What would be the worst thing you could hear in the lead-up to a G8 summit?

“…and I’d like to thank the British for their marvellous catering efforts”? “On Wednesday’s comedy night we’ll all see what Chancellor Merkel has cooked up for us?” No, it has to be: “Logistics…lemme see that would be ummmm Italy”.

Not only did Italy take on the task of running the summit, when they can barely run a postal system, tax service or let’s face it, three man trattoria, they decided to do it in an earthquake zone. L’Aquila, the ancient town hit by a number 6 last year, its hillside festooned with temporary accommodation tents, which will be there for the next twenty-five years.

The move was designed by Silvio Berlusconi to overcome an earlier gaffe, in which he said that the victims of the quake would be take “a camping holiday”; the G8 meeting being a way of saying that the world has not ignored them, even though the move has involved diverting millions of aid away from the shivering victims.

With a few days to go before the summit started it was clear that the thing was turning into as much of a debacle as anything associated with Berlusconi, and the US was obliged to take over the “sherpa calls”, the pre-conference negotiations that make it possible for anything to get done at the conference, and which is usually the responsibility of the host country.

A farce in an earthquake zone, run by a lunatic. What could be more symbolic? Theatre is the plague, as the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne says, in, well, just about every production. With China having cancelled its attendance to deal with its Uighur problem, the opera bouffe movement got down to what it does best with nations such as Italy and Canada nutting how the world should be run if, helloooo, they weren’t totally irrelevant.

The principal achievement, such as it was, was that, with the lunatic obstructions of the Bush regime no longer there, was that the parties could make a joint statement acknowledging that global warming was man-made, committing to 80% reductions over the next 40 years and other key measures which, without the agreement of India and China means next to nothing, but there you go.

There were also renewed promises to make up the $25 billion shortfall on the $50 billion aid commitment made at the Gleneagles meeting in 2005, ie a promise to fulfil a broken promise, which is one of those philosophical endless recessions, I forget the name of. The commitment came at the same time as the host country slashed its aid commitment to Africa by $300 million.

The only meaty thing didn’t really depend on the G8 per se at all is a commitment to completing the stalled Doha round of trade talks by 2010, significant only because it also attracted the support of the +5 annexe — India, Brazil, China, Mexico and South Africa,wherein which about half the world’s population are based.

Indeed, history may conclude that the significance of L’Aquila was that it marked the point of real shift in global governance, with India hosting a pre G20 meeting of the G8+5 next year, wherein Doha and the global agricultural market would be accompanied by discussion of the other looming issue: a transformation of the global currency system, which removes the US dollar from its role as de facto global default currency, a move which would shake up the world far more comprehensively than any single thing these groups have done.

Such a transformation is unlikely to happen anytime soon. If Obama was going to be the US President who surrendered the greenback, he’s not going to do it in his first term. But really, how long can this absurd G8 zombie stalk the world, acting as if four provinces of the European super-state (UK, Germany, France, Italy) have half the votes in how the world is run? It’s obvious that any useful power political ‘G’ should include the EU as a single entity, and admit China, India and Brazil which would make — hey what about that — A G8!

You wouldn’t even need to change the stationery.