanding that “BRICS acts as a vital pillar for this world full of political challenges” (Narendra Modi), India has come promoting innovators institutional schemes of dialog of cooperation for next Summit to be held in Pangim (October 2016).summit2016

During its chairmanship, India has adopted and will foster a five-pronged approach for intra-BRICS cooperation:

  1. Institution building to further deepen, sustain and institutionalise BRICS cooperation;
  2. Implementation of the decisions from previous Summits;
  3. Integrating the existing cooperation mechanisms;
  4. (iv) Innovation, i.e., new cooperation mechanisms on government-to-government, Track-II, business-to-business and people-to-people to tap the full potential of BRICS cooperation; and
  5. Continuity, i.e., continuation of mutually agreed existing BRICS cooperation mechanisms.

Source: 8th BRICS Summit

India has named that approach “I4C” and, precisely, that’s the key for the continuity in this so unfavorable context for its partners: institutionalize, implement, integrate and innovate are the mechanisms whereby BRICS will reach a bright future.

Although until now it was not clear its role, there is no doubt that India begins to emerge and show itself as the institutional innovator of BRICS Forum.

Botswana, the african miracle


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Despite its unfavorable structural position according, minor peripheral States have the chance to move up structurally. Among them, the case shown as paradigmatic is Botswana.


Even when it was considered during the decade of the 60’s one of the poorest countries in the world, since independence -recognized by the United Kingdom in mid-1964- Botswana was able to quickly establish itself as a democratic nation, it stands out today as the only African country to have suffered a coup. The role of the Botswana Democratic Party is essential to understand the modest but quick development of this country, because the 4 presidents who have led this nation (since 1966 to date) emerged from their ranks and they all took the mining rent to abate poverty through important social programs, but without neglecting macroeconomic stability. All this has contributed to Botswana’s economy grew at a rate of 7.61% per annum between 1976 and 2012, why some have considered the “African miracle”.

In this regard, Jürgen Schuldt finds success Botswana lies

“in the capacity that had the country’s leaders in managing its mineral wealth and their gifts to negotiate with transnational corporations, of which many countries of the ‘Third World’ they can only dream of. Indeed, unlike the vast majority of mine-exporting economies, the property is almost entirely in state hands, without major conflicts have been given with the private sector. The fantastic profits from the diamond industry have been investing in social and economic infrastructure and to accumulate foreign exchange”(Schuldt, Jürgen. «¿Podemos aprender algo de Botsuana, el milagro africano?» La Insignia. April 2006).

The gradual improvement of social welfare in Botswana can be seen more clearly through the sub-indices that conform the World Power Index: as seen in the chart below, the main strength of Botswana lies in its semi-material capacities (SMCI). However, it is worrying stagnation of its material capacities (since 1991) and the reduction of its immaterial capacities in the last years.


What are the options for Botswana remains as the African miracle in the next decade? By sharing a border of 1,840 kilometers with a regional power and a BRICS partner such as South Africa, Botswana must seek to maintain a close and collaborative relationship with its southern neighbor, which would reduce stress by increasing their material capacities. Achieved this, the party leadership Botswana Democratic Party should strive to maintain strong social investment that has been promoting (SMCI) but at the same time bet on the development of Botswana’s soft power through its immaterial capacities.