The second development was as iconoclastic as the first: the British and Canadian Prime Ministers immediately declared that they objected to inviting Putin to the summit. Again, such rebellion from Atlanticists is unprecedented. Ultimately, it appeared as though Trump’s transparent plan to set up an operation to encircle China would not seduce allies reluctant to be drawn into an American-Chinese Cold War, under the leadership of an electorally challenged and notoriously whimsical President.
Adding to the general confusion, the British – seeking to boost their post-Brexit role on the international stage – put forward the idea of turning the G7 into the D10 ("D" for "democracy") by permanently adding India, South Korea and Australia to the seven-strong group.While such an idea has its merits – India, for example, was invited to the Biarritz summit – it also has weaknesses: if the goal is to set up an anti-China grouping, South Korea and Australia are unlikely recruits, while the G7’s European members do not follow this line of thinking. Meanwhile, under Modi’s leadership, the credibility of India’s democracy is significantly waning. As such, there is a danger that the D10 would turn out to be a rather dysfunctional group.
It should be noted that Britain, seeking any credible opportunity to actuate the "Global Britain" concept beloved by Brexiters, had co-signed a joint statement with the United States, Canada and Australia strongly condemning Beijing’s new security legislation on Hong Kong. This was the first time that it distinguished itself from the EU line on a major subject of international politics. What’s more, a few days after Merkel rebuffed Trump, reports emerged of Washington’s decision to withdraw a third of US troops currently stationed in Germany.
What assessment, however provisional it may be at this time, can be made from this series of events?
- The Covid-19 crisis marks a further deterioration in transatlantic relations. The G7 affair has added to other episodes that have demonstrated Trump’s extraordinary contempt for "old" Europe, including the suspension of flights from Europe without notice or consultation, attempting to buy a German company working on producing a Covid-19 vaccine, the sudden decision to pull American troops out of Germany and more.
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