As the presidential election nears in Belarus—marked by strong countrywide opposition to President Alexander Lukashenka and a corresponding crackdown—the United States faces a choice. If the latest bout of repression continues or intensifies up to and after polling day, it will have to decide whether to once more take a tough line against Lukashenka, after a few years of tentative rapprochement, or to turn a blind eye because of geopolitical calculations.
The COVID-19 crisis is likely to have a devastating effect on Africa. As of June 2020 the number of cases is surprisingly small, which may reflect inadequate testing or an early stage of a much worse epidemic. But what is clear is that the economic impact of the worldwide epidemic will bring the most severe recession that Africa has experienced for decades.
Facing the Covid-19 global public health crisis, instead of strengthening international cooperation, we have seen more divergence and disputes related to so-called “great power competition” between China and the United States.
“We will win this war”. In March of 2020, Donald Trump began referring to himself as a “wartime president”. After months of downplaying the threat of Covid-19 in the United States, he declared war against an invisible enemy: a so-called “China virus”.
For centuries, Latin American states have sought to leverage extra-hemispheric powers, Spain, France or the Soviet Union, to gain a modicum of autonomy and power relative to the hegemon to the north, the United States. China today is no different from those other extra-hemispheric crutches, but Beijing’s long-term vision and the global balance are markedly different from the past.
The many skeptics of the annual G7 summit of major market democracies have long doubted that the promises its leaders make together from their sunny summit peak are actually kept when they return to the dark valleys of domestic politics back home. Such skepticism has spiked as US president Donald Trump prepares to host the 2020 G7 summit, amidst a still deadly COVID-19 pandemic and massive economic pain.
Donald Trump’s decisions on May 30th regarding the G7 summit are remarkable. As a bundle of separate decisions, they do not reflect a strategy nor are they consistent or even coherent.
First, attempting to hold a live G7 summit with all the thousands of officials and media involved uncovers his attempt to use the summit as evidence of America open for business, which is premature at best, and highly manipulative, at worst.
Leadership from the Group of Seven (G7) is needed more than ever as the pandemic continues to devastate economies and as we begin to grapple with the many legacies this global crisis will leave in its wake. Given the increased need for G7 leadership at this time, it is notable that the next meeting is being postponed to September, if it will be held at all.
The 2020 G7, the fourth of the Trump era, has been postponed to September. It is no coincidence: in the US, the novel coronavirus continues to take its toll (with over 110,000 deaths as of June 9th), unemployment has more than quadrupled from 3% to 13%, and George Floyd’s death two weeks ago has sparked racial and social protests that continue to this day. Hosting a G7 summit under these circumstances would have been extremely risky. Yet, paradoxically, Trump hoped to be able to pull it off until just a few days ago.
On June 10 a virtual G7 summit was supposed to take place in the US. As the Covid-19 pandemic is still taking its toll across the world, Donald Trump tried to hold the G7 in person in late June. After a (very) cold reception by the other leaders he had to postpone the meeting until September. However, this decision is raising further doubts, as the US presidential elections will be just around the corner, and as President Trump plans to invite other countries, most notably Russia. Is the G7 still a meaningful summit?