Today, young Americans' views on US foreign policy are often at odds with the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers, who vividly remember the great power rivalry of the Cold War. As a result, many of them tend to believe that the US has a responsibility to project power around the world. Of course, what America's youth think matters a great deal, because they'll make up the bulk of the future voting electorate — and thus could determine the direction of US foreign policy for years to come. We take a look at how different age groups feel about US responsibilities on a range of foreign policy issues based on a recent survey from the Eurasia Group Foundation.
Results for Eurasia Group Foundation
Most US politicians, and according to polling a majority of Americans, don't like China much these days, as the bilateral relationship has soured to its worst point in decades. But what do Chinese people think about the US? Turns out that a majority of Chinese have an unfavorable view of the US, too. A recent Eurasia Group Foundation survey shows that less than 35 percent of Chinese people now have a positive opinion of the US, compared to almost 57 percent just two years ago. We take a look at Chinese attitudes towards the US and its global and regional influence.
Watch the recording of GZERO Media virtual Town Hall, "Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year," presented in partnership with Eurasia Group and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Our panel discussed the road ahead in the global response to the COVID crisis. Will there be more multilateral cooperation on issues like gender equality moving forward from the pandemic?
Watch the event recording here: https://www.gzeromedia.com/townhall
Our moderator, CNBC health care correspondent Bertha Coombs, along with Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media, and Mark Suzman, CEO of the Gates Foundation, spoke with distinguished experts on three key issues:
Heidi Larson, Director, The Vaccine Confidence Project
- How will COVID vaccines be distributed safely?
Minouche Shafik, Director of London School of Economics & Political Science
- How has the pandemic disproportionately impacted women?
Madeleine Albright, Chair, Albright Stonebridge Group and Albright Capital Management; former US Secretary of State
- What is the opportunity for global cooperation emerging from this crisis, and what are the greatest political risks?
Friday, December 4, 2020
12 noon EST/9 am PST/5 pm (17:00) GMT
The coronavirus is the biggest crisis of the 21st century. Yet the global response lacked the international coordination that marked other major crises in recent history. Why? Probably because the sheer scale of the public health emergency overwhelmed most countries, including the US, the world's largest economy.
The virtually zero coordination was "astonishing," Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer said during a special town hall hosted on December 4th by GZERO Media in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group, moderated by CNBC health care correspondent Bertha Coombs. Also surprising, Bremmer added, was the fact that many nations that we expected to do well ended up failing as the pandemic became politicized, they didn't lead with science, and were slow to act.
Now, the good news is that the end of the pandemic may soon be within reach thanks to the development of effective vaccines. But that's just the first step, according to Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman.
The immediate challenge, he said, is how to get the vaccines to the billions of people that need them, many of which may have to take two doses for maximum protection against COVID-19. In developing countries, the experience of dealing with Ebola in West Africa shows us it can be done, but it will be no walk in the park. And the long-term solution to the lack of cold-storage infrastructure in many parts of the world is a vaccine that is cheap, can be manufactured at scale in multiple locations at the same time, and can be easily distributed.
Not to mention the problem of many people who won't be willing to roll up their sleeves. For Professor Heidi Larson, Director of The Vaccine Confidence Project, in an era of politicized hyper-uncertainty around vaccines, the way forward is not to try to cancel such attitudes but rather educate and convince skeptics by helping people connect the dots with pieces of information.
Larson is confident that if we get it right and bring the right people along, a lot more people will get vaccinated — dramatically improveing our odds of defeating COVID-19 in 2021.
The key to success in building trust is doing so in such a way that bridges the gap with just science by using "validators" that wield influence within certain communities, Suzman said reflecting on Gates' experience in vaccination campaigns in parts of the world where there was deep suspicion.
At the end of the day, though, human beings are actually creatures of herd behavior, so achieving COVID-19 herd immunity is only a matter of convincing enough people to follow others on taking the vaccine, Larson added.
While vaccines get rolled out, another problem is how governments can help address the impact of hundreds of millions of jobs lost, many of which are not coming back to the acceleration of the digital workplace and the post-pandemic prominence of a tech-driven labor market in many countries.
Minouche Shafik, Director of London School of Economics & Political Science, said that the most important societal consequences of COVID-19 may be the erosion of the social contract between governments and citizens, and the hollowing out of the middle class.
At a time when many are calling to expand the welfare state to support those who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, Shafik explained it's time to debunk the myth that it's really about taking money from the rich to give it to the poor, when in reality it's a system you pay into so you have resources so you have a "piggy bank" of resources to draw on when hard times come.
Going back to the lack of cooperation on a global crisis, many world leaders have criticized the US decision to go at it alone, withdrawing from the World Health Organization and most multilateral fora under Trump's "America First" response to COVID-19.
