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.

Meet Zoe Marshall, grandmother, fishmonger, and thriving business owner.


When Zoe Marshall decided to switch careers in her forties and become a fishmonger, she was scared. After leaving her job of 23 years, Zoe was forced to pivot in order to keep her family's home. Despite challenges, she forged ahead, opening Sea-Licious. Accepting Visa payments in her fishmonger shop, this access to commerce helps Zoe provide convenience to her customers and confidence in their transactions. Though she's one of the only women in the fish market each morning, her business and its place in the local community are flourishing with Visa's help.

Learn more about Zoe and her story.

We're just days away from COP26, the landmark global climate conference that's been dubbed the last chance to get the climate crisis in check. In the lead-up to the event in Glasgow, dozens of countries have released new ambitions to reduce their future carbon footprints. For years, climate activists and experts have called on governments to introduce carbon pricing schemes – either through taxes or emissions-trading schemes. So who's heeded the warning? We take a look at the top ten carbon emitters' share of global emissions and details about their respective national carbon pricing schemes.

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

Do cryptocurrencies make it harder to enforce foreign policy sanctions?

Well, that is exactly what the Biden administration worries about. As part of growing concerns of whether unregulated currencies undermine a whole host of policies, sanctions and foreign or trade policy should be a priority area. And just like others who wish to evade tracing of their wealth or transactions, the very states or their sanctioned entities should be assumed to resort to all options to evade restrictions while continuing to do business. So having cryptocurrencies undermining the ability to enforce strategic goals logically raises eyebrows in Washington.

More Show less

Back in August, when the Taliban took over, we asked whether anyone in the international community would recognize them. Now it looks like things are heading that way.

This week, the Kremlin hosted a summit with the Taliban that was attended by China, India and Pakistan, as well as all five Central Asian Republics.

The domestically-focused US, however, wasn't there. The US continues to maintain that the Taliban can't be trusted. But does it matter? In 2021 does a Taliban-led government even need American recognition to function and thrive?

More Show less

For Kevin Rudd, former Australian PM and now CEO of the Asia Society, the science on climate change is pretty much done, so the only unresolved issues are tech and — more importantly — lack of political leadership. He can't think of a single national political leader who can fill the role, and says the only way to get political action on climate is to mobilize public opinion.

Rudd joined for the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit livestream conversation sponsored by Suntory. Watch here and register here to watch part two Friday 10/22 at 8 am ET.

Taking place on October 21 and 22, the Sustainability Leaders Summit will go beyond preexisting narratives and debate priorities for governments and industries ahead of COP26. Placing the spotlight on Asia's role in the global sustainability agenda, the event will address whether Asian countries and companies can achieve shared sustainability goals, and what is needed to help get them there. The summit will be co-hosted by Tak Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings, and Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. We will address three key questions: How can Asian countries, with the help of the private sector, achieve shared Sustainability Goals? Why does this matter? And what are the policy changes needed to bring it about?

Attendance is free and open to the public. Register to attend.

More Show less

The minutiae of supply chains makes for boring dinner table talk, but it's increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation now that packages are taking much longer to arrive in the consumer-oriented US, while prices of goods soar.

With the issue unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, right-wing media have dubbed President Biden the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, conjuring images of sad Christmas trees surrounded by distraught children whose holiday gifts are stuck somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

It hasn't been a good run for Uncle Joe in recent months. What issues are tripping him up?

More Show less

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the NBA's latest rift with China, Brazil's Senate investigation, and COVID booster shots.

China wipes Boston Celtics from NBA broadcast after the "Free Tibet" speech from Enes Kanter. Is NBA boxing itself into a corner?

Nice mixed sports metaphor there. NBA has some challenges because they are of course the most progressive on political and social issues in the United States among sports leagues, but not when it comes to China, their most important international market. And you've seen that with LeBron James telling everyone about we need to learn better from the Communist Party on issues like Hong Kong and how Daryl Morey got hammered for taking his stance in favor of Hong Kong democracy. Well, Enes Kanter's doing the same thing and he's a second-string center. Didn't even play yesterday and still the Chinese said that they were not going to air any Boston Celtics games. Why? Because he criticized the Chinese government and had some "Free Tibet" sneakers. This is a real problem for a lot of corporations out there, but particularly publicly, the NBA. Watch for a bunch of American politicians to make it harder for the NBA going forward, saying how dare you kowtow to the Chinese when you're all about "Black Lives Matter" inside the United States. No fun.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal


Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal


Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal