What’s the point of a party if you can’t invite your friends? President Donald Trump is trying to turn the off again, on again, off again G7 summit this year into a G11 – at least.
Maybe he’s looking for moral support. Global gatherings in the Trump era have been contentious affairs, and as often as not, he has berated allies or been the butt of jokes.
Trump is now proposing the addition of South Korea, Australia, Russia and India to this year’s event, scheduled to take place at Camp David in the fall. He also discussed the G7 summit this week with President Jair Bolsonaro, which is odd since Brazil isn’t a member, either.
Trump’s point is that the G7 doesn’t reflect the world anymore – but that’s exactly why there’s a G20, which includes big developing nations and has its own summit.
Beyond the guest list and venue, Trump hasn’t had much interest in his chairmanship of the group this year. He had to back down on taking the summit to Florida, which would have been a nice little earner for his struggling Doral resort. France did most of the heavy lifting to set up a G7 call on the pandemic. But while Trump has no power to unilaterally change the membership of the G7, he can invite anyone he wants for sideline meetings.
His effort to get Russia back in the gang is especially controversial. Moscow was expelled from the G8 in 2014 over the annexation of Crimea. Other members have resisted its return. But once again, Trump appears to be advancing the foreign policy of the US adversary accused of interfering in the 2016 election to help him win. President Vladimir Putin, Bolsonaro and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi are also all strongmen accused, like Trump, of violating the kinds of democratic principles that the G7 often promotes.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already rebuffed Trump’s bid to convene the meeting in Washington this month, as he builds a false narrative that life is back to normal while the pandemic rages. It’s hard to see her being any more enthusiastic about featuring on his revamped guest list this fall.