All eyes on US election; Vienna terrorist attack & Islamic extremism

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

Number one, all eyes are on the United States today. What countries are watching most closely?

Well everyone's watching pretty closely, because the US election is two years long and costs billions of dollars and feels like a subversion of democracy. But watching the most closely are the countries that feel like they have the most at stake. So, for example, Iran, if Biden comes in, they're going to have a government that's more interested in trying to reopen the Iranian nuclear deal. Their economy is in free fall right now. They really care about the outcome.


Turkey, facing a much more intense US sanctions regime. The United States under Trump has been kind of friendly towards Erdoğan. They'd be much less so. And again, Turkey's in a lot of trouble right now. Their lira has dropped to record lows. There's massive capital flight. I think the first and foremost countries that are paying the most attention are the ones that are under the most significant pressure, and they know that this election has the potential to make that even worse.

So, countries like China, for example, economically doing pretty well right now, and they're going to have a tough time whether it's Biden or Trump. A country like India, that's going to do pretty well whether it's Biden or Trump. They obviously are paying attention, but I wouldn't say they care quite as much. The United Kingdom, definitely, because the ability to get a trade deal done just with the US if it's Biden is going to be a little more challenging. I think they worry about that. Where you've got countries like Germany and France, where the relationship with Trump has been so toxic, personally, at a personal level, they would just like to have Biden and there'll be a honeymoon. How long that lasts and what it really gets you, perhaps not as much. Oh, that's kind of a, just a smattering of a few countries around the world, but truly everyone paying attention to this, the most important election in the United States in modern history, in part because this crisis is so big and the change in trajectory of US politics under these two leaders would be more substantial than we would normally expect.

What happened in Vienna?

Well, a big terrorist attack. We see four people that have actually been killed, going on all night. Initially, we thought that, the Vienna authorities said there might've been six people involved. It now looks like at least two ISIS supporters that were engaged in these attacks against random Austrian civilians.

We do need to remember that terrorist attacks, the Europeans continue to be much more vulnerable overall, and specifically Islamic extremist terror attacks. A lot more Muslim refugees coming over from countries like Iraq, like Syria, into Turkey, into Europe. They've not integrated well; they've not been integrated well. A lot of them aren't all that welcome and there's been extremism. And some of that extremism has led to serious violence.

In the United States, the threat from terrorism is a lot lower, and to the extent that we see violent terrorism in the US, it is overwhelmingly from white nationalist extremists, not from Islamic violence. You wouldn't necessarily know that from watching the media, and depends on who you're watching, and all of this has become so politicized, but that's the reality in terms of the numbers, and certainly hope that we're able to see a quick response, and anyone else involved is able to be apprehended quickly.

Okay. Finally, is Boris Johnson against the ropes because of his COVID response?

Well, the guy is enjoying an 80-seat majority in Parliament right now. That's a pretty big deal. So even though the British economy is in big trouble, I would not argue that he is facing imminent political crisis, but he has very badly mishandled this. Certainly, the UK is in as bad shape, if not worse, from a healthcare perspective, as the United States. Right now, the per capita cases and hospitalizations in the UK are worse than they are in the United States, they're worse than they are in the EU as a whole, and they've locked down. They said there were not going to be locked downs nationwide. They've now come, and he's had to do a complete about face on that. He's going to say, because the virus got epidemiologically a lot worse than they expected. That may well be the case, but they're in charge. They're responsible for this stuff. So, they haven't handled it well.

And indeed the Labor Opposition Party has been well ahead of Boris Johnson in arguing for these policies. Let's keep in mind also that labor is not being run by Jeremy Corbyn, who was really God awful in terms of leadership. Instead you've had Keir Starmer who's much better. So long-term, a much more competitive landscape politically in the UK, but for now Boris Johnson going nowhere. Unless it turns out that his health is in much worse shape, and there have been some rumors that I've heard that Johnson is indeed suffering from the quote unquote long COVID.

And let's keep in mind that some five, 10% of people that get coronavirus are experiencing much longer serious symptoms, even beyond when they're supposedly better, and whether or not Boris Johnson faces that, it was touch and go as to whether he'd even survive his bout with coronavirus. Much, much worse than what we saw for Trump or from Bolsonaro in Brazil. That's a real question.

