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Behind the Façade of the G8

19/06/2013 12:26 BST | Updated 19/08/2013 10:12 BST
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The news this week has been dominated by what can only be called a big, globally significant business meeting.

The G8 summit started on Monday, as David Cameron welcomed the leaders of the world's most powerful and wealthy countries to Northern Ireland. Asides from our Prime Minister, the group includes representatives from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the USA alongside the European Union's Council President and Commission President.

Top on the agenda is, of course, the problem of war-torn Syria, on which these leaders appear to be divided. Without divulging too much into the politics of the situation and refraining from voicing my opinion on whether international aid and weaponry should be supplied to the Syrian rebels, or whether leaders should get involved at all, the debates over the Syrian conflict reveal an awful lot about the members of the G8.

As only the second day into the summit, pictures were released today of President Barack Obama and President Vladimir Putin looking less than comfortable, and actually rather nonchalant, in each other's presence. The caption that went with this picture stated that the leaders were 'trying to agree' on how to respond to the Syrian crisis...emphasis on the verb 'trying'. While Russia holds close ties to the Syrian government, America, like many other western countries, have decided to back the Syrian rebels and provide them with weaponry in their fight against their government. Both leaders therefore have picked opposite sides and are displaying contrasting allegiances.

Indeed, the relations between America and Russia have never been exactly smooth and this photo pretty much summed it up. Obama had the look of a man who was despairing of his companion; his face seemed to suggest that there was no hope and the two would never get on or agree. Opposite him, Putin looked almost indifferent in his expression looking down with a hint of boredom.

As two of the world's most influential leaders, surely that's not a reassuring sight.

But the members of the G8 are ultimately just eight individuals brought together to try to agree on a number of subjects listed on an agenda. Whether they can do this is another matter, and it provokes the question of whether the G8, with all its renown, reputation and international respect, is really just a power trip.

Think about it.

Every member of the G8 knows that they are only a part of the summit because they are one of the wealthiest or most powerful leaders in the world. During the week, eyes all over the world will be focused on these individuals, eagerly awaiting their decisions on tax, trade and Syria. They all had a 'family' photo at the start of the meeting from which the most noticeable thing the BBC pointed out was their casual dress. An entire article on their magazine page discusses the lack of ties worn by the leaders, yet I think they're on to something.

Interestingly, every single leader attending the G8 was tieless, wearing light blue or white shirts teamed with unbuttoned, casual suit jackets. The BBC claimed that by 'going open-necked, they seem to be trying to send the message that they are getting down to business and doing so in a matey-like manner'.

Well yes I suppose there is that.

But something about this attempt to look relaxed and informal is uncomfortable, and the lack of smart attire by the world's most important and respected individuals actually strikes a sort of arrogance. These leaders know that they are being watched by the majority of the world yet they have chosen to attend, what is quite frankly, an important business meeting, under the pretence of colloquialism and casualness.

They're discussing the economy (which has looked better), tax (which is forever being evaded somehow), and Syria (a country torn apart by war)...should they be so blasé about it all?

Of course, I have the utmost respect for every member of the G8 and like many, constantly check the media to find out what developments have been made in international relations.

But a part of me cannot help but wonder, isn't it all just one big power trip?