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The US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff

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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The Graphic Truth: Who controls Afghanistan?

The Taliban have already made massive territorial gains in Afghanistan since the Biden administration announced that it would withdraw all US forces by September of this year. In many instances, Afghan security forces have abandoned their bases and handed over territory rather than confront Taliban fighters directly. Recently, Taliban militants gained control of the Islam Qala crossing between Afghanistan and Iran, which generates $20 million in monthly revenue for the Afghan government. Days later, the critical Wesh-Chaman border crossing with Pakistan fell to Taliban control as well. With the US withdrawal already more than 90 percent complete, the Taliban already control more than half of all Afghan districts. So as the last few US forces prepare to leave, we take a look at who controls what in Afghanistan. Spoiler: it's a significantly different state of play from when we last mapped it out less than two years ago.


UPDATE: The graphic and text were updated on July 14, 2021 to include theTaliban capture of the Wesh-Chaman border crossing with Pakistan.

What We’re Watching: EU goes green, Ethiopians at war, Taliban gains, Bolsonaro’s hiccups

Europe's green moonshot: The EU is going big on climate policy. On Wednesday the European Commission, the bloc's political cupola, committed to reducing EU greenhouse gas emissions 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. These plans are the most ambitious of any large country or union on Earth: recent pledges by the US and China, the number one and number two polluters, are both more modest. The EU's proposals include new carbon trading schemes, investments in green tech, boosts for electric vehicles, and financial support to help lower-income communities adopt clean technologies. But as always, the EU's best-laid plans will still need to run through the wringer of 27 member states, each with their own agendas and constituencies. We, and the planet, are watching to see what things look like on the other side of that.

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Haitian president's killing reflects unprecedented rise in violence

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

What do we know about the assassination of Haiti's president?

Well, we know it's not making an awful lot of news the assassination of the leader of a country, because Haiti's a tiny economy. It's incredibly poor, it's been devastated by natural disasters and also by general lawlessness in the country. And over the last month, gang violence has become historically unprecedented. The police have been unable to maintain law and order in the streets, in most of the cities or sort of, major towns in Haiti. You've had thousands of Haitians displaced. You've had dozens of civilians killed and then overnight a gang entered the personal residence of the president. Again, police and presidential guard unable to stop them and he's dead. And his wife, the First Lady is in the hospital. It's a pretty staggering situation and obviously, some international support, some peacekeepers could be useful on the ground. Aid by itself is not going to do it right now.

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​Is the US abandoning NATO in Afghanistan?

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Welcome to your week. Got a Quick Take for you. Wanted to talk a little bit about Afghanistan. The United States has announced, and not for the first time, that we will be leaving, ending the 20-year war. Detractors calling it The Forever War, and with good reason: it is the longest war that the United States has in its history ever fought, spending over a trillion dollars conservatively. Estimated well over 2000 American servicemen and women dead, over 40,000 Afghan civilians dead, and well over 70% of Americans want out, want to end the war. So you can understand why President Biden wanted to make that decision. You understand why former President Trump wanted to make that decision.

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Afghanistan: the potential pitfalls of an unconditional US troop withdrawal

For two decades we've wondered how and when America's longest war would end. Now Joe Biden has announced that all US troops will be out of Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. While it's a political victory with obvious benefits, there are real risks involved in President Biden's decision. Afghanistan could quickly fall back into the hands of the Taliban, which would be a disaster for the citizens of that country and a danger to the US.

Watch the GZERO World with Ian Bremmer episode.

What We're Watching: Johnson's big mouth, US withdrawing from Afghanistan, back from the brink in Somalia

Boris Johnson's big mouth: Boris Johnson is no stranger to controversy over crazy things that he's said — his perilously off-the-cuff style is part of his political brand. But the British PM is currently under fire over reports that he told advisers last fall he was prepared to "let the bodies pile high in their thousands" rather than impose another lockdown in the UK. Johnson denies it, but the BBC journos who reported the story are standing by it. The flap comes right as Johnson is also being accused — by his estranged former chief advisor Dominic Cummings — of having used campaign donations to refurnish his Downing Street residence. The clash between Johnson and Cummings, who is still influential among Johnson's own Tories, centers on Cummings' accusation that the PM's handling of the pandemic was incompetent. A swift vaccine rollout has helped the polarizing Johnson claw his way back to 51 percent approval rating in recent weeks — whether these latest antics and scandals will hurt his support remains to be seen.

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“We’re going to see a descent back into chaos” in Afghanistan: Rep. Waltz

Conservative Congressman Mike Waltz (R-FL) explains why he fears that a full US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan will create a power vacuum in Kabul, leading to chaos, destruction, and a national security threat for the US that will eventually require troops to be sent back in. Waltz, a former Green Beret who served multiple combat tours in Afghanistan and elsewhere, shares his concerns in a conversation with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World. He warns, "One of the things I don't know that everyone realizes is when the military goes, those contractors will go, the CIA, our eyes and ears on the ground will go." The interview on GZERO World airs on US public television starting Friday, April 23. Check local listings.

Watch the GZERO World with Ian Bremmer episode.

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