For Madeleine Albright, the former US Secretary of State, America is still the world's indispensable nation, but that doesn't mean alone. Rather, the pandemic should give the country time to reflect on its ideal role in the world, which in the future should rely much more on partnerships with its allies. COVID-19 has demonstrated that no single country can deal with such a crisis on its own, and it has underscored the need to reform not just how the US deals with multilateral institutions but also ro reform the UN itself.
Albright said that the US doesn't always need to be in the driver's seat, but it cannot be AWOL. Bremmer agreed, adding that leaving WHO was an "obscene" move that the incoming Biden administration will surely reverse once the new president is sworn in, along with rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and signing up to the COVAX initiative to ensure equitable access to vaccines worldwide.
"Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year" was the third event in a series presented by GZERO Media in partnership with Eurasia Group and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, publisher of The Optimist. Watch our previous events, "Could Our Response to COVID Help End Poverty?" and "Ending the COVID-19 Pandemic".
Watch the above video for more insights from our panelists.
What pandemic result will have the largest and longest-lasting impact on women? Is the world really building back better for half the global population? How can we ensure that the post-pandemic recovery is fair to women? And how does this all play into a wider GZERO world? A group of global experts debated these and other questions during a livestream conversation hosted by GZERO Media in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, moderated by eNCA senior news anchor Tumelo Mothotoane.
Dr. Okito Vanessa Wedi, founder and CEO of Creative Development, discussed the terrible impact that COVID misinformation had on women of child-bearing age, how pandemic-related lockdowns and school closures have created a perfect storm for violence against women, and the need to come up with new metrics to value caregiving.
London School of Economics Director Minouche Shafik explained why so much talent has been wasted by women being forced to drop out of the workforce, why we should include support for women caregivers in a new social contract, why investing in women's education is a virtuous circle for economic growth, and why it's time to reassess and come up with a fairer social system.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former head of UN Women, underscored how many women gave fallen through the tracks after being been caught in a crossfire not of their own making during the pandemic, why violence against women won't end with lifting lockdowns, and why women need digital skills to access remote jobs.
Eurasia Group and GZERO Media President Ian Bremmer pondered what the absence of US leadership means for women now in places like Afghanistan or Yemen, and how flexible work could really help women if they get the skills and support they need.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman analyzed the structural reasons behind the lack of follow-up to the 1995 Beijing Declaration to advance women's rights around the world, and offered some reasons for optimism regarding the future for women in a post-pandemic world.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Bradley Bowman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies argue that maintaining US military, financial, and political support in Afghanistan could have staved off a Taliban takeover. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to break down why staying in Afghanistan is not a reasonable option.
I'm sure it comes as no surprise that this week we're taking our red pen to an op-ed about Afghanistan and the heartbreaking, and frankly infuriating images we've seen coming from that country as the Taliban took control.
It is impossible to argue that what we're witnessing isn't a disaster and an epically bad ending to America's longest war in history. But there are some robust debates in the foreign policy and defense community about whether or not a continued US military presence after so much blood and treasure were already lost could have ultimately led to a different outcome in the country.
Case in point: A jointly written Wall Street Journal piece by former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Bradley Bowman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The two argue that maintaining US military, financial, and political support for the Afghan government and security forces could have staved off a Taliban takeover and that Biden's actions have made America less safe. We disagree.
Let's get out the Red Pen.
So point one, McMaster and Bowman dismiss characterizations of the American campaign in Afghanistan as a "costly forever war," pointing out that when Biden decided to withdraw, there were no more than 3,500 US troops left in Afghanistan, and not a single American soldier had been killed in combat in over a year.
This is true. It's a very important point. This was not the war the US was fighting when they had 120,000 troops on the ground with NATO, but it was also a war that was being lost. Lots of Afghans were losing their lives, and they, the Afghan defense forces, were losing territory to an emboldened and stronger than ever, since 9/11, Taliban. The existing US presence as it stood was not sustainable, especially when the ceasefire with the Taliban was set to end in May. It was either expand the NATO footprint or leave. I think if you could have made the argument that you could maintain the existing presence and it would be sustainable ongoing, very different discussion we are having here.
Point two, they say that "the idea that the Taliban is concerned about its reputation in New York or Geneva would be laughable if the circumstances weren't so grim."
Certainly, agree on New York and Geneva, Taliban leaders won't cozy up to Washington or Brussels any time soon. But I do want to say, that doesn't mean they aren't concerned about their international image. There's a reason why the Taliban took over the country without inflicting needless bloodshed, why they're giving interviews to CNN and even female Afghan journalists, why they're saying that Afghan women will have the right to work and be educated up to university level, and why they reached a "deconfliction mechanism" with the US to allow American officials and even some Afghans to leave the country safely. Indeed, it matters and it's a major PR win for the Taliban, and I hate to say this cause we don't want that, that the images flowing out of Afghanistan right now are not of Taliban violence, but of America's flight out of the country. I want to be clear, I think there is no reason to trust the Taliban or to think this is not going to be a horrifically brutal regime that does not respect humanitarian rights, that does not respect the rights of women on the ground, but they do care about their international image much more than they did 20 years ago. And that is going to be a challenge for the Americans to manage.
