Group of Seven or Group of Six + 1 summit of leading industrial nations? Donald Trump has created such a deep rift by imposing tariffs on aluminum that we could say two opposing sides are meeting in Quebec: Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and the U.K. on one side, and the U.S. on the other.
Not much can be expected from the conclave. It’s clear: the “America First” president decides on his own, whether it is economic matters or breaking the nuclear deal with Iran.
There’s also his disdain for the multilateral order and his closest allies, which disregards the principles that have ruled the world since the end of World War II. It’s not about the tariffs, but about the global order.
This week marked the 71st anniversary of Gen. George C. Marshall’s speech, which laid the cornerstone of this system of U.S.-led Western supremacy.
On June 5, 1947, the person who had served as the U.S. Army chief of staff during the war, someone with the capability to organize an army of more than 8 million soldiers, spoke at Harvard’s commencement ceremony. He was then the secretary of state, and presented the European Recovery Program, which would later be known as the Marshall Plan.
The United States’ biggest diplomatic success cost more than $13 million at the time. That injection of money represented more than 5 percent of the American gross domestic product in 1948. In exchange, Marshall imposed two conditions: there would be no hurdles in trade, and the plan had to be accepted by all the European nations. This resulted in what is today known as the Organization for Economic Cooperation, which promoted the construction of Europe.
“The United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace.” Marshall said.
Only the eastern countries, impeded by Moscow, and Spain, which wasn’t invited, were left out.
“The real benefits were psychological. Indeed, one might almost say that the Marshall Plan helped Europeans feel better about themselves. It helped them break decisively with a legacy of chauvinism, depression and authoritarian solutions. It made coordinated economic policy-making seem normal rather than unusual. It made the beggar-your-neighbour trade and monetary practices of the thirties seem first imprudent, then unnecessary and finally absurd,” s Tony Judt wrote in his book ,“Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945.”
Trump is tearing all that down. It is as if he is spitting on Marshall’s grave, Marshall who was buried – like other heroes – at Arlington, after he received the Nobel Peace Prize.