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Miracles and Irrelevance – the Future of the G8

Two weeks after the G8 leaders met in Germany an impression remains that they wrought a political miracle in Heiligendamm. Three things were supposedly saved at the G8 summit: world climate, Africa, and relations between Russia and the United States.

It seemed that a world government had met on the shores of the Baltic Sea. In the face of European unity, George W. Bush was transformed from a notorious sinner against the world’s climate to a born again climate protector. Some bold observers, indeed, regard this change of heart by Bush as a clear indication that Europe had assumed a new role in world politics. But no real miracles occurred; instead, the G8 will need a miracle not to lose its relevance.

In faraway America, however, where people are normally more religious than in old Europe, belief in the Heiligendamm miracle is less widespread. Indeed, Americans were rather indifferent to the summit. The reason for this is not only the public arrest of the tabloid newspapers’ current favorite, the heiress Paris Hilton, but also the fact that the only expectations Americans now have of President Bush is for him to finish his term. Because of Bush’s perceived impotence, Americans believed that no real decisions could be taken at this summit.

What, then, was decided at the summit? To begin with, the G8 countries decided to “seriously examine” cutting in half worldwide emissions by 2050! This is a very long time in politics. This compromise was supposedly hammered out in tough negotiations. But translated into everyday speech, “examine” and even “seriously examine” mean nothing other than “to postpone.”