we now call the G-7 was meant to be an organization of the leading
industrial countries in the world. It originated in the 1970s in
response to the Arab oil embargo, which had hit the industrial world
hard. It hit back by forming an entity that represented the major
industrial powers that were struggling with high energy prices.
What the group was supposed to do remains unclear. Without a specific
purpose, it has become a meeting of the world’s major economic powers.
Except that some of the leading economic powers in 1973 are no longer
the leading powers in 2018. Russia, now the 11th-largest economy, was
part of a G-8 for a while, but it was banished because of its behavior
in Crimea. But most important, China and India boast the second- and
seventh-largest economies in the world and yet are not members.
If the G-7 were constituted by the top seven economies in the world, it
would probably hold different meetings with different agendas. Not
having China and India at the table, after all, makes any decisions
taken on economic matters of limited importance. Their inclusion may not
make the G-7 any more viable as anything more than a forum for
discussion, but the bigger point is that like many institutions of its
ilk, the G-7 is frozen in a time that no longer exists. During the Cold
War, its members arguably did represent the bulk of the world’s
industrial. But it remains a fundamentally Euro-American creation,
consisting of Euro-American agendas that dominate the event out of the
sheer number of leaders there.