The G7 summit seemed to accomplish nothing as Trump monopolized the discussions and did nothing to improve relations among the seven countries or provide solutions to global issues that need attention, writes Margaret Valenti.
The seven economic leaders of the world (U.S., U.K., Canada, Italy, France, Japan, and Germany) met in France for the G7 summit, yet a lot of their discussions had little to do with each other’s relationships or global issues. Trump’s agenda seemed to differ from everyone else, he advocated to reinclude Russia in future summits and was resoundingly denied this request; he voiced his desire for further tariffs not only on China but also on French wine, antagonizing the EU and opposing the other G7 leaders who are seeking a de-escalation of trade wars in order to avoid a potential global recession. Trump did not even attend the climate meeting.
This chaos was anticipated by Donald Tusk, The President of the European Council, and Emmanuel Macron, the President of France and host of this year’s summit. Prior to the summit, Tusk said that this G7 summit will be “a difficult test of the unity and solidarity of the free world and its leaders . . . this may be the last moment to restore our political community.” Macron also told reporters this week that “the situation is difficult because on subjects like trade, Iran or the climate, for the first time in a long time the seven are not unanimous.”
Another change to this year’s summit is the agreement that there would be no “final communique” that the leaders will sign to bind them in an agreement at the end of these discussions. After controversy last year from President Trump, the leaders decided to forgo any permanent plans and focus simply on negotiations and deescalations. Considering Trump’s chaotic plans for Europe and Asia, it seems as though the G7 has to focus on maintaining calm rather than producing results.
Trump pressed hard for an option for Russia to once again be a part of the G7 group in five years, which the current members declined. Russia was ousted from the group after actions taken by the Kremlin in Crimea. Trump’s advocacy for Russia in the past concerned many politicians in the U.S., most notably his denial that he ever benefited from Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, despite The Mueller Report suggesting otherwise.
Regardless, the threat Russia poses to international relations is undeniable, especially at this summit. Per usual, Russia is completely silent from a global perspective, but Donald Trump seems to be how they can express their international will without directly interfering or saying anything. Even though the US imposed sanctions on Russia, it seems as though Trump is more willing to work with Russia than past White House administrations.
By working through the U.S., the Kremlin can regain its presence and standing on the world stage, since the U.S. is one of the most powerful countries — if not the most powerful — on the international stage. The question is why can the Kremlin not advocate for itself given its own position of power? Russia proves time and time again that it does have international power and can intimidate, but working through Trump seems a roundabout way to send a message.
Meanwhile, mixed messages plagued this G7 summit from both the White House and Trump. President Trump implied that he had second thoughts on the trade war with China because “why not.” The White House later stated that President Trump meant that he wished he increased the tariffs earlier but whatever is on Trump’s mind is usually a mystery, even to the White House.
Trump also suggested that the leadership in China was ready to come back to the table despite the Foreign Ministry said they were unaware of such a phone call. No confirmation from China on whether there were talks — at the time — that happened between Washington and Beijing about a de-escalation of or negotiations over the trade war.
All of this comes mere days after Trump tweeted (“ordered”) that U.S. companies leave China and halt any exports of fentanyl. A tweet is not an order, but Trump said he could demand this under a 1977 law (the Emergency Economic Powers Act), which he would need to declare the trade war with China as a national emergency so he could control the commerce of U.S. companies with strong ties to China. It seems as though he does not want to do that, but given his erratic actions in the past, he is more than willing.
Obviously, the loss of US business would hurt Chinese interests and therefore it is in China’s best interest to negotiate. The reasons these trade wars started in the first place was due to Trump’s claims of threats to intellectual property and simply that China is ripping off the U.S. This trade war has international implications since both the US and China are extremely important on the world stage.
It would seem — to anyone unfamiliar with Chinese politics — that Trump is the sole voice in the trade wars with China, especially during the G7 summit.
Trump Monopolizes Discussion, Ignoring Important Global Issues
Other, more important, topics that came up at this week’s summit were the crisis in the Amazon and the climate crisis. These barely got any coverage compared to Trump’s erratic behavior as he continued to monopolize the media attention with discussions about Russia and China. Even with questions about the climate crisis, President Trump was evasive, claiming that he wants “clean air, clean water.”
Instead, all of his attention was on China and Russia as the rest of the leaders tried to offer solutions to the crisis in the Amazon, the climate crisis, and other international issues while trying to de-escalate tensions.
Whether as an advocate or an unreliable source of information, President Trump seems to make himself the singular voice on every issue, with a plethora of negative and positive responses flooding the internet after he says anything. Everything is always a response to him and the G7 summit did not help to end this phenomenon, it only made it worse.
To access reliable information, it seems as though a more globalized perspective on the issues at hand is necessary. President Trump somehow needs to find a way to remove himself from the spotlight of attention and focus on bringing unity and solutions, rather than creating divide and destabilization. The G7 summit was meant to help address global issues cohesively among 7 of the most powerful nations in the world. In order to accomplish this task, all seven leaders need to show up and come to some sort of agreement. That obviously did not happen and will not happen until Trump starts participating and stops obstructing progress by prioritizing his own agenda.