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One Earth, One Family, One Future

Takeaways from this weekend’s G20 summit in New Delhi.

Happy Monday! Declan left a note in our TMD Google doc over the weekend instructing us to make a joke about the Bears-Packers game—“hopefully at Steve’s expense.”

We think this suffices. [Editor: Not bad, but for those of you wanting more, there’s this and this, and this. And this, too.] 

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • President Joe Biden is reportedly nearing a decision on providing Ukraine long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), which officials in Kyiv have been requesting for months in order to strike behind Russia’s defensive lines. The administration has been hesitant to provide the ATACMS—which have a range of 190 miles, four times as long as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and M270 multiple-launch rocket systems—for fear they might be used to strike inside Russian territory or be seen by Moscow as an escalation. 
  • A 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck in the High Atlas Mountains near Marrakesh, Morocco, Friday night, followed closely after by an aftershock that registered 4.9 on the Richter scale. The death toll rose to more than 2,100 people over the weekend, as search and rescue teams struggled to reach some of the more remote villages close to the epicenter. 
  • An al-Qaeda-linked insurgent group claimed responsibility for three attacks in northern Mali last week that collectively left more than 60 people dead. On Thursday, the group opened fire on a boat on the Niger River, killing 49 civilians and 15 government soldiers. Insurgents also raided a military camp Thursday and Friday, and were behind a suicide bombing at a military base
  • The Senate voted 55-43 last week to confirm Anna Gomez to the Federal Communications Commission, giving Democrats a majority on the five-person commission, which had spent nearly three years in partisan deadlock. Gomez—currently an adviser on communications policy at the State Department—fills a seat once sought by Gigi Sohn, President Biden’s previous, controversial pick who withdrew after a stalled 16-month confirmation battle.  
  • New Mexico’s Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an order Friday restricting the open and concealed carry of firearms in public in Bernalillo County—which includes the city of Albuquerque—for at least 30 days after an 11-year-old boy was killed outside a minor league baseball stadium last week. The order—which has already been challenged in court by the National Association for Gun Rights as violating the Second Amendment—excludes licensed private security guards and police officers. The police will be responsible for enforcing the order, issuing civil violations to those who violate it. That said, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said the Albuquerque Police Department wouldn’t enforce the order, and Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen indicated he had reservations about the governor’s action.
  • A federal district judge in Georgia on Thursday denied former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ request to have the racketeering case against him moved from Fulton County, Georgia, to the federal jurisdiction. “The Court concludes that Meadows has not shown that the actions that triggered the State’s prosecution related to his federal office,” Judge Steve Jones wrote in his decision. The judge did not rule out granting similar requests from other defendants in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ sprawling case against Meadows, former President Donald Trump, and 17 others, related to their attempts to overturn the 2020 election.  
  • A report unsealed Friday showed the Georgia special grand jury—whose investigation allowed Willis to compile the evidence she needed to charge Trump and 18 other defendants with racketeering—also recommended Willis indict Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, two former U.S. senators from Georgia, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, and various Trump advisers and lawyers. The panel—which, according to Georgia law, had to make indictment recommendations but could not itself vote to indict—said the Trump allies were involved in a “national effort” to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the state, but doesn’t specify the facts on which that conclusion is based.
  • The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals also found that the Biden administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the FBI may have violated the First Amendment when they tried to influence several social media companies’ content moderation policies regarding COVID-19 and election information. The Fifth Circuit judges wrote the Biden administration “​​likely coerced the platforms to make their moderation decisions by way of intimidating messages and threats of adverse consequences.” The three-judge panel denied the Justice Department’s request to fully reject an order from a lower court restricting the administration’s ability to communicate with social media companies, instead limiting the previously sweeping ruling to restrictions only on the White House, the surgeon general’s office, the CDC, and the FBI. The panel paused implementation of its ruling for 10 days to give the Justice Department time to appeal.  
  • Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday she will seek another term in 2024. The California Democrat, who is 83 years old, stepped down from House leadership last year and has served in Congress for more than 35 years. 
  • South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem endorsed Trump for the GOP nomination Friday at the former president’s campaign rally in Rapid City. Noem has been floated as a potential running mate for Trump. 
  • Coco Gauff defeated Aryna Sabalenka to win the U.S. Open Women’s Singles tennis title Saturday—the first American teenager to do so since Serena Williams won the tournament in 1999. On Sunday, Novak Djokovic bested Daniil Medvedev to win his 24th majors title in the men’s championship.  

