Here in London, everybody is going G-20 crazy. Understandable, of course, since this is the biggest gathering of world leaders that has Britain has hosted for many years. But the G-20 is just the first leg of a four-stop tour by President Obama. First there is the London meeting, then the Nato summit in Strasbourg, then the US-EU meeting in Prague and then a two-day state visit to Turkey. In fact, my guess is that it will probably be a five-legged tour – with Obama going on to Afghanistan for a surprise vist, after Turkey.
The assumption here in London is that it is the G-20 meeting that matters most. But I think that could well be wrong. If you look at Obama’s four stops, I think the most important could well be Turkey.
The G-20 summit brings together the most high-powered group of leaders and is all about the economic crisis. But, as the FT reports today, the communique is already pre-cooked – and looks like it will be pretty meagre fare, with a boiler-plate call to resist protectionism as its centre-piece. There will be plenty of hoopla at the Nato summit. But, once again, the big decisions – in particular about Afghanistan – have already been taken elsewhere. Mr Obama is likely to enliven the US-EU summit by making a big speech on arms control. But whilst these occasions are always taken desperately seriously by the Europeans, they are not terribly important to the Americans who find them unwieldy and baffling.
So that leaves Turkey. Read more