Biden's speech on Afghanistan ignores serious failures; Afghan refugee crisis

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on President Biden's Afghanistan speech, the Afghan refugee crisis that will follow the Taliban takeover, and booster shots in the US.

What did you think of President Biden's speech on the Afghan withdrawal?

Two things. One, I thought he made a very compelling case for why the United States needed to leave when we did. The reduction in US troops that already happened under Trump, the strengthening of the Taliban, the difficulty of any expansion, I get all of that, but it was, listening to it as if the last 72 hours hadn't happened. He said that, "this is on me, the buck stops with me," but didn't talk really about any of the serious failures and how they could have occurred on the ground in Afghanistan. And there's a lot to answer for there. So I certainly don't give high marks to the speech, if I'm being honest with you. I'm doing my best.


Will the Taliban takeover lead to a refugee crisis?

Yes, it will. We've got some two and a half million Afghan refugees right now, though millions more returned after the Taliban were removed from Afghanistan, from power. Certainly, right now you're seeing I think 30,000 to 50,000 refugees a day, but that is only going to extend as the Taliban start strengthening their grip on power across the country. It's mostly going to be in the region. So it's Pakistan, and it's Iran for the Hazaras, for example. But over time, towards Europe, and that means Turkey, is the country that's going to have a lot of leverage with the Europeans on whether they decide to maintain those refugee flows or try to keep the borders open, let them go into Europe.

With only about 50% of Americans fully vaccinated will booster shots complicate getting the unvaccinated, vaccinated?

Yeah, I think that's probably true because if it's only eight months, a lot of people that are unvaccinated are saying, "Well, one more reason to be skeptical. Doesn't really work. They told me it'd be fine." Again, the science is new, and we're learning about this disease more and more every day. You only have data on how well the vaccines work over time as time passes, because it's the first time anyone's been vaccinated with this stuff. The bigger challenge I see it is that Americans are going to be vaccinating the entire population with boosters before much of the world has gotten a single shot, and that puts the US directly at odds with those governments and with the World Health Organization. This wouldn't be so hard for an America First presidency, but it's a lot harder for Biden who says that we're multilateral and want to work with everybody else.

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