Foreign Policy Blogs

G6+1 Sworn to Protect the Law-Ruled World from “Tribal Anarchism”

Heads of state attend the G7 summit in La Malbaie, Canada( Leon Neal/Getty Images)

The leaders of the 7-largest global economies gathered on the beautiful bank of Quebec’s St. Lawrence river to acknowledge their commitment to resolve dire global issues according to “our shared values of freedom, democracy, (and) the rule of law.” The world has turned more or less into a shooting venue for a Spaghetti Western film as both leftist and rightist anarchists have fed the trolls of the Trumpian unilateralism. In response, the militia of the Free World under Canada’s leadership, the new “good cop”, fights to bring our global community together.

The product of the summit, the Charlevoix Communique, which was signed by the G7 leaders on June 9th (but allegedly rejected by the ugly cop a few days later) lays out the group’s governance plans to collaboratively remedy major global problems through a number of documented consensuses. The Charlevoix Commitment on Equality and Economic Growth endorses enabling marginalized individuals, especially women, to fully participate in the global economy by removing the barriers of inequality and poverty, and taking a more holistic view of measuring economic progress alternatively to GDP to reflect today’s complex economic landscape. Reflecting the group’s thematic emphasis on gender equality, the Charlevoix Declaration on Quality Education for Girls, Adolescent Girls and Women in Developing Countries further prioritizes the group’s investment plans to improve the quality education that women and girls in developing countries deserve. A meaningful consensus has also been reached to address governance issues in Artificial Intelligence (AI), climate change, and collective security. The Charlevoix Common Vision for the Future of Artificial Intelligence commits the group to create a suitable policy environment for the development of a human-centric AI that “fosters economic growth, societal trust, gender equality and inclusion.” The G7 Ocean Plastics Charter recognizes the importance of managing plastics in a sustainable way to protect the environment. Lastly, in the aim of building a more peaceful world, the Charlevoix Commitment on Defending Democracy from Foreign Threats agrees to be resolute in fixing the recent malfunctions of our democratic institutions caused by authoritarian chicaneries.

Unfortunately, the 44th G7 summit – which could have been highlighted for its maternalistic institutional visions for the future if it hadn’t been disconcerted by the pre-summit clash in Whistler between the six finance ministers and the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin – ended up revealing the deepening schisms between order-defying transactionalism and globally shared values. President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs of 10% on aluminum and 25% on steel on Canada, EU, and Mexico under the phony national security rationale (which came into effect on June 1st) forced the allies to choose the most natural strategic response in an uncertain transactional climate – tit-for-tat. They retaliated with punitive measures on U.S. exports to fight against what President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, labelled as “protectionism, pure and simple.” The new trade war remained a hot issue during the summit. The six frustrated leaders admonished President Trump to reconsider the importance of preserving shared global values during the meeting, but the president was too preoccupied with his upcoming historic meeting with Kim Jong-un that is ought to be perceived by the public as “a scene from a sci-fi movie.” It is expected that the started trade war will escalate; the allies impacted by the trade war might increase the intensity of punitive retaliation by strategically targeting the economy of the president’s electoral base.

President Trump is getting more and more familiar with his new authoritarian friends, embellishing America’s national façade with the morally nonchalant Trumpian unilateralism; it is now easy to think of the U.S. as a greedy profit-maximizer who would conduct business even with rogue countries as long as it guarantees its leader’s political survival. Some argue in defense of such transactional tribalism that nostalgia towards the pre-Trump liberal order is harmfully ahistorical and even mythical; therefore, the world should rather adapt to the new reality. However, such defense ignores many costly effects of the (Trumpian) unilateralism-induced anarchic global order on the U.S., especially in the upcoming multipolar world. After all, the world will soon enter a new era of systems competition and the U.S., with its debilitating soft-powered value network, will nevertheless need to get prepared to compete efficiently against other superpowers, especially the neoliberal China. On the one hand, the anarchic order will let the Spaghetti Bowl Effect prevail; the weakened legitimacy of the WTO will foster regionalization over globalization, increasing weak states’ politico-economic dependency on the regional hegemon. On the other hand, the U.S.’s Trumpian mis-abuse of its politico-economic power which emanates from its global hub position might in turn weaken the brokerage capacity of its middle-power allies. In sum, the anarchic order is rather harmful to the U.S.’ national interests since the U.S. will lose the positive externalities generating from the network of the post-war system that once helped the good cop to successfully compete against Soviet Union, the most pivotal one of which was the internalized functioning of the consumer-sovereignty-based “invisible hands” of America’s allies’ brokerage power.