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Why the UK is on lockdown; Iran pushes Biden on uranium levels

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

Why is the UK going on lockdown again?

I know. And it looks like six weeks to, this is the highest level of lockdown they do. And it's this new strain of coronavirus, which it's not more lethal, but it is much more infectious. And thank God all of the vaccines work equally well against it. But nonetheless, the vaccines are still very early stages in rolling out and coronavirus is a very robust stages of rolling out. So, you were getting greater levels of hospitalization right now in the UK than in their spring peak. The case levels were exploding and so they just shut it down. Germany is extending their lockdown and here in New York City, I just heard yesterday, we've got the first confirmed cases of the new strain. This is, it's not a game changer because the vaccines are the game changer and the vaccines are rolling out and as they do, we're going to feel very, very differently, but it does mean that explosive caseload and more hospitalizations, and indeed more people dying in the coming weeks is something we're going to have to gird ourselves for. But I still think, when you looked at our top risk piece this year, we didn't make coronavirus, the number one risk and it's because of the vaccines. Also, in the nature of this disease that really does focus so much of the mortality is in a very small percentage of the population, the most elderly and the most sick. And so, in just a few weeks, four, six weeks, when we get to 10% of the population in the US that's been vaccinated, suddenly you're going to have probably some 90% of the mortality taken out of the disease. You still have concerns about long COVID, you still have people that can be sick for a long time. But just think psychologically about how much we've all been carrying about just been worrying, the worry we've had of the people that we are close to who are in their high seventies or older, or already have medical conditions and we know that if they are to get this disease, they could very easily die. That is something we're not going to have to worry about in just a few more weeks. I think that's the game changer for 2021, frankly. That's a really good news story, so something that's worth mentioning.

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UK’s new COVID strain problematic but economic pain is a greater risk

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

Number one, what's the story with the new COVID strain in Britain?

Well, I mean, it's a mutation. Apparently, it is equally combatable by the vaccines that we've developed, and I've heard that directly by some of the people that are running those companies. So, it's not a concern about the ability that we have to stop the disease once we get vaccinations, thank God. But it is a problem in terms of how much more quickly the virus can be transmitted. Now, in the United Kingdom, they do an awful lot of testing, especially compared to many countries in Europe, and they have found an extensive amount of this new strain, which has led them to bring the UK into Tier 4, as they call it, which means basically Christmas is canceled. No one's going anywhere. Everything's locked down. That also has meant that a lot of countries have suspended travel to the United Kingdom, which I understand, but we've already seen some of this new strain in Italy, for example. I suspect it's going to pop up in a bunch of other countries in the continent. If it's everywhere, do you really want the additional pain economically?

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Why US COVID relief package progress is unlikely before January

Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on US politics:

With 250,000 Americans dead of COVID and case counts rising, is there any sign of a federal relief package on the way?

And the answer is a solid maybe. The interesting thing is even after the election, neither party has really changed their views on what they want in a stimulus. The Democrats are still holding to their $2.5 trillion number, and the Republicans are saying they want something much smaller and more targeted. President Trump is nowhere to be found in these discussions. He's busy litigating the outcome of an election he lost. Vice President Biden, the incoming President on January 20th, has indicated he basically supports the Democrat's position. He can probably be the deal breaker here. If he wants to tell the Democrats to come down with their number, that could potentially drive compromise with the Republicans. Negotiations haven't really gone anywhere though in the last six months, and I'd frankly be surprised at this point if we saw relief before the fifth January runoff election in Georgia, which will determine control of the Senate.

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Navalny's Novichok poisoning; EU schools reopening

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on Europe In 60 Seconds:

Why would it be significant if the nerve agent Novichok, in particular, was used to poison Aleksei Navalny?

Highly significant. And the German government is absolutely certain, they say, that it was of the family of Novichok. Novichok isn't just anything. It is an extremely sophisticated, extremely dangerous, extremely difficult to manufacture nerve agent. It is no question that this is a nerve agent a poison that has origin in Russian state laboratories. And that, of course, has vast implications for the conclusions that we must draw.

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Lebanon's new PM; why India is reopening; Lukashenko's grip on power

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

First, who is Lebanon's new prime minister?

His name's Mustafa Adib and I had never heard of him. Apparently, he wasn't being considered for prime minister until apparently 24 hours ago. He was Lebanon's ambassador to Germany or is Lebanon's ambassador to Germany. And also, a PhD in political science. So clearly, we must like him. He can't be a bad guy. He looks basically like a technocrat. But in part, it's because Lebanon is impossible to govern and can't agree on any of the well-known and outspoken figures. And this is a massive economic challenge that they're facing. Their currency is falling apart. Their budgets, they can't fund. They had that massive explosion that's going to cost billions to rebuild Beirut. Just happened a couple of weeks ago. They're also fighting coronavirus. They have millions of refugees on their territory that they're paying for. And they don't have as much money from the Gulf states that they had historically because they're facing their own budgetary challenges. On top of which, it's really hard to get an IMF deal done when you don't have effective governance and when Hezbollah is part of your government structure.

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Will the Ukraine ceasefire last? COVID containment in Europe

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, with the view from Europe:

Will the recent ceasefire between Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists lead to a solution of the conflict?

That's much too early to say. At first, it remains to be seen if this ceasefire will hold. There have been a number of ceasefires and all of them have collapsed sooner or later. We'll see first what happens with this one. Will it lead to further political talks between Kiev and Moscow, primarily? That remains to be seen. I mean, there have been no indication so far of change in the basic Russian attitude of keeping on to Donbass, the one way or the other. So, let's hope for the best but let's be rather skeptical about all that's happening.

Will the recent upsurge of coronavirus and different measures taken against it in Spain lead to a new lockdown in Europe?

No, I don't think it will. I mean, you will certainly see, as you see elsewhere, sort of outburst here and there, but I think that there are better capabilities now in Europe to localize those particular outbursts and try to contain them. So, a return to the big lockdowns that was always the beginning of the year, that is, I think, neither necessary nor likely.

The politics of a mask & the global fight against the coronavirus

Imagine you're a crew member aboard a space craft. Beyond the safety of the hull lay a hostile wilderness, devoid of oxygen and home to a deadly mix of photons and cosmic rays. That's the thinking behind an old philosophy to which the Covid-19 pandemic has breathed new life. It's called Spaceship Earth. The idea: we're all hurdling through space together with no escape capsule, so planetary problems have to be addressed for everyone's sake.

In commentary for the latest episode of GZERO World, Ian Bremmer is taking a look at the challenges and opportunities of the COVID-19 pandemic. The worst crisis of our lifetime is affecting every country, race, and ethnicity. More than 10 million are infected. More than half a million have died and economies and health systems have been devastated. But it may have also given us a rare opportunity to fix our ship. That is, if politics doesn't stand in the way. Case in point: Arguments over wearing a mask have proliferated across the U.S., even in some of the most heavily impacted states.

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