G7 Should Be Shut Down

This is an undemocratic body that uses its historical power to impose its narrow interests on a world that is in the grip of a range of more pressing dilemmas. writes Vijay Prashad. 

Leon Golub. U.S., “Vietnam II,” 1973.

By Vijay Prashad
Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

During the May 2023 Group of Seven (G7) summit, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, near where the meeting was held. Not doing so would have been an act of immense discourtesy.

Despite many calls for an apology from the U.S. for dropping an atomic bomb on a civilian population in 1945, U.S. President Joe Biden has demurred. Instead, he wrote in the Peace Memorial guest book: “May the stories of this museum remind us all of our obligations to build a future of peace.”

Apologies, amplified by the tensions of our time, take on interesting sociological and political roles. An apology would suggest that the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were wrong and that the U.S. did not end their war against Japan by taking the moral high ground.

An apology would also contradict the U.S. decision, backed fully by other Western powers over 70 years later, to maintain a military presence along the Asian coastline of the Pacific Ocean (a presence built on the back of the 1945 atomic bombings) and to use that military force to threaten China with weapons of mass destruction amassed in bases and ships close to China’s territorial waters.

It is impossible to imagine a “future of peace” if the U.S. continues to maintain its aggressive military structure that runs from Japan to Australia, with the express intent of disciplining China.

Tadasu Takamine, Japan, Still frame from: “God Bless America,” 2002.

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was given the errand to warn China about its “economic coercion” as he unveiled the G7 Coordination Platform on Economic Coercion to track Chinese commercial activities.

“The platform will address the growing and pernicious use of coercive economic measures to interfere in the sovereign affairs of other states,” Sunak said.

This bizarre language displayed neither self-awareness of the West’s long history of brutal colonialism nor an acknowledgement of neocolonial structures — including the permanent state of indebtedness enforced by the International Monetary Fund  — that are coercive by definition.

Nonetheless, Sunak, Biden and the others preened with self-righteous certainty that their moral standing remains intact and that they hold the right to attack China for its trade agreements.

These leaders suggest that it is perfectly acceptable for the IMF — on behalf of the G7 states — to demand “conditionalities” from debt-ridden countries while forbidding China from negotiating when it lends money.

Kent Monkman, Canada, “The Scream,” 2017.

Interestingly, the final statement from the G7 did not mention China by name, but merely echoed the concern about “economic coercion.” The phrase “all countries” and not China, specifically, signals a lack of unity within the group.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, for instance, used her speech at the G7 to put the U.S. on notice for its use of industrial subsidies: “We need to provide a clear, predictable business environment to our clean tech industries. The starting point is transparency among the G7 on how we support manufacturing.”

One complaint from Western governments and think tanks alike has been that Chinese development loans contain “no Paris Club” clauses.

The Paris Club is a body of official bilateral creditors that was set up in 1956 to provide financing to poor countries who have been vetted by IMF processes, stipulating that they must pledge to conduct a range of political and economic reforms in order to secure any funds.

In recent years, the amount of loans given through the Paris Club has declined, although the body’s influence and the esteem its strict rules garner remain. Many Chinese loans — particularly through the Belt and Road Initiative — refuse to adopt Paris Club clauses, since, as Professor Huang Meibo and Niu Dongfang argue, it would sneak IMF-Paris Club conditionalities into loan agreements.

“All countries,” they write, “should respect the right of other countries to make their own choices, instead of taking the rules of the Paris Club as universal norms that must be observed by all.” The allegation of “economic coercion” does not hold if the evidence points to Chinese lenders refusing to impose Paris Club clauses.

Francesco Clemente, Italy, “Sixteen Amulets for the Road (XII),” 2012–2013.

G7 leaders stand before the cameras pretending to be world representatives whose views are the views of all of humanity. Remarkably, G7 countries only contain 10 percent of the world’s population while their combined Gross Domestic Product is merely 27 per cent of global GDP.

These are demographically and increasingly economically marginalised states that want to use their authority, partly derived from their military power, to control the world order.

Such a small section of the human population should not be allowed to speak for all of us, since their experiences and interests are neither universal nor can they be trusted to set aside their own parochial goals in favour of humanity’s needs.

Elisabeth Tomalin, U.K., “Head,” ca. 1920.

