The G20: In Need of a Reboot

Portraits of World LeadersIf G20 is to live up to its potential, it must confront the forces that could see it slide into irrelevancy. The forum should build on what has worked, and avoid what has not. G20 has achieved a great deal, beyond what is widely acknowledged as its high point at London G20 leaders’ summit, which President Barack Obama described “a turning point in our pursuit of global economic recovery”. Criticism is growing. It is being described as little more than a talk shop. Do we still need the G20? Absolutely. We live in increasingly interconnected world. We need a forum that brings together leaders of the major advanced and emerging economies. But we need more than a talk shop. We need a forum where leaders can deal with some of most pressing challenges confronting the global economy. This is the potential that the G20 offers. But if the G20 is to live up to its potential, it has to confront the forces could see it slide into irrelevancy. The forum has to build on what has worked, and avoid what has not. In this regard there are nine lessons from G20 summits to date (…..) To be effective, G20 must maintain its focus and not lose its inherent strength, which is the engagement of leaders. But Agenda continues to grow each year as rotating chair adds its priorities to what it inherits from previous chairs. There has to be a collective agreement by G20 members that there needs to be a break from the past. There has to be a circuit breaker. The G20 needs to be relaunched. This is a challenge Australia should take up when it chairs the G20 in 2014.



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Consultor Internacional

3 Responses to The G20: In Need of a Reboot

  1. (…..) In 1998, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called America the “indispensable nation.” But now, 15 years later, it is primarily an exhausted one, a global power in decline that has its gaze turned toward the domestic front rather than Afghanistan or the Middle East. This should come as no surprise. Since the end of the Cold War, US soldiers have spent almost twice as many months at war than they had in previous decades. The country has pumped a phenomenal amount of money into its military. Indeed, in 2011, it spent more on defense than the next 19 military powers combined. And, of course, this only contributed to its record mountain of $16 trillion (€11.8 trillion) in public debt. When Biden gets up to speak, he will relay a message from his boss, US President Barack Obama. And the message will be: “Enough!” After all, when Obama recently gave his second inaugural address, he avoided making any reference to John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural speech, in which he said that America would “pay any price, bear any burden … in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty” around the globe. Instead, the key sentence of Obama’s speech was: “A decade of war is now ending.” Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, didn’t focus on creating a better world in his speech. Instead, he talked about a better America, one with more opportunities for immigrants, more rights for homosexuals and less social inequality. Today’s America is deeply divided, but all sides agree on one point: America’s well-being is more important than the world’s. Obama’s predecessor, President George W. Bush, had far-reaching, messianic visions for American foreign policy. But what remains of that in the Obama era is the so-called “Eisenhower Doctrine,” as US commentators are re-discovering it. As a general, Dwight D. Eisenhower was the hero of World War II. But, as America’s president from 1953 to 1961, he wanted to avoid bloodshed at all costs — or at least the spilling of American blood. According to biographer Jean Edward Smith, from the end of the Korean War till the end of his presidency, America didn’t suffer a single combat fatality (…..)

  2. The United States is sitting on massive natural gas and oil reserves that have the potential to shift the geopolitical balance in its favor. Worries are increasing in Russia and the Arab states of waning influence and falling market prices (…..) The gas revolution is changing the political balance of power all over the world. Americans and Russians have waged wars, and they have propped up or toppled regimes, over oil and gas. When the flows of energy change, the strategic and military calculations of the major powers do as well. It is still unclear who the winners and losers will be. The Chinese and the Argentines also have enormous shale gas reserves. Experts believe that Poland, France and Germany have significant resources, although no one knows exactly how significant. Outside the United States, extraction is still in its infancy. The outlines of a changed world order are already emerging in the simulations of geo-strategists. They show that the United States will benefit the most from the development of shale gas and oil resources. A study by Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the BND, concludes that Washington’s discretionary power in foreign and security policy will increase substantially as a result of the country’s new energy riches. According to the BND study, the political threat potential of oil producers like Iran will decline. Optimists assume that, in about 15 years, the United States will no longer have to send any aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf to guarantee that oil tankers can pass unhindered through the Strait of Hormuz, still the most important energy bottleneck in the world. The Russians could be on the losing end of the stick. The power of President Vladimir Putin is based primarily on oil and gas revenues. If energy prices decline in the long term, bringing down Russian revenues from the energy sector, Putin’s grip on power could begin to falter. The Americans’ sudden oil and gas riches are also not very good news for authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. European industry is also likely to benefit from falling world market prices for oil and gas. But according to prognoses, without domestic extraction the Europeans’ site-specific advantages deteriorate. German chemical giant BASF has already invested a lot of money in the United States in the last two years. In Louisiana, for example, it has built new plants for the production of methyl amines and formic acid. “The local natural gas price is a criterion that affects the question of where we invest in new production facilities,” says BASF Executive Board member Harald Schwager. At the moment, the United States has a clear advantage over Europe in this regard” (…..)

  3. (…..) More than 20 US warships are stationed in Bahrain, including an aircraft carrier, as well as several destroyers and submarines. The US Navy’s Fifth Fleet is intended to secure the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman. Some 35 percent of the global oil trade involving ships passes through the Strait. With its efforts in the Gulf, the American military is not only protecting trade routes, but also the monarchies in the region. In return the Saudis, still the world’s largest oil producer today, have ensured that OPEC pursues a moderate price policy. But the tradeoff of security against oil is costly for the Americans. Washington pays billions for its military presence in the Middle East. And the costs are not just material. The fact that American troops were deployed to the war in Kuwait from Saudi soil was the catalyst that triggered former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s fight against the United States. According to BND estimates, the Americans could soon dispense with energy shipments from the Middle East altogether. It is conceivable that the United States could then no longer have a direct interest in protecting the flow of oil out of the Gulf region, London-based energy expert Alan Riley recently wrote in the New York Times. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the United States will withdraw from the region in the foreseeable future. “The United States will remain dependent on international energy markets for a long time to come,” says Joseph Braml of the German Council on Foreign Relations. Besides, US interests in the Middle East are not limited to oil. They also include both containing Iran and fighting Islamist terror. Finally, protecting Israel also plays a central role in American foreign policy.

    “Anyone who thinks that the Americans could withdraw from the Middle East understands neither the dynamics of the oil markets nor the geopolitical relationships,” says Braml. One reason that America will maintain a presence at the Strait of Hormuz, he explains, is to be able to shut off the energy tap to the Chinese if necessary.

    Still, the Europeans, in particular, could face new political challenges. “It ought to become easier for America in the future to demand more help from others in securing the energy supply,” says security expert Michael O’Hanlon of the Washington-based Brookings Institution. This applies to Washington’s NATO allies, he adds, and to Japan, South Korea and even India. For Germany, this would probably not mean sending its own troops to the Gulf. But it would have to make a stronger contribution to the costs of the US mission (…..)


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