Afghanistan

Former UK diplomat Rory Stewart says the world is safer today than it was 20 years ago, but that terrorists still pose a threat to international security. Victories for jihadists in Iraq, Syria and now Afghanistan could ultimately lead the world towards more global terrorism. As if the Taliban retaking Afghanistan wasn't enough of a blow, the ISIS-K attack on the Kabul airport may be a sign that the country is on its way to become a safe haven for terrorist groups yet again.

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North and South Korea trade barbs and missile tests: Just hours after North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the sea on Wednesday, the South responded by conducting its own first successful test of a submarine-launched ballistic projectile, with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in boasting that it would deter the North's "provocations." Then Kim Yo Jong, the fiery sister of North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, responded to the South's response by threatening to cut all bilateral ties. Although bombastic statements by the Kims are nothing new, things are heating up. With US-led denuclearization talks stalled, Pyongyang carried out its first weapons test in six months a few days ago. Kim may be upping the ante deliberately right now, betting that after the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Joe Biden is keen to avoid another foreign policy embarrassment on his watch. Maybe this time Joe will pick up the phone?

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Ken Burns discusses Muhammad Ali's background and how the journey of boxing's greatest champion is just as relevant today—in sport, culture and beyond.

"He is speaking to us with a kind of force and clarity...that to me is just so enduring." - Ken Burns

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the China-US economic relationship, North Korea's missiles tests, and the New York Times' investigation of the US drone strike in Afghanistan.

China owns more than $1 trillion US debt, but how much leverage do they actually have?

I mean, the leverage is mutual and it comes from the enormous interdependence in the economic relationship of the United States and China. And it's about debt. And it's about trade. It's about tourism. It's about sort of mutual investment. Now. There is some decoupling happening in terms of labor, increasingly moving domestic in terms of the China five-year plan, dual circulation focusing more on domestic economy, and in terms of data systems breaking up, the internet of things, being Chinese or American, but not both. And indebtedness is part of that. But I don't see that unwinding anytime soon. And certainly, the Chinese knows if they're going to get rid of a whole bunch of American debt, they wouldn't be as diversified in global portfolio. Not as great, it's much riskier. And also, the price of those holdings, as they start selling them down would go down. So, I don't think there's a lot of leverage there, frankly. I think the leverage is interdependent.

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Norway's climate election result: Most votes have now been counted from Norway's parliamentary election, and the left-leaning Labour party, headed by former FM Jonas Gahr Støre, has reaped 46 out of 168 seats up for grabs, ousting the conservative government led by PM Erna Solberg. Støre will now try to form a coalition government that's expected to include the agrarian Centre Party as well as the Socialist Party. The election was broadly seen as a referendum on climate change policy, given that oil accounts for more than 40 percent of Norway's exports and employs 7 percent of the entire workforce — though Norway itself has rolled out an ambitious green agenda at home. Støre says that he'll limit new oil explorations, but has ruled out getting rid of fossil fuels, saying that oil revenues could help fund the transition away from oil in the long run. Importantly, the Greens, the only political party that called for an end to all oil exploration, reaped only 4 percent of the vote, and is therefore unlikely to yield enough (or any) influence. Regardless, Støre may need to incorporate some smaller left-wing parties in his coalition that could force him to take a more forceful stance on climate change, like raising carbon taxes.

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Representatives from some 40 donor countries for Afghanistan gathered on Monday in Geneva to make a tough choice: keep humanitarian aid flowing to a country governed by violent religious zealots, or potentially watch one in three Afghans starve to death this winter.

In the end donors collectively pledged more than $1 billion, well above the $606 million the UN had asked for in order to avoid a famine that would have affected 14 million Afghans, about a third of the population, by the end of the year. But that's a drop in the bucket for the country's immense needs.

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If Michael Chertoff has one regret from his tenure as US secretary of Homeland Security (2005-2009), it's Iraq. He says the US-led war there not only distracted from Afghanistan, but the unclear mission and lack of post-war planning ultimately turned Iraq into "a magnet for all kinds of attacks on Americans, that absorbed more resources, more attention, and more patients." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on this episode of GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Is America Safer Since 9/11?

Ten years after the 9/11 attacks, many people hoped that the death of Osama Bin Laden would signal an end to America's role as the de facto world police. Instead, 20 years later we are seeing the impact of US national security policy play out once more in Afghanistan. The Taliban is now back in control, a local ISIS group has claimed responsibility for the bloody attack on August 26, and big questions remain about what America's war there actually accomplished. America's image abroad has been hurt by high civilian casualties to torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, while policies implemented in the US in the name of security included huge (and at times even illegal) surveillance dragnets of US citizens and gave law enforcement unprecedented powers. But the United States has avoided another catastrophic 9/11-style attack on our soil. On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer explores the question: is the US actually safer today than before the towers fell?

Watch the episode: Is America Safer Since 9/11?

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