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The G7 Should Pressure China but Find a Solution with Russia

August 23, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Another G7 summit impends, in Biarritz, France, with few
achievements likely. Although the gathering might avoid last
year’s dramatic photo of President Donald Trump staring down
the other attendees, expectations are low. No effort will be made
to draft a final statement, a first for the group, which began in
1975. Given the members’ divisions, the attempt would be
“pointless,” observed French President Emmanuel Macron,
who blamed “a very deep crisis of democracy.”

The G7 no longer has the heft it once had. Its members still
dominate the world’s economy, but not to the same degree.
During the 1980s, G7 members accounted for about 70 percent of the
world’s GDP. That number now is below half. Moreover, the
members have only about a tenth of the world’s population.
And turning the G8 into the G7 by expelling Russia meant losing a
member that was more important than its economic role alone would
suggest.

Attendees this weekend also might have trouble making their
decisions stick. The newly-installed British Prime Minister Boris
Johnson might be out of a job in weeks. So could Canada’s
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who trails in polls for elections in
October. Meanwhile, Italy’s ruling coalition just collapsed
and Germany’s long-serving Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is a
lame duck. Finally, Macron endures even lower poll ratings than
Trump, who faces an election next year. Only Japanese leader Shinzo
Abe seems secure politically.

However, the G7 meeting offers the most important leaders of the
most important Western nations an opportunity for serious
discussions of important issues, conducted privately though not
secretly. Indeed, this grouping has the advantage of being more
personal, about the leaders, than institutional, about the
countries. Members can more easily focus the meeting on what they
want, irrespective of the formal agenda.

Trump should pursue
‘America First,’ but without publicly attacking Washington’s
allies.

Even before the summit’s start, Trump roiled the
proceedings as is his want by proposing that Moscow be invited next
year to the meeting hosted by the United States. Trump apparently
offered this without much diplomatic preparation and—rather
like his off-the-cuff comment about buying Greenland before his
aborted trip to Denmark—it sparked European opposition.
However, Macron commented favorably on the idea, though adding that
it would be a “strategic error” to do so before
resolving the Russo-Ukraine conflict.

In fact, adding Russia is a surprisingly good idea. President
Vladimir Putin, suspended in 2014, has not transformed himself into
a liberal Western democrat. However, keeping him outside the club
isn’t going to cause him to become one either. And Moscow’s
permanent estrangement only serves the interest of China, an even
more authoritarian, powerful, and dangerous opponent of Western
liberalism to …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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