Ian Bremmer: Trump vs the WHO & Political Distractions from Effective Crisis Response

The big news has been the Americans getting into a fight with the World Health Organization, with the Chinese for the original cover up, complicity. We don't want to be beating up on the World Health Organization. They are there to fight a pandemic. As Rumsfeld said about war, you don't fight a pandemic with the W.H.O. you want. You fight a pandemic with the W.H.O. you have. This is the W.H.O. we have.


And are they as capable as I'd like? No. Do they have strong leadership that I'd like and independent? No. Overly bureaucratic, willing to defer to power, covering up for the Chinese, refusing to even talk to the Taiwanese. All bad, right? Would I defund them right now, when we really need their frontline capacity, especially on the ground in the poorest countries that don't have access to the health care and doctors that we do here in New York City? Yes, we absolutely need them. Trump picking a fight, withholding funding in the middle of this pandemic is unconscionable and will undermine American leadership with a lot of those countries. But then again, we. I really care about a lot of those countries. And that's true of Americans at-large. And it's obviously true of Trump, who's our president.

This is not a surprise. It's disappointing. Trump has been on the back foot in terms of investigations and hearings for years. From the Mueller investigations, to the impeachment proceedings, all of the hearings have been against Trump. He doesn't like that. With the elections coming up, we're going to have hearings against the World Health Organization, China. They'll talk about how maybe, not only was there a cover up, but maybe coronavirus came from a lab in Wuhan. Not engineered, zoonotically from bats and pangolins, but they didn't have suitable security constraints in this lab, and it escaped.

It's not inconceivable. There is no hard evidence. But the possibility is one more thing that can be used politically to divert attention away from the Trump administration and the 60,000 or more deaths that we'll see in the United States on the back of coronavirus. The 15 to 20 percent unemployment. I understand why the politics of attacking the W.H.O. and China in an election cycle is a valuable, even vital thing for President Trump to do.

We see this with the early campaign ads against Biden, calling him Beijing Biden. Same playbook. Is that a reasonable thing to do? Is it useful for the country? Is it useful for US-China? Absolutely not. Is that the concern? No. If we weren't playing politics, both inside the United States as well as other democracies and China and globally, we could respond much more effectively to this crisis. We would have fewer deaths on our hands. We would have less economic dislocation. The politics are maximally dysfunctional, in part because of a very divisive leadership in the US, in part because it's an election cycle, in part because of the disenfranchisement and anti-establishment sentiments across both sides of the political spectrum in the US and among advanced industrial democracies and in emerging market democracies, and because the Chinese have no trust for the Americans, the Americans have no trust for the Chinese, and they don't want an American led global system, they promote state capitalism and authoritarianism - the political dysfunctionality in responding to the coronavirus crisis is massive.

It's going to cause a lot more hardship. We could be in such better shape if we could get the politics out. It's hard. We're in a GZero world, I don't want to be the GZero world. That's where I think we are. How do we get out of it? My answer is, we're not going to get out of it in the near term. It's going to intensify because inequality and mistrust is going to intensify. The lack of interdependence between the US and China in particular, is going to intensify. That does lead to much more political dysfunction domestically and globally.

I am deeply grateful that we are getting through this in terms of human cost of the virus directly in the United States and in Europe. I'm deeply grateful that the health care system isn't falling apart. But the economic impact, which is also real human impact that we're going to experience for a very long time, everywhere, is going be a lot greater.

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.

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For many, Paul Rusesabagina became a household name after the release of the 2004 tear-jerker film Hotel Rwanda, which was set during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Rusesabagina, who used his influence as a hotel manager to save the lives of more than 1,000 Rwandans, has again made headlines in recent weeks after he was reportedly duped into boarding a flight to Kigali, Rwanda's capital, where he was promptly arrested on terrorism, arson, kidnapping and murder charges. Rusesabagina's supporters say he is innocent and that the move is retaliation against the former "hero" for his public criticism of President Paul Kagame, who has ruled the country with a strong hand since ending the civil war in the mid 1990s.

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From climate change to connecting more people to the Internet, big companies like Microsoft are seeing an increasing role within multilateral organizations like the UN and the World Health Organization. John Frank, Microsoft's VP of UN Affairs, explains the contributions tech companies and other multinational corporations are making globally during this time of crisis and challenge.

7: Among the 10 nations showing the highest COVID-19 death rates per 100,000 people, seven are in Latin America. Weak health systems, frail leadership, and the inability of millions of working poor to do their daily jobs remotely have contributed to the regional crisis. Peru tops the global list with nearly 100 fatalities per 100,000 people. Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Colombia are also in the top 10.

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