Kyrgyzstan unrest; Trump better than ever post-COVID

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

Number one, what is going on in Kyrgyzstan?

Otherwise was known as the Kyrgyz Republic. Well, massive demonstrations, a lot of violence, dozens injured, one dead, on the back of an election, parliamentary elections, where two parties that support the president said they won with a lot of claims of vote buying and corruption and massive outcry. And they've basically now overturned the result of the elections because the country was going to be in complete disarray. Not the first time in the Kyrgyz Republic there've been big demonstrations across the country to remove the outcomes of elections. We've seen presidents removed in the past. In this case, they actually got the former president who had been held in arrest for politicized charges has been removed from power. He's not saying he wants to be president, and the existing president isn't planning on stepping down, but it's clearly going to be messy and some time before we figure out how we redraw power in the Kyrgyz Republic.


It's not a very large country. It's only a few million people. It's in the mountains. It's basically locked up between China and Russia. So geopolitically, it doesn't have a lot of importance. It's mostly aligned with Kazakhstan next door, but still it is one more place there's just an awful lot of tension in the former Soviet Union, Russian country neighbors that the Russians think they should have the most influence over, and turns out it's really hard to maintain that extended presence. They're not happy about that. The Kremlin is not.

What's the update with the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan?

Well, similarly, here's a case where you've got a country, Armenia, that had a revolution. It was peaceful. They kicked out a corrupt kleptocracy. They're now being run by a democratic government. That democratic government still very much supports the Kremlin in terms of their trade deals, in terms of their intelligence sharing, and in terms of their defense relationship, they have a defense pact, to defend each other if one is invaded. Obviously, it's pretty asymmetrical because Armenia is all of five million people and landlocked, but nonetheless, didn't change that.

But the Russians aren't as happy be about the Armenians because the Russians see that Armenia is going its own way. It's more interested in civil society and Russia obviously is not. And so now for over a week, the Russians have been pretty much standing on the sidelines while there's been fairly significant attacks into mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh, an area that's overwhelmingly populated by Armenians, but that was historically part of the Azerbaijan Republic and the Azeris claim it as their territory.

There are ongoing negotiations, it's disputed territory, but it is now a military fight. Everyone's calling for ceasefire, except for Turkey, supporting Azerbaijan. And that's really kind of unfortunate because the Turks have a lot of military capacity, the Azeris have increased their military capacity, and the Armenians right now at least are pretty much all by themselves. So, brings back these historical concerns of genocide, which the Turks committed against the Armenian people some hundred years ago, and which the Turkish government has never admitted to. This has the potential to get a lot worse. And the news is between hundreds and even thousands dead on both sides at this point, and not getting much coverage at all here in the United States.

Okay. Final question. Will Trump change his views on COVID after contracting the virus?

Not at all. If anything, I mean, in Brazil after Bolsonaro contracted the virus, he said, "It's just a little flu. It's not a big deal." He was saying that before. In the United States, if anything, Trump is saying, actually this is, he's doubling down. He's saying, "I feel better than I did 20 years ago. I defeated the virus." I mean, I think it's very clear that within a week, Trump will be back, not only does he want to go to the debates, but he wants to be back on the campaign trail, and he wants to be back on the trail not wearing a mask, back on the trail with large masses, live, indoors. And we'll see. I mean, of course there'll be incredible outcry from people that can't stand Trump, but that's not new. I mean, as long as the two sides are completely in different information and media spheres, I think that this Trump strategy is not going to change.

The problem for Trump is that he's not getting an electoral college majority that way. He's actually dropped a point, two points, in key swing states over the last week. It's still early. We still need a lot of polls to come out to see how his handling of coronavirus is affecting the polls. But in Brazil they only picked up Bolsonaro a month later because the Brazilian population was having less of a hard time from coronavirus. In the United States those numbers still are persisting. They're not softening anywhere near what people would want them to. And it's going to be hard for them because Trump himself is not leaning into policies that would make that so. So what does it mean? It means his attitude is absolutely not changing and we've got four more weeks of everyone pulling their hair out in both sides of the political spectrum.

While residents of wealthy countries are getting ready for hot vaxxed summer — COVID is still ravaging many low- and middle-income countries. The horrifying scenes coming out of India in recent weeks have gripped the world, causing governments and civil society to quickly mobilize and pledge support.

But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is also being pummeled by the pandemic — and has been for a year now. Yet thus far, the outpouring of aid and (solidarity) hasn't been as large.

What explains the global alarm at India's situation, and seeming passivity towards Brazil's plight? What are the politics of compassion?

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A Green Party-led government for the world's fourth largest economy? That's no longer far-fetched. As Signal's Gabrielle Debinski wrote last month, most current polls now show Germany's Greens in first place in federal elections set for September 26. And for the first time, the Greens have a candidate for chancellor. Annalena Baerbock is vying to replace Angela Merkel, who has led Germany for the past 16 years.

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US reverses course on vaccine patents: In a surprise move, the Biden administration will now support waiving international property rights for COVID vaccines at the World Trade Organization. Until now the US had firmly opposed waiving those patents, despite demands from developing countries led by India and South Africa to do so. Biden's about face comes just a week after he moved to free up 60 million of American-bought AstraZeneca jabs — still not approved by US regulators — for nations in need. It's not clear how fast an IP waiver would really help other countries, as the major impediments to ramping up vaccine manufacturing have more to do with logistics and supply chains than with patent protections alone. But if patent waivers do accelerate production over time, then that could accelerate a global return to normal — potentially winning the US a ton of goodwill.

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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:

How big of a blow is Apple's new privacy feature to companies like Facebook, who depend on tracking users?

The long-awaited update, including enhanced privacy features, actually empowers those users to decide not to be tracked. So that's great news for people who are sick of how the data trail they leave behind on the web is used. But it has to be said, that simple feature settings changed by Apple cannot solve the problem of misuse of data and microtargeting alone. Still, Apple's move was met with predictable outrage and anti-trust accusations from ad giant Facebook. I would anticipate more standard setting by companies in the absence of a federal data protection law in the United States. That's just to mention one vacuum that big tech thrives on.

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India’s COVID crisis hits home

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