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Joe Biden's presidency: biggest surprises, successes and mistakes so far

What surprised Jane Harman, former US Congresswoman (D-CA), most about Joe Biden's presidency? "Number one, he's much more hands-on as a leader than I fully understood. It's coming out now how he runs his meetings and what he does. But number two, and I love this, he's really enjoying the job." Harman, a nine-term member of Congress who served for decades on the major security committees in the House of Representatives, notes that Biden's stint as Vice President was no guarantee of how he would perform. "I think sitting behind that desk, and having the buck stop with him is very different. And I think he fills out the job very well."

In an interview with Ian Bremmer, Harman says Biden has a dimension that none of his four predecessors had, because of his experience in Congress and in foreign policy. She also shares her perspective on Biden's biggest successes as well as some mistakes he's made.

Biden’s foreign policy approach: “Take the foreign out of foreign policy”

Jane Harman, who served nine terms as a US Democratic Congresswoman from California, explains that the Biden administration's approach is "to take the foreign out of foreign policy." Biden's foreign policy strategy starts with restoring alliances, promoting democracy, and making the world safer, prioritizing issues that connect what the US does abroad to concerns at home, says Harman. That means finding a solution to the pandemic both in the US and globally; addressing terrorism abroad and domestically; and climate, which Harman notes, "is a huge part of our security at home and security in the world. Think about it. Half the refugees in the world are climate refugees. They're not terrorism refugees."

Harman, author of the new book, "Insanity Defense: Why Our Failure to Confront Hard National Security Problems Make Us Less Safe," spoke in an interview with Ian Bremmer.

US national security depends on domestic progress

Jane Harman, a nine-term member of Congress (D-CA) who served for decades on the major security committees in the House of Representatives, discusses the shortcomings of the US national security strategy for the last few decades, and assesses the Biden administration's plans to strengthen it. In an interview with Ian Bremmer, she discusses the priorities for addressing critical issues at home and abroad, from the COVID pandemic to the climate crisis and terrorism. But without a unified and functional Congress, Harman warns, the US is ineffective on matters of security. "Where is Congress? Congress can't get things done because of toxic partisanship, but the other reason it can't get anything done is members don't want to own the consequences. And that is chicken."

Harman, author of the new book, "Insanity Defense: Why Our Failure to Confront Hard National Security Problems Make Us Less Safe," discusses Joe Biden's presidency so far and gives him high marks on assembling an "A-team" for foreign policy. She adds, 'I'm just hopeful that because he has long term relationships and really a good compass for how to talk to members of Congress, he will be able to get somewhere."

Podcast: US national security depends on domestic progress: Jane Harman explains

Listen: Jane Harman, a nine-term member of Congress (D-CA) who served for decades on the major security committees in the House of Representatives, discusses the shortcomings of the US national security strategy for the last few decades, and assesses the Biden administration's plans to strengthen it. In an interview with Ian Bremmer, she discusses the priorities for addressing critical issues at home and abroad, from the COVID pandemic to the climate crisis and terrorism. But without a unified and functional Congress, Harman warns, the US is ineffective on matters of security. "Where is Congress? Congress can't get things done because of toxic partisanship, but the other reason it can't get anything done is members don't want to own the consequences. And that is chicken."

Harman, author of the new book, "Insanity Defense: Why Our Failure to Confront Hard National Security Problems Make Us Less Safe," discusses Joe Biden's presidency so far and gives him high marks on assembling an "A-team" for foreign policy. She adds, 'I'm just hopeful that because he has long term relationships and really a good compass for how to talk to members of Congress, he will be able to get somewhere."

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Did the War on Terror make the US safer?

For former US Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), 20 years after 9/11 the War on Terror has made the US and the world safer in some ways, but less safe in others. She shares her thoughts in an interview with Ian Bremmer, during which Harman also discusses why the US currently lacks a coherent national security strategy — and in fact hasn't had one since the end of the Cold War.

Highlights from our live conversation on cybersecurity challenges

Cyber is a tool, and sometimes a weapon. Whether used for commercial gain or for attacks on critical infrastructure, actions taken in cyberspace affect you directly. This means that even the most mundane realities of everyday life are vulnerable to hackers.

In our live May 18 event, "Beyond SolarWinds: Securing Cyberspace," we asked our speakers what we can do to safeguard cyberspace from future attacks.

Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media, (above) explains "there are three different levels of cooperation we desperately need to reduce a threat that right now is growing exponentially for our national securities at home." At one level, there needs to be greater coordination between the private and public sectors in the US. It needs to be "much deeper, much more structural, much more efficient" than what we currently have, says Bremmer.

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A (global) solution for cybercrime

The recent ransomware cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline in the US has exposed how vulnerable critical infrastructure is to hackers, whether they are motivated by money or politics. What can we do about this?

Part of the way forward is acknowledging that there is no longer a distinction between cyber and physical security. The world runs on tech, so people are right to worry about it, Microsoft President Brad Smith said during a livestream discussion on cybersecurity hosted by GZERO Media and Microsoft. The conversation, "Beyond SolarWinds: Securing Cyberspace," held in collaboration with the Munich Security Conference as part of their "Road to Munich" series, was moderated by former US Homeland Security senior official Juliette Kayyem.

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Biden’s executive orders are “not enough,” says Jane Harman

Executive orders are "not enough" for a president trying to tackle America's most difficult problems, said Jane Harman, the former ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. "We can't have the government run by executive order… An executive order is the tool of choice in the last three presidencies because Congress has been so difficult, impotent, dysfunctional and doesn't do much." Harman made her comments as part of an interview with GZERO Media that was also sponsored by Microsoft, about the role of the government and companies in cyber-security.

"Beyond SolarWinds: Securing Cyberspace," a Global Stage live conversation on cyber challenges facing governments, companies, and citizens, was recorded on May 18, and was held in collaboration with the Munich Security Conference as part of their "Road to Munich" series. Sign up for alerts about more upcoming GZERO events.

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