The U.N. estimates $6 trillion a year is required to properly address all 17 sustainable development goals, such as providing 800 million people access to clean water. See how Bank of America is aligning its $2.4 trillion balance sheet to the task.
On Wednesday, Joe Biden will become president because eighty-one million Americans, the highest tally in US history, voted to change course after four years of Donald Trump's leadership. Like all presidents, Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris, take office with grand ambitions and high expectations, but rarely has a new administration taken power amid so much domestic upheaval and global uncertainty. And while Biden has pledged repeatedly to restore American "unity" across party lines — at a time of immense suffering, real achievements will matter a lot more than winged words.
Biden has a lot on his agenda, but within his first 100 days as president there are three key issues that we'll be watching closely for clues to how effectively he's able to advance their plans.
<p><strong>At home: the pandemic, naturally.</strong></p><p>As the pandemic rages globally, Biden is taking office in one of the sickest nations on earth. Confirmed cases surpassed 24 million, roughly 4,000 Americans are dying of the virus daily, and the unemployment rate is nearly seven percent. It's no surprise that<a href="https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-pandemics-race-and-ethnicity-immigration-coronavirus-pandemic-7535108288ea054830ff542654c1def5" target="_blank"> polls show</a> 53 percent of Americans see tackling the virus as a top priority, with close to 70 percent saying the same about the pandemic-wracked economy.</p><p>The centerpiece of Biden's response plan is a proposed $1.9 trillion<a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/14/politics/biden-economic-rescue-package-coronavirus-stimulus/index.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> stimulus package</a> that includes cash to help state and local governments manage the crisis and their finances, an additional $1,400 in direct assistance to low and middle income Americans, an extension of unemployment benefits, and funding for better COVID testing and vaccine rollout.</p><p>Biden needs to start with a bang, and congressional bargaining over this bill will test his ability to get things done with slim majorities in the House and Senate. Some Republicans and moderate<a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/533355-manchin-on-proposed-round-of-2k-checks-absolutely-not" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> Democrats</a> are<a href="https://www.vox.com/2021/1/16/22234722/republican-coronavirus-relief" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> already balki</a>ng at the price tag and targeting of the funds. The usual compromises will be made — on the size of the bill and its targeting — but if the haggling drags on while Americans suffer, Biden will pay a political price for it, affecting his ability to move the economic recovery legislation that he's teeing up for later this year, as well as to make good on his pledges to advance legislation on<a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/house-passes-sweeping-anti-discrimination-bill-to-expand-protections-of-lgbt-people/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> civil rights</a>, guns, and immigration.</p><p>One simple benchmark to watch here: Biden has promised that 100 million vaccine doses will be administered by day 100 - that's between now and April 29.</p><p><strong>Abroad: the clock ticks in Iran</strong></p><p>Of all the foreign policy challenges that await Biden — rebuilding ties with European and Asian allies, finding the right balance of confrontation and cooperation with a rising China, and don't forget North Korea! — the most urgent test he'll face early on comes from Iran. Biden has signaled he wants to return the US to the 2015 nuclear deal, which Trump abandoned in 2018. But the clock is ticking. The Iranians — who have stopped abiding by the deal's limits on uranium enrichment since the US walked out — are now<a href="https://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-says-it-is-producing-half-a-kilo-of-20-enriched-uranium-every-day/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> ramping up</a> their production of bomb-ready material. </p> <p>For another, Iran holds presidential elections this summer, and a hardliner who is less-inclined to negotiate with the West is likely to win. (The ultimate decision will remain with the Supreme Leader, but a hawkish new Iranian president can complicate the bargaining.) But rejoining any deal will be ultra-contentious on Capitol Hill, where many lawmakers of both parties want Iran to accept tighter constraints not only on its nuclear program but also its conventional war-making and regional meddling capabilities. Biden has argued that a more conventional, multilateral foreign policy can boost US interests in ways that Trump's impulsive unilateralism didn't. Iran will give him an early chance to prove it. </p><p><strong>Immigration: a test approaches</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Dramatically reducing the number of immigrants — both legal and illegal — was one of President Trump's signature, and most contentious, projects. Biden will immediately<a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/1/17/biden-to-reverse-trumps-muslim-ban-on-inauguration-day" target="_blank"> undo Trump order</a>s that limited asylum opportunities or barred US entry from certain majority-Muslim nations, and he is teeing up a landmark<a href="https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/biden-pitch-year-pathway-citizenship-day-immigration-reform/story?id=75333490" target="_blank"> immigration reform bill</a> that would provide a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants already in the US.</p>But the issue could flare up well before that bill enters Congress if large groups of migrants force the issue at the southern border in the coming months. Over the weekend, Honduran police used<a href="https://www.npr.org/2021/01/18/958092745/migrant-caravan-thousands-move-into-guatemala-hoping-to-reach-u-s" target="_blank"> tear gas and batons</a> to turn around one such group, but others will form as people fleeing violence and poverty across Central America anticipate a better chance to reach the US now that Trump is gone. Mexico has already warned that Biden needs to address the issue squarely — after four years of Trump's often cruel and unusual policies along the Rio Grande, a fresh crisis at the border will force Biden to prove he can do things better and more humanely.
