Letters & Opinion

G7 and NATO Summits

Global Vaccination Production and Eradication of the COVID Pandemic left on the back burner while Alliances stretched to breaking point over China and Russia

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Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

No one in the Caribbean closely following this week’s G7 and NATO Summits cannot but conclude that both failed to deliver on the hype about eradicating the COVID Pandemic and creating a new Alliance of the Rich against China and Russia.

Not that anyone would have been expecting The Caribbean to get even a mention in the flowery speeches, but with all the pre-G7 Summit hype about US President Joe Biden attending his first overseas summit to launch a global plan for vaccine production and a new America-European alliance against China and Russia, the summits have again revealed the depth of European mistrust and uncertainty of and in the US.

In just four years, President Donald Trump singlehandedly wrecked America’s European allies’ trust in Washington, playing-down the significance of summits vis-à-vis one-on-one negotiating en-counters between leaders and questioning the very need for the existence of NATO.

Trump also saw NATO as a drain on the US purse while European states failed to meet even their low targets of two percent of their GDP on defense expenditure.

The USA’s G7 partners (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and UK) and the member-states of the 28-nation European Union (EU) welcomed the freshness of the breeze of a new US president ready to talk and listen, discuss global issues and reset ties along positive agreeable paths.

But Biden’s European allies were roundly put-off by the impression given by the US media that the new US Commander-in-Chief would land on Air Force One in Cornwall and Brussels to establish that ‘America is back!’ as the new NATO sheriff in town.

The foreign policy-experienced Biden floated his worthy proposal for 500 million doses of COVID vaccines before leaving the US and his G7 colleagues couldn’t but butter-up by together agreeing to match America’s bid.

But Germany, UK and the EU member-states where vaccines are produced poured cold water on Biden’s other hot proposal: for releasing on restrictions to allow developing countries like India, Malaysia, Morocco, Senegal and South Africa to produce their own much-needed supplies.

With the majority of the ten countries that bought 75% of the vaccines already produced globally among the G7 and EU member-states and each having enough surplus vaccines (on hand and on order) to vaccinate their populations several times over, UNICEF says the two groups of European an American nations can each contribute 20% of their hoarded supplies to immediately provide 150 million vaccines for developing countries where 70% of the world’s population are without immediate access.

Ahead of the summits, an independent group of prominent international personalities and scientists in mid-May commissioned a report that concluded the world was (and still is) too slow to react and called for two billion vaccines to be made available to developing countries by 2022, releasing of patent and copyrights to allow for more and quicker vaccine production, strengthening the WHO and improve the world’s health infrastructure.

The report also called on the G7 nations to spend $19 Billion on vaccine development, saying while it’s costly, it’s not too much to spend to prevent another pandemic.

At the end of May, four major world health bodies, pointing to the fact that over a million lives had been lost since the last G7 summit and noting member-states could do better, called for the rich countries to quicken the pace of delivery of vaccines and enable developing countries with the capacity to produce the vaccines.

They also noted that while the richer European countries had been able to vaccinate between 30% and 40% of their populations and the UK was aiming at 60% and the USA 70% by the end of June, no nation was safe until all the poorer nations are safely vaccinated.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also stated ahead of the G7 Summit that the world can save billions and trillions of dollars by simply ensuring quicker and more equitable distribution of vaccines.

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) also indicated in early June that food prices are rising at the fastest rate in years, thanks to COVID.

The world has come to accept that while infection rates are going down as vaccination rates in-crease, it’s only where vaccines are available for all.

But with all that information at their fingertips just like mine, the G7 and EU leaders opted instead to continue to hold on to patent rights, offer charitable sums of help where an ocean of aid is needed – and instead choose the by-now-usual easy way out: stoking fires against China and Russia to justify NATO’s continuing existence.

Biden clearly left Washington intent on whipping-up a new Cold War against China and Russia, the other two world powers locked out of the G7 but whose defense capacity can withstand or respond to any NATO attacks anywhere.

