Faces of the G7 leaders drawn on the sand by artist Sam Dougados in Biarritz, France on the eve of the G7 summit, August 23, 2019. © REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
By Nebojsa Malic
As leaders of countries that control 40 percent of the world’s GDP gather at a French resort to discuss economic inequality and other issues they consider pressing, the rest of the world wonders if the G7 still has a purpose.
Much has changed since the first meeting of six industrialized countries, back in 1975, convened to address the oil crisis and financial turmoil of the time. The Franco-German initiative brought on board the US, UK, Japan and Italy. Canada joined in 1976, and Russia in 1998 (only to be suspended in 2014).
The seven countries involved account for ten percent of the world’s population, but 40 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). Not only is the wealth gap between the G7 and the rest of humanity vast, but the chasm between the rich and the poor in those countries is the greatest it has been in over half a century. Yet “inequality” is one of the top issues on the agenda of this year’s summit in Biarritz, France.
Another important issue the G7 is supposed to discuss is “climate change.” Having industrialized and profited from it, the member countries are now demanding of the rest of the world to abandon technology for the sake of saving the planet – ignoring pesky things such as sovereignty or international law.
“Our house is burning. Literally,” declared French President Emmanuel Macron, referring to the wildfires devastating the Amazon rainforests in Brazil, and asking for the G7 to “discuss this emergency.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” chimed in Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau. German Chancellor Angela Merkel agrees as well.
One would think that the G7 would have extended an invitation to Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, to offer help and support in dealing with the wildfires. His name, however, is not among the summit guests. Leaders of Australia, India, Spain and Rwanda are.
Rather than offering help to Brazil, Macron and Merkel are threatening to block the trade deal between the EU and Mercosur. On Friday, the French president accused Bolsonaro of “lying” about his position on climate change. So what exactly is the G7 proposing to do about the Amazon beyond signaling their virtuous commitment to rainforests, invade?
For that, they would need the backing of US President Donald Trump – who happens to like Bolsonaro personally, and isn’t too keen on the moralizing statements from European leaders, who threaten trade embargoes even as they condemn his tariff wars.
Washington traditionally does whatever it wants, without asking – or caring about – what the G7, or the rest of the world, have to say. The current US president just made it impossible to politely pretend otherwise.
As for the summit in Biarritz, it’s all bark and no bite, an expensive exercise in the rich and the arrogant fiddling while the world around them burns.
Nebojsa Malic is a Serbian-American journalist and political commentator for RT America, based in Washington, DC.
The above article was previously published on the rct.com website.