BREAK THAT WISHBONE

BREAK THAT WISHBONE

After the Turkey's done, it's a Thanksgiving tradition for two people at the dinner table to grab hold of the y-shaped “wishbone" of the Turkey, silently make wishes, and then pull it apart – whoever gets the bigger piece of bone gets what they want. Here are three groups of world leaders who'd make nice pairs when it's time to make a wish…


DONALD TRUMP AND XI JINPING

Trump's wish: “The president of China, who is greatly respected by me, will agree to cut support for China's flagship economic development project, Made in China 2025."

Xi's Wish: “Mr. Trump is more vulnerable politically to a trade war, so let's run out the clock until he is gone and then deal with a more predictable successor."

China and the US clashed during last weekend's APEC summit of Asia-Pacific powers in Papua New Guinea – with US President Mike Pence warning countries not to embrace Beijing's commercial overtures, while China's President Xi Jinping floated the dangers of conflict between the world's two largest economies. Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi will meet later this month on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Argentina, and the prospect of tamping down tensions look bleak.

The dispute is narrowly about trade and industrial policy – Trump wants Beijing to stop unfairly supporting Chinese firms while throwing up huge barriers to entry for American ones, and the Chinese want to preserve a wildly successful state-centric economic model that they now hope can catapult them to technological dominance. But it's also taken on an existential hue for both sides: the US increasingly sees China as a competitor, while Beijing bristles at the sense that America is trying to prevent China from assuming its rightful place as a global commercial and technological power.

JAIR BOLSONARO AND ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR

Bolsonaro's wish: “Right side of the wishbone."

Lopez Obrador's wish: “Left side of the wishbone."

Both Jair Bolsonaro, the rightwing president-elect of Brazil, and his leftwing Mexican counterpart Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, won elections by promising to make radical changes in countries plagued by violence and inequality. They share an almost messianic appeal among their supporters, and both have a strong nationalist streak. But the similarities end there.

Bolsonaro, who has spoken nostalgically of Brazil's military dictatorship, wants to solve Brazil's problems through a combination of business-friendly reforms and radically conservative social and security policies. Lopez Obrador, who idolizes the early Mexican revolutionaries and leftwing strongmen who ruled his native Tabasco State in the 1930s, wants to increase the government's role in the economy and has placed an amnesty proposal at the heart of his plans to deal with an epidemic of narco-violence.

Beyond their countries' borders, they also differ: Bolsonaro has outlined a Trump-friendly foreign policy that takes direct aim at the region's leftwing governments, particularly Venezuela and Cuba. Lopez Obrador, for his part, has invited Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to his inauguration, and he sees himself as a force for the renewal of a Latin American left tarnished by the recent debacles in Venezuela and Brazil. Watch this space closely: Latin America's two largest economies now have starkly different national and regional visions.

ANGELA MERKEL AND EMMANUEL MACRON

Macron's wish: “Money everyone can use."

Merkel's wish: “Money that everyone can use unless Germans are on the hook for it."

Both French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel believe that integrating the European Union further is the only way to head off the challenges of populist nationalism both on the continent (Hungary, Poland, Italy) and outside it (“America First"). On the economic front, an important part of that vision is Macron's proposal to create a common budget fund that can be used to help out eurozone members who run into economic or financial troubles.

Merkel has agreed to such a thing in principle, true. But big hurdles remain in implementing such a plan: most importantly, disagreement over its purpose. Macron sees the fund as a kind of rapid response tool, offering direct budgetary support for countries facing economic crises. But Merkel and the leaders of other fiscally fastidious Northern European countries wonder that would simply leave them on the hook for other countries' poor choices.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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Listen: Stanford historian Niall Ferguson joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast to talk about the geopolitics of disaster. Throughout human history we seem to be unable to adequately prepare for catastrophes (natural or human-caused) before they strike. Why is that? And as we emerge from the greatest calamity of our lifetimes in the COVID-19 pandemic and look to the plethora of crises that climate change has and will cause, what can we do to lessen the blow?

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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:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

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When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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