The Hollowing Out of the G20
Since helping to mitigate the global financial crisis, the G20 has degenerated from a platform for action to a forum for discussion. In the age of Donald Trump, it could sink even further, becoming a vehicle for legitimating illegal behavior, from Russia's aggression in Ukraine to Saudi Arabia's murder of a journalist.
WASHINGTON, DC – In the run-up to this year’s G20 summit in Buenos Aires, observers have been buzzing about the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump. But with the announcement that the current international bête noire, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), would attend the event, followed by Russia’s naval attack against Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait, that meeting suddenly seems like an afterthought.
Now, instead of jostling for pictures of Trump and Xi, the world’s media will be dissecting interactions between MBS, accused of ordering the brutal torture and murder of the US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Those between Russian President Vladimir Putin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel – which would have been uncomfortable even without the recent attack on Ukraine – will also be heavily scrutinized.
None of this is the point of a G20 summit. What used to be an effective forum of global governance has now degenerated into a kind of Kabuki theater – a faithful reflection of the extent to which the global order has lost its way.
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