Keystone XL halt is no threat to US-Canada ties under Biden; Brazil's vaccine shortage

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

Biden's first scheduled call with a world leader will be with Canada's Justin Trudeau. What's going on with the Keystone Pipeline?

Well, Biden said that that's it. Executive order, one of the first is that he will stop any construction or development of the Keystone Pipeline. This is of course an oil pipeline that would allow further oil sands oil to come to the United States. The infrastructure is significantly overstretched, it's led to backlogs, inefficiency, accidents, all the rest, but it also facilitates more energy development and keeps prices comparatively down if you get it done. So, there are lots of reasons why the energy sector in Canada wants it. Having said all of that, Trudeau, even though he's been a supporter of Keystone XL, let's keep in mind that he did not win support in Alberta, which is where the big energy patch in Canada is located. This is a real problem for the government of Alberta, Canada is a very decentralized federal government, even more so than the United States. The premier of Alberta is immensely unhappy with Biden right now, they've taken a $1.5 billion equity stake in the project. I expect there will actually be litigation against the United States by the government of Alberta. But Trudeau is quite happy with Biden, his relationship was Trump was always walking on eggshells. The USMCA in negotiations ultimately successful but were very challenging for the Canadians, so too with the way Trump engaged in relations on China. All of this, the fact that Trump left the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Paris Climate Accords, WHO, all of that is stuff that Trudeau strongly opposed. He's going to be much more comfortable with this relationship. He's delighted that the first call from Biden is to him. And it certainly creates a level of normalcy in the US-Canada relationship that is very much appreciated by our neighbors to the North.


Biden has promised 100 million COVID vaccine doses in 100 days. Meanwhile, Brazil is experiencing a shortage. What is happening?

Well, the president of Brazil has not taken coronavirus seriously at all. At least in the United States even though Trump was downplaying coronavirus, Operation Warp Speed was really significant, a major effort to build up and invest and acquire vaccines, the administration did a very significant job around that. In Brazil, the entire Bolsonaro administration basically abdicated on coronavirus. So, they've got well over 200 million people, they've got 6 million vaccines they've acquired so far. That's really been the result primarily of the governor of Sao Paulo not the Bolsonaro administration. This is an enormous problem for Brazil, it's an enormous embarrassment for Bolsonaro. You see calls impeachment that are rising yet again, his approval ratings are now in the low 30s. If they start slipping towards the 20s, he could start peeling off a lot of congressional support and impeachment could become a real issue. Certainly, elections coming up in Brazil, presidential elections in a year are going to be very, very challenging. And I watch that space pretty closely, brazil is going to suffer on the back of this more than a lot of other countries.

A video of Navalny posted after his arrest is going viral. He calls for supporters to "take to the streets" on January 23rd. What is going on?

Well, Alexei Navalny is the most well-known and popular of opposition figures in Russia. The biggest mass demonstrations against Kremlin we've seen in years was the last time Navalny called for mass protests, was mostly Moscow, but you got cities across the country, urban intellectuals, primarily younger people, elites. But Navalny is still quite popular, he still has a significant social media following. Nothing close to a majority, this is not a threat to President Putin, it's nothing close to what you've seen experienced in Belarus for example in the past six months. But nonetheless, it is a significant aggravant for Putin, and that's why Navalny has been detained. I suspect that with the show trials that will go on, he'll probably be given a more significant sentence. I think given he's upped the ante by calling for these demonstrations and by releasing a bunch of videos that are embarrassing to Putin personally, and all of that, the Kremlin has the power. Even though Navalny has a strong international support base, the willingness of Americans or Europeans to significantly and meaningfully increase sanctions against Moscow in a way that would matter to Putin, just isn't there. There just really isn't a stick to hit the Russians that would matter enough. Navalny doesn't matter enough, human rights in Russia don't matter enough to move the needle, especially given the level of economic, trade, and energy dependence that many of the Europeans have with Russia, the East Europeans have with Russia. The ideological orientation of Hungary in the EU, for example, towards Russia, they've just announced that they're getting the Sputnik V vaccine for their people, even though only 11% of Hungarians say that they would take a Russian or Chinese vaccine, over 50% would take Pfizer or Moderna, but they're not that one, and the fact that the United States is focused mostly domestically. So, all of that makes it a lot harder to move the needle on Putin when it comes to Navalny. And very sad for Navalny as a consequence, an incredibly courageous man who has faced, is facing, and will face an extraordinary amount of personal peril.

