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Geopolitics

Why The End Of Western Hegemony Is Not (Necessarily) The End Of The West

The West is losing influence on many fronts, embodied in the rise of the BRICS alliance as a kind of "counter-G7." But Western leaders will need to decide if they want to be part of this change, or its victim.

Why The End Of Western Hegemony Is Not (Necessarily) The End Of The West

BRICS leaders with new members and delegates during the closing of the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg.

Pierre Haski

PARIS — It's a concept that comes up ever more regularly: the "de-Westernization of the world," a loss of influence that manifests in economic, geopolitical, and of course, demographic terms.

It arose again during last week's summit of the BRICS nations, this club of emerging countries that has now decided to expand from five to 11 members. Their main unifying characteristic is simply being non-Western, a negative definition that provides a common ground for countries as diverse as China, Saudi Arabia and Argentina.

This perspective could also be applied to the crisis in Niger and the removal of France from a part of its former empire, a resurgence of post-colonial issues leading to geopolitical shifts.

Yet we must be cautious not to jump to hasty conclusions. At first glance, de-Westernization is undeniable: the expanded BRICS represent 46% of the global population and over one-third of the global GDP. The Western G7 accounts for barely 10% of the population and 30% of the world GDP.

Numbers, however, rarely tell the whole story.

Assumption of division

Drawing a conclusion is difficult, primarily because the countries united within the BRICS, or even the entirety of the "global South" – as the established term goes – do not constitute a coherent bloc.

Within BRICS, China and Russia are pushing to turn the club into a "counter-G7," with a pronounced anti-Western ideological dimension. Others, like India or African nations, primarily see it as an instrument for South-South cooperation. They share the desire to escape from a world shaped and led by the West, particularly by the "dollar deity," but they fear being enrolled in a bloc dominated by Chinese ambitions; they don't want the looming Cold War to gain momentum.

Thus there is more than a single nuance between these two "stances," and Western countries would do well to notice this before an assumption of division between "the West and the rest of the world" takes hold.

Reorganising the world?

The first response is to listen to the legitimate demands for equality from those countries in the Global South. In June, during the Summit on New Global Financing Pact in Paris, Kenyan President William Ruto, who is anything but an adversary of the West, had a strong exchange with French President Emmanuel Macron.

"There is a problem with your project," he told Macron. "You want to reform international institutions so that they continue to give us orders. We want institutions where we'll be at the decision-making table." These words articulate the current state of affairs.

This is an longstanding demand for equality, but one that has taken a more political, confrontational turn, especially in light of the Russian war in Ukraine and the refusal of some Southern countries to engage. Russia and China are riding this sense of injustice aimed at the West.

The reorganization of the world will happen, with the West if they accept it — or against them. From this standpoint, what is at play, within the BRICS or elsewhere, is more the end of Western hegemony than any kind of "de-Westernization" that is far from inevitable.

— Pierre Haski

In other news ...

📽🎤 IN BRIEF

In French financial daily Les Echos, journalist Tifen Clinkemaillié explores the massive impact of pop culture on the U.S. economy. Between Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and “Barbenheimer” (the nickname given to the simultaneous release of summer blockbusters Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer) alone, pop culture is expected to contribute $8.5 billion to the U.S. economy. Between transport, hotels, outfits and accessories, the average person who went to a Taylor Swift concert this summer spent $1,300 — and the cumulative effect is music to the ears of economists, some of whom “even feel that the danger of recession is receding,” Clinkemaillié writes.

🗞 UP, FRONT PAGE AND CENTER

Sixty years after Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963, German daily Frankfurter Rundschau’s front page laments King’s “Unfulfilled Dream,” in a country where Black people continue to be victims of racism. The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, during which King gave his famous speech, was “one of the highlights of the American civil rights movement,” the German paper writes, describing the echo King’s message found among German readers, while deploring that his vision “never became reality.”

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Israel

Bombs, "Humanitarian" Pause, More Bombs: Journey With Gazans Uprooted By Israel's War

After last Thursday's announcement of daily, four-hour humanitarian pauses in the northern part of Gaza, masses of Palestinians fled southward. But the journey is anything but safe and easy.

Bombs, "Humanitarian" Pause, More Bombs: Journey With Gazans Uprooted By Israel's War

Palestinians fleeing northern Gaza on a cart pulled by a donkey.

Beesan Kassab, Noor Swirki and Omar Mousa

KHAN YOUNIS — “The road is difficult. We suffered a lot. It’s all walking and hardships,” says a 60-year-old woman describing her recent journey from northern Gaza to Khan Younis in the south of the strip.

The woman, who is suffering from kidney disease, says that she and her children, along with others who have been displaced by Israel’s relentless bombing of civilians in Gaza, were shelled four times as they moved south. “We started running. What else could we do?” she says.

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But not everyone was able to outrun the Occupation’s strikes. Several people were killed and injured during the journey southward, she tells Mada Masr.

The woman and many others moved from northern Gaza after the White House announced on Thursday a daily, four-hour humanitarian pause in the northern part of the strip, to which Israel had pledged to uphold.

The Israeli occupation spokesperson Avichay Adraee, announced yesterday through his account on X that the Israeli military will allow the displaced to move to the south via the Salah al-Din road east of Gaza between 10 am and 4 pm.

However, the people of northern Gaza who moved within that time period tell Mada Masr they continued to face shelling along the supposed “humanitarian corridors” and in the south, which Israel has said will be a civilian refuge for those who leave “Hamas strongholds” in the north.

Palestinian Photographic Society Photojournalist Mohamed Abu al-Subh who, like other journalists and photographers, staying at the Shifa Hospital, tells Mada Masr: “The Occupation informed us to evacuate to the south, and we chose not to, but as fate would have it, we were forced [to move] by the shelling on Shifa Hospital Thursday and Friday.”

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