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January 20, 2021
Kamala Harris was sworn in today as the first woman Vice President of the United States. That means she's only a heartbeat away from occupying the Oval Office — and could well be the Democratic candidate to replace Joe Biden if the 78-year-old president decides to not run for reelection in 2024. Should Harris — or another woman — become US president soon in the future, that'll (finally) put America on par with most of the world's top 20 economies, which have already had a female head of state or government at some point in their democratic history. Here we take a look at which ones those are.
January 20, 2021
Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:
Hi everybody. It is the last day of the Trump administration. Most of you, probably pretty pleased about that. A majority of Americans, though not a large majority, but certainly a majority of people around the world. And given that that's a good half of the folks that follow what we do at GZERO, that counts to a majority. And look, I ought to be clear, when we talk about the Trump administration and their foreign policy legacy, "America First" was not intended to be popular outside of the United States. So, it's not surprising that most people are happy to see the back of this president. But I thought what I would do would be to go back four years after say, what are the successes? Is there anything that Trump has actually done, the Trump administration has done that we think is better off in terms of foreign policy for the United States and in some cases for the world than it would have been if he hadn't been there? And I actually came up with a list. So, I thought I'd give it to you.
<p>I'm more than happy to be critical of Trump as need be, you all know, but it's at the end of the administration. And I'm an upbeat kind of guy, I thought it'd be nice to leave with some of the successes. And before I get into the list, let me be clear, there are, I think, three reasons why you get successes in the Trump administration. The first is that some of Trump's own impulses were actually right. I mean, the fact that he wanted to end wars, for example. That's generally speaking a pretty useful impulse that the foreign policy establishment just hadn't been able to get its head around. Secondly, whatever you think of President Trump himself, a lot of the members of his administration were capable, were professional and tried to do their jobs, and that actually comes through. And then finally, and perhaps this is most important, when you're running the most powerful country in the world, you get luckier because other countries, even if they don't like what you're saying or you're doing, recognize the consequences of not going along are really costly. And that helps any president become more successful than they otherwise would have been and certainly played to Trump's advantages over the course of his four years. So, let me go through the list and I'll start with what I think are the most important.</p><p>First on US-China policy and most importantly on technology. I mean, this had been really a non-issue or even in some cases, a fait accompli where most allies were mistrustful of the United States after the Snowden disclosures and looking to hedge towards a cheaper, faster rollout to Chinese 5G. And instead, you now have most of the world's advanced industrial economies deciding to work together on Western solutions for the next generation of data technologies and anything with a chip in it. That started with the Trump administration saying, "Chinese 5G is not okay. It's dangerous to US national security, dangerous for allies as well." That's probably their most significant success, and by the way, one that the Biden administration is completely aligned with. When Biden first threw his hat in as presidential candidate, he said, "What do you mean? China's not a significant threat. They're not a competitor. I mean, what are you talking about? It's all about Russia." Very quickly, Biden had blowback, realized that he was out of date on this stuff. He got up to speed and now the Biden administration is almost completely aligned with the Trump administration in their key aspects of China policy.</p><p>Secondly, the Abraham Accords, the normalization of Israel diplomatic relations with a series of Arab states, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan, other countries moving towards normalization. We see that with Oman, and we see it with even Saudi Arabia. This is a big deal, and it was a big deal that was basically a recognition on the part of the Trump administration that the geopolitics of the region had changed. Started with their first trip ever, when Trump became president, was to Saudi Arabia and Israel. Radically different from what other presidents would have done. Previous administrations, even Secretary of State John Kerry said, "Unless you do Israel-Palestinian peace, you will never get peace between Israel and other states." Actually, the Palestinian issue is becoming less important, the Iran issue much more so. Energy production in the region was becoming more problematic in terms of their national security. Prices were going down; the US had more influence. They used it. That was what allowed those countries to normalize that relationship. </p><p>Some trade wins. Most of the coverage of trade on the Trump administration has been about deficits and Trump wielding tariffs when he doesn't get what he wants. And admittedly, trade today is higher tax and more disrupted on balance than when Trump took office, but there have been significant successes. The most significant, I'd say two; KORUS, which is the South Korea-US trade deal. The US got South Korea to rewrite a lot of their own laws