Where Are the Global Leaders?

The G-8 Summit in Japan earlier this month was a painful demonstration of the pitiful state of global cooperation. The rich world's political leaders have failed not only to provide adequate financing to address global problems, but also to harness the best science and technology, and to empower the international organizations that are best placed to implement solutions.

The G-8 Summit in Japan earlier this month was a painful demonstration of the pitiful state of global cooperation. The world is in deepening crisis. Food prices are soaring. Oil prices are at historic highs. The leading economies are entering a recession. Climate change negotiations are going around in circles. Aid to the poorest countries is stagnant, despite years of promised increases. And yet in this gathering storm it was hard to find a single real accomplishment by the world’s leaders.

The world needs global solutions for global problems, but the G-8 leaders clearly cannot provide them. Because virtually all of the political leaders that went to the summit are deeply unpopular at home, few offer any global leadership. They are weak individually, and even weaker when they get together and display to the world their inability to mobilize real action.

There are four deep problems. The first is the incoherence of American leadership. While we are well past the time when the United States alone could solve any global problems, it does not even try to find shared global solutions. The will to global cooperation was weak even in the Clinton administration, but it has disappeared entirely during the Bush administration.

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