Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

A TALE OF THREE SUMMITS

The world of international politicking or international relations, to be more polite, saw three Summits in less than a week. The first one took place from 8-9 June 2018, in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada. The agenda of the G7 Summit was mostly about tariffs (US, Canada, Germany, Japan, France, UK and Italy). The second Summit took place from 9-10 June 2018 in Qingdao, China. It was the Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The last and probably the most awaited Summit was the one that took place in Singapore from June 12- 13, 2018. The two strong men of North Korea and the US conducted their first ever meeting. As North Korea is now nuclearly armed, the significance of this particular Summit cannot be overemphasized!
The Group of Seven or G7, was formally set up in 1975, by the seven industrially advanced countries of the world system. In 1997, Russia joined the group making it a G8. In 2014, Russia was kicked out of the group because it started to assert its interests in the Caspian Sea region. It was the west’s protractedly instigated coup d’état in Ukraine that finally broke the patience of the Russian bear! Currently, the G7 is contemplating of downgrading itself to a G6+1. The G6 representing ‘United Europe’ (along with Canada), while the +1 represents the current US’s administration meme of “America First’! The G7 doctrine has always been to leverage its immense collective power, economic or otherwise, to dominate the world system in all ways imaginable. As we advance in the 21st century, however, the influence of the G7 is waning. It is obvious that other ascending powers are also moving to the fore. As empires decline, the tendency is to bicker and engage in cantankerous dialogues with all and sundry. The G7 is no exception! The old strategy of tariffs, sanctions, regime change, even outright wars, are being used (still) to secure old turfs/interests, particularly against those deemed serious contenders. The BRICS that include China and Russia along with SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) are the new ascending entities that will most likely replace the current order, dominated by a sole hegemon! The fact is; no empire lasts forever and systems of collective existence are bound to change with time. It seems that is what awaits the good old G7!
The SCO is a relatively new comer to the world system. It officially came into existence only in 2002, long after the collapse of the USSR. The initial objective was to secure peace between the five neighboring countries of Russia, China, Kirgizstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan (1996). Soon the organization accepted  Uzbekistan as the sixth member. The two countries of India and Pakistan who have had ‘observer status’ in the SCO (for quite a while) finally became full members last year (June 9, 2917). Currently these are the eight full members of SCO. As it stands, there are four countries with ‘observer status’ awaiting admission to the organization. These are Afghanistan, Belarus, Mongolia and Iran. In addition, there are also another six countries with ‘dialogue partner’ status, including Turkey. Understandably, the USA was not allowed to join the SCO, under any status. Unlike the G7, SCO is a sought after organization. One of the conditions required to join the SCO is a country should not belong to a military alliance. In this regard, one should note that G7 minus Japan, (only because of geographical reason, otherwise Japan is effectively part and parcel of the North Atlantic military alliance) are all members of NATO! Nonetheless, the future seems to belong to the likes of SCO. The BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) of China, with an objective of interconnecting the whole of the Eurasian continent, economically, etc.; the labyrinth pipelines of Russia crisscrossing Europe and Asia are some of the new features of the emerging multi-polar world! The current full members of the SCO account for about half of the world’s population, a quarter of the world’s GDP, (in nominal terms, but much higher in real PPP terms) and about 80% of Eurasia’s landmass! The main attractiveness of the SCO’s is; the ideology of mutual benefit, equitable partnership, transparency and most importantly, peace! In the statement of the SCO: “…..against the backdrop of a contradictory process of globalization, multilateral cooperation, which is based on the principles of equal right and mutual respect, non-intervention in internal affairs of sovereign states, non-confrontational way of thinking and consecutive movement towards democratization of international relations, contributes to overall peace and security, and call upon the international community, irrespective of its differences in ideology and social structure, to form a new concept of security based on mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and interaction.” See the articles next column, on page 49,52 & 54.
The Korean Summit that took place in Singapore from June 12-13, 2018, had the most pressing agenda for the world at large, at least compared to the other Summits of the week. The US presence in South Korea and its frequent military exercises have been troublesome, to say the least. These activities of the US, along with other allies in the region, had forced the North Koreans to develop their own weapons of mass destruction for self-protection, mostly nuclear weaponry. The US contingency of over 30,000 military personnel in South Korea still remains a serious threat to regional peace. Moreover, the US has now installed anti-missile system in South Korea, which are clearly intended to undermine the military postures of China and Russia in that part of Eurasia. Given the fact that this is a strategic peninsula where Japan, China and Russia find themselves in very close proximity, all efforts to de-escalate tension between the countries is to be welcomed. In this regard, what transpired in Singapore last week is encouraging!
Here is what the Russian president once said about the current weaknesses of the global system, particularly pertaining to its crucial and dangerous financial architecture. “We now clearly see the defectiveness of the monopoly in world finance and the policy of economic selfishness. To solve the current problem Russia will take part in changing the global financial structure so that it will be able to guarantee stability and prosperity in the world and to ensure progress. The world is seeing the emergence of a qualitatively different geo-political situation, with the emergence of new centers of economic growth and political influence. We will witness and take part in the transformation of the global and regional security and development architectures adapted to new realities of the 21st century, when stability and prosperity are becoming inseparable notions”. Vladimir Putin. Good Day!