Visit Microsoft on The Issues for a front-row seat to see how Microsoft is thinking about the future of sustainability, accessibility, cybersecurity and more. Check back regularly to watch videos, and read blogs and feature stories to see how Microsoft is approaching the issues that matter most. For the latest, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

University of British Colombia professor Edward Slingerland says drinking makes us feel good and has historically encouraged socializing. But there are negative implications, as well. We now have the problem of "distillation and isolation": getting as much booze as you want and drinking alone, especially during the pandemic. There's a gender issue too: the "bro culture" associated with alcohol can exclude and even be dangerous for women. Not all regions have the same problems, though, as drinking habits vary widely. Watch Slingerland's interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: The (political) power of alcohol

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus, Delta variant woes, and Lebanon one year after the Beirut blast.

An Olympian refuses to return home to Belarus and an anti-Lukashenko activist has been found dead in Ukraine. What's going on?

Yeah. That anti-Lukashenko activist was found hanged in a park in Kiev. Once again, not exactly likely a suicide. These anti-Lukashenko activists have a way of turning up injured or dead. It's a horrible regime. Their friends are limited largely to the Russians. That's about it. The economic pressure is growing from Europe, from the United States, very coordinated. But the problem is a very hard to do much to Lukashenko when he has not only support of his military, but also the support of most of the workers in the country who aren't prepared to strike because they want to ensure they still have jobs. I expect this is going to continue, but human rights abuses are stacking up. It is nice to see that the Americans and the Europeans are coordinating policy as well as they have been.

More Show less

Raisi won't have it easy: The newly "elected" president of Iran, Ibrahim Raisi, was officially endorsed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Tuesday. In his inaugural address, the 60-year-old hardliner pledged to get US sanctions removed and to respond to rising socioeconomic grievances within Iran, but he warned that he wouldn't lash Iran's prosperity or survival to "the will of foreigners." In Iran, the president's role focuses mainly on domestic policy, but with the economy reeling one of Raisi's big early challenges will be to continue complicated talks with the Biden administration to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear deal, which would lead to the US lifting some of the harshest sanctions. Both sides say they want a new deal, and have gone through half a dozen rounds of negotiations already, but they remain at odds over who should make what concessions first. Raisi also pledged to restore Iranians' flagging trust in their government and to improve the economic situation, but in ways that are in line with "revolutionary principles." He'll have his hands full with that. And don't forget that the likely imminent (re)takeover of neighboring Afghanistan by the Taliban — whom Tehran don't like at all — will also occur on Raisi's watch. Good luck, Mr. President, you'll need it.

More Show less

It's been 365 days since twin blasts at a Beirut port decimated Lebanon's capital. More than 200 people were killed and some 7,000 were injured, yet accountability has been scarce. There is ample evidence that multiple Lebanese officials knew that ammonium nitrate was being improperly stored at the port. Four high-ranking politicians, including former PM Hassan Diab, have been charged by a Lebanese judge, but they all refuse to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

Since then, Lebanon's already-dire economic and financial crises have only intensified. The Lebanese pound, the national currency, has plummeted, losing 90 percent of its value since 2019, when the country's economic crisis erupted. And more than 50 percent of the population is now living below the poverty line.

More Show less

The Biden administration is finally devoting more attention to Southeast Asia. Last week US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines, marking the first regional visit by a Biden cabinet official. A trip by Vice President Kamala Harris is already in the works as well, and this week Secretary of State Tony Blinken will meet (virtually) with ASEAN counterparts.

The flurry of activity comes after earlier concerns that President Joe Biden was neglecting Southeast Asia, the region where US-China rivalry is the most intense. To understand better what Austin's visit meant, and what comes next, Eurasia Group's lead Southeast Asia analyst Peter Mumford spoke to us from Singapore.

More Show less

158: To boost vaccination rates, New York City will soon require proof of COVID vaccination or a negative test to enter gyms and restaurants, as daily new infections in the Big Apple have jumped 158 percent over the past two weeks due to the more contagious delta variant. New York is the first major US city to take this step, following similar schemes already in place in France and Italy.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

Does alcohol help or harm society?

GZERO World Clips
GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal