Following one of the most tumultuous years in recent history, what should we be prepared for in 2021? In today's GZERO Live livestream, Top Risks 2021: Eurasia Group's Biggest Global Threats, Ian Bremmer and Cliff Kupchan of Eurasia Group will discuss the firm's predictions with Meredith Sumpter, CEO of the Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican.
You will be able to watch live today at 12 pm EST.
Read Eurasia Group's Tor Risks report at www.eurasiagroup.net/TopRisks.
Next Tuesday, join GZERO Media and Microsoft for a live event, Beyond SolarWinds: Securing Cyberspace, exploring cyber challenges facing governments, companies, and citizens. Watch this Munich Security Conference "Road to Munich" event on May 18, 1pm EDT / 10am PDT. Juliette Kayyem, Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and former Assistant Secretary at the US Department of Homeland Security, will moderate the conversation featuring Microsoft President Brad Smith and other global experts.
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Live Panel: Will the global challenges of 2020 lead to more inclusive multilateralism in the future?
LIVE 11a - 12p ET TODAY: Will the global challenges of 2020 lead to more inclusive multilateralism in the future?
At 11a ET/8a PT/4p BST, our livestream panel, "Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding," will discuss how government, companies, citizens and other organizations can partner to solve today's major crises.Watch at: https://www.gzeromedia.com/unga/livestream
Governments can't tackle today's global challenges alone. Will 2020 be seen as a shaping moment for a more modern and inclusive multilateralism, or a retrenchment to "business as usual"?
Our panel includes:
- Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
- Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
- Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
- John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
- Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)
Special appearances by António Guterres, Christine Lagarde, and Trevor Noah.
This is the second event in our livestream panel series, part of "The 2020 UN General Assembly: Connecting Through Crisis," presented by GZERO Media in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group. Sign up to be notified about this and other events here.
Bookmark this link so that you can easily attend future livestream presentations in the series.
Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding: Wednesday, September 23rd, 11a ET/8a PT/4p BST
Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter with Rappler, an online news platform in the Philippines. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Carlos Santamaria: In your opinion, why do you think this US election matters to Filipinos?
CE: It's because of the situation with China. We are so close to China physically. And at the same time, the Philippines has been a colony of the US for the longest time. The influence is still there. We're waiting to see what the US role will become after the election.
CS: One of the major campaign issues here is the "new Cold War" between the US and China. How do you think Filipinos view this US-China competition?
CE: Filipinos have more love for the US than for China, especially with the tensions between the Philippines and China in terms of the harassment and the militarization in the South China Sea. Filipinos trust the US more than China. But sadly, it hasn't translated to our government yet.
CS: How would you say the Philippines was affected by the outcome of the 2016 US election?
CE: Filipinos seem to compare President Duterte with President Trump, and we all know their similarities. In terms of Filipinos' lives, it's more about the presence of the US in the South China Sea. It's really a big issue for Filipinos because we really care about the South China Sea. And now we feel like there's not much influence from the US to try to stop China from further encroaching on those maritime waters.
CS: But the Trump administration recently reversed course and endorsed the 2016 arbitration ruling that struck down China's claims in the South China Sea. Do you think Filipinos are aware of the new official policy?
CE: Yes. But some Filipinos would really look at the actual effect, because it was just recently and for the longest time coupled with a pivot to China by our president. We feel more and more the presence of China in our own land. We have more Chinese here, we have incessant reports of abuse or harassment of fishermen. So even if the US changed its policy, for the longest time their presence has been very limited.
CS: The Philippines is consistently one of the countries that has the highest approval for Donald Trump. How would you explain that?
CE: Regardless of who the president is, Filipinos have an affinity for Americans, which is kind of sad when you look into that, how Filipinos view themselves as compared to America. Even before and then with President Trump, some Filipinos think the US is not really present in our region now, compared to before. But they cannot really associate that with President Trump himself. As for President Trump, they see him very much like President Rodrigo Duterte. They're alike, you know, he says what he wants. And just to prove a point, I think many Filipino-Americans, immigrants in the US, I talk to them and they're also voting for President Trump. It's like they really want someone who can relate to them in a sense, they feel these are real people because they say what they want. Not necessarily the right things.
CS: What do you think the stakes are for the Philippines with the upcoming US election?
CE: Security in the region and in the country depend on how the US will deal with the Philippines in trying to convince our government not to really get too close to China. I think it's too late already, but let's see if maybe Biden wins, there's a chance that he will convince the president to slow down because right now even our infrastructure, telecommunications are all being taken over, infiltrated by Chinese state companies. We need the US back for the balance of power to return to the region.
CS: If Biden wins, how do you see him convincing Duterte of anything?
CE: We had a terrible relationship with Obama. Right now, what really angers Duterte are the actions of the US senators. If there's a way for Biden to talk to the senators to stop or to slow down on Duterte and his allies... If Biden tries to do a different attack than what Obama did with blasting Duterte on human rights, because Duterte doesn't like being shamed in public, that's one thing he could do to try to improve their relations.
