Taliban takeover embarrassing for Biden; political impact of wildfires
Ian Bremmer shares his insights on the Taliban's rapid territorial gains, the politics of climate change and two court cases gaining political attention in Canada and China.
Is the US drawdown in Afghanistan going as planned?
Well, yes, in the sense that the US is quickly wrapping up military activities on the ground in Afghanistan, the longest standing war in American history will be over in just a few weeks. Not going as planned in the sense that the Taliban is retaking territory much faster than it had been expected. And the US State Department recently told all Americans living in Afghanistan get the hell out because the Americans can't protect them. This is embarrassing for the US, but ultimately, a much bigger problem for the Afghans, and of course for other countries in the region, China, India, Pakistan, Iran. I think it will be an embarrassment for Biden on his administration, but on balance, not going to affect him very much politically. Remember, under both Trump and Biden, even Obama, overwhelming majorities in the United States wanted the Americans to get out of Afghanistan.
Are the global wildfires igniting political fires?
Well, I would say that people are paying a lot more attention to how quickly climate change is affecting their direct environment. We've seen this in California and Oregon. We've seen it in Greece and Turkey, floods as well in China, in Germany, displacing millions of people and creating casualties. And of course, this baseline already quite literally baked in. You saw in the major United Nations report that came out just on Monday this week, this is becoming, I mean, this idea that we are guaranteed to move towards 1.5 degrees centigrade minimum of warming. That means every year what you're seeing, that's still probably the best that we're going to have going forward. And it's horrible to think about that really for our futures, for our children's futures, the fact that these disasters are only going to get worse at least for the next 20 to 30 years before we potentially hit a new status quo.
A Chinese court has upheld a Canadian citizen's death sentence. What message is Beijing trying to send to Ottawa?
Well, this is also when the daughter of the founder of Huawei isn't having her trial going on. The Chinese government saying the two are absolutely not linked, but of course there is no such thing as coincidence when you have high level political trials in a country that has no rule of law. They want to see the CFO of Huawei declared not guilty and let free. She has been under house arrest now for, I think something like a couple of years now, and of course the US is looking for her extradition. There are also the cases of the two Michaels where you still have not had, even though the cases have gone through, we have not seen a sentencing. And this is in a country where 99% of cases that go through do lead to convictions, criminal cases, so again, no rule of law. These are political decisions and what the Chinese are doing very much linked to how the Canadians decide to act on this case that the Chinese government sees as very much a political football.
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