Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.
Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.
On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.
If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.
<p>In short, we <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/whos-joe-biden-going-to-visit-first" target="_self">wrote</a> yesterday about what other countries want from America. Today, we look at what they should fear from the US… or at least from its polarized domestic politics. Solutions to many of today's global problems demand long-term commitments. As other governments plan, they want to know what to expect from the United States. They want to know what return they can expect on their own investments. They want to have confidence that Washington will prove a reliable partner.</p><p><strong>Transfers of power in Washington aren't new, but deep fundamental disagreements over US leadership are.</strong> Democrats and Republicans have alternated presidential power in the US for 160 years, but Donald Trump challenged an eight-decade consensus on the basics of America's role in the world on a scale we haven't seen in living memory. Joe Biden is now president, and he's got the pen to prove it, but his need to resort to executive orders reminds us of how little cooperation he can expect from <a href="https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/does-biden-really-think-republicans-will-work-with-him-and-could-he-be-right/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Congress</a>, where his party holds the narrowest of majorities. </p><p>More to the point, remember that Trump won more than 74 million votes in the 2020 election. The best measure of the narrowness of defeat is not the popular vote margin of seven million but the <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/12/02/940689086/narrow-wins-in-these-key-states-powered-biden-to-the-presidency" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">44,000 votes</a> that separated Biden from Trump in three crucial states. Trump himself may not return to the White House, but the defiant go-it-alone foreign policy he branded as "America First" has inspired tens of millions of Americans and may well return. Perhaps in 2024. </p><p><strong>So, if you lead another government, are you ready to bet on sustainable US commitments</strong> to protect Asian allies from dominance by China, contain Iran's nuclear ambitions, help manage humanitarian emergencies, take consequential action to defend human rights, honor the terms of trade agreements, reduce carbon emissions, lend to COVID-devastated economies, or invest in the future of NATO? </p><p>As former German ambassador to the US <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HMiGZYN__M" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Wolfgang Ischinger</a> recently told GZERO Media, Europeans leaders better be asking themselves this question: "Do we want to make our lives, our future, dependent on what … 50,000, or 60 or 80,000 voters in Georgia or Arizona may wish to do four years from now?" </p><strong>Bottom line:</strong> How, world leaders rightly wonder, can they have confidence that today's US commitments are sound long-term bets? That's a big problem not only for the United States — but for its allies and potential partners.
More Show less
January 21, 2021
Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that many of the country's social media companies need to be held accountable for their negative role in our current national discourse. Swisher calls for "a less friendly relationship with tech" by the Biden administration, an "internet bill of rights" around privacy, and an investigation into antitrust issues.
Swisher, who hosts the New York Times podcast Sway, joins Ian Bremmer for the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television nationwide beginning this Friday, January 22th. Check local listings.
January 21, 2021
Brexit pettiness lingers: Here we were naively thinking the Brexit shenanigans were over after the EU and UK agreed to an eleventh-hour post-Brexit trade deal last month. We were wrong — the saga continues. Now, a new row has erupted after the Johnson government said it will not give the EU ambassador in London the same diplomatic status awarded to other representatives of nation states. Unsurprisingly, this announcement peeved Brussels, whose delegates enjoy full diplomatic status in at least 142 other countries. The UK says it will give the EU envoy the same privileges as those given to international organizations, which are subject to change and do not include immunity from detention and taxation given to diplomats under the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. EU members are furious, with officials accusing London of simply trying to flex its muscles and engaging in "petty" behavior. The two sides will discuss the matter further when UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets EU representatives next week, their first face-to-face since the two sides settled the Brexit quagmire on December 31. Alas, the Brexit nightmare continues.
<p><strong>Protests in Russia this weekend: </strong>When Russian dissident Alexey Navalny returned to Russia last weekend for the first time since being poisoned there in August, the police promptly — and unsurprisingly — arrested him. But as he was being taken into custody, Navalny live-streamed from his phone, calling for mass protests on 23 January, this Saturday. Then he dropped a stunning two-hour documentary which alleges that decades of corrupt dealings are what enabled President Vladimir Putin to build himself a 17,000 acre palace on the Black Sea, replete with private casinos, theaters, and even a strip club. The video has already been <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipAnwilMncI&feature=youtu.be" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">viewed nearly 50 million times</a> on YouTube. But will people heed Navalny's call this weekend? Polls show that nearly <a href="https://www.levada.ru/indikatory/polozhenie-del-v-strane/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">20 percent of Russians say</a> (source in Russian) they'd take part in political protests. As it happens, that's the highest mark since 2011, when Navalny led the largest demonstrations in Russia's post-Soviet history. Still, talking to pollsters is one thing, braving batons is another: we're watching to see how many show up on Saturday. If it's, say, 10,000 or more, things could get interesting fast.</p>
More Show less
Now that Joe Biden is officially US president, leaders from around the world would like a word with him — but where will he make his first international trip?
