Building Bricks

Russia is busy hosting this week: the city of Yekaterinburg will be both the first destination for newly re-elected Iranian President Ahmadinejad, and the site of the first meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari since last year’s attack on Mumbai. There’s a flurry of talk about the first formal BRIC summit.  Will the countries manage to achieve concrete advances in cultivating a united front?  Or will their differences overpower?  The Moscow Times reports: 

“Between the BRIC countries, there is really little in common,” said Yevgeny G. Yasin, head of research at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. “Each of them has its own destiny, its own special character, and it will be much more difficult for them to agree among themselves than separately with Western countries.”

Is the organization, as the Times would have it ‘a depressing prospect for advocates of the inevitable triumph of liberal democracy‘?

Brazil and India are thriving democracies but the prime characteristic of most of the governments gathered here in the Urals is authoritarian, often of the ugliest variety. Apart from China and Russia, the SCO comprises the former Soviet states of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. President Ahmadinejad of Iran, busy crushing protest over his “landslide” re-election, has observer status, along with India, Pakistan and Mongolia. President Karzai of Afghanistan will also be present.

Perhaps the countries are unified by reaction rather than action: the New York Times suggests that the problem of the dollar is the paramount concern for the gang of four.