Ian Bremmer: Global leadership power shift

The old US led order is gone. It relied on alignment around the world.

The UK has left the European Union. The EU faces existential questions on whether the Union will be in place in 3 years, given extraordinary need for redistribution - how that can function in the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes? Euro skeptic; anti-establishment sentiment across Europe - feel more like individual states, less like a coordinated union, weakens the trans-Atlantic relationship.


Russia in decline, even before oil prices went negative. Russia's badly managed economy is smaller than Canada. Putin's popularity diminishing, handling coronavirus badly. He blames the United States. Some was mismanagement and kleptocracy in Russia. Some is the US not helping the Russians after the Soviet Union collapse; expanding NATO up to their borders and the Europeans expanding the EU.

Energy, pipeline diplomacy from the US, to get the Caspian and the Caucasus away from Russia, benefit American companies. What about Russia? They're angry, working to undermine the transatlantic relationship, democracy in the US. Their interventions playing on American divisions, Europe. That continues, with weaker institutions, more people angry believing institutions are rigged.

China: Mistaken assumption by the West that, as China becomes wealthier, they integrate into Western institutions, "responsible stakeholdership". From China's perspective, that was American exceptionalism. "You want us to act like a rich country, even though we're not, want us to play by the rules of the institutions that you created, even though we're authoritarian and state capitalist, why would we do that?" Instead, you see Xi Jinping consolidating power. Feeling more vulnerable internationally and domestically; strengthening state capitalism, strategic control, alignment of key industries with the Chinese government. Building international architecture that competes with the West. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Chinese Development Bank, One Belt One Road.

Alignment with a US led global order has structurally changed, has been incrementally over decades; it's speeding up. Trump presidency exacerbated it; it was coming anyway. The economic hit exacerbates divisions, undermines belief in the authority and example that the American exceptionalism had historically benefited from - even less likely that the United States could return to it.

Biden is an internationalist, would want the US to return to the Paris climate accord, supports a consolidated Europe, even though Europe is falling apart and there's more anti-European sentiment. United States support is eroding.

One, domestic opposition to being the world's policeman or architect of global trade - policies have not benefited many Americans. After wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq on the back of poor, disenfranchised Americans. Why support more policies like that? Why support more free trade? The top 10% has done well, the top 0.1% has done incredibly well? The average American since '76 got squat. 15% unemployment, could be 20% in the next month. Support for US internationalism, I don't think you see it.

NATO is not aligned towards dealing with China, but China is the principal concern. Would the US support NATO as much as 10, 20, 30 years ago? Not really. The Middle East? When Americans needed oil from the Middle East, real issue. How much support for Saudis and Gulf states when the US is the largest producer in the world? Do Americans want to be more cooperative, spend more money, send more troops?

Technology firms are big winners. That's how the economy's working right now. Those companies are overwhelmingly American.

I love what the Statue of Liberty stands for. But if we increasingly don't need labor in the United States, automating, have 15% unemployment, don't support immigration as much. American interest in leading a multilateral global order is down, irrespective of who we vote for.

A different global order where the Americans remain most powerful, but the nature of the institutions, participation, values, standards have to be more collaborative, cooperative. We have to build them quickly, because the challenges - also climate change and others, are deeply global. So, the response has to be more than just American, too.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

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When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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28: The UK and the EU have again failed to agree on post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. In a 28-page document, the British government had suggested further changes to trade rules that were already negotiated as part of the Brexit settlement, but Brussels was not having any of it.

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