The following is a guest post by Marc Levinson, a senior fellow for international business at the Council on Foreign Relations. The opinions expressed are his own.
The world’s leaders are stuck on a summitry treadmill. Nothing better could come from this week’s summit meetings in Canada than a way for them to get off.
Consider President Obama’s schedule for the months ahead. On June 25, he heads to the summit meeting of the G8 leaders in bucolic Huntsville, Ontario. A couple of days later, those eight presidents and prime ministers, together with their retinues of finance ministers and central bankers, will join 12 of their counterparts at the G20 summit in Toronto.
Later on this year, Obama is expected at the North American Leaders Summit in Canada, date still uncertain, and the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Vietnam, probably to be in October. There’s another G20 summit meeting in South Korea in November, followed by the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Japan. Then, the president will head home, do his laundry, and fly off to the NATO defense summit in Portugal. After that, a possible climate-change summit in Cancun, Mexico, awaits.
Each of these meetings seems to spawn another: one of the agreements at April’s Nuclear Security Summit in Washington was to hold another Nuclear Security Summit in South Korea in 2012. No matter that some of the participants were less than enthusiastic. If the heads of important countries are having a summit, and if you think your country is important, you’ve got to be there.