GZERO Media logo

Do Americans care about Ukraine?

Do Americans care about Ukraine?

Or was that Bangladesh? Hey, it's not us asking, it's Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who recently had a noisy tiff with veteran National Public Radio reporter Marie Louise Kelly. Piqued by her unwelcome questions about Ukraine, Pompeo apparently blew his top, barking, "Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?" To prove his point, he pulled out a world map with no writing on it and demanded Kelly find the country at the heart of his boss' impeachment trial. If Pompeo thought Ukraine was beside the point, Kelly almost certainly knew it was beside Moldova. But in a sulking statement afterwards, Pompeo blasted NPR and closed with "it is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine."


Noted. Bangladesh is not Ukraine! And thank heavens we cleared that up before the Secretary headed to Kyiv on Thursday – what a crazy mix-up that avoided. (Phew.)

But none of that answers the question: Do Americans care about Ukraine? Former Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor says they should. Soon enough, John Bolton may weigh in as well, if the former national security advisor becomes an impeachment witness. That'd certainly give us even more reason to think of Ukraine as Our Kraine.

But truth is that most Americans only kinda care about the place at best. For starters, most of us can't find Ukraine on a map — just one in six. And you could reasonably conclude that most Americans wouldn't know about Ukraine at all if the country were not Exhibit A in the prosecution (or defense) of a president we see as guilty (or framed). Not that Ukraine should feel especially snubbed: three-quarters of Americans also couldn't find Iran on a map, and that was just days after the Trump administration killed that country's top general.

So, do our general cartographic shortcomings matter? Again, kinda: for one thing, it seems that the less likely you are to find Ukraine on a map, the more likely you are to support bombing it. And if that holds for all countries, then keeping Pompeo's unmarked maps away from average American voters is a well-demarcated global security issue. (Quick digression: not for nothing, but why exactly does the Secretary of State have unmarked maps at the ready like that?)

To that end, this general map-prehension may hold lessons for the Democratic presidential hopefuls currently storming Iowa (that's next to Ohio, right?) True, foreign policy usually doesn't figure as the most primary of primary issues in US elections, but the candidates still need to grapple with the fact that Donald Trump has pulled the rug out from under 70 years of Washington foreign policy – once a point of American pride that saw the US as an indispensable leader on global issues like trade, security, and finance. They must ask themselves: have we reached the point of no return? Can we go back to the where we were pre-2016, as Joe Biden seems to believe? Or, as other frontrunners Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren seem to grasp in their own ways, perhaps the halcyon days of US leading globalization (while, yes, juggling endless wars) are behind us. What's going to come next? Hard to say just where this path will lead.

It's disorienting. Thankfully, in the words of noted foreign policy expert Judah Friedlander, one truth will always guide us: "America is the greatest country in the United States."

Worth noting.

Kevin Bleyer is an Emmy-winning veteran of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Dennis Miller, and the author of Me the People: One Man's Selfless Quest to Rewrite the Constitution of the United States.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

More Show less

On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

More Show less

Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

More Show less

In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

UNGA banner

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's Newsletter: Signal

Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

UNGA Livestream