The G7 and Its Disagreements: Complete Unanimity Only Exists in the Cemetery

A few days ago, the latest G7 summit ended in Biarritz, France, which could not conclude without a new round of controversy. Donald Trump refused to speak with the Iranian Foreign Minister who’d secretly been invited to the meeting, the USA and Italy disagreed with their allies on the issue of Russia’s return to the G7, and the French put on the agenda the idea of ​​a “quick end to Western hegemony” and the need to rethink the role of the West in today's world. According to Nikolai Kaveshnikov, head of the Department of Integration Processes at MGIMO University, these disagreements are not critical, but the G7 will have to find a new role in a world where the influence of the West is gradually declining.

The Group of Seven remains the main multilateral summit between world leaders. Of course, new ones have been introduced: they include the G20, BRICS and other forms of interaction. However, one should not forget that the Group of Seven brings together the most developed and most economically and politically influential countries of the so-called “global West”. While its influence on economic and political processes is gradually declining, it nonetheless remains significant. As for the disagreements within the group, this is part of the normal discussion. Complete unanimity only exists in the cemetery.

The End of Western Hegemony Is Cause for Concern for the Rest Of The World
Timofei Bordachev
Weakened by its numerous mistakes and stupidities of the 1990s-2000s, the West has already made attempts to launch a counterattack. But they were sporadic and associated with the attempts to use old and spent tools. Most importantly, they were based on the psychological state of being in denial about the problems that the leading countries faced domestically and internationally.

Today, during the era of Donald Trump’s presidency, the amount of disagreement between Washington and its Western allies is very large. It does not need to be downplayed, but it is not necessary to exaggerate it. The Transatlantic partnership is still vital for Europeans and significant for the United States, no matter what shocking statements are made to the public.

Historically, the G7 was created as an organ for strategic thinking and planning. Therefore, the fact that the question of the sustainability of Western democracies in the face of the challenges of populism has been put on the agenda is fully consistent with the current situation. Today, the challenge of populism, the far-right and partly far-left non-systemic political movements, is one of the most significant challenges that Europe and the United States face. It is high time for the leaders of the G7 to think seriously about finding a new role in the modern world, since the Western dominance is gradually becoming a thing of the past. However, reflections on this subject are unlikely to be productive without the involvement of non-Western countries - and here we are not talking only about Russia, but about a wider circle of powers such as China, India and Brazil.

The Changing World Order in 2017: The Rise of Populism
David Lane
Unlike 1917, which was a year of socialist rebellions, the general verdict on the hundredth anniversary of the October Revolution is that a repeat of a seizure of power led by a socialist party has been completed discarded.  The shock waves experienced over the ten years from the global financial crisis of 2007 have had no significant revolutionary effects. Instead, 2017 signifies two major developments: the intensification of ‘populist’ discontent in the core countries of capitalism and a shift in the balance of political and economic power to the rising countries in the east led by China.

As for Russia’s return to the G7, which the United States and Italy advocate, this is only one of the issues that concern the group, - important, but not of paramount importance. Disagreements between the G7 members on this issue are unlikely to provoke a split in the West. The strategic partnership among Western countries is based on systemic factors that are much more important than their difference in approaches toward Russia.

Of course, various political forces can use the Russian issue as an occasion for speculation in order to achieve some of their own interests. The leaders of individual European countries often declare friendly relations with Russia. In exchange for these “warm words”, they hope primarily to receive deferential treatment from Moscow, and, secondly, to play this card in trade with their allies within the European Union. This technique has been used and will continue to be used, but it is incapable of becoming a serious stumbling block.

The G7 is moving through a difficult stage. But this is not the first time this has happened in its history. What unites the G7 countries is much more significant than disagreements on individual issues. But the weakening of the leading positions of Western countries is a new factor to which the Seven will have to adapt to.

The West and the Rest
Asle Toje
The world is changing, as must multilateral diplomacy, writes Asle Toje, a Norwegian political scientist and a member of the five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.