The headline from the New York Times almost undersells it: “Hopes Are Low for G-20 Summit in Brisbane.” It goes on from there:
Expectations are that the gathering will be a disappointment. Past summit meetings have fallen short of their goals, and the latest meeting will take place when collegiality among leaders is at a low ebb, strained by conflict in Ukraine, territorial disputes in Asia and war in the Middle East.
The G-20 is a joke—and not even a very amusing one. It remains a dysfunctional group with no serious purpose, and little-by-little that is becoming clear even to its most enthusiastic backers. A smaller group would have had a better chance of being effective, but countries like Italy, Canada, Australia, and France, who were members in the original G-7 but who stood to lose their slots if a new and sensible G-7 were organized, instead insisted on blowing the group up in order to salvage their pride.Even the G-7 wasn’t and isn’t very productive, but the G-20 has an unbroken record of inconsequentialism.It does, however, keep a number of bureaucrats gainfully employed and achieving elite frequent flyer status year after year. It also nicely fills hotels in the lucky city chosen to host the global boondoggle each year. The group would probably accomplish as much if the members saved carbon emissions and money by organizing a conference call.We hope, but don’t expect, that this year will be different. The most likely outcome is a set of vapid communiques full of high sounding lies that will be forgotten pretty much as soon as the press conference announcing them draws to a close.