You have to understand that Duterte wants to save face in public. Maybe they could negotiate behind closed doors. Not slam him in public because he has this macho image that he has to protect. And that's what he really hates, being criticized in public.
CS: If Duterte were charmed by a future US administration, how would China take that?
CE: China will not easily give up because the Philippines for the longest time has been the loudest critic of their militarization in the South China Sea. But we have now kept quiet because of ties with China. I think China will not give up, we're not going to see China backing away from this. One thing that the new US administration can do is also to try to reestablish ties with the Philippine military. Our military has a US background in training. Even with the president now, it's still not easy for the military to follow China because their training is all patterned from the US. But the first thing they have to do is not attack Duterte in public — that's really one thing that will block his mind. Like, if you're attacking me in public, no. Whatever you say, no.
This interview is part of the GZERO project Global voices on the US election, which you can find in full here.
İpek Yezdani is an international freelance journalist based in Turkey. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Carlos Santamaria: In your opinion, what are two or three issues that people in Turkey are concerned about regarding the upcoming US election?
IY: There are several very important critical issues for Turkey-US relations. One of them is, of course, Syria. During the Obama administration, there was huge support for the Kurdish YPG forces in Syria. During the Trump administration, this support has continued for a while. The Turkish government considers the YPG as a terrorist organization, but on the other hand, Turkey is an ally, a NATO ally, maybe one of the strongest US allies in the Middle East. We has been fighting against this terrorist organization for decades, so this is a very important issue for Turkey.
The second important issue is US sanctions against Turkey after the Turkish bank Halkbank broke US sanctions against Iran. But the Trump administration has managed to limit these sanctions to a very low level.
Another important issue is the Fethullah Gülen movement. Gülen is an Islamic scholar who lives in Pennsylvania. His presence in the US is a big problem for Turkey-US relations because the Turkish government considers him the mastermind of the coup attempt in 2016. Turkey has been asking the US to give him back for many years.
CS: And what do Turkish people think about the relationship between President Trump and your President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan?
IY: Turkish people think that there's a very good relationship between Trump and Erdoğan. The Turkish government believes that Erdoğan can manage to have good relations with Trump based on his personal dialogue with Trump rather than on the rules of international relations. Their relations are based, actually, on the two leaders' personal dialogue. So there is this perception in the Turkish public as well. And the Turkish public mostly thinks that continuing the Trump administration will be more favorable for Turkey.
CS: So the sentiment in Turkey is that the country overall benefited from the 2016 outcome, from Trump's victory?
IY: Yes, definitely. Because his rival back then, Hillary Clinton, was known for her close relationship with the Gülen movement. And most of the public opinion was that if Hillary Clinton won, it would be really bad for Turkey.
CS: Is that perception widespread, or is it more outside of Istanbul, where most of Erdoğan's power base lies?
IY: To be honest with you I think people in rural areas don't much care about who is elected in the US. They don't even know who the candidates are. I'm talking about people who follow the news, who are interested in these issues or who are involved in politics in Turkey. The general perception was that Hillary Clinton would not be good for Turkey.
On the other hand, Donald Trump wrote a letter to Erdoğan, telling him "Don't be a fool" [over invading northern Syria]. There was a huge outrage in Turkey. But even though the letter was full of insults, people forgot about that, and also the government also forgot about that. And the Turkish government continued trying to have good relations with the Trump administration.
And I think they got the result of their efforts because Trump decided to withdraw US forces from Syria. The policies of Trump regarding Syria are mostly in favor of Turkey.
CS: So, what would you say the stakes are for Turkey if Trump is reelected, or Joe Biden wins?
IY: If Trump wins, the Turkish government and the Turkish public think that it would be much more favorable for Turkey because of good relations with Trump. If you remember, Trump has also several times mentioned that "Erdoğan is a great guy, I have very good relations with him." Trump also had this kind of rhetoric regarding Erdoğan most of the time.
CS: Is that appeal to Erdoğan's ego important in Turkey?
IY: Definitely. It's very important for Erdoğan's image in the public eye, because in Turkey most of the mainstream media is under the control of the government. And when Trump says something like this, it becomes huge news here. And, you know, the perception is like "look, our president can convince President Trump in the way that he wants to convince him." Maybe I am exaggerating right now, but it is seen as though "Erdoğan bends the knee of Trump."
CS: So what happened with the letter? How was that perceived in Turkey?
IY: Of course, it was perceived in a very negative way. There was a lot of reaction. There was outrage among the public and especially the opposition parties. They criticized the government a lot over this letter, and they blamed it for being weak on Trump. But still, the letter was forgotten. And the Turkish government continued its business as usual with the Trump administration.
CS: What do people in Turkey think about Joe Biden?
IY: Right now, there's a very negative perception of Joe Biden, especially because of an interview with the New York Times where Biden said his aim is to unseat Erdoğan. And he openly said that we are going to make Turkey pay the price for what they have done until today. Even the opposition parties have criticized Joe Biden, saying that Turkey is an independent nation and you're not the architect of this nation anymore. So you cannot interfere in Turkey's domestic politics.
