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Biden's legacy rests on pandemic leadership (not Afghanistan mistakes)

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the US Senate hearing on Afghanistan, French President Macron's popularity, and China's hostage diplomacy.

As top US military officials testify right now on Capitol Hill, just down the road, do you expect the Biden administration to suffer any long-term consequences for its botched Afghanistan withdrawal?

The answer is yes, but at the margins. I still think Biden will be most remembered overwhelmingly for how he handles the pandemic as well as for the three trillion plus dollars that will likely, but not certainly, get passed to pay for infrastructure and improve the social contract in the US. On both, he has been taking hits. Certainly the former has not gone well in terms of the pandemic response and on balance, I still think that means that the House in midterm elections is going to flip fairly solidly Republican. Means that they understand they have a narrow window to get policy done. Okay. That's it.

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Biden's UN speech avoids China mention; US lifts travel restrictions

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at US President Biden's UN General Assembly speech, eased US travel restrictions, and Canadian PM Trudeau's election gamble.

How did President Biden's first address to the United Nations General Assembly live go?

It was okay. I thought it was very notable that China was not directly mentioned at all. So my mother used to say, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything. Did say that the US didn't want to be in a "Cold War". That's notable, because a lot of people out there are pushing in that direction in the US and in China. Certainly it was all about multilateral leadership. The Americans want to do more. We want collective leadership. We care about values. We care about democracy, but increasingly not seen as credible by a number of Europeans, as well as by the developing world, particularly when it comes to Afghanistan, COVID, and climate. Can't just say the words, have to have a pathway to get there. It's getting more challenging for the Americans. This is a tough UNGA meeting.

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Testing Trudeau's star power

On Monday, Canada's liberal hunk of a PM heads into early elections that no one seems to have wanted... except for him.

When Justin Trudeau announced the move back on August 15, many people questioned the wisdom of holding a national election amid the economic and public health upheavals of the pandemic. "Read the room, Justin," was a common quip, with many saying the early vote was irresponsible from a public health perspective.

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Why are Canadians heading to the polls again next month?

In a bid to capitalize on sustained high public support, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called a snap election for 20 September, less than two years since the last national vote. Initial polling suggests that Trudeau's Liberal Party has a good chance of recapturing the majority in parliament it lost in 2019, though much will depend on how the campaign evolves.

Still, one thing is clear: This is Trudeau's election to lose. If he is successful in scooping up enough new seats in parliament, that will give the Liberals four more years to execute an agenda that goes big on recovery spending, climate change, and social and health programs. It could prove a risky gamble, however, if he fails. Mikaela McQuade, director at Eurasia Group, explains what to expect.

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What We’re Watching: Haiti trembles, Canada's snap election, Malaysia’s political mess

Haiti quake aftermath: If you thought things couldn't possibly get worse for Haiti, they just did. The chronically unstable country, still reeling from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, was literally shaken on Saturday by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that has killed upwards of 1,400 people and destroyed at least 14,000 homes. What's more, Haitians are now also bracing for a tropical depression that will likely cause floods and landslides in quake-hit areas. Many foreign governments and aid groups have already sent some aid, though many are fearful of a repeat of the situation 11 years ago, when another powerful earthquake devastated the capital, but the assistance was poorly coordinated and failed to reach Haitians that needed it most, and a subsequent cholera outbreak was blamed on UN peacekeepers. When the humanitarian aid does trickle in, the gangs that control large swaths of Haiti say they'll let it through. It's a devastating blow to a country where around two-thirds of people live in poverty.

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Taliban takeover embarrassing for Biden; political impact of wildfires

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on the Taliban's rapid territorial gains, the politics of climate change and two court cases gaining political attention in Canada and China.

Is the US drawdown in Afghanistan going as planned?

Well, yes, in the sense that the US is quickly wrapping up military activities on the ground in Afghanistan, the longest standing war in American history will be over in just a few weeks. Not going as planned in the sense that the Taliban is retaking territory much faster than it had been expected. And the US State Department recently told all Americans living in Afghanistan get the hell out because the Americans can't protect them. This is embarrassing for the US, but ultimately, a much bigger problem for the Afghans, and of course for other countries in the region, China, India, Pakistan, Iran. I think it will be an embarrassment for Biden on his administration, but on balance, not going to affect him very much politically. Remember, under both Trump and Biden, even Obama, overwhelming majorities in the United States wanted the Americans to get out of Afghanistan.

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The global trend towards legalizing marijuana

The world was recently shocked when US sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson was disqualified from Tokyo 2020 after testing positive for marihuana, a banned yet non performance-enhancing substance. That's because global public opinion on pot is shifting: cannabis is now legal in more than 40 countries and almost three-quarters of US states — red ones too. And although everyone is cashing in on the green gold these days, high profits are not the only factor driving legalization. Mexico may soon become the world's largest cannabis market in part to blunt the power of drug cartels, while the famously square World Bank is now best buds with Malawi for growing the world's finest sativa. Delve into the weeds of legalization on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: The (political) power of alcohol

Women in power — Canada's Chrystia Freeland

Heads of state and government typically dominate the spotlight, but it's the office holders that work for and around them who are responsible for some of the biggest policy decisions that forge their country's place in the world. In 2021, still, women leaders are even more likely to go under the radar than their male counterparts.

This International Women's History Month, we shine a light on a few women around the world who are pulling the levers of power.

Chrystia Freeland — dubbed by POLITICO as "Canada's Minister of Everything" — serves as deputy prime minister, finance minister, and was recently foreign minister and a top trade liaison. What sets her apart from many of her counterparts, and how has her worldview shaped her policymaking?

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