Quick Take: Russian cyber attacks, the Electoral College & Dr. Jill Biden

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody, Ian Bremmer here. Yet another week of your Quick Take. What the hell is going on?

Well, first, I mean, the news that we really didn't want to hear, these massive cyber attacks, almost certainly from Russia against the Department of Treasury, Department of Commerce and other places. So what do we make of this? Well first of all, this is not about timing to hit right before Biden becomes president. These attacks have been going on for months, we only just found out about them so they've been engaged. We could have found out after the election, before. The Russians were, in this case, they didn't know if Trump was going to win or not. They did it anyway. I think what's more relevant is that there are just an enormous number of vulnerabilities that the United States has in all of its critical infrastructure.


There's all sorts of attacks and espionage that are going on at the hands of the Russians, the Chinese to a lesser degree, Iran and some other actors, and we just don't find out about many of them. And that's a problem, that's an enormous vulnerability. Now, I guess the good news is that the U.S. has offensive capabilities that are every bit as robust as what the Russians and Chinese have. So even though we don't know how to deter, and we don't really know how to defend, the presumption is we also are engaging in these attacks ourselves. So, one thing that I think is relevant, I mean, this will be a serious issue, even a crisis that will be on incoming President Elect Biden's to do list as soon as he takes over, but that doesn't mean that he's going to take very serious action, and I think there are a bunch of reasons for that. One is because historically the Americans have not had very good ideas of what to do in response to cyber attacks when they're hard to identify, when there's a lot that's going on.

And when escalation is comparatively easy, you don't necessarily want to take a large measure that could lead to a major conflict. Furthermore, if the Americans are doing same, the potential that you could end up with a serious amount of mutual exposure of massive assets on both sides, that could lead to a lot of people being outed that are working in classified situations, that could have their lives ruined, their families ruined, maybe even get killed, something that you're reluctant to do, so it's not mutually assured destruction. It's not like the nuclear balance the Americans and the Russians have, but it is important to understand that we hear about few of the Russian and Chinese acts because we don't know about them. We hear about virtually none of the American cyber attacks on Russia and China because they're authoritarian states and they don't want to tell anyone that they have those vulnerabilities. So, the fact that we only have limited news here doesn't mean that we understand the full extent of the engagement.

Okay. That's one point. Secondly, today, big day today, we've got the electoral college actually making the President Elect, certifying, if you will, closing that election. The Wall Street Journal editorial board, which has been pretty consistently very pro-Trump, has come out and said, okay, it's it. It's over. You're done. Come on, concede now, President Trump. He's not going to do that. He's not going to do that because he sees no reason. He's raising a lot of money, he has the biggest megaphone in the Republican Parties, the most powerful person, and his ability to continue to have that influence after the elections are over grows if his story is the election was stolen against me, and a majority of Republicans who voted for him actually believe it. And they do.

That's a major problem for U.S. democracy. It's a major problem for the erosion of U.S. political institutions and for the divisions inside the United States politically, and of course, socially and economically. But there's no reason politically why Trump would change a strategy that is working, I mean, unless you think that he has some broader motive that he cares about, the sustainability of U.S. democracy or the wellbeing of the citizens as a whole, and I don't think anyone really buys that. So, this is a challenge, and it's going to continue to be a challenge, even though it's very clear that come January 20th, President Elect Biden becomes President Biden. And a final point, just something that I think I felt like weighing in on. I was sort of bemused, since we're talking about the Wall Street Journal, by this op-ed that got a massive amount of attention from this guy, Joe Epstein, that was quite disparaging and pretty misogynistic saying, Jill Biden, why don't you not call yourself a doctor?

And I say that because it was disparaging to her, referred to her as kiddo. I don't know why the editorial types would allow that to go through. It only talked about; it was disparaging about what she wrote her doctorate education on as opposed to other folks that could have easily been called out on that on the Republican side. I mean, why not say it's also wrong for Dr. Kissinger? Why not say it's wrong for Dr. Sebastian Gorka, who has a pretty silly PhD and always demands that you refer to him as that? But I will also say that I do personally feel like there are a lot of people out there that use credentials in ways that are kind of off-putting and disparaging. And I see it a lot in academe, especially with folks that haven't necessarily done a lot in their field, that they want everyone to call them doctor.

And it's kind of like the guy that you see at a party who immediately has to tell you how important they are, what they've accomplished in life, real blowhard and you try to avoid those people at all means. And I kind of feel like if you can do it, you don't necessarily need to show it. Having said that, there's a real issue of gender and race that is going on, which is that, I mean, when you are in an environment, especially academe, which is largely white and male dominated, and a society in the United States that's largely white male dominated, and you have an advanced degree and a lot of people are already finding ways to disparage you and put you down, that you definitely want to use that degree to force yourself into the dialogue, make it harder for people to say that you don't necessarily matter.

So, in other words, it's very easy for me to say, you don't have to call me doctor, and I don't like it when my students do it. And Ian is just fine, because I'm a white guy with a company and a job. But if you aren't necessarily in that situation, I'm a little bit more sympathetic. In fact, a lot more sympathetic. So anyway, those are my views. I think it's a complicated topic. And it was unfortunate that Epstein wrote such a stupid piece, because it's a piece that actually deserves a broader real conversation in lots of its manifestations. What I will say is that if you have a degree, or Lord knows a peerage, or a knighthood, or some other title, and you don't really need to be using it to stuff it in people's faces all the time, maybe take a step back. I think that generally speaking, anything we can do to create a greater sense of community and kinship is probably something that makes this world slightly better right now. A little bit less crazy, we always like that.