to satisfy Washington without the US having to give any major changes or having to go through Congress to gain approval. The USMCA, the new NAFTA is in many ways a smaller, less controversial piece of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Obama couldn't get done and Trump then killed. It does make much more of the entirety of trade between the US, Mexico and Canada covered by a trade agreement, including things like data, intellectual property, services, it modernizes the relationship. You have the opening of a US-Kenya trade agreement. And for all of the flak that Trump got on calling African states shithole countries, it's interesting that he's only the second president that's ever opened a trade agreement with an important African country, especially because it helped stop their alignment with China and creates a new template for post-African growth and an opportunity act trade regime with Africa that the Biden administration will move on. </p><p>The war on ISIS. I mean, there's no question that the Islamic state came to an end as a territorial unit with local governance following an aggressive and effective Trump campaign to incapacitate the organization and weaken its threat to the US and allies. The war was started under Obama, ISIS had lost about half of its territory in Iraq, a little bit less than that in Syria before Trump's inauguration, but the Trump administration actually ramped it up. They've really been defeated as a consequence. Also, let's not forget the US killing of former ISIS head, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was a big symbolic win also under the Trump administration. </p><p>Mexico immigration. Believe it or not, for all of Trump's talk about building the wall on the border with Mexico, that Mexico was to pay for, which was always a big joke, no, instead, President Trump did get a wall built. He got much tighter security on Mexico's Southern border. He threatened Mexico with heavy tariffs if they didn't close the Southern border and effectively police illegal immigrants, and they did. There were decades of problems on this issue and President AMLO, Lopez Obrador took significant political and economic costs at home to police their border more effectively with Central America. Within six months, border flows into the United States were down over 50%, actually a pretty big deal. Kind of funny it's not one Trump ever talked about because he was always so focused on the wall, that was a big part of his campaign with the US Southern border. </p><p>OPEC. I would say that given that the US energy production has been so much higher under Obama and then under Trump, Trump was able to weaponize the American relationship with OPEC's strongest members, Saudi Arabia, like no other president. That meant that OPEC was more responsive to Trump's complaints of oil prices being too high early in the administration, and also got to that big, historic really, oil cut agreement among the COVID dislocations that was in no small part due to pressure from the White House. </p><p>I mentioned at the beginning the fact that Trump talked about wanting to end wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. You did see continued drawdown of troops in both of those countries and a foreseeable end to the Afghanistan war, the longest war in American history. Controversial decisions, but let's be clear that the foreign policy establishment said that if that was going to happen, you would have outside players monopolizing these power vacuums, taking over. That didn't happen. No one player has done that. And it also makes the pivot to Asia much more feasible when the United States is less bogged down in the Middle East. </p><p>International organization victories. I mean, the US has left a lot of organizations under Trump. That gets a lot of attention. I would mention that a meaningful one is the World Intellectual Property Organization, where the US and China were in a direct fight over its future. And the Trump administration actually cultivated alliances, isolated China, helped get a Singaporean as the new director general over a Chinese candidate, it gives a lot more influence to the US in an area that actually matters, especially the future of technology and governance for corporations going forward. Had a very successful US led World Bank funding round that was orchestrated by David Malpass, who runs that organization. And I'd also mentioned a fight in the International Atomic Energy Agency, where the Trump administration got the preferred American candidate in, which especially matters given the need to get more support after the US pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal, they got it from the IAEA. </p><p>A number of US allies did get stronger, relationships with the US under Trump, things that we talk about a fair amount. Brazil under Bolsonaro, India under Modi, and the new Indo-Pak agreement, which you'll see continued under Biden. Certainly, Israel under Netanyahu who had been more deteriorated somewhat under Obama. And the Gulf Arabs. I'd also mentioned Poland in that list.</p><p>NATO cost sharing. Despite the fact that Trump said he was opposed to NATO in rhetoric, the reality was the Trump administration continued to push for NATO countries to pay more in defense. They were doing more under Obama and they did even more under Trump. That direction will likely continue. </p><p>I'd mentioned Sudan. It's hard to say that all of this is just the United States because there were a lot of countries that were looking for influence after Omar al-Bashir was no longer in power, but the Trump administration did help to push back an effort by the Sudanese military to sweep aside civilians and worked with both inside and outside actors, including the UN to help ensure democratic transition that has a real shot at success after decades of dictatorship.</p><p>So, if you put it all together, there is a list of things that the Americans got done in foreign policy under the Trump administration. And four years out, and we don't have to deal with him as president anymore, it's nice to look back and say it wasn't all horrible. I'm willing to do that. Maybe it brings us tiny bit closer together. So, there it is. We've now got President Biden and I'll see you all real soon.</p>