Each month, Microsoft receives about 6,500 complaints from people who've been victims of tech support scams. But it's not just Microsoft's brand that the scammers leverage; fraudsters have pretended to be from a number of other reputable tech companies and service providers. These scams will remain an industry-wide challenge until sufficient people are educated about how they work and how to avoid them.

To measure the scope of this problem globally, Microsoft commissioned YouGov for a new 2021 survey across 16 countries. Results from the 2021 survey reveal that, globally, fewer consumers have been exposed to tech support scams as compared to the 2018 survey. However, those people who continued with the interaction were more likely to have lost money to the scammers than we saw in our previous survey. To read the highlights of the survey, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

Next week, Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner who is ideologically and personally close to Iran's 82 year-old supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will be inaugurated as Iran's president. This power transition comes as the country experiences a fresh wave of protests that started in Iran's southwest over water shortages earlier this month and has since spilled over into dozens of provinces.

Some close observers of Iranian society and politics say that popular discontent there is now more widespread than it has been in years, making the Iranian regime more vulnerable than ever.

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Was the world so focused on climate change that warning signs about the COVID-19 pandemic were missed? Historian and author Niall Ferguson argues that, while the climate crisis poses a long-term threat to humanity, other potential catastrophes are much more dangerous in the near future. "We took our eye off that ball," Ferguson says about COVID, "despite numerous warnings, because global climate change has become the issue that Greta Thunberg said, would bring the end of the world. But the point I'm making in DOOM [his new book] is that we can end the world and a lot of other ways, much faster." Ferguson spoke with Ian Bremmer in an interview for GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Predictable disaster and the surprising history of shocks

Tunisia, the only country that emerged a democracy from the Arab Spring, is now in the middle of its worst political crisis since it got rid of former autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali over a decade ago.

On Sunday, the 64th anniversary of the country's independence from France, President Kais Saied responded to widespread protests over the ailing economy and COVID by firing embattled Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspending parliament for 30 days. Troops have surrounded the legislature, where rival crowds faced off on Monday, with one side chanting in support of the move and the other denouncing it as a coup.

How did we get here, do we even know who's really in charge, and what might come next?

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Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

As COVID-19 cases rise, are vaccine mandates coming?

Oh, you just want to get me in more trouble. Yeah, some mandates are coming, but they're not national mandates in the United States. In some cases, you're looking at federal and state employees, in some cases you're looking at lots of individual corporations, universities, and such. I mean I've already been to a number of events where vaccines have been mandated in New York. You've got this Excelsior Pass if you want to go to the Brooklyn Nets games, as I certainly do. You show it off and that gets you in with your vaccine. So I think it's really going to be a decentralized process. But clearly, given Delta variant and the number of people that are getting sick and dying because they're not vaccinated, you're going to see moves towards more mandates, as a consequence.

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Castillo takes over in Peru: After almost two months of protests, baseless allegations of fraud from his rival in the runoff election, and even rumblings of a coup, Pedro Castillo will be sworn in as president of Peru on Wednesday. A former rural school-teacher famous for riding on horseback, wearing a cowboy hat and waving a giant pencil to show how much he cares about education, Castillo has big plans to achieve big change. But he won by just a razor-thin margin in a deeply divided country, and Peru's dysfunctional political system will likely hobble his attempts to get major legislation passed. Moreover, despite having moderated his positions, half of the country still sees him as a communist who might turn Peru into another Venezuela. Castillo's most immediate task is dealing with the twin crises of a deadly pandemic and a COVID-fueled economic crisis that has hit poor Peruvians — his base — the hardest.

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13: The two Koreas have restored their communication hotline almost 13 months after Pyongyang abruptly cut it in response to Seoul not doing enough to prevent North Korean defectors from sending propaganda leaflets across the shared border. The hotline was established in 2018 following a historic meeting between North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

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Now that the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway, your Signal crew will be bringing you some intriguing, uplifting, and quirky facts about the Games that have many people on edge.

Today — what's the smallest country (by population) to win a gold medal in a summer Olympics?

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