By Jim Hayes
Leaders of the world’s biggest seven economies have just finished a summit in Biarritz, which is in France. The summit goes by the name of the G7.
It produced nothing of substance.
France’s Emmanuel Macron pushed for a focus on democracy, gender equality, education and the environment. Fine words. But they are worse than useless, if they are not applied in the context of political and economic realities of the day.
We have moved into an era of trade wars. The instigator is Washington. There is the growing tiff with China. A sanctions war is also being carried out with Europe. Sanctions have been imposed on Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Zimbabwe and other countries should also be mentioned.
Put together, it is clear that trade war has become the normal face of contemporary. The outcome is that the national and global economies are been made less stable.
Failing economies do little to safeguard peoples rights. On the contrary. They generate discontent and state suppression. Macron’s push amounts to little in this context.
One would have thought that the leaders would consider this important and that they would discuss measures to pull the world away from the rise of trade wars. It was ignored.
Along with more trade wars, we are seeing the rise of interventionism. This means that big powers are increasingly prepared to intervene into the internal affairs of other countries. This might have always been going on. It is now happening on a bigger scale than usual.
The interventionist policy damages nations. We just have to look at the Middle East. Intervention into Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen has done nothing to improve the lives of those who live in these nations. What it has achieved, is to cause immense suffering and destabilised the region. Intervention in Latin America and other places been on the rise, and creating similar outcomes.
Gunboat diplomacy is on the rise, the world is becoming more violent, and the risk of war is threatening.
But when the leaders got together in France, it’s as if they are living on another planet. Silence.
Might as well mention the threat of looming economic crisis. Few deny it now. It was not even raised in France.
There was an opportunity for frank discussion and the exploration of a new economic regime to replace the failed neoliberal model. There could have been the beginning of dialogue towards a global system that promotes greater equality between nations, tackles the problem of corporate tax evasion, meets social needs and promotes sustainability. It did not happen.
There was a motherhood agreement to commit to open and fair trade and promote the stability of the global economy, to do more to protect intellectual policy settle disputes more quickly, and eradicate unfair commercial practices. But generalisations without a clear means to apply them and especially without shifting from the present neoliberal regime are no more than a sound bite.
One would have thought that a great effort would be put into tackling the climate threat, which after all, is the most immediate and serious threat faced by humanity. At least it was put on the agenda.
It provided Donald Trump with an opportunity to use his use his usual boorish behaviour. He made it known he didn’t care and that he considered talking about the climate is a waste of time. In a way he was right. Seeking to stay on safe ground, the focus was on cleaning up plastic waste. This is a real problem. But it should not be used to hide from the bigger problem of carbon emissions.
The Amazon is burning in Brazil. Decisions could have been made for an international effort to put out the flames and ensure that this does not happen. Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro didn’t want to talk about it. Macron did raise the matter. Bolsonaro hit back and claimed he had been insulted, That was the end of it. Again Silence.
The summit proved once again that when heads of state get together, the main purpose is that it provides a good photo session, and an opportunity to gain some advantage in sideline one to one meetings. There was not even a final communique to show they agreed on anything of substance.
It proved that when it comes to the key issues, much of the existing political leadership is part of the problem. This is turn, is a good indicator of the need to change political institutions.
One thing that certainly won’t be discussed at gatherings like this, is how to put in place a political system that meets the needs of the day, because it is not dependent on the patronage of big money and gives the average person a real voice.
Until such a change begins to be out in place, we will continue to get more of the same.