Trump's choices depend on money & leverage; COVID vaccine news is a big deal

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

Number one, Trump will not concede the election. What happens now?

Well, it's very different from impeachment. When impeachment happened, all the Republicans opposed it. Mitt Romney get one conviction, but otherwise, it was party line. And the social media, Fox news, OANN, all these guys, everyone said "innocent." This is a different story. Here's one where Trump isn't conceding, but actually, the Republicans are all over the map. We've got several Republican senators already that have called to congratulate Biden on his win. I know four have done so as of this morning.


We see that a lot of Trump's supporters are saying, "We definitely should go through all of every legal means to contest, but ultimately, if they fail, and by the way, they're going to fail, then that means that Biden will be the victor." And I've even seen Lindsey Graham say that. Ted Cruz almost said that. And then, you have some hardcore GOP and Trump supporters that are saying, "No, this was stolen." And so far, Trump has been saying that publicly. I saw Secretary of State Pompeo just came out with a statement, and it was, "There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration."

Now, what's Pompeo doing? Is this a coup? No, no. Pompeo understands that Trump is still going to be powerful. And you've got other people that want to run for president in 2024 that are being much more cautious, aren't supporting Trump as much like Nikki Haley, for example. And then, you've got Pompeo who's Secretary of State, and he's saying, "I'm right there with you, Mr. Trump." And so, when Mr. Trump becomes a king-maker for the party in 2024, who do you think he's going to be closer to? It's a very cynical move, but if you're Mike Pompeo, it's the move you've got. That's what you're doing. That does not mean that you actually have a whole phalanx of the Republican party that's planning to burn it all in flames.

Now, the real question is, what's Trump going to do? Will Trump ultimately offer a week late concession and won't show up at the inauguration of Biden, but nonetheless will do it? Or does he try to just burn as much down as he can personally? I don't know the answer to that. Some of this is about the money. Like, how much money does he owe? And doesn't he need to try to raise as much money possible to actually get out of that financial jeopardy? Some of it is how much leverage he does or does not think he can have with those that could push for a pardon both before the transition, as well as, potentially, after with Biden for the good of the country. Right? There are a lot of reasons why Trump would or would not want to offer some kind of concession. I understand that from a personal and narcissistic perspective, you'd say, "Well, he'd never admit that he lost anything," but he's made admissions before.

NATO, he said it was obsolete. Then, he said, "I was wrong." And he moved on. His ego allows him to be right about everything even when he admits he's wrong about something. That's one of the helpful things from the Trump mental and emotional perspective. Even on Obama birtherism, he gave that big press conference at the Trump International Hotel. The big reveal was an infomercial, but he gave one sentence saying, "Oh, and by the way, Obama was really born in the US." He didn't say he was wrong, just, "Well, the facts came out." He could do that with the presidency if he wants to. He'll still drive the libs nuts, right? That's not an issue for Trump. They all still hate him. He's still going to have that fight. It's not like he's going to give up on anything. So, I think that would be interesting if that's the way it goes.

With Pfizer and BioNTech announcing a 90% effective COVID vaccine, what happens next?

Well, look, first of all, it's a press release. I'd be more comfortable if we had the data as well. So, let's be clear that we've had other press releases too, still a lot to understand. But certainly, at this stage in the game, 90% effectiveness is vastly better than any epidemiologist I've been talking to at this... Looking at the vaccines going forward. So, if that's what we have, and by spring, summer, we end up with a significant piece of the American population taking this, and by the way, 90% effectiveness, a lot more people are going to be comfortable taking it than at 40% or 50%. I think that's a seriously big deal.

Now, again, it's two shots. So, it is, you got a booster. So, that means double the amount of time to produce, double the amount of time distribution. It's challenging. You need infrastructure around that, and I'm not sure that Trump's going to do a lot to help before inauguration of Biden on January 20th, but this is a big deal. This is going to improve GDP. It's going to improve the ability of people to get back to work, prove the ability people to socialize, stop the quarantines, all of that.

And that, plus the fact that mortality rates are going down means that the balance between listening to the scientist and listening to the economist is shifting towards the economist, and that's important. Like, I wouldn't feel pretty bad if Biden only listens to the scientists and the COVID task force and doesn't recognize that mortality is coming down. We've got better treatment. We're going to continue to have that. And we also have vaccines coming. You still want to wear masks, but you definitely want to be opening the economy more. I don't think this reflects needing to lock down economies. And that's a really, really good thing.

Will the peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan last?

Yeah. Yeah, I think it will because the Armenians have gotten pasted. They have really very little support internationally. Militarily, the Azeris supported by the Turks are a lot stronger, and the Armenians lost some territory in this contested mountain, this Nagorno-Karabakh. They were, potentially, going to lose the capital, so they gave up the territory that the Azeris occupied. They gave up the territory around Nagorno-Karabakh that had been occupied by the Armenians as a buffer zone. This makes the democratic elected government in Armenia a lot weaker. It's potential that they could be overthrown. There's going to be a lot of anger when you lose a war. There's a lot of anger, but in terms of, is there going to be a ceasefire or not? Yeah.

