Even if you’re not paying much attention to this week’s Group of 20 summit, it’s a good reminder of the major themes in geopolitics right now. And those themes are worth some attention. They include:
Renewed U.S.-Russia rivalry. When President Trump and Vladimir Putin meet today at the G-20, Putin will have a major advantage: a clear vision of what he wants, compared with Trump’s vague desire “to come home with something,” as Slate’s Fred Kaplan writes.
In The Washington Post, former C.I.A. deputy director Michael Morell and former National Security Council staff member Samantha Vinograd, write a mock pre-meeting briefing to Putin from his advisers. “Russia is in its strongest position since the end of the Cold War; the United States, our great adversary, is the weakest it has been,” the memo states. “Our policies are working. We need only to keep going.”
China, emboldened. The chaotic foreign policy of the Trump administration has given Beijing an opening to play more of a global leadership role. As Stratfor explained: “The Chinese president will attend the event having recently returned from state visits to Russia and Germany showcasing China’s role as a champion of free trade and global cooperation when the United States is emphasizing its national interests.”
U.S.-Europe tensions. In Poland yesterday, Trump spoke about “the West” in terms straight out of the alt-right playbook. “Such rhetoric is meant to conjure blood-and-soil nationalism,” wrote The New Republic’s Jeet Heer, “defining the West not based on ideals like democracy and liberty, but atavistic loyalties to territory and shared kinship.”
In doing so, Trump cast his lot with the European political opponents of Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, including some prominent Poles. “Poland’s defense minister, Antoni Macierewicz, said that his government is on the same page as Trump when it comes to being attacked by ‘liberals, postcommunists, lefties and genderists,’ ” as Masha Lipman writes in The New Yorker.