In terms of the balance of power among the nations, few developments rival the new distribution of power than BRIC, which is an acronym for the nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China. The term was first used by economist Jim O’Neill in a Goldman Sachs report in 2003, who forecast that by 2050 these four economies would be wealthier than most of the current major economic powers. At the time these countries were not considered a political alliance nor were they formed into a formal trade association, but since then a strong political and economic relationship has emerged among BRIC nations, making it a growing political force as well as a symbol for an entire host of emerging nations.
The emerging power and increasingly international relevance of these nations is difficult to deny. China and India are forecast to become the world's dominant suppliers of manufactured goods and services, while Brazil and Russia will become similarly dominant as suppliers of raw materials. China is already known as the world’s manufacturing giant of consumer goods for rich western countries. China’s manufactured goods include information technology, aerospace, biotechnology and electronics, whilst India is globally renowned for its supply of IT services and pharmaceuticals. Large western companies outsourced backroom operations to Indian corporations in attempts to reduce operational costs. Brazil is rich in soy and iron ore, whilst Russia possesses surplus oil and natural gas. A spokesman for Russia’s foreign ministry said: “BRIC unites the major economic growth centres with more than half the world’s population, the role of which (BRIC) in international affairs will grow.” In a globalized world where the size and power of the marketplace governs the flow of resources, consider the table of “global giants:” shown below.
There is a fundamental shift in the psyche and political consciousness of these emerging nations, and they are being emboldened in their posture toward developed countries. One such expression of this is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or (SCO). SCO is an intergovernmental organization founded in 2001 by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The focus of this organization centers on cooperation in Security, Economic and Cultural sectors. India has been encouraged by the organization to move from observer status to full time member. On the other hand, the US requested participation in the SCO in 2005 as an observer and their application for membership was rejected. In 2006 a senior Japanese official said, “The SCO is becoming a rival block to the US alliance. It does not share our values. We are watching it very closely."
After a meeting in Sao Paulo, the BRIC nations said they would push the industrial powers to replace the Group of Seven (G7) with a bigger, more effective group to address the global financial and economic crisis. “The present institutions have failed,” Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said. “They were not able to detect the global financial crisis in time, and stop it from happening.” “The days are over, when emerging markets sit on the sidelines of G7 meetings “drinking coffee” while they wait to be consulted,” he warned. It is not unusual to observe Brazil and India using their economic clout to exert political influence within the WTO, seen often at the forefront of negotiations with the US and EU. In November 2008, Guido Mantega, the finance minister of Brazil, said: "Global economic and financial governance needs urgent changes. It is now more clear than ever that developing countries must have a stronger voice in global decisions. We are determined and ready."
The BRIC nations face real challenges also, not the least of which is how they will be affected by the present economic crisis. China’s exports dropped 2.2% in 2008 in the run-up to the credit crunch, and there are also international concerns over Chinese support for political and economic repression in some African countries. They will have to carefully manage their growing influence in a world which is still defined to a degree by the U.S. military, and they face a delicate balancing act between the liberal economic policies which have fueled their growth, and an undemocratic political system strained by a growing middle class who are becoming more aware and empowered. Indian culture is under assault from the corrosive effects of globalization, and they have a massive number of poor and underdeveloped portions of their population. Russia is the only one of the BRIC countries whose demographic trends mitigate against development, and they will have to very carefully manage their relationship with the EU and NATO while relying primarily upon their vast quantities of natural resources for leverage.
In Matthew 24, Jesus pointed to the issue of balance of power when he said that
‘nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.’
We generally interpret this verse as referring to actual war or military conflicts, while that may be true on one level, Jesus was referring to something more subtle and fundamental within human consciousness. The word‘ rise’ refers to an awakening or waking from slumber; it also refers to a sick or lame man pulling himself up from his sick bed. So Jesus was describing a phenomenon in the last days that would take place among the nations that were once considered lame or sick waking and being empowered with a new sense of possibility and achieving an awareness of greater strength. The emergence of BRIC and the many other nations which are in a process of increasing development is also prefigured by the image in Daniel 2 in which all of the portions of the image were empires represented by one coherent metal such as gold, silver, brass and iron, except the last which is a mix of iron and clay. In examining the interpretation of the dream we see several features of the state of global affairs at the time of the end. It is interesting that the first four kingdoms described by Daniel are all homogenous in nature i.e. all gold or all silver, but the final kingdom is a mixture which does not cohere, pre-figuring a potentially fractured international environment with a precarious balance of power among many poles. This increasing sense of democratization of nations in which there are multiple nodes of power but which is unable to fully adhere to one another indicates an ability for the nations to have true community life. The false system of joining based in economic advancement (self-interest) is bound to fracture, and such a system is bound to include inequality in that some nations will be strong (iron) and some still weak (clay). It is at this most vulnerable point of fracture and weakness that the Rock cut out from the mountain without hands, which is the Kingdom of God, strikes the image and consumes it. This perspective informs us of the nature of required activity in these days of strategic mobilization of the Kingdom of God in the earth, when we must be building systems of life which are superior to those contained in the image. These events are creating a context for the ultimate kingdom impact in the nations.