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Lebanon won't get the billions they need without structural reform

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

The Lebanese government resigns. What's next for Lebanon?

Well, not a lot of money. They need billions. I mean, $3 billion minimum just to rebuild the damage from the explosion, plus the billions because their economy is in freefall, and their banking system sucks, and their sanitation system doesn't work, and they're massively corrupt. And the humanitarian UN conference has thrown a couple hundred million at them, but nowhere near the billions they need. That requires major reform, which is being demanded by the people, and the IMF, and President Macron, who's sort of taking the lead in trying to build some international support for Lebanon. But, you know, a lot of people have problems right now. A lot of people need help. And if the Lebanese government that finally comes together is not more effective at structural reform, which is super challenging in a place that's massively corrupt, well, they're not going to get a lot of money. So this is going to be borne on the backs of Lebanese people. The one thing I will say is it's hard to imagine Hezbollah getting stronger in this environment. They are seen as part of the problem. And maybe this helps shake loose both them and the Iranian influence, which does not help the Lebanese people at all over that country.


Next, what does Jimmy Lai's arrest mean for Hong Kong and the US-China relationship?

Oh, my God. Did you see Apple Media in Hong Kong? I mean, the Chinese are not kidding around. I mean, they sent hundreds of police to arrest him and many of his coworkers and partners and take all of their files, hard and soft, out of that office building. This is ostensibly because he's engaged in traitorous behavior with foreigners, God forbid, supporting the democracy movement of Hong Kong against mainland China. This new national security law is the end of the "one country, two systems" commitment that the Chinese government had made. They do not care. They are massively more economically powerful than Hong Kong. And if that means that Hong Kong can't serve as a global financial center anymore, so be it. It is leading to a lot more backlash against China from the United States, from the UK, from Australia, from a whole bunch of countries around the world. And Xi Jinping just doesn't care. I think there's a level of rally-around-the-flag nationalism that you're seeing in China. As you're seeing in the United States in terms of the recent Taiwanese visit by Secretary of Health and Human Services Azar, the highest level we've seen since 1979. As you've seen in major sanctions coming down against Xinjiang and against Chinese and Hong Kong officials, as well as against TikTok and WeChat. This relationship is getting a lot, a lot uglier.

After Lukashenko's election victory, what kind of change can protesters in Belarus expect?

Well, it's not a victory. The Washington Post is saying "it's a victory," too. I'm seeing all this mainstream press saying that Lukashenko won with 80% of the vote. No. It was illegitimate. They stole the vote. There were irregularities. Opposition members were jailed. The opponent of his has fled the country after being threatened and after being detained for seven hours, and her children, she's in Lithuania. Lukashenko is a dictator. He did not win legitimately. There's been lots of protests on the streets. There's been some violence. There's been a lot of attention from the government and from the army. And the opposition leader has said that she does not want anyone to protest, please go home. She fears for herself and her family's safety, but also fears for the country, because the willingness of the Belarus president to use violence against his people is clearly unchecked. And so, I mean, it's possible that you could get another colored revolution in Belarus the way you had in Ukraine or Georgia or the Kyrgyz Republic, but frankly, it's unlikely. And Lukashenko, one of the least effective, most incapable leaders in the entire former Soviet space, is getting his way in a system that has truly no rule of law.

Russia has a COVID vaccine. What's the story?

Well, they're calling it Sputnik five or Sputnik V, excuse me. It's a V, I'm going Roman numerals, but they're going to V for vaccine, V for victory, V for a Sputnik moment. That's right. The Russians have approved a vaccine for coronavirus. They say it works. They say they're only limited side effects. Putin says one of his daughters has actually taken it, but it hasn't gone through Phase 3 trials. Certainly, no advanced industrial democracy would in any way support it being taken by a broader population. We don't know how effective it is. We don't know the longer-term impact on the population in terms of side effects that can cause more damage than it actually resolves. A dangerous thing, the fact that the geopolitical environment is completely dysfunctional while we have this big crisis just shows you. I mean, what we want is the epidemiological community and governments working together to build vaccines that can be transparent with data that's shared for everyone all over the world. That's how you get out of this economic crisis. Instead, we've got vaccine nationalism with the Russians and Putin wanting to run a victory lap on the back of his own people. Not the first time he's done that, but perhaps the most dangerous. We'll see what happens going forward. But for now, the Russians are taking a vaccine that you would not want to wish on your friends or enemies.

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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