Top Risks 2022: We’re done with the pandemic, but the pandemic ain’t done with us

Top Risks 2022: We’re Done With the Pandemic, but the Pandemic Ain’t Done With Us | GZERO Media

Eurasia Group, GZERO Media's parent company, has just dropped its annual list of the top 10 geopolitical risks for 2022. Number one is that China's zero-COVID strategy will fail; number two is that we'll move closer to a "technopolar world" with Big Tech companies becoming more powerful than governments; and number three is dangerously divisive US midterm elections in November.

How will these and other 2022 Top Risks play out in today's G-Zero world? Several Eurasia Group experts joined a livestream discussion. Here are a few highlights from each.

Eurasia Group & GZERO Media President Ian Bremmer kicked off the conversation with stuff he thinks we won't need to panic about in 2022: COVID endemic in some places, US-China relations driven more by economics than politics, global democracy not as weak as many thought. He also pointed out that the downside to China having the strongest political governance of any major economy is sticking to a zero-COVID strategy that will prevent it from living with the virus for some time, the different types of American & Chinese tech giants, and why now it's unclear whether democracy is still the model that'll always beat autocracy.

Finally, Ian explained that the only way for multinational corporation CEOs to navigate the culture wars is to speak with both sides of their mouths, and mentioned some bad things Vladimir Putin may do in Ukraine to divide Americans and Europeans.

Eurasia Group Chairman Cliff Kupchan shared his thoughts on why today we live in a "geopolitical recession" created mainly by US political polarization and China's zero-COVID strategy. Xi Jinping, he added, could be in big trouble in 2022 because he faces a triple threat: the pandemic, political minefields that could upend Xi’s plans to stay big boss, and an economic slowdown. Kupchan also said that right now regulating Big Tech is impossible in the absence of a January 6-style event — and even that accomplished little in the US. In his view, American politics has become like an internal Cuban Missile Crisis that could soon explode. The question is, what, if anything, can be done about it at this point.

Laura Yasaitis, healthcare consultant at Eurasia Group, explained why China's zero-COVID approach won't work with the omicron variant. It won't be a catastrophe, she predicts, but expect the Chinese government to impose severe restrictions and play whack-a-mole with the virus. Meanwhile, Yasaitis believes things will soon get better in most rich nations, but developing ones will face the big risks of continued outbreaks and more mutations.

Eurasia Group geotech director Kevin Allison gave us a primer on the "technopolar world" — the rise of a handful of very powerful tech companies disrupting centuries of geopolitics led by the nation-state. Why? Because they've created a realm in cyberspace where they are more powerful than governments.

Kevin also offered his views on why the virtual world is now in even worse shape than the G-Zero world, why governments are only regulating the most superficial levels of tech power, and who will likely crack down the hardest on Big Tech this year.

Ahead of this week's first anniversary of the US Capitol insurrection, Eurasia Group's US Managing Director Jon Lieber analyzed what's changed since in American politics — mainly the strong belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, and lack of backlash against Donald Trump among the Republican base. How will that make the November midterms different this time? For one thing, he said Trump loyalists may get elected in key positions in swing states, so the former president could actually steal the 2024 election. What's more, Lieber added, whatever the result is, it'll be contested on both sides because some Democrats will cry foul over voter suppression if they lose in what has become a toxic environment for democracy.

Finally, Angela Hofmann, practice head for Industrial & Consumer at Eurasia Group, gave us a heads-up on how the world's most visible brands are in for a very rocky year because navigating culture wars will be very tricky, as will fighting often competing demands from consumers, employees, and regulators on things like China, diversity, and voting rights.

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A woman of color smiling as she uses a tablet

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Does the EU really have a foreign policy?

For decades, European leaders have debated the question of whether Europe should have a common foreign policy that’s independent of the United States.

Germany, the UK, and countries situated closest to Russia have traditionally preferred to rely on membership in NATO and US military strength to safeguard European security at a cost affordable for them.

French leaders, by contrast, have argued that, with or without NATO, Europe needs an approach to foreign policy questions that doesn’t depend on alignment, or even agreement, with Washington.

There are those within many EU countries who agree that Europe must speak with a single clear voice if the EU is to promote European values and protect European interests in a world of US, Chinese, and Russian power.

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A recent spate of violent crimes in New York City has made national headlines. Since Eric Adams was sworn in four weeks ago as mayor of America’s most populous city, violence on the streets — and the subways — has again become a major political focus. Things got even more heated this week, when two young cops were killed while responding to a domestic dispute in Harlem.

Crime is not only a dominant political issue in New York. It also resonates more broadly with American voters worried over increased lawlessness and unrest. Indeed, crime is already shaping up to be a wedge issue as Republicans vie to win control of the US Congress this November.

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Hard Numbers: South China Sea jet search, US economy surges, Cuban protesters charged, Africa gets vaxxed

FILE PHOTO of a F-35C Lightning II, assigned to the Argonauts of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, launches off the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on Jan. 14, 2022.


100 million: The US Navy is scrambling to find a $100 million F-35 stealth fighter jet that crashed and sank soon after taking off on Monday from an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea. One expert described the Cold War-ish race to locate the remains — stocked with classified equipment — before the Chinese do as "basically The Hunt For Red October meets The Abyss."

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The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 26, 2020.

Nord Stream 2 used as a bargaining chip with Russia. The US now says that if Russia invades Ukraine, it’ll block the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is set to transfer even more natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. This is a big deal, considering that Germany – thirsty for more Russian gas – has long been pushing for the pipeline to start operating despite ongoing objections from Washington. The $11 billion energy project, which would double Russian gas exports to Germany, is seen as (a big) part of the reason why Berlin is reluctant to push back hard against the Kremlin over its troop buildup at the Ukrainian border. Still, German officials admit Nord Stream 2 could face sanctions if the Russians invade, suggesting that the Americans’ threat was likely coordinated with Berlin in advance. This comes amid ongoing diplomatic attempts to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis, with US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz set to meet at the White House on February 7.

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Putin Has a “Noose” Around Ukraine, Says Russia Analyst Alina Polyakova | GZERO World

What’s going on in Vladimir Putin’s mind? That’s the million-dollar question.

Ukraine and Russia analyst Alina Polyakova doesn’t think it’s anything good.

Russia's president, she says, has put a “noose” around Ukraine with a troop build-up along the border that could spell invasion in the near term. The US has led an effort to deescalate the situation through diplomacy.

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The AI Addiction Cycle | GZERO World

Ever wonder why everything seems to be a major crisis these days? For former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, it's because artificial intelligence has determined that's the only way to get your attention.

What's more, it's driving an addiction cycle among humans that will lead to enormous depression and dissatisfaction.

"Oh my God there's another message. Oh my God, there's another crisis. Oh my God, there's another outrage. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God," he says. "I don't think humans, at least in modern society where [we’ve] evolved to be in an 'Oh my God' situation all day."

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Merkin' It With Angela Merkel | PUPPET REGIME | GZERO Media

Angela Merkel is retired — but only from politics. Still, maybe she's not as good at other jobs as she was as German chancellor.


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