What to expect from Biden-Putin summit; Israel-Hamas tenuous ceasefire holds

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

How did the Biden-Putin summit go?

Well, we don't know, because it's not over yet, but I'll tell you, the opening, the opening looked fine. They shook hands. They're well prepped. Putin had to be on time because Biden was coming later. That made it a little bit easier. I think this is so overdone. This is not Gorbachev-Reagan. This is Russia in the context of a much more important strategic priority, China, for the United States. I expect little is going to come out, in terms of substance. The meeting will be cordial. There will be some desire to work together on things like arms control. The big question will be, what exactly is said, and if anything is committed to on cyberattacks, how the US is going to respond because so far Biden's looked pretty weak on that issue.


With Israel resuming airstrikes, is the ceasefire with Hamas over?

No. There was a series of attacks back and forth, incendiary balloons sent by Hamas from Gaza, landing in fields, didn't kill anybody. Israel responding immediately with airstrikes on Hamas training bases, didn't kill anybody. That's an end to that. It is, obviously, a very tenuous ceasefire, and it could blow up. Another point to raise is that this administration, run by new Premiere Naftali Bennett, is every bit as hard-line on dealing with the Palestinians, a general policy that gets large majorities of the Israelis to support it, as Netanyahu was. The problem, if there is an explosion in the ceasefire, is that the Arab party that is a part of the coalition could pull out and force yet another election. So, there is some consequence here, but I don't actually think that we've yet blown it up.

How is North Korea managing its food crisis?

Looks like its worst since the 1990s. The answer is, not really well. This has been both a flooding issue and horrible agricultural mismanagement. Plus, they've also had supply-chain problems and they're being hit with a horrible COVID explosion. And they don't really trust vaccines that are coming from other countries, not even China. And so, as a consequence, there could be more instability in North Korea than any of us assess right now. We don't get great information out of that country. It's not like Eurasia Group has stringers on the ground as we do everywhere else. So it's a hard one. I do think that there is now as a consequence of this, more of an opening for the Biden administration, if they want it. They are clearly thinking about reaching out to the North Koreans, not with a summit, but the possibility of starting some framework for arms control negotiations. If that's happening, it is out of a recognition that North Korea is a nuclear power and denuclearization is not going to happen. This is a space worth watching. I would focus on it over the next coming weeks because it's being discussed actively in the White House right now.

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

Why can't President Biden order a vaccine mandate for all Americans?

Well, the reason is it's out of his powers. The one of the fundamental challenges in the pandemic is that the federal government has actually been fairly limited in the steps they can take to stop the spread of the virus. So, that's why you've seen President Biden order masks on transit, mass transit, airplanes, and the like. But he can't order masks in workplaces because that's not within his power. That power lies within state governments. State governments and other entities, like employers, can require vaccinations before you come into their buildings, or you come back to school, or you go to work in your office. But the federal government can't do that. What Biden is doing is, allegedly, supposedly going to announce a mandate for federal workers to get vaccinated.

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"Super Mario" takes his chances: Less than five months after becoming Italy's consensus prime minister, Mario Draghi's coalition government is on shaky ground over Draghi's proposed judicial reforms. "Super Mario" — as he's known for saving the Eurozone as European Central Bank chief during the financial crisis — wants to dramatically speed up Italy's famously slow courts. But his push to reduce judicial backlogs is opposed both by the populist 5-Star Movement, the coalition government's biggest party, and by prosecutors because many cases could be scrapped before reaching a verdict. Draghi, upset that this resistance is stalling his other initiatives to cut Italian red tape, has decided to roll the dice anyway: he'll put his plan to overhaul the courts to a no-confidence vote in parliament. If Draghi wins, he gets the reforms passed without debate; if he loses, the PM technically has to resign, but he'll keep his job because he has enough votes even if the 5-Star Movement bows out of the coalition.

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What is going on in Bosnia with Bosnian Serbs boycotting all major institutions?

Well, it's a reaction against a decision that was taken by the outgoing high representative during his very last days, after 12 years of having done very little in this respect, to have a law banning any denial of Srebrenica and other genocides. But this issue goes to very many other aspects of the Bosnian situation. So, it has created a political crisis that will be somewhat difficult to resolve.

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700: Roughly 700 people arrested for joining the unprecedented July 11 anti-government protests in Cuba are still being held by the regime. They may now face mass show trials as Havana continues to crack down on dissent following the biggest challenge to its power in decades.

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