- Friday, June 12, 2020

President Trump wanted to transform the G-7 to G-8, then to G-11, but are G-12 or G-5 the better choices?

On Aug. 21, 2019, during a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, who is one of the most outspoken Western leaders advocating resumption of dialogue with Russia, President Trump declared his intention to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin for the next G-7 meeting, thus resurrecting G-8 group from which he was expelled in 2014 following events in Ukraine.

As the date June 11, 2020, of this meeting was approaching Mr. Trump, speaking on the Fox News radio show, confirmed this invitation but this time, in addition to Russian leader, Mr. Trump also invited those of India, Australia, and South Korea.

“I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world. It’s a very outdated group of countries … the problem is, many of the things that we talk about are about Putin, so we’re just sitting around wasting time because then you have to finish your meeting and somebody has to call Putin or deal with Putin on different things,” the president added. “And I say, have him in the room. Have him in the room.”

Sound logical? Yes and No.

Yes, since as we hear from all corners and basements Mr. Putin is responsible practically for all bad things that are happening in America. According to the latest fake news avalanche (according to Mr. Trump), Mr. Putin‘s latest crime is the instigation of the current and even past U.S. racial riots that created chaos and hugely damaged America’s image around the world. If Washington indeed believes that Mr. Putin is behind the riots, it has to choose between declaring a war with Russia or talking to Mr. Putin before he finishes the job of destroying American democracy.

No, because Mr. Trump “forgot” to invite China, a very powerful country which alternates with Russia for the position of the top U.S. enemy. Excluding Asian giant not only contradicts Mr. Trump‘s earlier statements that he wants to sit down with Mr. Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping for the arms control talks but makes it practically impossible for Putin to accept the invitation to join G-11 group since it would definitely antagonize Russia‘s powerful neighbor.

You don’t have to be a great geopolitical strategist to just look at the map and realize that with Russia and other three countries Mr. Trump named, he wants to encircle China the same way as NATO is trying to encircle Russia.

For the last 30 years since collapse of the Soviet Union, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and unfortunately for those from a “basket of deplorables,” Donald Trump also did everything possible to promote the Russia-China alliance.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov did not mince his words when leaving aside diplomatic niceties described the current state of U.S.-Russia relations in the following way: “We don’t believe the U.S. in its current shape is a counterpart that is reliable, so we have no confidence, no trust whatsoever. So our own calculations and conclusions are less related to what America is doing … we cherish our close and friendly relations with China. We do regard this as a comprehensive strategic partnership in different areas, and we intend to develop it further.”

One of the major factors that helped Mr. Trump to win the 2016 election was his pledge to stop the endless wars that have destabilized the world’s security while inflicting huge human and material losses on the Middle East and America itself. Mr. Trump also pledged to improve relations between the two major nuclear powers, the U.S. and Russia, thus largely enhancing the security of both nations and the rest of the world but, regrettably, none of this has yet happened.

As a result of Mr. Trump‘s inability to attain his stated goals, more and more people in the know talk about the new nuclear arms race that might bring the world closer to Doomsday than at even the most terrifying moments of the first Cold War. Mr. Trump can rightfully blame the “adults in the room,” the “Deep State,” the “Washington swamp” or the “Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex” — MICIMATT — (a term suggested by the former leading CIA Soviet analyst during the Reagan years, Raymond McGovern) for the failure of his foreign policy. But this does not make us feel better.

Both Russia and China got the message long time ago that they need to stay together to withstand the efforts to destroy them in sequence.

To summarize: The G-7 indeed is an obsolete group and it definitely needs a fresh blood. Therefore, a G-12 meeting in New York in the late September during the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly would be a perfect place and timing since Mr. Trump had already announced that he is willing to hold a G-5 summit with the leaders of Russia, China, Britain and France — the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — to discuss nuclear security issues.

China so far is reluctant to join these talks, arguing that its smaller nuclear force is defensive and poses no threat. However, for the discussion in the G-12 format Mr. Putin might be able to convince his pal Xi to accept Mr. Trump‘s invitation. This would be a huge achievement for the world’s peace and at the same time allow Mr. Trump to score lots of political points not only from his electoral base but from undecided and even from his opponents who want to save their families from nuclear holocaust.

Edward Lozansky is president of American University in Moscow.

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