A commitment to climate protection. Filling a vacuum on the world stage. Showing solidarity. Defending existing rules.
These are just some of the ambitions outlined by a new alliance between Canada, France, Germany, and Japan to “strengthen the global order,” as Democracy Without Borders puts it. More specifically – or not – the countries will look to high-five each other over “liberal values such as cooperation, free trade, and respect for international law with the aim to strengthen existing institutions.”
The Four Best Friends That Anyone Could Have are calling their companionship the “alliance for multilateralism,” which is just perfectly vague. Multilateralism refers to an alliance of multiple countries, so this is literally an alliance of alliancing parties. Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, mustered little beyond a lifestyle blogger’s Instagram caption in announcing the mission:
Many of today's greatest challenges are global and they can only be solved when we work together. That is why Canada stands united with its German, French, and Japanese friends. #G7 #AllianceOfMultilateralists pic.twitter.com/BbwToB8yKM
— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) April 6, 2019
So, why are they alliancing? As with most things to do with the world order, the United States is involved. Or, more precisely, not involved.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas launched the initiative in response to “uncertainty about US foreign policy under the Trump administration.” This includes unilateral moves like ditching the Paris Agreement and consistently denouncing institutions like the United Nations. The alliance of multilateralism, then, is an effort by four of the world’s strongest economies to step up as the biggest player takes an “A(me)rica First” approach.
How they’ll do it or what they are doing exactly remains to be seen.