Strip the United States from the G7 and you have six middle-ranking powers which still set global rules.
Consider the six: Britain is a declining power. Its politics is broken. In 1947, Britain’s GDP was $213 billion, five times India’s GDP of $40 billion (both adjusted for inflation and currency rates).
India’s estimated GDP in 2022-23 ($3.6 trillion) will overtake Britain’s estimated GDP ($3.4 trillion) this year. It has taken 75 years to close the 5x gap between the colonially drained economy of India and Britain’s imperial economy with its advantages of taxes on Indians and exploitation of India’s resources.
The differential in future GDP growth trajectories of India (7 per cent) and Britain (2 per cent) will widen the economic gap between the two countries.
Meanwhile at home Britain faces dismemberment. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, announced last week that Scotland would go ahead with a second referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom. She has proposed 19 October 2023 for the referendum. The first referendum in 2014 voted narrowly (55 per cent-45 per cent) against independence.
The mood after Brexit though has changed. Recent polls show that were a referendum held today, it would be in favour of Scottish independence from the UK.
The kingdoms of England and Scotland, eyeing the lucrative African transatlantic slave trade and colonisation of Asia, had merged in 1707 under the Acts of Union to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain. That 300-year-old commercial and political partnership could unravel. It would further reduce Britain’s geopolitical influence as a G7 member and shrink its economy by around 10 per cent.
But what worries London even more than Scotland’s departure is the very real possibility of the reunification of Northern Ireland (a part of the UK) and the Irish Republic, a former British colony that won independence in 1922.
Ireland was always Catholic. After colonising it Britain began re-populating the country with British Protestants — exactly how China has re-populated Xinjiang with Chinese ethnic Han to reduce the Uighar Muslim population to below 50 per cent.
Britain achieved the same result over two centuries in Ireland’s six northern counties with British-settler Protestants outnumbering Catholics. At independence, the six northern Protestant-majority counties elected to stay in the UK while the rest of Catholic Ireland became independent.
However, falling fertility rates among Protestants in Northern Ireland have resulted in Catholics once again becoming a majority. They want to rejoin the Irish Republic.
A worried British government is set to break international law by jettisoning the Northern Ireland protocol. The protocol was signed as part of an international treaty with the European Union (EU) on Brexit. The EU has threatened Britain with legal action if London breaches international law.
However, the consequences of Irish reunification are so dire that the British government is prepared to absorb the damage to its global reputation by breaking an international treaty.
What about the other five non-US members of the G7? France is a middle power with global pretensions, especially in Francophone Africa. But President Emmanuel Macron’s government is coming under increasing pressure from the resurgent right. Paris no longer enjoys the clout in the non-Anglosphere world it once did.
Germany is Europe’s largest economy but its dependence on Russian oil and gas could cripple its steel, aluminium and auto industries this winter as Moscow turns off the tap on Nord Stream 1.
The weakest G7 members are Canada, Italy and Japan. All three, like Britain and France, are declining powers. Italy and Japan have the additional handicap of a rapidly shrinking and ageing population while Canada has become a hotbed of radicalism under its ineffective Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The combined GDP of these six members of the G7, at roughly $18 trillion, is the same as the GDP of China. Without the US, the G7 would have little global influence except for its ability to wage wars with advanced weaponry in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
The G7’s remaining clout depends on the US. Here too the future is cloudy. America is a socially fraught country with deep divisions between right and left. In a recent op-ed in the Hindustan Times (6 July 2022) the newspaper’s Washington correspondent Prashant Jha said liberalism and inclusiveness is more robust in the US than it is in India.
He is wrong. The US is deeply riven not only by ideology but by race. President Barack Obama’s victory has ironically created a white backlash that could last for decades, reducing America’s influence in the world.
American blacks are descendants of African slaves. They were shipped 4,500 miles across the Atlantic by European powers (G7 members Britain and France among them) from Africa to America.
The US Constitution was co-written by “founding father” Thomas Jefferson. He owned 600 African slaves. Abraham Lincoln owned 300 African slaves.
There were two classes of slaves: house slaves and field slaves.
Slaves thought to be relatively docile were kept in the homes of their American owners. Slaves regarded as rebellious were kept chained in outhouses for fear of their owners being attacked at night.
This is the historical legacy of the US, the G7’s leading light. The brutality American blacks face daily even today from a racist police force has divided America along race, class and ideology.
The G7 with its tainted history, and the illegal wars it continues to wage today in the Middle East and Africa, has long lost the credibility to set global rules of engagement. It must disband — or fall into disuse.
The writer is editor, author and publisher. Views expressed here are personal.