The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Mullings by Rich Galen ®
An American Cyber-Column By Rich Galen
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Rich Galen

Monday August 26, 2019

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  • You may have heard that a group known as the G7 met over the weekend in France.

  • G7 stands for "Group of Seven" which, (h/t to Time Magazine) when it formed in 1975, was the Group of Six: France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and West Germany.

  • That was 44 years and 2,173 Italian governments ago.

  • The group formed to discuss big-time economic issues in the wake of the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 which led to the twin economic viruses of inflation and recession.

  • Canada joined in 1975 and Russia came aboard in 1998 after the collapse of the Soviet Union (making it briefly the G8) and were expelled in 2014 after the annexation of the Crimea section of Ukraine.

  • In spite of being the second largest economy on the planet, China is not part of the G6-7-8-7.

  • It is part of a group of five "emerging" economies: China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa which occasionally meets as part of a G7+5 meeting, but that's like sitting at the kids' table at Thanksgiving or being in the secondary debate during Presidential primary season.

  • Again, via Time Magazine, the G7 represents 10 percent of the world's population, but 40 percent of the world's GDP.

  • Donald Trump has lobbied to re-admit Russia. Last week he said,
    "I think it's much more appropriate to have Russia in. It should be the G8 because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia."

  • He could have said as much about China from whom we imported $539.5 billion worth of goods in 2018. That same year we imported $20.8 billion from Russia (about four percent) but Trump doesn't want to build a hotel in China.

  • Yet.

  • The hosting duties rotate through the Members and the host country gets to (largely) set the agenda.

  • Last year it was Canada, where Trump came late, left early, refused to sign onto the closing joint statement, and Tweeted insults about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau en route Singapore for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

  • This year, French President, Emmanuel Macron, has agenda items guaranteed to make Donald Trump dissatisfied like global warming, economic inequality, the fires in the Amazon Rain Forest (as opposed to Amazon's secondary headquarters coming to Arlington, Virginia), and what Macron called (at least in the English translation) "multilateralism" as opposed to "the nationalists."

  • Trump wanted the members' economies to be high on the agenda so he could crow about how well the U.S. economy is doing, and the President of Brazil was irritated about the grownups talking about the Amazon fires like he couldn't hear them from the kids' table.

  • Macron indicated there would be no closing communiqué, and so nothing Donald Trump can refuse to sign.

  • Also the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being cranky with Donald Trump over Trump's escalating tariff war with China. According to the U.K. Guardian PM Johnson said:
    "Apart from anything else, those who support the tariffs are at risk of incurring the blame for the downturn in the global economy, irrespective of whether that is true."

  • Strange hairdos aside, Donald Trump has seen Johnson as a kindred spirit, and we know how Trump reacts to anyone saying anything other than "You ARE the Chosen One" when referring to him.

  • See, also, Trump's reaction to his offer to buy Greenland (which is a Danish territory) as "absurd" by Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

  • In case you were busy buying school supplies instead of Greenland, Trump was so irritated with Frederiksen's remark he cancelled his planned post-G7 trip to Denmark.

  • Overhanging this conference is Brexit - Britain's exit from the European Union which will occur on October 31. This is a big deal to Britain and the EU, but not such a big deal to America nor the Amazon Rain Forest.

  • Indeed, most Americans have (a) no idea what the issues are and (b) don't much care, what with the daily arguments over what to wear to school back in full swing.

  • To top it all off, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, showed up at the G7 to meet with the French Foreign Minister. There is no evidence that the Americans knew anything about it.

  • All in all, this G7 appears to have started with two out and nobody on. We'll see how it ends up.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring Page today: That history of the G7 from Time Magazine, the Arab Oil Embargo, CNN's coverage of the Greenland situation, and a great explainer via BBC on Brexit that you ought to read.

    The Mullfoto is of some strange characters spotted in Old Town Alexandria Virginia on Friday morning..

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