Big Brother diplomacy

Catherine Fieschi on the rise of summitry in the age of reality TV

The World Today
2 minute READ

Catherine Fieschi

Director, Counterpoint

While Donald Trump and his crew were busy trashing international agreements on trade and nuclear proliferation, they were also playing host to Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel; the leaders of North and South Korea met for the first time at their border; and by the end of June Kim Jong-un and Trump may well have met in Singapore.

Aside from the unnerving sense of watching a pantomime on a termite-riddled stage, two things are striking. The first is the increasing importance of what Abba Eban, a former Israeli foreign minister, referred to in the 1980s as the emerging ‘age of summitry’ – a form of diplomacy that places the emphasis on face-to-face meetings between leaders, rather than dealings between diplomats.

Summits aren’t new of course – but they used to be historical events. Now we have summits the way teenage girls have sleep-overs.

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