Gee whiz is not the usual reaction to the recently-concluded G8 and G20 gatherings in Canada. Indeed, the summits are being hailed by most commentators as a pair of do-nothing events. Not everybody sees it this way.

 A  provocative column in the (Canadian) National Post by Terrence Corcoran, a conservative columnist of libertarian bent, suggests that the summits may have been far more meaningful than is being grasped-and in a highly surprising way.

Corcoran writes this morning:  

 Global governance, one of the drearier hallucinations of statist think tanks and back-room bureaucrats – and the phantasmagorial nightmare of anti-capitalist black-clad ideological crazies – crashed into the great wall of national realities at the G8 and G20 Toronto summits and went up in smoke. But that does not make the Toronto summits a failure. What still stands tall in the world economy and in global politics – as it should – is national sovereignty….

On everything from deficit reduction to climate change, from financial regulation to trade, foreign aid, currencies and Afghanistan, the G20 ultimately marched off in 20 separate directions.

Reality trumped fantasy in Toronto, the fantasy being that leaders can legally or would even want to commit their nations to the objectives of an unelected collective of political leaders from the four corners of the world – as if leaders from China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Brazil and elsewhere could set global policy by some kind of balloted consensus at a weekend meeting. Mr. Harper, in his wrap-up news conference on Sunday, acknowledged the pre-eminence of national sovereignty. Everything the G20 does is “voluntary,” he said in answer to a question about the deficit targets. “Everything is voluntary that we do here, because we are sovereign countries.” U.S. President Barack Obama put it more starkly: “Every country is unique, and every country will chart its own course.”

The inevitable product of a meeting of 20 unique world leaders charting their own courses is a communiqué that goes nowhere.

It should be noted that President Obama went to the gathering urging developed nations to continue their high level of stimulus spending. They agreed to no such thing-the official declaration calls for deficits to be halved in three years.