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G7, G8, G20, Gee Whiz: Does any of it matter?

September 30, 2009
From the G7 to the G20. Image by Wikimedia Commons user Fir0002.

From the G7 to the G20. Image by Wikimedia Commons user 'Fir0002'.

A “new world order” has arrived, says the Toronto Star: the G20, or Group of 20 countries, rather than G8 (and before that G7) has been announced, and from now on, these little G-something summits will now include China, Brazil, India, Australia and Mexico, among others.  That’s Great. The whole process of global policy at the G-8 meetings always seemed a bit, oh, ineffectual given than China, India, Brazil and many others were not at the table; especially since most global policy on anything — from climate change to trade to nuclear arms reduction — can’t work without them.

But “New World Order”?  Really? That’s a nice editorial headline, but there’s not much substance to it; the term implies transformative change, but is that really what happened here? Just as Voltaire said, the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire — and the G-20 is neither New (the Group of Something has been around for a long time), nor the World (it’s only 20 countries) nor an Order (it doesn’t even have a Security Council!).

The Group of 20 will no doubt make greater gains on a host of issues, but I’ll prefer the wait-and-see approach on how much they accomplish, and how new, worldly and orderly it all seems along the way.

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