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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.

Meet Ian Martin, an English Professor from Glasgow who is now head of Communications for Eni's International Resources. Approaching his work in the same way he used to hold his lectures, Ian is dedicated to listening and making people around him comfortable. Having working in both Milan and London, Ian utilizes his ability to communicate in different languages and cultures to prepare Eni's global messaging strategy. "Communication is a transfer of humanity," he says, and his job is as much centered around people as it as around language.

Watch Ian's human approach to communications on the most recent episode of Faces of Eni.

How to capture the essence of this incredible, terrible year in a few short words and without using profanity? It's not easy.

Thankfully, the dictionary website Merriam-Webster.com has released its list of most heavily searched words of 2020, and they tell the story of an historic year in US politics and the life of our planet. Here's a sample.

The top word, unsurprisingly, was "Pandemic," a disease outbreak that covers a wide area and afflicts lots of people. In 2020, the coronavirus crisis hit every region of the world, triggering a public health, economic, and political emergency on a geographic scale our planet has never experienced. Differing responses to that problem defined the politics (and geopolitics) of 2020.

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While recent news from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca on the efficacy of their respective COVID vaccines is encouraging, it has also given rise to bidding wars between wealthy countries trying to secure the largest supply of the new drugs for their citizens. Meanwhile, many governments in emerging market economies, where healthcare infrastructure is generally weaker, are worried they'll be kicked to the back of the line in the global distribution process. Indeed, history bears out their concerns: while a lifesaving HIV treatment hit shelves in the West in the mid-1990s, for example, it took years to become widely in Africa, which saw some of the worst HIV outbreaks in the world. But here's the catch: even if wealthy countries manage to obtain large supplies of vaccines to immunize their populations, the interconnected nature of the global economy means that no one will really be out of the woods until we all are. Here's a snapshot of how many COVID vaccines select countries have already purchased.

Afghanistan's small breakthrough: For months, disagreements over a range of political issues have hamstrung the intra-Afghan peace talks brokered by the Trump administration that aim to bridge the years-long conflict between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But this week, a significant breakthrough was made on the principles and procedures governing the talks, that, experts say, will help push negotiations to the next phase. One key advance is agreement on the official name of the Afghan government, an issue that stalled talks earlier this year. Still, progress is fragile. Taliban violence and efforts to seize territory have only increased since the militants and the US reached a deal in February on a blueprint for an American troop withdrawal. And the Trump administration says it aims to pull out all but 2,500 US troops by mid-January, whether the Taliban have kept their end of the deal or not. What's more, while this week's development puts the parties one step closer to an eventual power-sharing agreement, it's unclear whether the incoming Biden administration will even honor the Trump administration's deal with the Taliban.

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Two weeks ago, Russia secured a deal to build a naval base in Sudan, its first new military facility in Africa since the end of the Cold War. The accord is a major milestone in Moscow's wider push to regain influence, and income, on a continent where the Kremlin was once a major player.

But with the ideological and military contests of the Cold War long over, what is Moscow doing in Africa today?

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Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year. Watch on Friday. Dec 4 2020 12 noon - 1 pm ET

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