The Issue of the Gs


In the aftermath of last week’s G-8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, there is a debate emerging over whether to expand the group. The most popular proposal would include Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico and South Africa in a G-14.
Not surprisingly, the leaders of the six potential members generally support expanding the organization, while the current G-8 members are mixed. Russia, Germany, and Canada – whose influence stand to diminish from expanding the group – oppose expansion at this time.
The United States supports a more inclusive format. President Obama said “One thing that is absolutely true is that for us to think we can somehow deal with some of these global challenges in the absence of major powers like China, India and Brazil seems to be wrongheaded.”
I think the Obama administration is correct to support expanding the club. Updating international institutions to reflect today’s power realities is important and long overdue.
It is interesting to note, however, that the G-8 was originally intended as a kind of League of Democracies for the wealthy republics of Europe and North America (and Japan). Indeed, in 2006, Russia’s G-8 presidency was considered by many to be an embarrassment because of Russia’s increasingly authoritarian political system.
The debate surrounding “the issue of the Gs” reflects an acknowledgment that the G-8 will not have the capacity to make global policy if it does not expand to include non-democratic countries.
— Ben Katcher


10 comments on “The Issue of the Gs

  1. SqueakyRat says:

    Mexico? It’s starting to bear an uncomfortable resemblance to a
    failed state.


  2. PrahaPartizan says:

    The G8 needs to be expanded, but perhaps the way in which the participants in any given year needs to be changed. Let’s expand the G8 pool to say 20 or 25 nations, but select only 8 for any given year. Trying to have a meeting with 20 or 25 participants is insane anyway, but this proposal would require that most of the nations at least speak with others before the final meeting representatives get chosen, because they don’t know if they’ll have a seat at the table – this year. Since no one will know for certain who might be at the table, each nation would need to speak with everyone or risk being shut out completely. It should make for some interesting politics at the G8 meeting itself and the selection process, with the right publicity could be made to resemble the NFL or NBA draft.


  3. Clint says:

    It’s amazing to me that anyone can deny the absolute (and largely negative) influence of these “G” nations in international politics, particularly the U.S. Aside from the UN, which is laughed off, there are very few substantive efforts to engage and cooperate with ALL nations. Instead, in a time of world financial crisis, scarcely more than a handful of nations meet to determine the financial destiny of the planet.
    As long as that’s the case, I see no reason to expect the produced agreements to help anyone as much as it will help the rich.


  4. TonyForesta says:

    From a military standpoint, the G8 may have some relevence. So if the imperialists, – I mean warmongers and war profiteers, – I mean leaders want to chatter about allthings military amongst themselves, – then have at, – but with regard to allthings economic, – excluding “Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico and South Africa” is simply ludicrous.
    Subtract these nations economies, and the economic world as we know it now doesn’t exist. It’s crazy to imagine the G8 has any real relevence.


  5. ... says:

    johnh – keep it up! it’s hard to ignore the results and byproducts of rogue capitalism here in the 21st century… another byproduct is the g8 which would like to maintain the cozy arrangement holding other ‘less privileged’ hostage to it’s world bank, imf banking system corruption…
    oh wait! according to some here at twn, we’re not allowed to get worked up on this, as it doesn’t fit the stereotype of only having a problem with something somewhere in the muddled east…


  6. JohnH says:

    More on the G192, which which took place from June 25 – June 30. It was officially titled “Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development.” “The meeting provided a sharp contrast to the more exclusive meetings of the G8 and G20 that the major economic powers have convened. The UN meeting provided a glimpse into how a more democratic process can lead to a better understanding of the global financial and economic crisis now plaguing the nations of the world.”
    “Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who served as co-facilitator for the outcome document approved during the conference, credited Venezuela for proposing the idea for such a conference in November 2008. Gonsalves said:
    “I also applaud the vision of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela which first conceptualized a formal United Nations conference on this crisis in a draft resolution tabled last November.” (Venezuelan and Iranian representatives did not attend because the US government denied them visas.)
    Naturally, we would expect the G7/G8 and their loyal media to balk at the thought of a broadly based alternative to their cozy club, particularly one thought up by Venezuela!
    “Gordon Brown and other G8 leaders snubbed the UN summit. UN diplomats have spoken privately of UK government officials trying to persuade developing countries to downgrade their own representation at the UN conference. The idea of a democratic future at the global level is obviously too hard for our elected representatives to stomach.”
    And, as expected, there was a virtual media blackout of the conference. And here at TWN, the advantages and disadvantages of G7-G8-G14-G20 alternatives get discussed, while the G192 concept gets totally ignored!


  7. david Baerwald says:

    Hi Steve,
    I don’t know any other way of getting a hold of you but thought
    you might want to know that my father is gravely ill…If you have
    anything you want to say to him, well, this might be the time to do
    You can email me for his contact info should you like if you don’t
    already have it.


  8. JohnH says:

    Like … said, why not a G192, representing all of the nations of the world rich and poor. Why should the rich and powerful be entitled to grouse about their problems amongst themselves and then plot ways out of the self-inflicted predicament by taking advantage of the other 172+ nations of the world?


  9. ... says:

    how about some system of equality where those who have the most economic power don’t also have undue say and influence??? i guess that is a novel idea in the world of power trippers..
    canada where i live is run by a lame ass leader who would naturally oppose this.. the guy is so retro he needs to relocate to the 19th century or something…
    also i am in agreement with wigwag on much of his commentary, with the idea that the usa should also be kicked out for many obvious reasons.


  10. WigWag says:

    Wasn’t the G-6 which evolved into the G-8 supposed to be a forum for the world’s largest industrialized democracies?
    Is the idea to have a quota system where every region of the world is represented? If so, by all means invite the Egyptians, Mexicans and South Africans.
    If the purpose is to create a forum for the most powerful nations in the world to meet; the Chinese, Brazilians and Indians should certainly be invited but not the others.
    If the purpose is to have a forum for the industrialized democracies, Russia should be kicked out, Brazil, India and South Africa should be invited but not the others.
    Forgive my ignorance, but does the G-8 actually do anything worthwhile?
    I know it provides an opportunity for rich and spoiled 20 somethings from all over the world to come together and break a few window, throw rocks at a few police officers and scream and yell alot.
    But other than than, what is the G-8 for?


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