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Three Stories in the Key of: Vacuums

Three Stories in the Key of: Vacuums

Vacuums. Great for picking up dust, powering vintage amplifiers, or running a 27-mile long pre-war New York mail delivery system straight out of Jules Verne. But when it comes to political stability or defense of national interests, vacuums can be a challenge. Here’s a look at three spots around on the world where the void is the problem…


In Colombia, the demobilization of thousands of FARC guerrillas under the 2016 peace accords has left a power vacuum in parts of the country that narco-traffickers and other guerrilla groups have hastened to fill. Re-establishing state authority over these areas is indispensable to any serious effort at implementing the peace accords, which are already a deeply polarizing issue in the country as it heads for the second round of presidential elections in June.

In Syria, meanwhile, ISIS has lost almost all of the territory it controlled in the eastern reaches of the country, but no one has stepped in to govern. Notwithstanding its hideous and fanatical brutality, ISIS did run a real “state” replete with ministries, taxes, and even a DMV, as an extraordinary recent investigation showed. With no one around to provide basic services and security, ethnic and sectarian tensions are on the rise — until someone steps in to sustainably fill the power vacuum there isn’t a prayer of seeing stability, let alone peace, in Syria.

Lastly, a vacuum of a slightly different sort as US lawmakers advance new legislation that would substantially increase Congress’s power to review and block foreign investment in critical industries. The move doesn’t explicitly target any particular country, but the intent is clear: Senator John Cornyn sounded the alarm about China’s bid to, in his words, “weaponize investment in order to vacuum up all of our advanced technologies.”

Empathy and listening are key to establishing harmonious relationships, as demonstrated by Callista Azogu, GM of Human Resources & Organization for Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), an Eni subsidiary in Abuja. "To build trust is very difficult. To destroy it is very easy," says Callista, whose busy days involve everything from personnel issues to union relationships. She sees great potential for her native Nigeria not only because of the country's natural resources, but because of its vibrant and creative people.

Learn more about Callista in this episode of Faces of Eni.

For the world's wealthiest nations, including the United States, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine has been rocky, to say the least. And as a result, much of the developing world will have to wait even longer for their turn. Part of the challenge, World Bank President David Malpass says, is that "advanced economies have reserved a lot of the vaccine doses." Malpass sat down with Ian Bremmer recently to talk about what his organization is doing to try to keep millions around the world from slipping deeper into poverty during the pandemic. Their conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Saturday will mark the beginning of an historic turning point for European politics as 1,001 voting members of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, hold an online conference to elect a new leader.

Here are the basic facts:

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For the first time in twenty years, extreme poverty around the world is growing. How does the developing world recover from a pandemic that has brought even the richest nations to their knees? David Malpass, the President of the World Bank, is tasked with answering that question. He joins Ian Bremmer on GZERO World to talk about how his organization is trying to keep the developing world from slipping further into poverty in the wake of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

Joe Biden wants to move into the White House, but the coast isn't clear. He may need some bleach.

Watch more PUPPET REGIME here.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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