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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.

Wales, early 19th century: During breaks from his law studies, William Robert Grove indulges in his passion for science to become an inventor. On his honeymoon in Europe, he learns about the new energy source everyone's talking about: electricity. After learning that electricity allows water to be broken down into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen, his intuition leads him to an idea that ends up making him a pioneer of sustainable energy production.

Watch the story of William Robert Grove in Eni's MINDS series, where we travel through time seeking scientists.

El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele is an unusual politician. The 39-year old political outsider boasts of his political triumphs on TikTok, dons a suave casual uniform (backwards-facing cap; leather jacket; tieless ), and refuses to abide by Supreme Court rulings.

Bukele also enjoys one of the world's highest approval ratings, and that's what helped his New Ideas party clinch a decisive victory in legislative elections on February 28, securing a close to two-third's supermajority (75 percent of the vote had been counted at the time of this writing).

His triumph will resonate far beyond the borders of El Salvador, Central America's smallest country, home to 6.5 million people. Now that Bukele has consolidated power in a big way, here are a few key developments to keep an eye on.

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Now that millions of high-priority Americans have been vaccinated, many people in low-risk groups are starting to ask the same question: when's my turn? Dr. Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious diseases expert, has an answer, but probably not the one they're hoping for: "It probably won't be until May or June before we can at least start to get the normal non-prioritized person vaccinated." On GZERO World, Dr. Fauci also addresses another burning question: why aren't schools reopening faster? And while Dr. Fauci acknowledges that reopening schools must be a top priority, he has no quick fixes there, either. In fact, that's kind of a theme of the interview.

Watch the GZERO World episode: Dr. Fauci's Pandemic Prognosis

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

I thought I would talk today, I haven't spoken much about former President Trump since he's no longer president and I intend to continue that practice. But given this weekend and the big speech at CPAC and the fact that in the straw poll, Trump won and won by a long margin. I mean, DeSantis came in number two, but he's the Governor of Florida, CPAC was in Orlando, so that's a home court bias. In reality, it's Trump's party. And I think given all of that, it's worth spending a little bit of time reflecting on what that means, how I think about these things.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and as we head into the weekend, a Quick Take on, well, the first bombing campaign of the new Biden administration. You kind of knew it was going to happen. Against some Iranian-backed militias in Syria, looks like a couple of dozen, perhaps more killed, and some militia-connected military facilities destroyed. I think there are a few ways to look at this, maybe three different lenses.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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Biden strikes Syria. Now what?

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