Yielding to that section of the US intelligence that wanted him to revive the COVID-19 ‘Lab Theo-ry’ (that the virus was developed in a lab in China), Biden adopted the Trump strategy of blaming China while also accusing it of expanding military and economic might worldwide in ways that supposedly threaten NATO (American and European) security and posing economic challenges that threaten the traditional might of G7 and EU’s richest member-states.

Now, propped by his mission of erasing President Trump’s friendly ties with and defense of the Russian leader, Biden’s taking the G7, EU and NATO message to President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s President Erdogan in Geneva today, as if to say, ‘The rest of the world is united behind me, so watch your step!’

But not all the European leaders are behind Biden in wanting to declare China an enemy; and Euro-pean nations bordering Russia aren’t about to risk joining a new Cold War against China simply to justify NATO’s reason for existence.

The NATO alliance was established to keep the Cold War heat burning with the Soviet Union (USSR) and since its collapse successive Secretaries-General have spent every minute inventing new reasons to continue the Cold War regardless by simply transferring all historical blame for World War II on today’s Russia, which only came into being after the USSR collapsed on Decem-ber 31, 1991.

World War II ended in 1945 and NATO was created in 1949 – at the end of which the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established – just over seven decades ago.

China has emerged as a world economic, military and political power that no European country would like to disturb its trade with just to favour the US Trade war with Beijing; and President Putin has survived four US Presidents (Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump).

The NATO Secretary-General insists that ‘relations with Russia are at the worst since World War II’ and is inviting member-states to prepare to confront China’s growing military might, which is admittedly comparable to any and all of NATO’s member-states.

But China and Russia can defend themselves properly against any NATO attack – and even better if combined, which is why Europe’s leaders are extremely hesitant about Biden’ New Cold War initiative, UK PM and G7 Summit Host Boris Johnson making it clear ‘no one around the table’ at the G7 saw China as an enemy and others indicating they would also like to engage Russia on agreeable issues like exchanges in the interest of world security.

Biden will not succeed in forcing Putin to wink on anything and might even emerge with more agreements than disagreements with the Russian leader – and claim the kudos.

He left Washington intending ‘to send a clear message to China and Russia’ that ‘America is Back’ by launching a global vaccine production project and a major global infrastructure project to be financed mainly by the US and European nations to rival China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) con-structing a New Silk Road across four continents.

But with UK soon to host the next global Climate Change meeting (COP 27) in Glasgow and the G7 and EU nations having to work with China on related issues, few European leaders are willing to shoot cannons across Beijing’s bow, Johnson repeatedly making it clear ‘We are not at war with China.’

Meanwhile, when the US president returns home from his eight-day overseas tour he will be again straight-jacketed by the fact that the Republicans still have all his major programs in tatters: his infrastructure, voting rights and police reform bills stuck at a major road while Trump’s backers killed his effort to have the January 6 terror attack on Capitol Hill properly investigated while continuing to make it difficult for minorities to vote in future elections.

But even before he lands, he will have realized that the G7 and NATO leaders, while singing from the same traditional anti-Russia and anti-China hymnals, are not the least prepared to either help vaccinate developing countries quicker or allow him to reestablish or reimpose US political and mil-itary supremacy over Europe in the pre-Trump era.

Not that America is alone, but it’s lost much of its global steam in the Trump era and it’ll be hard to reestablish its might in ways that would minimize the clear advances made by China and Russia during that period, alone and together, facing down their toughest attacks by the richest and most powerful G7 and EU nations.

The Caribbean will not have gained much, if anything directly, from the two summits, only expecting that at least some of the billion promised vaccine doses, if and when delivered to developing countries, will land on the region’s shores.

But Caribbean diplomats will have gained so much more to convince them that until and unless the region joins the rest of the developing world in making its voices heard loudly as all others in the global battle for more equitable distribution of vaccines, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will continue to wait at the back of the line until the rich countries gather again to consider whether to share their wealthy vaccines over-supplies with developing countries.

Meanwhile, the entire world continues to be at greater risk than would have been if the ten richest countries hadn’t greedily purchased three-quarters of the world’s vaccines instead of allowing the entire developing world to be vaccinated so that the rest of the world, including the USA and Eu-rope, can be or consider themselves safe.

And the distance between the world’s rich and poor continues to widen…

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