20.06.2024 Author: Salman Rafi Sheikh

G7: High on rhetoric, low on delivery

G7: High on rhetoric, low on delivery

When leaders of the Group of 7 (G7) recently met in Italy to discuss various challenges facing them, the outcome was more rhetoric than action. The many announcements, e.g., the 10-year-long military pact between the US and Ukraine, are little more than many other similar promises of military aid made recently – promises that have not been able to make any difference. As far as Israel’s war on Palestine is concerned, the G7 failed, once again, to adopt a categorical stance on the war and/or force Israel to push back and end the war, with the group’s push to challenge BRICS, too, falling short of anything substantial.

The Domestic Political Baggage

When Western leaders got together in mid-June in Italy to discuss, many of them came with heavy domestic political baggage, facing an uncertain political future. That includes key leaders like Joe Biden (who is facing a resurgent Donald Trump), Rishi Sunak (whose future is being challenged by a resurgent Labour Party), Emmanuel Macron (whose party has been decimated in the EU elections), and the EU itself (where right-wing political parties are making significant headways). Most of these leaders, therefore, do not know if the promises they made at the summit will be ultimately fulfilled. In the same vein, leaders from other countries, e.g., Ukraine, who have received these promises probably understand that Biden’s potential exit from the White House later this year might seriously compromise his military strategy and campaign against Russia. In fact, the Ukrainian leader was quick to express his doubts after he signed the pact and said that “the question has to be for how long the unity will last”.

Therefore, when the Ukrainian leader goes back to his military forces, will they be able to develop – and follow – a strategy that includes an extremely uncertain future?

Similarly, whereas G7 countries made a promise to provide a US$50 billion loan for Ukraine using interest from frozen Russian assets, the question remains: will these leaders and the EU be able to fulfil this promise if they are elected out of office in the upcoming elections? This is apart from the fact that Russia can retaliate, which, if it does, will impact many in Europe as well, adding to these leaders’ existing political challenges and woes.

Countering BRICS

A key agenda of this year’s G7 summit was to elevate the status of the group to make it more global. At the moment, G7 is an exclusive club of the developed world only. This status is in line with these countries’ west-centric view of the world, i.e., where the West leads the world in terms of economic, political, and technological developments.

But this view has already lost ground. A key factor that has contributed to this is the massive expansion of BRICS as a counterweight to G7. Led by China, BRICS has already evolved to become BRICS Plus, including many countries other than its original members. This expansion has given BRICS a much more representative outlook than G7. While G7 is yet to make any substantial changes to this end, this year’s summit saw the group inviting several ‘non-western’ e.g., India, countries to the summit as a means to change the pattern.

However, the fact that G7 now finds itself forced to change its usual patterns speaks volumes about the real challenge that the China-Russia-led BRICS is today to the West-centric world order. The question, however, is: can G7 push against the progress that BRICS has made towards challenging this world order in favour of a more multipolar world order?

Multipolarity: Between Devil and Deep Sea

In theory, the West could be happy engaging, via G7, with countries from all over the world, i.e., from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But, in practice, a move in this direction means the West itself ends up reinforcing multipolarity.

This is yet another challenge for the West, given that the West is not willing to give up its hold on global politics. It wants to remain the centre and sole policymaker. However, the moment it begins to invite non-Western countries to its exclusive clubs, it loses its sole dominance or the claim thereof. On the contrary, it is forced to share power with these countries and accept their agency in shaping global politics. If some non-Western countries get this recognition and are able to inform policymaking at the global level, it implies a decisive move towards multipolarity.

Because this will be the ultimate outcome is the chief reason why the West is unlikely to really open itself up to the non-West- i.e., to really turn G7 into, say, G-10 or G-12 by including some of the invited countries, such as India, UAE, Turkey. The rhetoric of inviting non-member countries is, therefore, quite unlikely to see any substantial, practical outcomes. BRICS, on the other hand, has real reasons to adopt a more multipolar posture, both theoretically and practically. This reality is not hidden from countries that have either joined BRICS recently and/or aspiring to join as soon as possible.

Alternative possibilities

BRICS countries are also making sure to maintain momentum in their favour. The past three years have seen BRICS’ massive expansion. In the upcoming BRICS summit in Kazan, Russia in October, this club is likely to take steps towards creating viable economic structures, including a new currency. In fact, Russia’s top leadership has already confirmed that a platform for payments in national currencies is also already being developed. All of this means a system of trade not dependent upon the US dollar and/or the Western banking system.

Therefore, if the intention behind inviting countries to the G7 is to ultimately make them fall in line with Western policies, this is already quite unlikely to happen. Many of these countries will soon have alternative systems at their disposal –access that will only allow them to a) develop more independent foreign and domestic policies and b) resist any undue Western pressures on them.


Salman Rafi Sheikh, research analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

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