The SCO States Agree On The Contours Of The Emerging World Order
The competition between the SCO’s and the West’s envisaged world orders is indisputably a defining feature of the New Cold War.
The global systemic transition to multipolarity continued unfolding this week following India’s virtual hosting of this year’s SCO leaders’ summit, which resulted in the New Delhi Declaration. That document encapsulated the spirit of the speeches that were made during this event, which saw their heads of state agree on the contours of the emerging world order. This was no small feat either due to the challenges that rising Sino-Indo tensions and the group’s expansion pose to their members reaching a consensus.
By still producing a declaration in spite of their differences, these leaders signaled to the international community that there are key issues on which everyone should cooperate in pursuit of the greater good. Many of these are identical to the points contained in Western declarations such as the predictable platitudes about fighting terrorism, countering climate change, dealing with COVID, and respecting the UN Charter, et al., though the SCO states are arguably more sincere about them than Western ones are.
All of these are important, as is the declaration’s reference to multipolarity and connectivity, but it’s only by perusing their top leaders’ speeches that observers can get a clearer idea of exactly what the SCO as a whole envisages for the future and how it’s substantively different from the West. For the reader’s convenience, the following hyperlinks will take them to the corresponding leader’s speech in alphabetical order of their country: China, India, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia.
The Central Asian Republics (CARs) are integral members of the SCO, and their location in the Eurasian Heartland gives them enduring geostrategic significance, but their five larger partners play a much greater role in guiding their group’s future due to their vastly larger economies and populations. It’s for this reason why attention was drawn to their leaders’ speeches as opposed to the CARs. After reviewing what each of them said, one can obtain a better understanding about the points on which they all agree.
None doubt the need to stabilize Afghanistan in order to thwart the hybrid threats that could spread from there to the broader region, though apart from repeating the need for the formation of a truly inclusive government and cracking down on certain non-state actors there, nothing new was proposed. In all likelihood, the SCO states will probably go about this through a combination of informal dealings with the Taliban and tactical coordination with those fellow group members whom they’re closest with.
Similarly, while their leaders agree on the need to streamline connectivity, some economic and political issues will lead to this being implemented imperfectly. Truly free and unrestricted trade between them isn’t realistic due to their innate differences, particularly the asymmetry between China and everyone else. Furthermore, India opposes China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) due to Delhi’s stance that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infringes on its sovereignty by transiting through disputed territory.
For these reasons, the best that can be expected is the continued development of physical infrastructure along the complementary East-West and North-South axes. This will take the form of closer Chinese-CAR-Iranian and Indian-Iranian-CAR/Russian cooperation respectively. Regarding the latter, it should be pointed out that Prime Minister Modi and President Raisi referenced the North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) in their speeches at this week’s event while President Putin has talked about it plenty before.
As can be seen, new SCO member Iran is at the center of these intersecting Eurasian corridors, which will tremendously raise its role within the group considering the priority that its largest members place on connectivity as proven by their leaders’ speeches. Another competitive advantage that the Islamic Republic has over its peers is that it’s already far ahead of them when it comes to the use of national currencies, which is another point of agreement between their leaders.
American sanctions forced this country to de-dollarize trade with its partners long ago, but it’s only now that they’re beginning to do so a lot more with one another after the unprecedented sanctions against Russia made them reconsider the wisdom of using and stockpiling that currency. After all, they too could be targeted through similar means one day on whatever pretext that declining unipolar hegemon concocts, which is why they all finally decided to rely more on their respective currencies from now on.
The last point of agreement between the SCO’s leaders that stands in stark contrast to the agreements made between Western leaders is the focus on respecting their countries’ socio-cultural diversity. This group brings together distinct civilizations with unique customs and traditions, which their people want to preserve for future generations. Each of them is threatened with erasure should the Western elite succeed in their worldwide crusade to impose liberal-globalism onto everyone else.
That aforementioned ideology is explicitly opposed to all traditional values, which its adherents consider to be bigoted, thus explaining why they so aggressively try to discredit and then dismantle those belief systems. This “secular cult’s” twisted interpretation of “diversity” has paradoxically led to the creation of a homogenous blob of consumerists within Western society superficially divided into an identity-centric (mostly ethno-sexual) hierarchy, which the SCO states regard as a dark future to be avoided at all costs.
Accordingly, they’re passionate about defending their socio-cultural systems from subversion by ideological viruses that seek to discredit, dismantle, and ultimately replace them with models that are incompatible with their people’s traditional ones and would thus destabilize their diverse countries. The SCO leaders also want to prevent their people from falling for divide-and-rule information warfare narratives, which is why they’re all interested in fostering closer people-to-people ties between them.
To summarize the points of agreement that differentiate this organization’s vision of the future from the West’s, they’re all serious about: 1) containing Afghan-emanating hybrid threats via efforts to sustainably stabilize that war-torn country; 2) streamlining Eurasian connectivity within the realistic economic-political limits placed upon their members; 3) expanding the use of national currencies in bilateral trade; and 4) preserving their socio-cultural uniqueness in the face of liberal-globalist threats.
By contrast, the West: 1) isn’t serious about stabilizing Afghanistan since instability there is cynically considered an effective means for dividing-and-ruling Eurasia; 2) is against the creation of connectivity corridors that aren’t under its direct or indirect control; 3) wants to retain the dollar-euro duopoly’s dominance; and 4) aggressively imposes its elite’s liberal-globalist ideology onto everyone else. The competition between these two world orders is indisputably a defining feature of the New Cold War.