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THE END OF WAR

THE END OF WAR

Your Friday author has fielded many questions recently about the chaotic state of current global affairs and the rising risks of a serious global conflict. After all, things do look pretty grim: we have an escalating trade fight between the world’s two largest economies, far-right nationalists on the rise in Europe, a US president intent on unmaking the global norms of the past thirty years, a Middle East that remains deeply unstable, and a slow-moving crisis of climate change that is only just starting to be felt.


But let’s put this current moment in perspective. Sunday will mark the 100-year anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, a conflagration sparked by a street corner murder in Sarajevo, today the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, that became a wildfire as formal alliances brought more and more nations into conflict. Some 70 million people were sent into military action. The war killed nine million soldiers and seven million civilians, and it triggered a number of genocides as empires fell and borders were redrawn.

My grandfather, a would-be journalist, served as an American officer in the trenches in France and he left behind battlefield photographs that he took himself. They are modest portraits of scorched earth, ruined cathedrals, and devastated lives that I’ll be looking through again this weekend.

When the war ended, the soldiers’ return triggered an influenza epidemic, the so-called Spanish Flu, that infected an estimated 500 million people across the world: from the large metropolises of Europe and the US, to remote South Pacific Islands, and even to the Arctic. More than 50 million people died. My grandmother’s 11-year-old brother was among those who perished. I have no doubt many Signal readers will have personal connections to these two human catastrophes.

So as we worry over events of the day and how they might shape the 21st century, spare a thought this Sunday for all those who lived and died through those turbulent years. It may put things in perspective.

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.

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"There needs to be a dramatic and deep reduction in the amount of debt on the poorest countries. That's clear." As the world's poorest nations struggle to recover from a devastating pandemic, World Bank President David Malpass argues that freeing them of much of their debt will be key. His conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Listen: Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that social media companies bear responsibility for the January 6th pro-Trump riots at the Capitol and will likely be complicit in the civil unrest that may continue well into Biden's presidency. It's no surprise, she argues, that the online rage that platforms like Facebook and Twitter intentionally foment translated into real-life violence. But if Silicon Valley's current role in our national discourse is untenable, how can the US government rein it in? That, it turns out, is a bit more complicated. Swisher joins Ian Bremmer on our podcast.

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

Biden's first scheduled call with a world leader will be with Canada's Justin Trudeau. What's going on with the Keystone Pipeline?

Well, Biden said that that's it. Executive order, one of the first is that he will stop any construction or development of the Keystone Pipeline. This is of course an oil pipeline that would allow further oil sands oil to come to the United States. The infrastructure is significantly overstretched, it's led to backlogs, inefficiency, accidents, all the rest, but it also facilitates more energy development and keeps prices comparatively down if you get it done. So, there are lots of reasons why the energy sector in Canada wants it. Having said all of that, Trudeau, even though he's been a supporter of Keystone XL, let's keep in mind that he did not win support in Alberta, which is where the big energy patch in Canada is located. This is a real problem for the government of Alberta, Canada is a very decentralized federal government, even more so than the United States. The premier of Alberta is immensely unhappy with Biden right now, they've taken a $1.5 billion equity stake in the project. I expect there will actually be litigation against the United States by the government of Alberta. But Trudeau is quite happy with Biden, his relationship was Trump was always walking on eggshells. The USMCA in negotiations ultimately successful but were very challenging for the Canadians, so too with the way Trump engaged in relations on China. All of this, the fact that Trump left the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Paris Climate Accords, WHO, all of that is stuff that Trudeau strongly opposed. He's going to be much more comfortable with this relationship. He's delighted that the first call from Biden is to him. And it certainly creates a level of normalcy in the US-Canada relationship that is very much appreciated by our neighbors to the North.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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