India Hosts Its First G20 Summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India welcomes President Joe Biden to the G20 Leaders' Summit on September 9, 2023 in New Delhi. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India welcomes President Joe Biden to the G20 Leaders' Summit on September 9, 2023 in New Delhi. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

India—the host of this year’s Group of 20 (G20) summit—chose a theme for the international economic forum held in New Delhi over the weekend: an ancient Sanskrit term from Hindu scripture, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.” Loosely translated, the phrase means “the world is one family,” and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi modified it for the summit to “one earth, one family, one future.”

The lofty message of global unity belied geopolitical divisions over Russia’s war in Ukraine and China’s escalating competition with the United States—Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping were both notably absent from the summit. But the meeting proved a success for India as a rising leader of the Global South, and the U.S. further strengthened its relations with the world’s largest democracy, securing agreements to counter Chinese influence in global infrastructure and development.

The G20 is a bloc of nineteen of the world’s largest economies (plus the European Union) that together account for more than 80 percent of global GDP. Its annual summit has been the premier forum for world leaders to address international economic issues since the 2008 global financial crisis, and this year’s meeting marked the first time India has played host. “This is perhaps the most significant international summit that India has ever hosted,” says Dhruva Jaishankar, head of the Observer Research Foundation America, the U.S. affiliate of one of India’s top think tanks. “Something like this is pretty routine in the U.S. or France, which regularly host a major constellation of world leaders. But this is pretty unusual for India to be hosting the leaders of all these countries at one time.” 

Heading into an election year in 2024, Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took full advantage of the opportunity to showcase how they’ve grown India’s stature on the world stage. When India took over the presidency of the G20 last December, Modi spread out the typical mid-level meetings and conferences that take place throughout the year leading up to the summit with world leaders. “Those regular meetings that take place in the normal course of a G20 presidency, what they did was they farmed it out to pretty much every part of the country,” Jaishankar tells TMD. “There was a very planned and conscious effort to take this out of Delhi even though the main summit is in Delhi and get buy-in from people, including state governments, where other parties are in power.” More than 200 meetings were held in 60 Indian cities, leading Modi to dub the event the “people’s G20.”

Modi boasts an approval rating of 76 percent—according to a Morning Consult poll from earlier this month—making him the most popular national leader in the world. Human rights advocates point out that Modi and his party’s heavy emphasis on Hindu nationalism has coincided with rising violence against Muslims and increasing governmental abuses, including the intimidation of journalists and arrests of political opponents. But eager to solidify the growing U.S. partnership with India, the Biden administration has issued relatively little public criticism of Modi’s human rights record, including during the Indian prime minister’s state visit in June.

In his opening remarks at the G20, Modi called for a restoration of global trust to solve common problems. “After COVID-19, a huge crisis of lack of trust has come in the world,” he said. “As the President of the G20, India invites the entire world to come together and, first and foremost, transform this global trust deficit into global trust and confidence.” That lack of trust among some countries is here to stay, particularly as Russia remains relatively isolated from the international community and China remains at odds with both the U.S. and India. But the summit did result in progress toward the economic development goals of India and other countries in the Global South, including support for increased financial capacity from multilateral development banks (MDBs) such as the World Bank. 

The summit’s joint statement called for MDBs to increase their lending to developing economies—particularly in light of climate goals—and provide the Global South with more of a voice in global financial institutions. To that end, G20 officially inducted the African Union (AU)—a continental body that includes 55 African nations—as a permanent member of the group. Previously, South Africa was the only African country represented in the G20.

Going into the summit, the Biden administration announced a plan to “unlock $25 billion in new International Bank for Reconstruction and Development concessional lending capacity,” noting that if the reforms recommended by G20’s working group on the issue are implemented, MDBs could unlock $200 billion in new lending over the next 10 years. “I want to see the money, but I do think that the additional capital being made available for World Bank lending—assuming that this comes through Congress—you’ll see a lot of leverage from that,” Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, tells TMD. “I think it’s a big deal.”

The U.S. push for more funding is part of a transparent strategy to counter China’s influence over developing economies by offering an alternative source of investment. “The president really wants to use it as an opportunity for the United States and like-minded partners to bring forward a value proposition, particularly to the countries of the Global South,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters in a preview of the summit last month. “Given both the scale of the need and, frankly, the scale of [China’s] coercive and unsustainable lending through the Belt and Road Initiative, we need to ensure that there are high-standard, high-leverage solutions to the challenges countries are facing.”

