It starts this weekend, in Brisbane Australia. A talk between the most powerful people in the world about how, in the next five years, they will raise the GDP of planet earth by around 2,000,000,000,000 dollars.
Every year, the nineteen member countries of the G20, (the head of the European Union is also invited) send their leaders to the country of the current sitting president of the G20. Millions of dollars are spent on their transportation, their housing, and their security, to choreograph a series of talks, the outcomes of which are nonbinding, and there is no way for any country to hold the other countries to their agreements here.
The presidency of the group is rotated between the heads of the countries that are a part of it. The president’s country hosts the summit. And it is also his/her job to run the biggest event of the summit. That year’s class picture.
This year’s picture will show Barak Obama and Vladimir Putin. Barak Obama, the more powerful of the two, yet also the one more disliked by his own country. He comes to the table as a lame duck president, running out of time. Putin comes to the table still trying to prove his power, or at least remind everyone of it. Instead of boxes of Russian chocolate for the other leaders, Putin brought 4 warships to the summit, which are in international waters outside of Australia.
Narendra Modi also is coming. The brand new head of India, he formerly was one of those people that everyone shies away from at dinner parties, so much so that America refused, some years ago, to even give him a visa. But he comes now like a rock star, head of a country with over a billion people, his country alone has about as many people in it as the Catholic Church.
Another of the people that will be there is Angela Merkel. The first female head of Germany, her country’s usually close relationship with America has been somewhat strained of late after news that America was, for a period at least, intentionally or unintentionally, spying on her cell phone.
There will be many other leaders there from all parts of the world. The city of Brisbane is nearly in lockdown as hundreds if not thousands of security forces descend on it from every major nation in the globe to be sure the lords and ladies of the modern age are protected.
The last leader of interest, but certainly not least, is Prime Minister of the host country of Australia, Tony Abbott. Age 57, he is himself a former boxer. Vladimir Putin is a fighter himself, and Abbott has said in the past he would like to fight him…Maybe someday.
And while there will probably not be any actual physical punches thrown, amidst all the waving, smiling, and picture taking, the leaders of the world are officially meeting about economics. But many hours are left open for already planned private talks. With so much power in one city, sparks can, and often do fly.
Grab some popcorn; this could be an exciting weekend.
Andrew C. Abbott