Why CIA director Bill Burns met with the Taliban
Ian Bremmer shares his insights on the CIA director's secret meeting with the leader of the Taliban, the G7 emergency meeting on Afghanistan, and the future of vaccine mandates following the FDA's approval of Pfizer's COVID vaccine.
CIA director Bill Burns held a secret meeting with the leader of the Taliban. How will it impact the ongoing evacuations?
Well, at the very least, you have to think that America's top priority, ensuring that all Americans get out of Afghanistan, given that the US controls nothing on the ground but Kabul Airport, will be facilitated. I would think that that was the reason for him to be there, absolute top priority. That has been successful. If it was a failure, we would've heard something about it by now, and the situation on the ground would be quite different. That is very different though than what happens after August 31st, and whether or not all of the Afghan nationals working with the Americans and in physical danger are going to be let out. So far, I haven't heard that from the Taliban. Certainly that will be a big piece of the negotiations. But better that he's there than not.
What do you expect to come from the G7 emergency meeting on Afghanistan on Tuesday?
Well, this is interesting because the Brits, who are chairing the G7 this year, really want to ensure that everyone gets out, and that means all the Afghans that have been working with the coalition forces. That means you have the ability to extend beyond August 31st, which President Biden has certainly not said he's been able to do and the Taliban forces have not said they'd agree to. We'll see where it goes. This is going to be a much more contentious G7 than what we saw in Cornwall a couple of months ago, and it'll be very interesting to see whether we have anything like the kind of statements from the Germans, from the French, the Brits criticizing the Biden administration after today's meeting that we did over the last week on Afghanistan. A lot of damage control will be done by President Biden in today's summit.
With FDA approval, are vaccine mandates imminent?They're happening, and they will ramp up. There are a lot of companies that are going to feel much more comfortable requiring vaccines now that they've been fully approved. Pfizer Comirnaty, the name of their vaccine now, has been approved by the FDA. I also think that a lot of skeptics in the United States will get more comfortable because this was an emergency authorization before, and now it is a fully-approved vaccination the way others that we take, that our children take, have been for decades and decades. I'm hoping that it means good things for the United States in relatively short order. Certainly the numbers of vaccinations over the last couple days, also driven by Delta variant, also going up.