The G7 represents much about the world order that is totally unsustainable: elite wealth promoting false conflicts among nations instead of implementing genuine cooperation and peace.
Posing as problem-solvers of the globe’s ills, the leaders of the so-called Group of Seven (G7) nations are gathered in an English seaside resort this weekend for an annual summit. It’s a spectacle that has lost any illusion of luster. Indeed, the gathering of such an elitist and effete group looks ridiculous against the backdrop of urgent global needs for cooperation and development.
A fawning media headline hailed the forum as “democracy’s most exclusive club”. How’s that for an absurd contradiction that inadvertently speaks of grotesque reality?
It is US President Joe Biden’s first overseas trip since he entered the White House nearly five months ago. He will be convening with counterparts from Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan, as well as leaders of the European Union.
The G7 forum has existed since 1976 and it is a fair question to ask what has it ever achieved in terms of actually helping global development? The forum has become something of an anachronism that no longer reflects the realities of a world that has changed significantly from nearly half a century ago.
The G7 nations claim to represent over 70 percent of the world’s wealth. Yet in economic output terms, the group currently accounts for only about 30 percent. The imbalance speaks of shameful structural inequality and therefore the so-called advanced group is really an emblematic sign of the problem that Western capitalism creates, not solves.
There is a palpable sense of embarrassing spectacle. Posing as “great and good” the politicians in Cornwall look “impotent and frivolous”. In the past year, the world has been hit by a pandemic and most of the globe’s 7.7 billion population remains unvaccinated while the United States and Britain have hoarded their supplies of vaccines. Biden comes to the summit “pledging” that the US will soon donate 500 million doses of anti-Covid-19 shots to the rest of the world. That offer has been dismissed as a “drop in the bucket” given the billions of people needing immunization.
Yet the American president and his “elite” allies are posing as saviors of the world, a world that they have largely ignored.
If G7 leaders had any genuine intention of global development, they would seek to work with other major nations instead of demarcating the world into artificial camps under misleading labels of “democracies” and “autocracies”. The latter pejorative term has been applied to China and Russia. Both of these nations have done much more in getting vaccines to other countries, only to be disparaged by Western opponents for having alleged cynical interests in using “vaccine diplomacy”.
The elitism and divisiveness that underlies the concept of G7 is something that should be repudiated as a relic of a bygone era.
Today, China is the world’s biggest economy, according to some reckoning. Or at least the second biggest after the United States. China has overtaken the US as the largest trade partner for the European Union. Why isn’t its leader, President Xi Jinping, attending the forum in England this weekend?
Apologists would say because the group has “shared values” of “democracy” and “human rights” which China does not possess. Sorry, but that sounds like lame excuses for making gratuitous global divisions. The real reason is that the G7 is an instrument for asserting American hegemony and trying to exclude perceived rivals.
The arbitrariness of the G7 is an indication that it is a political construct for partisan objectives.
Back in 1998, the group abruptly became the G8 after the admission of Russia to the fold. That was during the leadership of Boris Yeltsin whom the United States was trying to co-opt as part of its global hegemony. When Vladimir Putin succeeded Yeltsin and charted a more independent geopolitical course, then Russia fell out of favor with the Americans and their Western partners. In 2014, the Ukraine crisis engendered by Western meddling provided the pretext for ejecting Russia from the club. Not that Moscow gives a fig about that.
But the point is the arbitrariness and anomalies that make up the G7.
It’s a petty theater to showcase Western elite concerns rather than the democratic concerns of humanity. For his part, President Biden wants to demonstrate that “America is back” after four years of policy chaos under his predecessor Donald Trump. In doing so, Biden is trying to corral Western partners to adopt a more hostile stance towards China and Russia. He is due to meet with the Russian leader on June 16 in Geneva, and the G7 has been used as a platform for Biden to espouse belligerence towards Russia. What’s that got to do with solving a pandemic crisis, addressing climate change, or promoting global development to improve the lives of billions of poor? Precisely, none.
For British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he gets the chance to play a “world statesman” (instead of the buffoon that he really is) who is supposedly rebranding his nation as “Global Britain” following the ragged and bitter departure from the European Union.
It’s easy to dismiss the Group of Seven as a useless talking shop for pompous politicians. Yes, it is that of course. Nevertheless, the manifest consequences are serious enough and should focus global efforts to seek real solutions, rather than indulge in vain distractions. What the group signifies is the apartheid world that Western capitalism creates: massive inequality and the futile destructiveness of foisting divisive relations onto the rest of the world that leads to conflict and ultimately war.
With bitter irony one of the subjects on the agenda this weekend is “sustainable development”. The G7 represents much about the world order that is totally unsustainable: elite wealth promoting false conflicts among nations instead of implementing genuine cooperation and peace.