If the decline in relevance of the G8 gathering ensued in 2008 with the famous creation of the G20, Donald Trump's storming out of the latest summit without endorsing the joint communique and snubbing the discussions on climate change may have pushed matters beyond redemption. Russia was put on suspension four years ago for its Crimean saga and last year closed the door on any return-entry. If Mr. Trump decides to follow his penchant of withdrawing from forums that he finds redundant or double-faced, the G7 could become G6.
Set up in 1975 as a brainchild of France it was to have been an economic agenda setter. Japan was condescendingly allowed to be between a member and observer with the right to input. In effect, it was and is, as a panelist in BBC noted, 'a group to protect white western economic interests'. The economic meltdown of 2008, triggered by wayward, unethical, irresponsible and unmonitored policies, caused a situation where a major question was popped. The Group was not representative of the world's population and ignored the opportunity of growing economies. China and India with around 38 per cent of world population weren't involved nor was Africa. Thus came about the G20.
G7 decisions were arrived at through consensus and the disagreement by Europe's main players over Mr. Trump's 'America First' strategy raised enough concern and fiction. Any hopes they had of convincing the US President to rethink punitive tariffs went up in smoke. His public tweets, put into the verbal by US senior trade officials, demeaned Justin Trudeau and left others gasping for air. The Canadian Prime Minister gave as good as he got restating Canada wouldn't be pushed around. Emmanuel Macron was heated in his comments, Angela Merkel chose bumbling diplomatically correct words and Theresa May was the softest.
Matters were escalated by Mr. Trump's tweet that he found all of this 'distracting' from his meeting with Kim Jong-un. The indication of his priorities spelt out clearly. But the one statement that seems to have been under-reported is a very emphatic 'The US will not allow unfair tariffs to be set by others.' This seems like a challenge to China and Europe in face of their professed hikes in tariffs. It is also a warning of sorts to Japan and India, who have not been specific in their reactions. Shinzo Abe had input towards the preparation of Mr. Trump's meeting with Mr. Kim. He was as concerned with the other leaders at the G7 moot. Yet he has held his silence. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi was attending a Shanghai Group meeting chaired by the Chinese President, timed conveniently to take the headlines out of the G7. The presence of Vladimir Putin in Shanghai is just as significant. He chose the occasion to declare he was ready to meet Mr. Trump. That has been one comment on which there has been no tweet.
Mr. Trump has shaken the proverbial tree and made it clear that he won't hesitate to cross the borders of finesse in diplomacy. The outcome has left some of his allies shaken if not stirred and others in a state of bemused bewilderment. Something new seems in the air. The shape and size remains as of now, embedded in the minds of only a few.
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