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.

Emily Ademola lives in an area of Nigeria that has been attacked by Boko Haram militants in the past. Looking for water was very risky, and without access to water, the community – especially children – were at risk of waterborne diseases. Eni, in partnership with FAO, built a water well in Emily's community in 2019.

Watch Emily's first-hand account about how access to water "close to our doorsteps" has improved the quality of life for her community and her family.

There's never a great time to impose higher taxes on funeral services — but doing it in the middle of a raging pandemic is an especially bad move. Yet that was one of a number of measures that the Colombian government proposed last week in a controversial new tax bill that has provoked the country's largest and most violent protests in decades.

In the days since, the finance minister has resigned, the tax reform has been pulled, and President Iván Duque has called for fresh dialogue with activists, union leaders, and opposition politicians.

But demonstrations, vandalism, and deadly clashes with police have only intensified. Two dozen people are dead, 40 are missing, and the UN has criticized Colombian police for their heavy-handed response.

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While residents of wealthy countries are getting ready for hot vaxxed summer — COVID is still ravaging many low- and middle-income countries. The horrifying scenes coming out of India in recent weeks have gripped the world, causing governments and civil society to quickly mobilize and pledge support.

But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is also being pummeled by the pandemic — and has been for a year now. Yet thus far, the outpouring of aid and (solidarity) hasn't been as large.

What explains the global alarm at India's situation, and seeming passivity towards Brazil's plight? What are the politics of compassion?

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Paris-London face-off at sea: France and the UK are at loggerheads in the high seas this week over post-Brexit fishing access in Jersey, an island off the English Channel. Furious at regulations that they say makes it harder to fish in these lucrative waters, dozens of French fishing boats amassed near the Channel Island, threatening to block access to the port. In response, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson deployed two naval vessels — a move critics say was an unnecessary escalation, and an attempt by the PM to flex his muscles and bolster the Tory vote ahead of Thursday's regional election. France, for its part, sent its own naval ship and threatened to cut off Jersey's electricity supply, 90 percent of which comes from French underwater cables. Fishing rights was one of the final sticking points of Brexit trade negotiations, an emotive political issue for many Britons who say that they got a subpar deal when the UK joined the European Economic Community in the 1970s. Though an UK-EU Brexit agreement was finally reached in December 2020, it's clear that there are still thorny issues that need to be resolved.

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10: Joshua Wong was sentenced along with other Hong Kong democracy activists to 10 months in prison for participating in a vigil last year marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. Wong is currently behind bars for participating in separate pro-democracy protests, and will only start this new sentence after that term concludes in November.

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What's the biggest foreign policy misconception that Americans have about the US's role in the world? According to international relations expert Tom Nichols, too few Americans believe that the US, in fact, has a critical role in the world, and that the things Americans enjoy, from cheap goods to safe streets, are made possible because of American global leadership. "Americans have become so spoiled and inured to the idea that the world is a dangerous place that they don't understand that the seas are navigable because someone makes them that way. They don't understand that peace between the great powers is not simply like the weather, that just happens," Nichols tells Ian Bremmer. Their conversation is featured on an episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television – check local listings.

Watch the episode: Make politics "boring" again: Joe Biden's first 100 Days

The cover story of The Economist declares that Taiwan is "The most dangerous place on Earth," because China might finally be ready to plan an invasion of the island. But are the consequences of such a move worth the many risks to China and its President Xi Jinping? Ian Bremmer breaks out the Red Pen to to explain why a US-China war over Taiwan is unlikely.

We are taking our red pen to a recent article from The Economist. The Economist, you ask, how could I? I love The Economist, I know, I know. But you'd lose respect if I give this piece a pass. In fact, it was the magazine's cover story this week, so I had no choice. The image and headline say it all. Here it is, Taiwan is now "the most dangerous place on earth" as US/China relations continue to sour in the opening months of President Biden's administration.

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Delhi-based reporter Barkha Dutt's decades of journalism couldn't prepare her for the horrific experience of covering the death of one specific COVID-19 victim: her own father. In a conversation with Ian Bremmer, Dutt recounts her desperate struggle to find an ambulance to take her father through Delhi traffic to reach the hospital, only for him to die in the ICU. Their in-depth discussion looks at India's struggle with the world's worst COVID crisis in the upcoming episode of GZERO World begins airing on US public television Friday, May 7. Check local listings.

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Would China really invade Taiwan?

The Red Pen

India’s COVID crisis hits home

GZERO World Clips
The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal