G-8 Challenge

Unlike the Group of Eight (G8) Summit held last year at Gleneagles in Scotland UK, which had focused on environmental and climate change issues besides aid to Africa, this year’s summit of the world’s most powerful countries to be held in St. Petersburg at the weekend will have to take up some political agenda: nuclear standoff with Iran, global security, terrorism and the crisis in the Middle East. That differences remain among the G8 countries on all the aforementioned issues only goes to show that unless a consensus emerges, the G8 may face the ignominy of being left powerless to take any concrete steps in dealing with each of the issues. Five of the G8 countries are also veto wielding permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and therefore the outcome at St. Petersburg may well get reflected in any future UNSC resolutions. At present France, Russia and China among the Permanent 5 (P5) have divergent stands from the United States and Britain as far as security related issues and the problem in the Middle East is concerned. Given the emerging deadlock within the decision making forum of the UNSC, it will be interesting to wait and watch on how far Washington is prepared to once again bypass the UN system to enforce its diktat as it had successfully done in Iraq.

Having said that, Washington will only be too aware that the future of global peace and security remains largely in the hands of the powerful countries in particular the United States and it will be therefore necessary to address issues first and foremost in a way that is less domineering but one based on fairness and justice. The standoff on the nuclear issue with Tehran, the latest military strike by Israel against Lebanon in the Middle East, the war in Iraq, the continuing violence in Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda linked terrorist attacks across the world (such as the Madrid, London and Mumbai bombings) and many more unanswered political questions have created a divide that has done no one good but only fomented more wars, violence and killings. Today, the global citizenry is living in a place that is not at peace with itself and it is for this reason that world leaders have much responsibility to build bridges of understanding among nations, cultures and religions. The US as the most powerful country in the world has to take the lead in rebuilding the present international order. And in order to do this, the present Bush Administration would have to be wise enough to know the pitfalls of continuing its hegemonic designs in Iraq and its failure to actively intervene to resolve the question of Palestine. 

As far as India’s role is concerned, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should take this opportunity of being on the special guest list of the G8 Summit. As an influential leader of the developing world, New Delhi can lend credence to this year’s summit by raising trade related issues, the nuclear confrontation with Iran and the crisis in the Middle East as seen from a third world perspective. The Prime Minister should also boldly put forward India’s position on the fight against terror. With the latest terrorist act taking place in Mumbai, India should now push for a comprehensive UN Convention against terrorism. A piece meal and fragmented approach to fight terror cannot be a long term viable option. Even the Bush Administration which is at the forefront of the global fight against terror should realize this point.