In a message presumably directed at China, Russia, and their preferred economic bloc—BRICS—President Biden shared a photo with the leaders of “BIS” (Brazil, India, and South Africa). The four leaders issued a joint statement saying they met to “reaffirm” their “shared commitment to the G20 as the premier forum for international economic cooperation to deliver solutions for our shared world”—and Brazil, South Africa, and the U.S. will each host the G20 in the next three years.

Despite efforts to project unity, attendees were divided on a number of key issues, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The joint statement neglected to condemn Russia specifically, only reaffirming in a broad sense states’ territorial sovereignty. “In line with the UN Charter,” it read, “all states must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state.” 

That’s a far cry from the communiqué that came out of the summit in Bali last year, which stated that the group “deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and demands its complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was in attendance this year, hailed the New Delhi summit as an “unconditional success.” Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko criticized the statement, posting a redlined version that included explicit condemnations of Russia’s invasion. 

But U.S. officials stood by the joint declaration. “From our perspective, it does a very good job of standing up for the principle that states cannot use force to seek territorial acquisition or to violate the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of other states,” Sullivan told reporters

With a group as large and as disparate as the G20, building consensus on such a statement can be a challenge—Russia and China had blocked communiqués at ministerial-level G20 meetings for months leading up to the summit because of their language about the war in Ukraine. “We know the Global South doesn’t agree with the United States on all things on Ukraine,” Bremmer tells TMD. “In a place where we have a lot of geopolitical conflict, we have a lot of mistrust, and the world is getting more challenging, this G20 summit could have been a lot worse.”

Worth Your Time

  • Twenty-two years ago this morning, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four planes, flying three of them into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. On the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans, former President George W. Bush visited Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to remember the passengers of the fourth flight—Flight 93—who fought back control of the airplane and crashed it in a field, preventing it from being used as a weapon in yet another attack. “For those too young to recall that clear September day, it is hard to describe the mix of feelings we experienced,” Bush said in a speech we recommend you listen to in full here. “There was horror at the scale of destruction, and awe at the bravery and kindness that rose to meet it. There was shock at the audacity of evil, and gratitude for the heroism and decency that opposed it. In the sacrifice of the first responders, in the mutual aid of strangers, in the solidarity of grief and grace, the actions of an enemy revealed the spirit of a people. And we were proud of our wounded nation. In these memories, the passengers and crew of Flight 93 must always have an honored place. Here the intended targets became the instruments of rescue. And many who are now alive owe a vast, unconscious debt to the defiance displayed in the skies above this field. We saw that Americans were vulnerable, but not fragile—that they possess a core of strength that survives the worst that life can bring. We learned that bravery is more common than we imagined, emerging with sudden splendor in the face of death. We vividly felt how every hour with our loved ones is a temporary and holy gift. And we found that even the longest days end.”

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Toeing the Company Line

  • Alex Demas fact checked a claim about rising mortgage rates, explaining why rates have gone up during Joe Biden’s presidency. 
  • In the newsletters: Drucker and Audrey reported on No Labels’ efforts to set its nominating rules, Harvest checked in on the ever-widening gap between the House and Senate spending bills as the September 30 deadline looms to fund the government, Jonah explained the fallacy in Democrats’ identity-politics election logic, Nick wrote about (🔒) Elon Musk’s involvement in the Ukrainian war effort, and Chris dug into (🔒) Mike Pence’s speech drawing battle lines over the fate of the GOP.
  • On the podcasts: Jonah reflected on his conversation with Tom Nichols and Mike Pence’s populism speech for Friday’s Ruminant, while Kevin discussed Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial with former Texas State Sen. Kel Seliger on The Dispatch Podcast.
  • On the site over the weekend: Peter C. Meilaender reviewed Masha Karp’s new book, George Orwell and Russia.
  • On the site today: Harvest reports on the influx of migrants to New York City, while Kevin Carroll argues that conspiracy theorists—particularly 9/11 conspiracy theorists—are unfit for office.

Let Us Know

How did the 9/11 attacks change American politics? What other effects can be felt 22 years later? If another large-scale attack were to take place today, how would the country react?

Mary Trimble is the editor of The Morning Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, she interned at The Dispatch, in the political archives at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), and at Voice of America, where she produced content for their French-language service to Africa. When not helping write The Morning Dispatch, she is probably watching classic movies, going on weekend road trips, or enjoying live music with friends.

Grayson Logue is the deputy editor of The Morning Dispatch and is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in political risk consulting, helping advise Fortune 50 companies. He was also an assistant editor at Providence Magazine and is a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh, pursuing a Master’s degree in history. When Grayson is not helping write The Morning Dispatch, he is probably working hard to reduce the number of balls he loses on the golf course.