August 27, 2019

G7 Summit

“French President Emmanuel Macron paved the way at a G7 summit for a diplomatic solution to the standoff between Washington and Tehran over a 2015 nuclear deal, but there was little else to show from a meeting at which allies were sharply divided.” Reuters

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From the Left

The left laments the lack of progress made on major global issues at the summit, with President Trump given much of the blame.

“For decades, the United States was at the center of the annual G7 gathering, using its financial might and convening power to address global problems, from the oil crisis and inflation in the 1970s to threats of recession in recent years. But since he took office in 2017, Trump has separated America from its traditional allies and the institutions they established to advance their collective interests… The one concrete action that emerged from the weekend only underscored how little the group is able to accomplish without the U.S. at its core. France rallied countries to sign on to a modest $20 million fund for putting out fires in the Amazon and starting a long-term effort to protect rainforest.”
Brian Bennett and John Walcott, Time

“With Trump at odds with much of the free world, the free world seems to be moving on without him. At the G7, leaders seemed to have given up on the prospect of forging a consensus with him on trade, climate, and even whether Russian President Vladimir Putin is friend or foe… French President Emmanuel Macron, acting independently, invited the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to the summit for private talks aimed at defusing tensions with the West. Trump didn’t talk to Zarif, but Macron did… Trump’s counterparts made clear that if he wasn’t willing to be a partner, they might go it alone.”
Peter Nicholas, The Atlantic

“Global economic momentum is fading, not least due to Trump’s fondness for trade wars — and bear in mind that if a new recession is the result, central banks will lack the means to respond effectively. Global measures to combat climate change remain woefully insufficient. Global safety and security have been compromised by the rapid decay in conventions and institutions of international cooperation. What’s truly remarkable is that all of these challenges are the result of deliberate acts of U.S. policy. The summit couldn’t have put everything back together — that’s the work of years, starting with a different U.S. president — but it could have offered some respite. Instead, the planet’s most powerful politician has dug the world into an even deeper hole.”
Editorial Board, Bloomberg

“On Friday, President Trump called President Xi Jinping of China an ‘enemy,’ said ‘we don’t need China’ and told U.S. companies they were ‘hereby ordered’ to end their operations there. Over the next 72 hours, he cited a 1977 emergency powers law to back up his threat to end U.S. economic relations with Beijing; announced he did not intend to invoke the law; and, on Monday, declared Mr. Xi to be ‘a great leader’ and ‘a brilliant man’ with whom his administration would probably soon strike a trade deal. It was, all in all, a stunning display of incoherence — even by Mr. Trump’s standards — that encapsulated his performance at the Group of Seven summit.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

“Trump says Crimea was ‘taken away from President Obama.’ He says this even though Crimea was part of Ukraine, not the United States. The United States also had no duty to intervene, given Ukraine is not part of NATO and doesn’t benefit from its Article 5 (or ‘collective defense’) protections… kicking Russia out of what was then the G-8 is precisely the kind of step that is intended to discourage such incursions in the future. It’s meant to be a punishment, yet Trump tries to portray it as some kind of sour grapes from leaders who were outmaneuvered, and he suggests it’s now counterproductive to maintain the grudge. What Trump is essentially arguing for is to give Putin a pass — returning his seat at the table despite his illegal action.”
Aaron Blake, Washington Post

Finally, many are critical of Trump’s push to host the next G7 event at a Trump resort. “While most presidents strive to avoid the perception of corruption and self-dealing, Mr. Trump takes obvious delight in flouting the usual constraints on his position. (Two words: tax returns.) As he sees it, such concerns are for suckers, and he has no intention of being bound by them — no matter how much his behavior erodes public faith in government. But at least the collapse of democratic norms will come with ample parking.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

From the Right

The right sees the summit as a success for President Trump.

The right sees the summit as a success for President Trump.

“Macron, this year’s host, originally wanted the summit to center on climate change and inequality. But those are the very issues killing him with French voters, hence his shift to pretending to try to resurrect the Iran deal on the sidelines… Nearly retired German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition is on life support; Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau is reeling from a corruption scandal. Italy’s Giuseppe Conte announced his resignation days before the summit opened; Britain’s Boris Johnson just took over as prime minister and holds a paper-thin majority. Japan’s Shinzo Abe is the only G-7 leader whose grip on power back home might be stronger than Trump’s — and he announced a trade deal with Washington during the meetings.”
Editorial Board, New York Post

“While blaming Trump for the lack of progress on climate change might make for a good headline, the broader story is more complex. Indeed, a look at the numbers shows that the U.S. has slashed its coal use and cut its total greenhouse emissions more than any country in the G-7. It has also become a major supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) — which emits about half as much carbon dioxide as coal during combustion — to other members of the G-7…

“Although the G-7 members say they want to slash their emissions, several members remain heavily reliant on coal. In the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Japan closed almost all of its nuclear plants. That, in turn, has forced it to rely more heavily on coal. Between 2016 and 2018, Japan opened eight new coal-fired generation plants, and the country has plans to build about 30 more coal plants with a total capacity of about 17,000 megawatts. A similar situation is playing out in Germany. After Fukushima, the country’s environmental groups persuaded the government to shutter Germany’s nuclear reactors. That, in turn, has forced Germany to rely more heavily on coal. In 2017, the country’s lignite-fired power plants had the same share in Germany’s electricity mix as they’d had in 2000.”
Robert Bryce, National Review

“Perhaps a President Hillary Clinton would have preserved more of the facade of unity and cooperation in Biarritz, and certainly, the United States would, in all likelihood, still be a party to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, and so the arrival of the Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the G7 would not have raised tensions as it did with members of the Trump administration delegation. Yet to not recognize that strains have been building among the G7 members independent of who occupies the White House (or the Elysee palace) would be to ignore reality…

“There may be a growing recognition that the West is dealing with the consequences of a major imbalance between its economic integration with Russia and China and the security risks this imposes given Russia’s and China’s interests in revising the current global order, but no agreement on which tools of compellence and deterrence should be used. The United States, despite whatever Trump’s personal feelings on the matter may be, is increasing sanctions pressure on Russia at a time when the consensus in Europe has shifted away from imposing new penalties on Moscow and is debating a prospective softening of existing sanctions and gradually restoring the pre-2014 relationship.”
Nikolas K. Gvosdev, The National Interest

“What if G7 leaders lowered their lofty aims and instead took a unified stand on a few issues where they can actually exert some meaningful influence? They could agree to push for free trade among themselves, and unify in support of embattled Hong Kongers pushing back against an authoritarian China for freedom and democracy. Supporting these millions of mostly-peaceful Hong Kong protesters should be a no-brainer for G7 leaders. The group’s membership constitutes the ‘who’s who’ of Western democracies, founded at the height of the Cold War as a mechanism to increase economic freedom, promote global trade and investment, and coordinate action on shared security concerns… Focusing on one or two high-priority agenda items, such as free trade and Hong Kong, is the way to actually get something accomplished.”
James M. Roberts, Washington Examiner

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