Then-President Barack Obama rightly worked with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom to orchestrate Russia’s ouster from the Group of Seven industrialized nations after it illegally annexed Crimea in 2014.
Since then, Moscow has: led a deadly destabilization into eastern Ukraine; caused scores more deaths in Syria by rescuing the homicidal Assad regime; menaced Western elections, like the direct attack on America in 2016 that U.S. intelligence officials state was done on Trump’s behalf, and crushed internal opposition and covered up an apparent nuclear-weapon accident.
Yet Trump still wants Russia readmitted to the G-7, and he’s rewriting history in the process.
“Because [Russian President Vladimir] Putin outsmarted him, President Obama thought it wasn’t a good thing to have Russia in,” Trump wrongly claimed when asked about Moscow’s omission from this weekend’s G-7 Summit in Biarritz, France.
Rather than readmitting Russia, G-7 countries should work to counter the Kremlin’s aggression. But a lack of cohesion within the seven nations makes that unlikely.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel remains the G-7’s steady stateswoman, but she’s announced her eventual departure. And Germany’s GDP contraction and its bond market may portend a global economic slowdown. Italy’s second-quarter GDP was stagnant, too. And on Tuesday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned, accusing his coalition partner — the populist, and popular, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini — of sending the country into a “vortex of political uncertainty and financial instability,” which could just as well describe postwar Italy.
Salvini seems to favor Vladimir Putin-style leadership and has positioned himself as the continent’s counternarrative to Emmanuel Macron, the French president trying to preside over a shoring up of support for the European Union.
Boris Johnson, Britain’s new prime minister, has rejected E.U. membership altogether, and promises that Brexit will happen by Oct. 31 even if the U.K. leaves without a deal — a prospect only adding to global instability.
In Asia, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should be aligned with Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in against North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic-missile programs. Instead, he’s led Japan into an increasingly intractable trade and political dispute with South Korea.
In North America, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was once seen as the antidote to the antagonistic Western alliance. But he’s now entangled in a scandal over a multinational engineering company, which might engineer a comeback for the Conservative Party in October’s national election.
And in the U.S., a disruptive Trump seems at odds not just with multinational companies but also multiple countries, regarding trade and other issues. G-7 relationships greatly influence geopolitics and the global economy, including here at home: Minnesota exports to Europe were up 14% in the first quarter. These gains, and the jobs they provide, are threatened.
The G-7 can significantly contribute to global peace and stability. But its members must first stabilize themselves.