The US is out of Afghanistan, but the war on terror isn't over

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at Afghanistan post-US withdrawal, how ISIS-K will complicate a Taliban-led Afghanistan, and EU travel recommendations.

What are your thoughts now that America's 20-year war in Afghanistan has officially ended?

Ongoing, it means much less coverage of Afghanistan in American media, something certainly President Biden is happy to hear and see. In part, we're going to continue to watch what happens with the couple of hundred Americans that are still on the ground. There is every intention to get them out, but I wouldn't say there is yet a plan.


And that is going to require a coordination of reliance with the Taliban government that is hardly experienced and hardly trustworthy. And then finally, the ongoing question of how the United States deals with ISIS-K, other organizations on the ground that are looking to kill Americans if they can. The war on terror is certainly not over, even though the war in Afghanistan for American soldiers is done. Those are a few views. I could go on for hours on this.

Who is ISIS-K? How do they complicate a Taliban-led Afghanistan?

Well, they are Sunni extremists with a mandate, if you will, to attack the Taliban, a mandate to attack the West. I think what's going to happen is you're going to have a Taliban government with an ISIS-K insurgency. The Pentagon is saying they estimate some 5,000 ISIS-K fighters on the ground right now. Certainly, the US still has capacity in terms of signals intelligence, satellite imagery, and some level of intel in conversations on the ground with Taliban that would allow the Americans to continue to engage in a fight against them, but that's very different from having boots on the ground and an embassy, which has now closed. So, it's going to be a challenge, much bigger a problem for the Afghans, of course, then for the Americans, a bigger problem for the Europeans than for the Americans, part of the reason why Biden administration wanted to end the war.

Why is the EU proposing travel restrictions on US visitors again?

Well, they're not imposing. They're not imposing travel restrictions. They're making recommendations with individual European countries now can choose to implement or not. And by the way, even if they implement, they can still have exceptions for things like, are you vaccinated? Do you have a negative test? The issue here is that when you see headlines about, "You may have to quarantine, you may not come in," a lot of people that are making travel to Europe that is not essential are going to kick those trips back. They're going to say, "Ah, it's too difficult. It's too uncertain." So, there will be an economic impact on Europe as a consequence of that, but clearly the big issue is delta variant and all sorts of cases, over a hundred thousand a day now in the United States, averaging just over a thousand deaths a day, not something anyone wanted to see in the United States or anywhere in the world. And it means that you're still having all of these stop, start, stop, start, and getting the economy and getting life back to usual.

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The German people have spoken. For the first time in over 70 years, the country's next government is all but assured to be a three-way coalition.

That coalition will probably be led by the center-left SPD, the most voted party, with the Greens and the pro-business FDP as junior partners. Less likely but still possible is a similar combination headed by the conservative CDU/CSU, which got its worst result ever. A grand coalition of the SPD and the CDU/CSU — the two parties that have dominated German federal politics since World War II — is only a fallback option if talks fail badly.

Both the Greens and especially the FDP have been in coalition governments before. But this time it's different because together they have the upper hand in negotiations with the big parties wooing them.

The problem is that the two smaller parties agree on little beyond legalizing weed, and even when they do, diverge on how to reach common goals. So, where does each stand on what separates them?

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Joe Biden has already cancelled more US student than any other president. But progressive Democrats want him to write off a lot more to reduce the racial wealth gap and help people recover better from COVID's economic ruin. Republicans are against all this because it would be unfair to current and future borrowers and to taxpayers footing the bill, not to mention subsidizing the rich.

Watch the episode: How the COVID-damaged economy surprised Adam Tooze

China and Canada's hostage diplomacy: In 2018, Canada arrested Huawei top executive Meng Wanzhou because US authorities wanted to prosecute her for violating Iran sanctions. China responded by arresting two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, in what looked like a tit-for-tat. Over the weekend, Meng and the "Two Michaels" were all freed to return to their home countries as part of a deal evidently brokered by Washington. The exchange removes a major sore spot in US-China and Canada-China relations, though we're wondering if establishing the precedent of "hostage diplomacy" with China, especially in such a prominent case, is a good one for anyone involved.

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40: Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body representing 40 Indian farmer groups, took to the streets Monday to mark a year since the start of mass protests against new farming laws that they say help big agro-businesses at the expense of small farmers. The group has called for an industry-wide strike until the laws are withdrawn.

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Germany's conservative CDU/ CSU party and the center-left SPD have dominated German politics since the 1950s. For decades, they have vied for dominance and often served in a coalition together, and have been known as the "people's parties" – a reference to their perceived middle-of-the-road pragmatism and combined broad appeal to the majority of Germans. But that's all changing, as evidenced by the fact that both performed poorly in this week's election, shedding votes to the minority Greens and pro-business Free Democrats. We take a look at the CDU/CSU and SPD's respective electoral performance over the past 60 years.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Happy week to all of you and thought I'd talk a little bit about Germany and Europe. Because of course, we just had elections in Germany, 16 years of Angela Merkel's rule coming to an end - by far the strongest leader that Germany has seen post-war, Europe has seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union. And indeed in many ways, the world has seen in the 21st century. Xi Jinping, of course, runs a much bigger country and has consolidated much more power, but in terms of the free world, it's been Angela Merkel.

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Germany's historic moment of choice is finally here, and voters will stream to the polls on Sunday for the country's first post-World War II vote without a national leader seeking re-election. They will elect new members of the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament. The leader of the party that wins the most seats will then try to secure a majority of seats by drawing other parties into a governing partnership. He or she will then replace Angela Merkel as Germany's chancellor.

If the latest opinion polls are right, the center-left Social Democrats will finish first. In coming weeks, they look likely to form a (potentially unwieldy) governing coalition with the Green Party and the pro-business Free Democrats, which would be Germany's first-ever governing alliance of more than two parties.

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