G7 Summit (or is it G6 + 1 or G7 – 1+)

G7 photo

 

By

Tom Arms

 

 

“The West is Dead” was the headline in Germany’s Die Welt newspaper following the Trump-inflicted chaos of the G7 summit.

 

The Donald arrived late, left early and refused to give an inch on tariffs, the Iran nuclear accord or the Paris Climate Change Accord. He even proposed that Russia be re-admitted to the top table.

 

At the president’s insistence, the communique failed to even acknowledge the need for a rules-based international order, which makes one wonder what Trump has in mind as an alternative. In fact the final communique was so weak to be rendered almost irrelevant.

 

And then the US president did just that. He made the communique irrelevant by ordering his officials to refuse to sign it because Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau dared to say that Canada would not be pushed around by the imposition of Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs.

 

The G6 (as they have now become known) have backed Trudeau. German Chancellor Angela Merkel described Trump’s actions as “sobering and depressing.” French President Emmanuel Macron (who only a few weeks earlier was enjoying a whirlwind bromance with the chief occupant of the White House), said: “International diplomacy cannot be dictated by temper tantrums and throwaway remarks.”

 

Even British Prime Minister Theresa May—who is heavily dependent on a free trade deal with the US to save Brexit—came out four-square behind Canadian PM Trudeau.

 

Former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, said: “Donald, tell us what Vladimir has on you. Maybe we can help.”

 

The newspapers were even more scathing. A Times editorial said: Mr Trump is embarked on a destructive course that disaffects other western states while giving succour to rogue regimes. This must stop.”

 

The Guardian wrote: “The failure of the G7 meeting in Charlevoix, Quebec, marks a watershed for the 21st-century democracies. It is the moment when Donald Trump’s disruption of the international order moved from annoying threat to damaging reality.”

 

The failure of the G7 summit is likely to be only the beginning. Donald Trump is now talking of retaliating to the other countries’ retaliation of his tariffs with a tariff on imported cars. This will doubtless lead to more retaliation from the G6 and others. The tariff war with China has yet to start.

 

Then there is next month’s NATO heads of government summit. Trump has already tweeted from Singapore his anger at the failure of other NATO governments—especially Germany—to hit their target of two percent spending on defence. British defence experts have expressed fears that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation may be the next target of a tantrum by the person whom columnist Alex Massie has dubbed “toddler-in-chief”.

 

So what is behind these seemingly irrational actions? Is Trump the Manchurian (or Kremlin) candidate? Why is the president tearing down the pillars that have supported the longest period of peace and prosperity in world history?

 

The main reason is that Americans have slipped. For a quarter of a century after World War Two they produced more than 40 percent of the world’s products. Now they are down to about 25 percent. American investment in other countries has created revenue streams, but it has also created competitors. At the same time the country’s political and military commitments have grown.

 

The US—and most of the rest of the world—is more secure than at any time in history—but the US is slipping in the world economic race.

 

The problems could be resolved by American-led cooperation. The problem is that the word “cooperation” is not a part of the Trump political vocabulary. Cooperation implies a win/win solution. Hard-nosed New York businessman Donald Trump only accepts win/lose.

 

There are other factors. One is growing globalism which is a result of improved technology, transport and low tariff barriers. The United States could make almost everything it needs. But some countries can make products just as well for a lower price. It makes more sense to pay less for these goods. The savings are then invested in the industries America does best. Trump wants—for political reasons—to say that he has created jobs. He can do this through protectionism but the price will be increased costs to consumers. Trump wins. American consumers lose.

 

Next is increased international cooperation. America has a distinct world trading advantage in that it has a large, prosperous and guaranteed domestic market. This gives it huge economies of scale which allow it to develop new products and manufacture old ones at a relatively low price which makes them competitive on a global scale. To continue doing this, the United States must remain the dominant domestic market on the world stage. The EU and China both challenge America on this front which is why Trump is targeting both of them.

 

At the moment he is focused on the European Union. It is the low-hanging fruit. Europe is politically still trying to find its feet and recovering from the 2008 banking crisis. It is vulnerable. It also relies on the US—through NATO—on military protection from authoritarian Russia. This protection helps insure the political stability of the EU. NATO and the European Union are flip sides of the same coin and Trump has the power to spin it.

 

That is unless the European Union can find the resolve to develop its own military. The European Union has been oft referred to as an economic giant, political dwarf and military minnow. There are moves to increase its military status to at least the dwarf level which will in turn improve its political status. The G7 chaos in Canada has pushed European leaders further down that road. As German foreign minister Heiko Maas, said: “Europe united is the answer to America first.”

 

 

 

 

Tom Arms

I am a journalist, entrepreneur and historian with extensive experience in print, web and broadcast journalism. I started as a diplomatic correspondent, wrote several books (The Falklands Crisis, World Elections On File and the Encyclopedia of the Cold War), and then in 1987 started my own business (Future Events News Service, www.fensinformation.com) which over 25 years established itself as the world and UK media’s diary. Our strapline was: “We set the world’s news agenda.” I sold FENS in December 2012 but retained the exclusive broadcast rights to all of FENS data. To exploit these rights I set up LookAhead TV which produces unique programmes which “Broadcasts Tomorrow Today” so that viewers can “Plan to Participate.” LookAhead has appeared regularly on Vox Africa, Radio Tatras International, The Conversation and Voice of Africa Radio.

In addition to being a syndicated broadcaster and columnist on global affairs, Tom is also available for speaking engagements and can be contacted on TwitterLinkedin and emailtom.arms@lookaheadnews.com.

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