After a tumultuous four years, many countries are now clamoring for a face-to-face with President Biden. That includes allies who felt abandoned by Trump's "America First" presidency, as well as adversaries with thorny issues on the agenda. We check in on who's pitching him hardest on a near-term state visit.
<p><strong>Canada. </strong>President Biden, it's Justin Trudeau. Look, it's no secret that there was <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/donald-trump-and-justin-trudeau-the-opposite-of-a-love-story" target="_self">no love lost </a>between me and Donald Trump. He ruined a good thing that Barack and I had going on when he <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38721056" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">withdrew</a> from the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a 12-nation trade deal — while also slapping <a href="https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/trumps-tariffs-on-canada-are-about-more-than-aluminum/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">tariffs</a> on Canadian steel. That was a low blow. Joe, come visit Ottawa. You're our largest trade partner. We can collaborate on human rights, security, trade, and join forces on clean energy initiatives. I'll also use my doe-eyed charm to encourage you to change your mind about the <a href="https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-alberta-canada-jason-kenney-4bb6721d53d8764f8ab8da8d81893543" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Keystone XL Pipeline</a>, which aimed to expand critical oil exports for Canada until you signed an <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/20/world/canada/keystone-trudeau-biden.html" target="_blank">executive order</a> Wednesday aborting the project. </p> <p><strong>UK.</strong> Joe, Boris on the line. I know I got cozy with your predecessor, but I did at least try to distance myself from Donald Trump after the recent insurrection at the US Capitol. I should get credit for that, no? Either way, let bygones be bygones. Now that Brexit is done and dusted, we really need to focus on our "special relationship." We have so much to sort out together: How to tackle China's increasingly bellicose behavior, reforming and refocusing <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/04/world/europe/nato-live-updates-trump-macron.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">NATO</a>, and tackling climate change now that you've recommitted to the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/18/world/americas/mexico-trump-amlo.html" target="_blank">Paris Climate goals. </a>And of course, we need to iron out the details of a new UK-US trade pact so that the anti-Brexit crusaders don't have another political mishap to hold over my head. </p> <p><strong>Mexico.</strong> Joe, it's Presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador here. As I<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/18/world/americas/mexico-trump-amlo.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> recently told you,</a> we have many challenges to tackle together — but let's not get too pally. Donald Trump was unpredictable and crass, sure, but he mostly left us alone. He didn't harangue us about human rights or rule of law, because he respects Mexico's "sovereignty." I'm not so sure about you though, Joe. That's why I recently <a href="https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20210105-mexico-offers-political-asylum-to-wikileaks-founder-julian-assange" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">offered </a>Julian Assange asylum here in Mexico, and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/07/mexico-dea-drug-agents-diplomatic-immunity" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">scrapped a law </a>giving American drug agents immunity on our home soil. It was important to assert myself a little before you came into office, <em>comprendes? </em>We need to come together to address security issues and the immigration crisis (there's already a new<a href="https://www.npr.org/2021/01/18/958092745/migrant-caravan-thousands-move-into-guatemala-hoping-to-reach-u-s" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> migrant caravan</a> heading towards the Rio Grande). But let's work on these issues together — from afar.</p> <p><strong>Germany.</strong> Finally, we're back together again — <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/angela-merkel-is-interviewing-puppet-regime" target="_self">Angela</a> and Joe — albeit <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/europe-minus-merkel" target="_self">briefly!</a> I'm not one for hyperbole, but you really need to prioritize a visit to Berlin pronto. There's urgent work to be done to <a href="https://www.euronews.com/2021/01/18/eu-us-relations-under-biden-won-t-be-the-same-as-before-trump-top-official-says" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">bolster </a>transatlantic relations after four years of chaos: We need to form a unified front on trade grievances with China (I know you're not thrilled about the <a href="https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3118137/china-eu-investment-deal-shows-biden-united-front-trade-will-not-be" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">EU-China investment deal</a> currently in the works, but come to the Chancellor's office, we'll talk.) European <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2020/09/15/us-image-plummets-internationally-as-most-say-country-has-handled-coronavirus-badly/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">confidence </a>in the US as a reliable partner is at historic lows, and while Emmanuel Macron, my friend in France, thinks Europe should assert itself and stop relying so much on Washington, I know our alliance matters now more than ever. Come to Berlin, Joe. Let me help you help yourself.</p> <p><strong>Iran. </strong>Joe, it's me, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/instant-article/idUSKBN29P0LX" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">President Hassan Rouhani</a>. Long time no see. We worked so well together on that nuclear deal back in 2015, before your predecessor came along and wrecked things. You and I both want to revive it somehow. Let's meet in, say, Geneva? We can try to find some common ground. If you lift those economic sanctions currently strangling the Iranian people, I'll try to get the mullahs to hit the brakes on this <a href="https://apnews.com/article/iran-uranium-enrichment-20-percent-ab0930064c446114506b8d085941cf84" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">rapidly increasing </a>uranium enrichment program. But we better meet quickly: we've got presidential elections in June, and my successor could be a real hardliner who won't be as willing to fraternize with Great Satan. Think about it, Joe.</p>
More Show less