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quick take ian bremmer trump trump foreign policy MIKE POMPEO rex tillerson US FOREIGN POLICY US-CHINA TIES tech cold war joe biden biden foreign policy abraham accords ISRAEL uae bahrain morocco sudan oman saudi-arabia SOUTH KOREA TRADE syria iraq isis abu bakr al-baghdadi mexico korus usmca immigration amlo lopez obrador opec oil AFGHANISTAN world intellectual property organization world bank david malpass wipo iaea international atomic energy agency iran nuclear deal nato united states united nations
January 20, 2021
Biden's first-day blitz: Just hours after taking the oath of office as the 46th US president, Joe Biden hit the ground running, signing a whopping 17 executive actions, most of which reverse the Trump administration's policies. The main areas of focus are COVID (reorganizing the federal response coordination structure, returning to the World Health Organization), climate change (rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, cancelling the Keystone KL pipeline), and immigration (ending the travel ban for certain Muslim-majority countries, stopping construction of the southern border wall, and giving more protection to so-called "Dreamers," undocumented people who entered the country when they were children). He also signed orders directing US federal agencies to root out discrimination and barriers to opportunity in their hiring and policies. We're watching how many of these actions will be challenged in the courts — as a lot of Trump's were four years ago — and whether they will hamper Biden's ability to get moderate Republican support for key legislation he can't get done just with the stroke of his pen.
<p> <strong>Netherlands curfew:</strong> Once an outlier in Europe for its <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-06-05/netherlands-coronavirus-lockdown-dutch-followed-the-rules" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">somewhat lax</a> approach to the pandemic, the Dutch government has <a href="https://apnews.com/article/public-health-mark-rutte-netherlands-south-america-coronavirus-pandemic-3766a48f38b748e7f509c9f13a86336e" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">proposed</a> implementing the country's first nationwide curfew since World War Two, while also banning all flights from the UK, South Africa and South America. With infections surging, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he doesn't have a choice anymore as the new COVID strain from Great Britain threatens the Netherlands — where the government has come <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/dutch-government-fire-late-start-vaccinations-74947224" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">under fire</a> for being the last EU member state to roll out vaccines (only 100,000 have gotten the jab so far). The decision comes at a tough time for Rutte, whose entire government <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55674146" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">stepped down</a> last Friday over a childcare subsidies fraud scandal. Rutte will remain interim PM until after new elections are held, but he must rely on broad support from all political parties to get his new pandemic response measures — including the curfew — approved in parliament. Will the outgoing Rutte manage to convince enough skeptics to back his measures to keep the virus in check before the March 17 vote?</p><strong>Fresh violence in Darfur:</strong> Just weeks after the UN and the African Union <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/31/un-au-mission-in-sudans-darfur-ends-mandate-after-13-years" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">announced</a> they would end a 13-year long peacekeeping mission in Sudan's long-troubled Darfur region, a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/19/world/africa/sudan-darfur-violence.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">fresh outbreak of violence</a> has claimed more than 100 lives in recent days. The violence <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/sudan-83-killed-in-darfur-violence/a-56253104" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">began</a> over a stabbing that quickly led to militia group attacks that forced 50,000 people to flee their homes. The clashes take place months after Sudan's transitional civilian-military government <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/what-were-watching-a-peace-deal-in-sudan-india-china-border-flare-up-eu-threatens-ankara" target="_self">signed</a> a shaky deal with Darfur rebel groups that raised hopes for peace in a <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-22336600" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">long-running territorial, ethnic, and sectarian conflict</a> that pits local rebels against the central government. The fighting has killed some 300,000 and displaced more than 5 million since 2003, as the government employed militias to carry out a genocide against the local population. If the Sudanese are unable to calm tensions soon and ensure security, foreign peacekeepers may have to cancel their withdrawal and stay in Darfur longer than expected.
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