During a telephone call last month, President Bush told Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that he thought the global financial crisis ought to be handled within the G7 framework. But Rudd advised that the plan was “out of touch” and that it “made no sense…to take action on the crisis without engaging China.”
Instead, Rudd insisted that the best response should involve the broader G20 — which includes China — in order to harness China’s role as an emerging economic power and “to prevent the Chinese using the global crisis to make political points about the failure of Western capitalism.” But according to The Australian newspaper, Bush had no idea what the G20 was:
After the President explained the pressure from Europe for a G7-brokered action on supporting the credit sector and reforming regulation, Rudd immediately insisted the G20 was the solution.
Rudd was then stunned to hear Bush say: “What’s the G20?”
Indeed, Rudd’s view prevailed, as the G20 met in Washington, D.C. over the weekend, vowing to work together to solve the world’s economic woes. While both Rudd and the White House denied that Bush had expressed ignorance of the G20, it seems Bush may have seized a payback opportunity for the alleged leak:
First there was the cool personal reception — now Kevin Rudd has been left out of the official White House photograph album.
Snaps on the White House website show George W Bush greeting 17 world leaders at the weekend G20 summit.
But his photo with Mr Rudd, who received a visibly frosty reception from the President, has somehow gone missing. The move appears to confirm a presidential snub of Mr Rudd over the leaking of a phone conversation he had with Mr Bush.
Only one other leader was left out of the White House photos: Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. But even the photo of Bush cozying up to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made the cut.
Even in times of great global economic calamity, Bush is able to demonstrate that his cowboy diplomacy will never die.