Indeed, the agenda of the G7 was plainly laid out at its origin, first as the Library Group in March 1973 and then at the first G7 summit in France in November 1975.

The Library Group was created by U.S. Treasury Secretary George Schultz, who brought together finance ministers from France (Valéry Giscard d’Estaing), West Germany (Helmut Schmidt), and the U.K. (Anthony Barber) to hold private consultations among the Atlantic allies.

At the Château de Rambouillet in 1975, the G7 met in the context of the “oil weapon” wielded by the Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1973 and the passage of the New International Economic Order (NIEO) in the United Nations in 1974.

Schmidt, who was appointed German chancellor a year after the Library Group’s formation, reflected on these developments: “It is desirable to explicitly state, for public opinion, that the present world recession is not a particularly favourable occasion to work out a new economic order along the lines of certain U.N. documents.”

Schmidt wanted to end “international dirigisme” and states’ ability to exercise their economic sovereignty.

The NIEO had to be stopped in its tracks, Schmidt said, because to leave decisions about the world economy “to officials somewhere in Africa or some Asian capital is not a good idea.”

Rather than allow African and Asian leaders a say in important global matters, U.K. Prime Minister Harold Wilson suggested that it would be better for serious decisions to be made by “the sort of people sitting around this table.”

Louise Rösler, Germany, “Street,” 1951.

The private attitudes displayed by Schmidt and Wilson continue to this day, despite dramatic changes in the world order.

In the first decade of the 2000s, the U.S. — which had begun to see itself as an unrivalled world power — overreached militarily in its War on Terror and economically with its unregulated banking system.

The war on Iraq (2003) and the credit crunch (2007) threatened the vitality of the U.S.-managed world order. During the darkest days of the credit crisis, G8 states, which then included Russia, asked surplus-holding countries of the Global South (particularly, China, India and Indonesia) to come to their aid.

In January 2008, at a meeting in New Delhi, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told business leaders,

“At the G8 summit, eight countries meet for two and a half days and on the third day invite five developing nations — Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa — for discussions over lunch. This is [an] injustice to [the] 2.5 billion inhabitants of these nations. Why this third-grade treatment to them? I want that the next G8 summit be converted into a G13 summit.”

There was talk during this period of weakness in the West, that the G7 would be shut down and that the G20, which held its first summit in 2008 in Washington, D.C., would become its successor.

Sarkozy’s statements in Delhi made headlines, but not policy. In a more private — and truthful — assessment in October 2010, former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard told U.S. Ambassador to France Craig R. Stapleton, “We need a vehicle where we can find solutions for these challenges [the growth of China and India] together — so when these monsters arrive in 10 years, we will be able to deal with them.”

The “monsters” are now at the gate, and the U.S. has assembled its available economic, diplomatic, and military arsenals, including the G7, to suffocate them.

The G7 is an undemocratic body that uses its historical power to impose its narrow interests on a world that is in the grip of a range of more pressing dilemmas. It is time to shut down the G7, or at least prevent it from enforcing its will on the international order.

Fabienne Verdier, France, “Branches et Bourgeons, Étude Végétal” — “Branches and Buds, Nature Study,” 2010.

In his radio address on August 9, 1945, U.S. President Harry Truman said:

“The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.”

In reality, Hiroshima was not a “military base.” It was what U.S. Secretary of War Henry Stimson called a “virgin target,” a place that had escaped the U.S. firebombing of Japan so that it could be a worthwhile testing ground for the atomic bomb.

In his diary, Stimson recorded a conversation with Truman in June about the reasoning behind targeting this city.

When he told Truman that he was “a little fearful that before we could get ready the Air Force might have Japan so thoroughly bombed out that the new weapon [the atomic bomb] would not have a fair background to show its strength,” the president “laughed and said he understood.”

Two-year-old Sadako Sasaki was one of 350,000 people living in Hiroshima at the time of the bombings. She died 10 years later from cancers associated with radiation exposure from the bomb.

The Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet was moved by her story and wrote a poem against war and confrontation. Hikmet’s words should be a warning even now to Biden against laughing at the possibility of renewed military conflict against China:

I come and stand at every door
But none can hear my silent tread
I knock and yet remain unseen
For I am dead for I am dead.

