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.

"I knew that history was my life's calling."

On Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch shares his journey and present-day work creating exhibits that inspire visitors to help our country live up to its ideals.

Alcohol. It's a dangerous drug that has ruined countless lives and derailed many a global summit. But it's also humanity's oldest social lubricant, a magical elixir that can fuel diplomatic breakthroughs, well into the wee hours of the night. As Winston Churchill once quipped, "I've taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me." On GZERO World, we take a deep dive down the bottle and examine the role alcohol has played in society, politics, and global summitry—from the earliest hunter-gatherer days to that memorable Obama Beer Summit in 2009. Joining Ian Bremmer is philosopher Edward Slingerland, whose new book Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way Into Civilization makes a compelling, if nuanced, case for alcohol's place in the world.

Also: since alcohol isn't the only social drug, a look at the state of marijuana legalization across the US and around the world.

A few weeks ago, a Signal reader emailed me to ask why so much of our coverage of the world is so damn dark. Aren't there any good news stories out there?

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Listen: A deep dive down the bottle to examine the role alcohol has played in society, politics, and global summitry—from the earliest hunter-gatherer days to that memorable Obama Beer Summit in 2009. Joining Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast is philosopher Edward Slingerland, whose new book Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way Into Civilization makes a compelling, if nuanced, case for alcohol's place in the world.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

There's a lot of doom and gloom in the world these days, and much cause for pessimism. Still, the advent of new technologies and scientific advancements has lifted billions out of poverty and increased quality of life for many over the last half century. Since 1990, global average life expectancy has increased by eight years to 73, while GDP per capita has also grown exponentially, doubling over the past decade alone. We take a look at how life expectancy and GDP per capita have evolved globally from 1960-2019.

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

Why can't President Biden order a vaccine mandate for all Americans?

Well, the reason is it's out of his powers. The one of the fundamental challenges in the pandemic is that the federal government has actually been fairly limited in the steps they can take to stop the spread of the virus. So, that's why you've seen President Biden order masks on transit, mass transit, airplanes, and the like. But he can't order masks in workplaces because that's not within his power. That power lies within state governments. State governments and other entities, like employers, can require vaccinations before you come into their buildings, or you come back to school, or you go to work in your office. But the federal government can't do that. What Biden is doing is, allegedly, supposedly going to announce a mandate for federal workers to get vaccinated.

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American gymnast Sunisa "Suni" Lee, 18, stunned spectators around the world with her breathtaking performance in Tokyo Thursday that earned her the gold.

Here are some interesting facts about Suni Lee, the gymnast queen:

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"Super Mario" takes his chances: Less than five months after becoming Italy's consensus prime minister, Mario Draghi's coalition government is on shaky ground over Draghi's proposed judicial reforms. "Super Mario" — as he's known for saving the Eurozone as European Central Bank chief during the financial crisis — wants to dramatically speed up Italy's famously slow courts. But his push to reduce judicial backlogs is opposed both by the populist 5-Star Movement, the coalition government's biggest party, and by prosecutors because many cases could be scrapped before reaching a verdict. Draghi, upset that this resistance is stalling his other initiatives to cut Italian red tape, has decided to roll the dice anyway: he'll put his plan to overhaul the courts to a no-confidence vote in parliament. If Draghi wins, he gets the reforms passed without debate; if he loses, the PM technically has to resign, but he'll keep his job because he has enough votes even if the 5-Star Movement bows out of the coalition.

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