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All eyes on US election; Vienna terrorist attack & Islamic extremism

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

Number one, all eyes are on the United States today. What countries are watching most closely?

Well everyone's watching pretty closely, because the US election is two years long and costs billions of dollars and feels like a subversion of democracy. But watching the most closely are the countries that feel like they have the most at stake. So, for example, Iran, if Biden comes in, they're going to have a government that's more interested in trying to reopen the Iranian nuclear deal. Their economy is in free fall right now. They really care about the outcome.


Turkey, facing a much more intense US sanctions regime. The United States under Trump has been kind of friendly towards Erdoğan. They'd be much less so. And again, Turkey's in a lot of trouble right now. Their lira has dropped to record lows. There's massive capital flight. I think the first and foremost countries that are paying the most attention are the ones that are under the most significant pressure, and they know that this election has the potential to make that even worse.

So, countries like China, for example, economically doing pretty well right now, and they're going to have a tough time whether it's Biden or Trump. A country like India, that's going to do pretty well whether it's Biden or Trump. They obviously are paying attention, but I wouldn't say they care quite as much. The United Kingdom, definitely, because the ability to get a trade deal done just with the US if it's Biden is going to be a little more challenging. I think they worry about that. Where you've got countries like Germany and France, where the relationship with Trump has been so toxic, personally, at a personal level, they would just like to have Biden and there'll be a honeymoon. How long that lasts and what it really gets you, perhaps not as much. Oh, that's kind of a, just a smattering of a few countries around the world, but truly everyone paying attention to this, the most important election in the United States in modern history, in part because this crisis is so big and the change in trajectory of US politics under these two leaders would be more substantial than we would normally expect.

What happened in Vienna?

Well, a big terrorist attack. We see four people that have actually been killed, going on all night. Initially, we thought that, the Vienna authorities said there might've been six people involved. It now looks like at least two ISIS supporters that were engaged in these attacks against random Austrian civilians.

We do need to remember that terrorist attacks, the Europeans continue to be much more vulnerable overall, and specifically Islamic extremist terror attacks. A lot more Muslim refugees coming over from countries like Iraq, like Syria, into Turkey, into Europe. They've not integrated well; they've not been integrated well. A lot of them aren't all that welcome and there's been extremism. And some of that extremism has led to serious violence.

In the United States, the threat from terrorism is a lot lower, and to the extent that we see violent terrorism in the US, it is overwhelmingly from white nationalist extremists, not from Islamic violence. You wouldn't necessarily know that from watching the media, and depends on who you're watching, and all of this has become so politicized, but that's the reality in terms of the numbers, and certainly hope that we're able to see a quick response, and anyone else involved is able to be apprehended quickly.

Okay. Finally, is Boris Johnson against the ropes because of his COVID response?

Well, the guy is enjoying an 80-seat majority in Parliament right now. That's a pretty big deal. So even though the British economy is in big trouble, I would not argue that he is facing imminent political crisis, but he has very badly mishandled this. Certainly, the UK is in as bad shape, if not worse, from a healthcare perspective, as the United States. Right now, the per capita cases and hospitalizations in the UK are worse than they are in the United States, they're worse than they are in the EU as a whole, and they've locked down. They said there were not going to be locked downs nationwide. They've now come, and he's had to do a complete about face on that. He's going to say, because the virus got epidemiologically a lot worse than they expected. That may well be the case, but they're in charge. They're responsible for this stuff. So, they haven't handled it well.

And indeed the Labor Opposition Party has been well ahead of Boris Johnson in arguing for these policies. Let's keep in mind also that labor is not being run by Jeremy Corbyn, who was really God awful in terms of leadership. Instead you've had Keir Starmer who's much better. So long-term, a much more competitive landscape politically in the UK, but for now Boris Johnson going nowhere. Unless it turns out that his health is in much worse shape, and there have been some rumors that I've heard that Johnson is indeed suffering from the quote unquote long COVID.

And let's keep in mind that some five, 10% of people that get coronavirus are experiencing much longer serious symptoms, even beyond when they're supposedly better, and whether or not Boris Johnson faces that, it was touch and go as to whether he'd even survive his bout with coronavirus. Much, much worse than what we saw for Trump or from Bolsonaro in Brazil. That's a real question.

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Watch the latest Faces of Eni episode to learn more about Giuseppe's inspirational life.

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Indeed, the selection of Henry Kissinger (Nixon and Ford), James Baker (George H.W. Bush), Hillary Clinton (Obama) and Rex Tillerson (Trump) to head the State Department, provided an early window into the foreign policy priorities — or lack thereof — of their respective bosses.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, happy Monday, Thanksgiving week. Things starting to look increasingly normal in terms of outlook, in terms of having all of these vaccines. I understand that the next few months in the United States are going to be incredibly challenging, but so much easier when you see that there's light at the end of the tunnel and you know where that's coming. Most recently, the AstraZeneca announcement, which for me, in some ways is a bigger deal globally, even than what we've seen from Moderna and Pfizer, because it doesn't require freezing, it's just refrigeration, which means that countries around the world that don't have the infrastructure to deal with this cold chain requirements of these vaccines will be able to use another set of vaccines with different technology. That's not just AstraZeneca, it will be Johnson and Johnson. It's the Russians. It's the Chinese.

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Although the United States and the European Union have comparable population sizes, until recently the trajectories of their COVID-19 outbreaks have been vastly different, with the EU seeming to have kept the pandemic mostly in check during the summer months. The US has now surpassed twelve million total infections as most states, particularly in the Midwest, are fighting massive outbreaks. But now Europe is doing even worse: states across the continent are seeing an uptick in average infection and mortality rates that dwarf those of the US, leading several European countries to implement fresh national lockdowns. Here's a look at the seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases, and three-day rolling averages of new deaths and new deaths per capita in the EU vs the US since March.

Guatemala in crisis: In the latest unrest to hit the streets of a Latin American capital, a group of demonstrators — angry about a controversial new budget — set fire to the Guatemalan parliament building over the weekend. The budget, negotiated largely in secret while the country reels from the impact of the pandemic and back-to-back hurricanes, cuts funding for healthcare, education, and human rights organizations while boosting money for infrastructure and — get this — adds more than $50,000 for lawmakers' meal stipends. The mostly peaceful protesters, along with the Catholic Church, are demanding at a minimum that President Alejandro Giammattei veto the budget, but some on the streets are calling for him and his whole government to step down entirely. Vice President Guillermo Castillo has offered to do just that, but only if the president jumps ship with him. Can Giammattei find a solution or is this a rerun of 2015, when mass protests unseated the government of then-President Otto Perez Molina? With its economy battered by the pandemic and natural disasters, Guatemala can ill afford a prolonged crisis.

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The 2020 US Election

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