I’m only seven though I died
In Hiroshima long ago
I’m seven now as I was then
When children die they do not grow.

My hair was scorched by swirling flame
My eyes grew dim my eyes grew blind
Death came and turned my bones to dust
And that was scattered by the wind.

I need no fruit I need no rice
I need no sweets nor even bread
I ask for nothing for myself
For I am dead for I am dead.

All that I need is that for peace
You fight today you fight today
So that the children of this world
Can live and grow and laugh and play.

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is an editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written more than 20 books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations.  His latest books are Struggle Makes Us Human: Learning from Movements for Socialism and, with Noam Chomsky,  The Withdrawal: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and the Fragility of U.S. Power.

This article is from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.


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15 comments for “G7 Should Be Shut Down

  1. wilthange
    May 29, 2023 at 18:16

    Two cities saved to test two prototypes on real target. It actually could be said we stalled on Japanese attempts to surrender for about a year waiting for the Bombs and more more firebombing of other cities. Time for more of our casualties as well as permanent based on Okinawa.
    Also relevant is that OPEC and oil embargoes is what really turned our strategic interests from Vietnam to the Middle East which soon included weaponizing Afghanistan against the USSR and an excuse to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics. A trick attempted again perhaps with the coup in the Ukraine and attempts to boycott the Sochi Olympics.

    What is apparent and an existential threat to human civilization now more than ever is the fear that our religiously granted superior dominance of the the world is slipping away. Our God may be calling on us to take drastic actions to protect full spectrum dominance of all aspects of world culture instead of learning how to share and kick the habit and permanent wars for profits and prophets. Other Orthodoxies may be product infringements of the new world roman empire and its heyday!

    • Georges Olivier Daudelin
      May 30, 2023 at 10:39

      Cette image (Le génocide effectué par le ministère des affaires indiennes canadian) n’est pas du tout représentative de ce qui s’est passé au Canada; elle fait d’ailleurs partie de la propagande historique fasciste génocidaire canadian contre les Québécois. Le message de cette image est similaire au discours fasciste nazi tenu par le monde occidental contre la Russie.

  2. rosemerry
    May 29, 2023 at 16:02

    “The platform will address the growing and pernicious use of coercive economic measures to interfere in the sovereign affairs of other states,” Sunak said.
    Sunak did not notice the 10 tranches of “sanctions against Russia”, designed to destroy the nation of Russia . All of the coercion of other nations comes from the “rich few” such as the Greedy Seven. The USA/UK etc ignore sovereignty of others, while China arranges voluntary agreements which advance trade and let China plus its partners benefit. Coercion is the real weapon of the USA and the rest of the “West”.

  3. May 29, 2023 at 10:36

    Sad state of geopolitical affairs accurately portrayed.

  4. Larry Gates
    May 29, 2023 at 08:33

    Pete Seeger set this poem to music:
    Pete Seeger I come and watch at every door on YouTube.

    • Valerie
      May 30, 2023 at 09:51

      I liked his rendition on “democracy now” on 9th August on the 68th anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing.

  5. Susan J Leslie
    May 28, 2023 at 22:37

    Please listen to Quicksilver ‘What about me’ song from 1970 to see how long this has been an issue…

  6. Tony
    May 28, 2023 at 14:49

    “One complaint from Western governments and think tanks alike has been that Chinese development loans contain “no Paris Club” clauses.

    The Paris Club is a body of official bilateral creditors that was set up in 1956 to provide financing to poor countries who have been vetted by IMF processes, stipulating that they must pledge to conduct a range of political and economic reforms in order to secure any funds.”

    Yes, you could see why that would be a problem: The Chinese just lend them the money and expect it to be paid back but do not use the loans as a form of coercion. You can see why Western governments would be upset by that and would wish to punish China by threatening it with war. The people in western countries need to understand this and seek to end to it.

    • Eddy Schmid
      May 30, 2023 at 02:57

      Only problem Tony, is Western countries also need to bend the knee and abide by the same rules when asking for money. How do you think the World Bank and the IMF have managed to get all western countries on their hooks, and altering those countries laws/rules/labor conditions ??? Making each nation that takes money from them, a hollow shell and subserviant to both Groups, the G 7 is simply another means to the same end. It’s been going on for a long time in which many people representing their constituents have been heavily compromised with their constituents ever becoming aware of this betrayal. I have actuall seen, with my own eyes, such documentation making demands of my Country, when making application for funds. Many working conditions had to be sacraficed in exchange, without the workers ever becoming aware they had been sold down the river.

