Lots of tone, little substance at G7

Despite some notable novelties, there was a strong sense of déjà vu about the results of this year’s G7 summit of industrialized economies. It seemed to be a throwback to 2016, the final year of President Barack Obama’s time in office and the eve of Donald Trump’s.

And why not? Current US President Joe Biden, who attended the summit in Cornwall, England, this year, was Obama’s vice-president back then. He and much of his team are veterans of the Obama administration’s foreign policy squad.

All were committed to multilateralism, which in the end was music to the ears of America’s G7 allies fatigued by Trump’s go-it-alone policies.

The sigh of relief was palpable. France’s President Emmanuel Macron proclaimed it out loud. “It is great to have a US president who is part of the club and very willing to cooperate,” he said. One Trump critic immediately said he preferred “boring” Biden to “circus freakshow” Trump.

That was a shot at Trump’s “America First” policy. During G7 meetings he attended, Trump badgered allies to increase funds to pay for military defense of the West, to abandon trade practices he claimed undermined the US economy and to stop focusing on climate policies that aim to eliminate fossil fuels, whose US production Trump promoted.