When one side wins, there's not much that the Armenians can do right now. And this is what happens in a GZERO world where you've got a political vacuum, you've got a military vacuum, the aggressor gets to do a lot. And the Turks and the Azeris decided that the status quo, which had worked very well for decades for an Armenia that had a lot of political friends, but not many military advantages, they don't like that status quo. So, holding onto the status quo was not a viable strategy. And again, they just got pasted.

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Back in August, when the Taliban took over, we asked whether anyone in the international community would recognize them. Now it looks like things are heading that way.

This week, the Kremlin hosted a summit with the Taliban that was attended by China, India and Pakistan, as well as all five Central Asian Republics.

The domestically-focused US, however, wasn't there. The US continues to maintain that the Taliban can't be trusted. But does it matter? In 2021 does a Taliban-led government even need American recognition to function and thrive?

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Taking place on October 21 and 22, the Sustainability Leaders Summit will go beyond preexisting narratives and debate priorities for governments and industries ahead of COP26. Placing the spotlight on Asia's role in the global sustainability agenda, the event will address whether Asian countries and companies can achieve shared sustainability goals, and what is needed to help get them there. The summit will be co-hosted by Tak Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings, and Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. We will address three key questions: How can Asian countries, with the help of the private sector, achieve shared Sustainability Goals? Why does this matter? And what are the policy changes needed to bring it about?

Attendance is free and open to the public. Register to attend.

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For Kevin Rudd, former Australian PM and now CEO of the Asia Society, the science on climate change is pretty much done, so the only unresolved issues are tech and — more importantly — lack of political leadership. He can't think of a single national political leader who can fill the role, and says the only way to get political action on climate is to mobilize public opinion.

Rudd joined for the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit livestream conversation sponsored by Suntory. Watch here and register here to watch part two Friday 10/22 at 8 am ET.

The minutiae of supply chains makes for boring dinner table talk, but it's increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation now that packages are taking much longer to arrive in the consumer-oriented US, while prices of goods soar.

With the issue unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, right-wing media have dubbed President Biden the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, conjuring images of sad Christmas trees surrounded by distraught children whose holiday gifts are stuck somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

It hasn't been a good run for Uncle Joe in recent months. What issues are tripping him up?

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Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the NBA's latest rift with China, Brazil's Senate investigation, and COVID booster shots.

China wipes Boston Celtics from NBA broadcast after the "Free Tibet" speech from Enes Kanter. Is NBA boxing itself into a corner?

Nice mixed sports metaphor there. NBA has some challenges because they are of course the most progressive on political and social issues in the United States among sports leagues, but not when it comes to China, their most important international market. And you've seen that with LeBron James telling everyone about we need to learn better from the Communist Party on issues like Hong Kong and how Daryl Morey got hammered for taking his stance in favor of Hong Kong democracy. Well, Enes Kanter's doing the same thing and he's a second-string center. Didn't even play yesterday and still the Chinese said that they were not going to air any Boston Celtics games. Why? Because he criticized the Chinese government and had some "Free Tibet" sneakers. This is a real problem for a lot of corporations out there, but particularly publicly, the NBA. Watch for a bunch of American politicians to make it harder for the NBA going forward, saying how dare you kowtow to the Chinese when you're all about "Black Lives Matter" inside the United States. No fun.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

A Trump media platform? Is this for real?

This week, President Trump announced his potential return to social media through the creation of his own digital media platform that's going to merge with an existing publicly-traded company in a deal known as a SPAC. These deals are increasingly popular for getting access to capital, and it seems like that's where President Trump is headed.

The publicly-traded company's stock was up on the news, but it's really hard to see this coming together. The Trump media company claims it wants to go up against not only Facebook and Twitter, but companies like Amazon and cloud computing and even Disney providing a safe space for conservatives to share their points of view. The fact of the matter is, conservatives do quite well on existing social media platforms when they aren't being kicked off for violating the terms of service, and other conservative social media platforms that have attempted to launch this year haven't really gone off the ground.

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Protests in Sudan: Protests are again shaking the Sudanese capital, as supporters of rival wings of the transitional government take to the streets. Back in 2019, after popular demonstrations led to the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir, a deal was struck between civilian activists and the army, in which a joint civilian-military government would run the country until fresh elections could be held in 2023. But now supporters of the military wing are calling on it to dissolve the government entirely, while supporters of the civilian wing are counter-protesting. Making matters worse, a pro-military tribal leader in Eastern Sudan has set up a blockade which is interrupting the flow of goods and food to the capital. The US, which backs the civilian wing, has sent an envoy to Khartoum as tensions rise, while Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are all vying for a piece as well.

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