Monday, July 13, 2009

Why oh why do they bother with the G8?

Italy? Germany? The G8 is no way get the globe on board

Nina Hachigian at the East Asia Forum

"The underlying trouble is the G-8 itself. The world simply needs a different set of countries at the high table of global governance to tackle today’s challenges.

Inertia was the mother of this G-8 summit. The G8 occurs because the member countries—the United States, Germany, Japan, France, Great Britain, Canada, Russia, and Italy—agreed a number of years ago that it would. Over the years, though, the G-8 has lost credibility because it does not reflect the realities of power, influence, and capacity in the world today...

In late 2008 President George W. Bush brought the Group of 20 to life at the leaders’ level, recognizing that China, India, Brazil and other major economies needed to be at the table to plan a coordinated response to the global economic crisis.

In response, Italy this year decided that instead of giving up the G-8 host prerogative — the political equivalent of a cheetah giving up its prey — it would also invite the G-20 countries to meet alongside the G-8. That idea was later pushed aside and the three-day summit now includes meetings of the G-8, the G-8 plus emerging economies, the Major Economies Forum (17 countries), and the G-8 plus emerging economies plus leaders from select African countries. That’s a lot of Gs.

The most valuable commodity in international politics—leaders’ time, especially President Barack Obama’s time — is being lavished on all these meetings. I truly hope breakthroughs result because the issues on the table could not be more serious—the economic crisis, development, and climate change, among others."