Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

World's Eye View of G-7 Summit in Genoa

The New York Times

To Our Readers

Has something you've read here startled you? Are you angry, excited, puzzled or pleased? Do you have ideas to improve our coverage?
Then please write to us.
All we ask is that you include your full name, the name of the city from which you are writing and a contact telephone number in case we need to get in touch.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Email the Opinion Page Editor

President Bush spent a busy weekend meeting with seven other world leaders in Genoa, Italy, with mixed results. His session with President Vladimir Putin of Russia brought a promising agreement to coordinate discussions on reducing offensive nuclear weapons and building a limited missile defense. But Mr. Bush's stubborn resistance to international plans to reduce global warming further isolated the United States from most of its leading allies.

Linking discussions on offensive and defensive weapons makes sense. Russia, with its economy strained and its existing missile force increasingly difficult to maintain, has long favored deep offensive cuts. Mr. Bush also wants sharp reductions in America's nuclear arsenal. Agreement on cutting warheads might win Russian assent to modify the ABM treaty to permit development of a limited missile shield.

Genoa also produced new commitments to address the economic and health problems of poorer nations. … The attention to environmental issues and poverty reflected the concerns of many of those who demonstrated peacefully in Genoa. Most protesters were nonviolent. But the deliberate provocations of a small number of anarchists and the harsh reaction of Italian security forces brought tragedy, leaving more than 100 seriously injured and one demonstrator shot dead.

In planning future meetings, Mr. Bush and his fellow leaders need to steer a course between isolated, bunkerlike gatherings in remote areas and meetings in congested cities like Genoa that lend themselves to violent street demonstrations.

The Washington Post

Bush's apparent acceptance of the Chechen campaign can only be explained by his equally evident zeal to conclude a deal with Putin on missile defense. In the weeks since Bush ended his first meeting with the Russian president with the startling observation that he had looked into his soul and found him trustworthy, it has become clear that the administration is in a great hurry to win Moscow's acquiescence to a modification or abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty within months. We still don't understand why such haste is necessary; and it's also not sure that Putin will go along, despite Bush's sweet-talk. But one price of this hasty diplomatic campaign is already obvious: Bush has abdicated U.S. authority to speak out about human rights in Russia and given Putin a free pass to pursue the most bloody and criminal campaign of military repression now in the world.

Kommersant (Moscow)

The U.S. President can feel victorious. Essentially, all he needed from the Russian side was but a hint at a "thumbs up." Now he need not fear either a schism among European allies, or a Russian counter-offensive on some other front (say, in Asia).

As the victor, President Bush could afford to be generous. He agreed to create a bilateral forum of business leaders, … promised to promote economic reforms … and work towards Russia's accelerated integration into the WTO. Such pledges would not be possible without Russia's consent to reconsider the ABM treaty.

Now Moscow, as the losing side, will be expecting the victors as guests. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice plans to visit Russia shortly to discuss concrete details of "surrendering" the ABM treaty. Also, the treasury and commerce secretaries and a large group of American businessmen are coming — to sweeten the pill.

The Times (London)

International summitry was pushed to the sidelines in Genoa over the weekend. Vandals smashed not only the shops, banks and cars in the combat zone.

This is football hooliganism with a different name, skinhead thuggery under the guise of political protest. There is now a martyr for those intent on revenge. … Any death during a protest is regrettable; this one is hardly surprising. … Summits do have a purpose. They set a framework, commit leaders to joint initiatives, impose deadlines and give statesmen a chance to measure their ambitions against the limits of the practical and the views of others. Personal chemistry matters, and collective chemistry can produce a powerful reaction.

Summits are particularly useful when big issues — missile defense or climate change — divide nations. But they serve no purpose if millions of pounds and man-hours are spent on the kind of confrontation that disgraced Genoa.

Die Welt (Berlin)

When Winston Churchill first spoke in 1950 of "parley at the summit," his meaning was almost literal. Two statesmen — in this case Churchill and Stalin — would meet to discuss affairs of state at an isolated place as if they were on the summit of a mountain. A picture full of poetry. The Englishman saw it as a chance for reason to triumph and he believed in the power of the dialog.

Above all, however, Churchill's vision was based on the conviction of sovereign creativity: that only a statesman who is led by his education, experience, instinct and character can direct the fate of a nation in certain situations. Roosevelt, Adenauer, de Gaulle were politicians of this kind.

That people died at Genoa, shows that the summit's megalomania has gone out of control.

The consequences of all this can only mean one thing: that the Genoa summit must be the last of its type. Paradoxically, the way forward is to go back: back to Churchill's idea of personal conversations. However, the question remains whether the current leaders have sufficient stature for this — as Britain's great prime minister once had. (Moscow)

The essence of the decisions made in Genoa can be boiled down to the acknowledgement — the first in a long time, although an indirect one — that there is a direct connection between solving your own national problems and global ones. Strangely enough, in this they came closer — in essence, but not in methods — to the position of some "antiglobalists" who care so zealously about the planet's welfare.

Washington de facto recognized that it is impossible to withdraw unilaterally from the security system that has preserved a certain balance of power in the world over the past 30 years. And, if negotiations succeed, Moscow may avoid the necessity of coming up with an adequate response to U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the ABM treaty. (Moscow)

Vladimir Putin has shown his preference for a war of nerves over the Cold War. It is both less expensive and more secure. Maximum smiles and well-wishing with a total absence of concrete obligations is a tactic for people with tough nerves. The president did not sell out the 1972 treaty at all in Genoa. The bargaining is just beginning. Its conclusion is not as obvious as it might seem when we see Putin and Bush hugging. It is easier, after all, to oppose the threats of a known enemy, than the exhausting embraces of an unknown friend.