Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia, Canada, France and Britain represent 7/8ths of what has come to be known as the G-8, a loose group of the world’s most industrialized (or otherwise) important nations. It has its own idiosyncracies, including Russia’s inclusion even though they are weak and China’s exclusion even though they are strong.
This circumstance, as much as any other, keeps the G-8 toothless except for how they choose to distribute the spoils of their economies among the less fortunate. There’s a certain imperial tone about the whole thing, except when it makes itself silly.
Not including China makes it silly. 7/8ths knuckling under to the remaining 1/8th makes it even more silly and borders on earning a reputation as irrelevant. The knuckling under comes, shrouded in diplomatic language, desperately trying to find a way for seven nations to trash their consensus to accommodate the 800 pound gorilla among them.
Put a good face on it, guys and try to kick off the year-long presidency of Tony Blair without making him feel too subservient to George Bush. Germany, why are you so timid? Japan and Italy, find your collective ‘cojones,’ a favorite term of George W’s. Canada, France and Britain, you don’t need to kneel and your home constituencies, both liberal and conservative, would prefer you didn’t. Russia? Well, I understand, Russia is Russia.
Or decide not to put a good face on it and settle for an honest face instead, one that might resurrect some sense of relevance to what has become an ongoing charade. Tell the U.S. to take a hike. Call a news conference and demonstrate the solidarity of 7/8ths of the world’s powerful. The sky won’t fall. If George squeals economically, tell him to stop giving to America’s wealthy and begin giving to the world’s clean air and water.
Eight minus one doesn’t really equal zero. Someone, somewhere is going to have to hold America’s feet to the fire on this one.
If not you guys, who?