Anyway, good to talk to everybody. Hope everyone has a good week. It's Christmas coming up, and let's be well and avoid people. Talk to you soon.

Meet Zoe Marshall, grandmother, fishmonger, and thriving business owner.

https://ad.doubleclick.net/ddm/trackimp/N6024.4218512GZEROMEDIA/B26379324.311531246;dc_trk_aid=504469522;dc_trk_cid=156468981;ord=[timestamp];dc_lat=;dc_rdid=;tag_for_child_directed_treatment=;tfua=;gdpr=${GDPR};gdpr_consent=${GDPR_CONSENT_755};ltd=

When Zoe Marshall decided to switch careers in her forties and become a fishmonger, she was scared. After leaving her job of 23 years, Zoe was forced to pivot in order to keep her family's home. Despite challenges, she forged ahead, opening Sea-Licious. Accepting Visa payments in her fishmonger shop, this access to commerce helps Zoe provide convenience to her customers and confidence in their transactions. Though she's one of the only women in the fish market each morning, her business and its place in the local community are flourishing with Visa's help.

Learn more about Zoe and her story.

Back in August, when the Taliban took over, we asked whether anyone in the international community would recognize them. Now it looks like things are heading that way.

This week, the Kremlin hosted a summit with the Taliban that was attended by China, India and Pakistan, as well as all five Central Asian Republics.

The domestically-focused US, however, wasn't there. The US continues to maintain that the Taliban can't be trusted. But does it matter? In 2021 does a Taliban-led government even need American recognition to function and thrive?

More Show less

Taking place on October 21 and 22, the Sustainability Leaders Summit will go beyond preexisting narratives and debate priorities for governments and industries ahead of COP26. Placing the spotlight on Asia's role in the global sustainability agenda, the event will address whether Asian countries and companies can achieve shared sustainability goals, and what is needed to help get them there. The summit will be co-hosted by Tak Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings, and Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. We will address three key questions: How can Asian countries, with the help of the private sector, achieve shared Sustainability Goals? Why does this matter? And what are the policy changes needed to bring it about?

Attendance is free and open to the public. Register to attend.

More Show less

For Kevin Rudd, former Australian PM and now CEO of the Asia Society, the science on climate change is pretty much done, so the only unresolved issues are tech and — more importantly — lack of political leadership. He can't think of a single national political leader who can fill the role, and says the only way to get political action on climate is to mobilize public opinion.

Rudd joined for the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit livestream conversation sponsored by Suntory. Watch here and register here to watch part two Friday 10/22 at 8 am ET.

The minutiae of supply chains makes for boring dinner table talk, but it's increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation now that packages are taking much longer to arrive in the consumer-oriented US, while prices of goods soar.

With the issue unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, right-wing media have dubbed President Biden the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, conjuring images of sad Christmas trees surrounded by distraught children whose holiday gifts are stuck somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

It hasn't been a good run for Uncle Joe in recent months. What issues are tripping him up?

More Show less

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the NBA's latest rift with China, Brazil's Senate investigation, and COVID booster shots.

China wipes Boston Celtics from NBA broadcast after the "Free Tibet" speech from Enes Kanter. Is NBA boxing itself into a corner?

Nice mixed sports metaphor there. NBA has some challenges because they are of course the most progressive on political and social issues in the United States among sports leagues, but not when it comes to China, their most important international market. And you've seen that with LeBron James telling everyone about we need to learn better from the Communist Party on issues like Hong Kong and how Daryl Morey got hammered for taking his stance in favor of Hong Kong democracy. Well, Enes Kanter's doing the same thing and he's a second-string center. Didn't even play yesterday and still the Chinese said that they were not going to air any Boston Celtics games. Why? Because he criticized the Chinese government and had some "Free Tibet" sneakers. This is a real problem for a lot of corporations out there, but particularly publicly, the NBA. Watch for a bunch of American politicians to make it harder for the NBA going forward, saying how dare you kowtow to the Chinese when you're all about "Black Lives Matter" inside the United States. No fun.

More Show less

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

A Trump media platform? Is this for real?

This week, President Trump announced his potential return to social media through the creation of his own digital media platform that's going to merge with an existing publicly-traded company in a deal known as a SPAC. These deals are increasingly popular for getting access to capital, and it seems like that's where President Trump is headed.

The publicly-traded company's stock was up on the news, but it's really hard to see this coming together. The Trump media company claims it wants to go up against not only Facebook and Twitter, but companies like Amazon and cloud computing and even Disney providing a safe space for conservatives to share their points of view. The fact of the matter is, conservatives do quite well on existing social media platforms when they aren't being kicked off for violating the terms of service, and other conservative social media platforms that have attempted to launch this year haven't really gone off the ground.

More Show less

Protests in Sudan: Protests are again shaking the Sudanese capital, as supporters of rival wings of the transitional government take to the streets. Back in 2019, after popular demonstrations led to the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir, a deal was struck between civilian activists and the army, in which a joint civilian-military government would run the country until fresh elections could be held in 2023. But now supporters of the military wing are calling on it to dissolve the government entirely, while supporters of the civilian wing are counter-protesting. Making matters worse, a pro-military tribal leader in Eastern Sudan has set up a blockade which is interrupting the flow of goods and food to the capital. The US, which backs the civilian wing, has sent an envoy to Khartoum as tensions rise, while Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are all vying for a piece as well.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal