Elon Musk, Time Person of the Year? Naftali Bennett visits UAE

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at Naftali Bennett's first official visit to the UAE, China's response to recent US sanctions, and Elon Musk's chances at Time Person of the Year.

How did Naftali Bennett's first official visit to the UAE go?

Went extremely well. This was probably President Trump's largest and most unexpected foreign policy success, The Abraham Accords, which meant opening diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE, in addition to other countries in the region. Now we have the prime minister of Israel touching down on an official visit in the UAE, where he met with Mohammed bin Zayed, who is the defacto ruler of all of the Emirates, as well as a lot of other leaders. We're seeing more investment, more tourism, and we're also seeing more intelligence cooperation, especially around issues like Iran, where frankly, both the Arab governments and the Israelis have problems. Big question everyone's watching out for is when are the Saudis going to open up to Israel? The Saudis are really reluctant in part because they feel like that would seed too much ground to Iran on the Palestinian question, and also lead to much more pushback given a much more conservative Saudi population. The UAE is one of the most cosmopolitan populations out there, frankly.

How will China "strike back" responding to recent US sanctions?

Strike back is exactly what the Chinese government said they would do. This was right in advance to the United States announcing it before that Democracy Summit that they hosted, both of which were things that weren't clearly meant to make the Chinese happy. In particular, there were sanctions against SenseTime, which is this Chinese technology company that is involved a lot in data and surveillance, including helping the Chinese Government surveil the Uyghurs, systematic repression that's been going on against them. Look, I think that the Chinese Government clearly does not want to seriously unravel US/China investment and trade relations, especially given big challenges in China in managing zero COVID. They're going to have difficulties meeting reasonable growth targets this year and next year as a consequence of all of that. But they're not going to just sit and stand by idly when the Americans are putting sanctions on very important, indeed technologically strategic Chinese companies. I think they will be tit for tat, and I don't think the Americans are likely to have a second round of escalation as a consequence. Keep in mind that both countries also want to reduce inflation and are trying to see if they might reduce some of the tariffs that came under the Trump administration back and forth with President Xi. Even as the Chinese are escalating their sanctions in response to the United States, there will also be areas of collaboration.

Elon Musk, Time Person of the Year. Thoughts?

I think he's an enormously complicated character. There's some things that I frankly admire immensely about him, the way he's managed to think of entirely new ways of doing global business and make them a reality, both in terms of electric vehicles and supply chain to support that, as well as re-imagining private space and doing so much more effectively than people like Bezos or Richard Branson, who's really just doing high altitude tourism. That really matters. But I also think he's incredibly irresponsible in the way he talks to, engages in the public. He's very narrow in his expertise and interest, which is absolutely great for making hundreds of billions of dollars and horrible for opining on how a political system should run. For that, I wish he had more humility. I'd love to see people who are absolutely brilliant in their space owning that and recognizing where are the areas they're not brilliant. One of the problems that American entrepreneurs frequently have when they become super rich and super powerful is they think that all the people blowing smoke up their ass make them brilliant on absolutely everything. That's an area that I think we could see a lot more support if people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos were willing to take a little step back and try to see themselves objectively. But I do think he really should have been Time Person of the Year in the sense that Time Person of the Year is who had the most impact globally. As one individual in the technopolar world, Elon Musk is probably number one in that regard.

People working at computers in a room labeled Malware Lab

Microsoft observed destructive malware in systems belonging to several Ukrainian government agencies and organizations that work closely with the Ukrainian government. The Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) published a technical blog post detailing Microsoft’s ongoing investigation and how the security community can detect and defend against this malware. Microsoft shared this information over the weekend to help others in the cybersecurity community look out for and defend against these attacks. To read more visit Microsoft On the Issues.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody. Happy Tuesday after the long weekend for those of us that had a long weekend. I thought I would kick us off with the first major foreign policy crisis of the Biden administration. And that is of course, Russia-Ukraine. Afghanistan, of course, was a debacle, but not exactly a global crisis. This of course has the potential to really change the way we think about European security and about US relations with the other major nuclear power in the world. So, I would say that the level of concern is even higher and there are a lot of things we can say.
More Show less
The looming pandemic debt cliff

Right on the buzzer, Sri Lanka on Tuesday narrowly avoided its first-ever default on its sovereign debt. But the cash-strapped country is still on the hook for a lot more cash this year, which is shaping up to be a very painful one for low-income countries deep in the red due to COVID.

More Show less
The Graphic Truth: Deep in the red with China

The pandemic has thrown many already-indebted countries further into the red. The problem is two-pronged for many Asian, African, and Latin American countries. They have taken on huge amounts of debt from the IMF to weather pandemic-related economic uncertainty, while also being caught up in a debt trap set by China, which funds large infrastructure projects in developing states but often with complex or misleading fine print. We take a look at which countries out of a group of 24 surveyed states owe China the most compared to their respective IMF debts.

Ukrainian former President Petro Poroshenko gestures as he walks to address supporters upon arrival at Zhulyany airport in Kyiv, Ukraine January 17, 2022.

Ukraine’s political woes. While Russia maintains tens of thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border, domestic politics in Kyiv are becoming increasingly contentious. This week, former President Petro Poroshenko – who was elected in 2014 after the Maidan Revolution ousted a longtime Putin ally and then defeated for re-election in 2019 – has now returned to Ukraine after a month abroad to face a host of criminal charges. Those charges include treason, an alleged crime related to his decision to sign government contracts to buy coal from mines held by Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Poronshenko, a businessman worth $1.6 billion, says the deal was necessary to keep Ukraine from economic collapse and that the charges are an attempt by current President Volodomyr Zelensky to distract from unfavorable perceptions of the country’s (currently lousy) economic outlook. He also calls it a manufactured crisis and a “gift” to the Kremlin, because it distracts from Russia’s ongoing aggression.

More Show less
The Taliban’s never-ending crisis

Afghanistan has now become what the UN is labeling the planet’s worst humanitarian disaster. Indeed, last week the world body issued its largest-ever donor appeal for a single country to battle the worsening crisis there, caused by freezing temperatures, frozen assets, and the cold reception the Taliban have received from the international community since they took over last summer.

More Show less
A newborn baby is seen being cared for in the ward of the hospital neonatal care center. The results of the seventh national census of China will be released soon, and some institutions predict that the birth rate will be lower than the death rate for the first time.

7.52: Birth rates in China dropped to a record low 7.52 per 1,000 people in 2021, down from 10.41 in 2019. This comes as the Chinese Communist Party is trying very hard to boost birth rates to revive a slowing economy.

More Show less

China’s homegrown COVID vaccines were once crucial — but they're not as effective against omicron as mRNA jabs.

What's more, with with local cases near zero for the better part of the pandemic, most Chinese have no natural immunity. That could spell disaster for Beijing as omicron surges.

Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, warns that the highly transmissible new variant will make zero COVID harder and harder to sustain.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal


Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal


Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal