Neutralism Returns – And Gets More Powerful, by Steven Kinzer

A lot of countries don’t want to be part of the American empire, they want to steer their own course without getting too closely aligned with anybody. From Steven Kinszer at

Make way for the Abstainers. It’s the new band in town, though they play geopolitics, not music.

When the United Nations voted to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 35 countries, representing half the world’s population, abstained. Soon afterward the UN passed an American-backed resolution to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. Fifty-eight countries abstained.

War in Ukraine has galvanized the US-led NATO. It has also, however, led a growing number of countries to conclude that they have no stake in a European conflict or a confrontation with Russia. President Biden summons them to “the battle between democracy and autocracy,” but they remain noncombatants. When pressed to support NATO’s campaign against Russia, they reply, like Bartleby the Scrivener, “I would prefer not to.”

There have always been countries unwilling to follow America’s lead in the world. What is new is their eagerness to join together. A bloc is emerging that may become a robust global force in coming decades. The recent meeting of Russian, Turkish, and Iranian leaders foreshadows it. This would be one of the farthest-reaching consequences of the Ukraine war.

One new axis of power is likely to be the partnership known as BRICS, which groups together Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Founded in 2006 to promote trade among its members, it is morphing into a political bloc and planning its first expansion. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, and Iran want to join.

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