The just concluded three-day Group of Seven or G7 summit — comprising the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Japan — released an unusually long and detailed joint statement of 70 paragraphs and a separate Open Societies statement.
The latter communiqué was on behalf of the G7 and the four invitees to the gathering: Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa. The G7 summit was only the first of the three key meetings involving the western countries this week. The NATO meet and the European Union-US summit were also hosted in Brussels.
Fortified by the display of unity and solidarity at these three summits, US President Joe Biden today meets his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for the first time after assuming office in February this year, in Geneva.
Biden’s attempt at broad consensus
From the US’ perspective, the objective of these summits was to herald that “America is back” and ready to lead the world, after the debilitating disruption of western alliances and partnerships and a retreat from global engagements during the Trump years.
What Biden is signalling is that the revival of American leadership and diplomatic activism will be anchored in the web of its transatlantic relationships, even as it is the Indo-Pacific strategy that will be its key preoccupation, given the acknowledged challenges posed by China. The emphasis on the transatlantic alliance and partnership is also important in countering the Russian threat.
While Biden has described China as a competitor, Russia is the “adversary” even though the US is prepared to work together with both in areas where there are convergent interests on global issues, such as climate change, cyber security and nuclear non-proliferation, among others.
Has Biden succeeded in convincing his western allies and partners, and his adversaries that the US is back? The answer to that, going by the G7 joint statement, should be a yes. But then the Trump years is a low base to compare with.