Point three, the authors point out that while Washington pundits said that there was "no military solution" in Afghanistan, the "Taliban seem to have come up with one."
So there was no American military solution in Afghanistan: The Americans were never going to dismantle the Taliban fully, just as they couldn't dismantle the Viet Cong fully 50 years ago. And just as the Viet Cong were prepared to wait out the Americans for as long as needed, and defeat inept native forces after Washington withdrew, so was the Taliban. The US needed complete victory, which it couldn't achieve. The Taliban just needed to hold on. And it's also very early to say that the Taliban's victory over the Americans means they are going to be able to hold onto the country, especially given that most of the Afghan budget was US aid, and that's now gone.
Point four, McMaster and Bowman also argue that the unfolding "humanitarian catastrophe" in Afghanistan "emboldens China, Russia and other adversaries eager to proclaim the United States an unreliable partner and a declining power."
In fact, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, which borders China, is going to be a headache for Beijing, because they need stability in the broader Middle East to ensure a reliable supply of energy and expand the reach of its Belt and Road initiative. They are not happy that the Americans left. In fact, that's why Chinese diplomats and state media are castigating the US's exit as "hasty and irresponsible". Much better for the Chinese to have the Americans providing some level of stability and paying for it in blood and treasure. And while the Russians certainly are painting the US as unreliable and are happy for more chaos in the region, this is in my view more similar to Ukraine and Georgia, where the United States didn't have strong national interests. And so, as a consequence, ultimately chose not to defend friendly governments when they were invaded. Washington's closest partners know differently. So, I don't believe that Taiwan and Japan are fundamentally changing their calculus of national interests with the United States on the basis of what they've just seen in Kabul. The real problem for American credibility is that the Americans made the decision to leave alone. They didn't in the Afghan policy review, bring the allies that they fought side by side with for 20 years now, into the conversation at all. That's why the Europeans, in particular, are so upset and that's why they are likely to see the Americans, going forward, as more unreliable. It's a process, it's not a decision.
Finally, the authors conclude by suggesting that the United States "should begin the painstaking work of mitigating the humanitarian and security catastrophe" because "jihadist terror in Afghanistan won't stay in Afghanistan."
We all want to mitigate Afghan suffering, but I need to know what exactly is this "work"? Is it sending forces back in? Is it providing money to the same civil society groups the Taliban is about to destroy? Is it covert intervention? These are vague talking points but they are not real policy solutions. Without an additional surge, which is politically impossible, the Afghan government was always going to fall. Following the same playbook that failed over the last 20 years is not a reasonable option.
So, there you have it. That's your Red Pen on this very busy, very upsetting news week. As the situation in Afghanistan unfolds, we'll be sure to bring you ongoing analysis, and we'll also be taking a look at state of the war on terror as we approach the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. You can be sure the Taliban will be doing that on the ground in Kabul.
From overall health and wellness to representation in the global workforce, women and girls have faced serious setbacks over the past 18+ months. They also hold the key to more robust and inclusive growth in the months and years ahead: McKinsey & Company estimates that centering recovery efforts on women could contribute $13 trillion to global GDP by 2030.
As part of our "Measuring What Matters" series, GZERO Media and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will look beyond traditional indicators of economic recovery to examine COVID-19's impact on girls and women, specifically in the areas of health and employment.
Key questions covered will include:
- How can policymakers take a gender-intentional approach in recovery programs to realize the benefits of an inclusive recovery?
- How should the public and private sectors collaborate?
- What should policy frameworks and support mechanisms look like?
- How can these immediate steps set us on track for robust and long-term growth?
Join our host, Tumelo Mothotoane of eNCA, in a live discussion with:
- Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group and GZERO Media
- Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Former Executive Director, UN Women
- Minouche Shafik, Director, LSE
- Mark Suzman, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Okito Vanessa Wedi, Snr Policy Advisor for Regional and Domestic Markets, Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
Join us today, September 29th, at 11 am ET for a GZERO Town Hall livestream event, Ending the COVID-19 Pandemic, to learn about the latest in the global hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Watch here at 11am ET: https://www.gzeromedia.com/events/town-hall-ending-the-covid-19-pandemic-livestream/
Our panel will discuss where things really stand on vaccine development, the political and economic challenges of distribution, and what societies need to be focused on until vaccine arrives in large scale. This event is the second in a series presented by GZERO Media in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group.
Apoorva Mandavilli, science & global health reporter for the New York Times, will moderate a conversation with:
- Lynda Stuart, Deputy Director, Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director, Energy, Climate & Resources, Eurasia Group
- Mark Suzman, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Gayle E. Smith, President & CEO, ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development
Sign up here to get alerts about future GZERO Media events.