Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Gathering of the Clans

As the preparations are underway for the G20 summit, you have to wonder about that old idea that 100 monkeys on a 100 typewriters would eventually write Shakespeare. Can 100 world leaders, bankers and diplomats in a period of several days, by this very same token, make a single life changing decision?

The answer to both questions is probably yes, but the results are probably more skewed than some people would expect. There's no guarantee that a 100 monkeys writing Shakespeare would actually write the BEST Shakespeare nor that the one life changing decision that gets made at the Summit would actually be a GOOD one.

Or here's another way to think about it: if you invite 1000 guests to your wedding, what are the chances that there will be ONE person who sees NO issue with ANY aspect of the day, right down to the choice of bonbons on the tables?

The point to be made here is that more is not better. As this Summit grows, so too do the issues and so few real resolutions are ever offered. And that's a lot of pain when you consider how expensive, disruptive and potentially dangerous an event like this is.

Anyone who thinks it's a smart idea for every major world leader to get together in the same building at the same time when that building is not a bunker underneath a bunker somewhere near the earth's core is maybe a tad naive. With all the 'threats' and 'radicals' out there, wouldn't this be target number one for any would be martyr? Of course this is dangerous. The mere fact of gathering together, while it's a fantastic show of diplomacy, flattery, image and collaborative spirit, is somewhat dangerous.

Beyond the security issue, though, is this model effective? Yes, we have great organizations like the United Nations which is used as a vehicle for diplomacy and negotiations, but other than tabling a lot of studies, what have they really done? It is good to have everyone aware of each other and keeping tabs on each other. This is done quite effectively as well through new technology. But what comes out of the Summit other than awkward family photos of world leaders wearing stiff smiles and suits and renewed commitments to principles such as fighting injustice?

And then this year's summit will include bankers and financiers who crashed the market and then had to petition our governments for bailouts so that they could keep paying people their bonuses so that they would keep working for their broken financial system. These are not the people who should have the ears of our world leaders.

The ones who should have the ears? The people, of course, the ones that are represented by the leaders and who give them their trust. But the Summit isn't open to the people even though it's being run for the interests of the people. That's like being told that you can't get into your own birthday party because you didn't respond to the evite that you sent.

The G20 summit may be viewed as an event of enormous diplomatic and bridge buidling importance. But for the rest of us who aren't invited, it just looks like a big fancy dinner party.

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