The inability of the G20 finance ministers to agree on a joint statement last week points to an important reality about multilateralism.
When great powers are at peace with each other, multilateralism has reasonable chances of success; but when they are at each other’s throats, the room for global cooperation shrinks.
Multilateralism, then, is not an activity independent of power politics.
The outcome of the gathering of the G20 foreign ministers this week is unlikely to be any different from what we have seen with the finance ministers.
The shadow of the great power rivalry on the G20 is only likely to darken in the days ahead as China and Russia consolidate their “alliance without limits” and Washington rallies the collective West to stand up against Moscow and Beijing.