  7. Realist
    May 28, 2023 at 03:58

    “May the stories of this museum remind us all of our obligations to build a future of peace.”–Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.

    What a monstrous hypocrite you are, Mr. President. A real damned liar, not to mention mass killer.

    Just how are you keeping your obligations to build any future of peace?

    You’re not. You plot to attack Russia, which has never attacked our country, ever, using nukes if you deem fit (meaning if your side is sure to lose, which seems to be the case).

    You knowingly put Ukraine at a military disadvantage with your contributions of weaponry, training, borrowed money, intelligence, and bad advice that you KNOW they cannot overcome just to facilitate attacks on Russia which you seek to destroy for no damned good reason.

    You embarrass our country with your deadly threats of violence every time your small mind perceives a disagreement with another sovereign nation. You are more than betting the farm. With you, it’s the whole country. And, for what?

    Really, a Dali landscape seems more secure than the future you promise.

    Time for you to step down and spare the world from the total destruction you seem to have planned. Step down and get some psychiatric help. Always happy to provide some SANE advice.

  8. robert e williamson jr
    May 27, 2023 at 23:57

    Really exceptional stuff here. It was not until rather recently I started to comprehend some of the more major intricacies of world financing. I can thank the ICIJ exposure of the working of the behind the scenes details of international banking, especially the illegal (?) off-shore money laundering and secretive financing practices that must be known of by the largest international banking institutions. The unspoken , “It’s legal in New Jersey, if you don’t get caught.” or those unspoken but, universally known “silent parts that are never to be spoken of out loud”. Issues to only be discussed in limited company.

    G3, G4, G7, and their front persons from the IMF. See world intelligence community funding, the Safari Club and and BCCI. Not to speak of what is learned here about the Paris Club. Big boys insider club – billionaires.

    Whether you happen to be fond of Whitney Webb’s work or not she has made her point and the logic, sustained, applies.

    The United States and many of her strongest allies, as Washington D.C. disciples and their wonks describe them, have had their day.

    A few years ago when I first started to learn about USAID and Robert Blum the motivations and actions of CIA and others with regards to finding finance money I was struck at how simple these “tasks” can be for those who have ultimate secrecy and backing on their side at their disposal. If you make the rules you win, or though they thought. “Good Morning Vietnam”, brought to the USA by France 1954 when French colonials left Vietnam defeated. Followed by the dishonest delusional leadership of the US military which only found heartbreak and dishonor.

    The drugs were being run and laundering money became very big and profitable. Well that “Gig” is up!

    Now about all that meth and heroin that is coming from . . . . somewhere and who is behind the activity.

    Nicely done Mr. Prashad!

    Thanks CN

  9. J Anthony
    May 27, 2023 at 23:18

    The rank hypocrisy of the US govt knows no bounds, and continues unabated. The entitlement of the parasitic banking/creditor class is out of control, beyond the pale, way-past-bedtime, and so on. The ongoing muss-and-fuss that is the debt-ceiling artificial crisis is but a symptom of our outdated banking/monetary-system, and I like to think that in the 15 years since the so-called “Great Recession”, more people have studied up on just how much of a racket those systems are, and how in fact fragile they are. This is no way to properly fund and manage a large society, not if you expect stability or longevity for the whole of any given society. But that is not the goal of any IMF or World Bank leaders, clearly, whose idea of stability is trapping as much of the world as possible into debt-peonage. What is to be done!?

  10. Jeff Harrison
    May 27, 2023 at 21:08

    Woof! Let me stick my fingers in some ice water. “The West” will pay no attention.

  11. Rudy Haugeneder
    May 27, 2023 at 20:20

    The future foretold and then, only afterward, a poem; but was it a warning or promise?

  12. Hallmark
    May 27, 2023 at 18:39

    Excellent piece by Vijay Prashad. I particularly like the painting by the incomparable Ken Monkman, one of my favourite artists. I’m Canadian and it hits home with a bang! In my opinion Ottawa is so far up Washington’s butt GPS can’t find it. O Canada . . .

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