CS: If Biden is elected, how do you think Erdoğan is going to handle the relationship with him?
IY: I think it's going to be really difficult for Erdoğan because Biden already has a lot of prejudices about Turkey. Biden says many wrong things about the Kurdish minority in parliament, and about Turkey's purchase of S-400 missiles from Russia. Clearly, he is not being well informed about Turkey.
This interview is part of the GZERO project Global voices on the US election, which you can find in full here.
Massimo Gaggi is an Italian journalist with the Corriere della Sera newspaper. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Willis Sparks: Italy has been through so much this year with COVID-19. What's going on in Italy at the moment, and what was the mood like then?
MG: The mood, obviously, was very depressed during the spring, when the crisis came out so badly in Italy. The mood was also a little bit upset vis-à-vis the other European countries and the United States, to be honest with you, because we felt that we didn't get any help in that period, and also that we got some judgment that was not so right. The situation is very much different now, because Italy is the country with the best situation in Europe at this moment. We are pretty proud about what we've done in this period.
WS: Beyond anger at the European Union, there is also some anger at the United States?
MG: We should make a difference between the mood of the people and the mood of the government. The mood of the people was led by what they saw. We saw that China was helping Italy, Russia sent military hospitals, while Europe was very tight in giving help. But the US also didn't give any help at the beginning of this crisis, even if at the time the US was not in a very bad position. Then when the crisis started to be severe in the US, the news was that President Trump was buying masks and other equipment, respirators or ventilators all over the world, sometimes buying some stocks already bought by other countries.
All these stories were very bad, but this is very much superficial. What is deeper is the institutional difference between the United States and Europe. The US is used to giving commercial companies a lot of responsibility in areas that have a relevant political value. American companies working in Italy — Coca-Cola or pharmaceutical and technology companies — gave a lot of help. They bought material for hospitals, pharmaceuticals. They gave a lot. But you didn't see this in terms of communication because they were just private donations, unlike support from a national government.
WS: Does this US presidential election matter in Italy? Does it matter to Italian people? Does it matter to the Italian government?
MG: For the Italian people, at this moment, the US election is more a curiosity about the destiny of the leadership of Donald Trump. While all the interest there was to go for Barack Obama has disappeared, now they know Joe Biden, but they don't have any specific idea about his politics, and what is going to be a country led by Joe Biden. People know something about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They read something about the Green New Deal, also because the European Union is trying to do something similar. Obviously, there was an interest in Bernie Sanders to do well during the primaries. But I will say that today there is specific attention and interest in the politics of the Democratic Party.
It is more a mood like it was in Italy 10 or 15 years ago, where we were going through Italian elections in which you were not discussing very much about the right or the left. The discussion was Berlusconi si, Berlusconi no. At the time, the political debate in Italy before the vote was not so much about the difference in policies from the right of Berlusconi and the left of the Italian Democratic Party and other smaller parties of the leftist coalition. It was just about the personality of Silvio Berlusconi. That's what I'm seeing at the political debate in the US. I see many points of contact with the mood that we had in Italy at the time, also because it was very difficult for the left at the time. And I think this is difficult for the left in the US now, even to propose new, really effective policies for the growth of the economy.
WS: What about the Italian government?
MG: One important thing that I think we have to underline is the fragmentation of the government. We had a change with the exit of the Lega, then in the end came in the Italian Democratic Party, even if the prime minister is still Giuseppe Conte. So in general terms, the government obviously is very much in favor of Donald Trump also because Trump gave his support several times to Conte.
Then you have the problem of the Lega, which is still officially in favor of the White House of Trump. At the same time, the Americans and the Department of State, Mike Pompeo, made it clear discussing with Mr Salvini that the US didn't like very much a party that is too close to the Russia of Vladimir Putin. And also the other major party of the coalition, Five Stars, which is very close to Melenchon [far-left French politcian] and his vision of the state, and on globalization pretty close to the Trump ideology. Also a powerful movement, although there are some problems because its leader, Luigi di Maio, is pretty close to China. Obviously, the US didn't like this, and they were pretty vocal about it. The third element of the coalition is the Italian Democratic Party, which is closer to the Americans. The government is pretty much in favor of Donald Trump, but in a very fragmented way.
But it's very clear in the mind of the politicians that even if most of the opposition considers Trump an ally or a friend of Italy, everybody's too upset about the lack of support from the US in the Mediterranean during the crisis in Libya. Because of this lack of interest by the United States, now we have important roles for Russia, Turkey and even Egypt. This is going to be a pretty relevant problem for Italy, and I think in the future also for the other Western countries, including the US.
This interview is part of the GZERO project Global voices on the US election, which you can find in full here.
Junko Tanaka is a former Washington bureau chief for NHK, Japan's national broadcaster. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Carlos Santamaria: What are two or three issues that people in Japan are concerned about regarding the US election?
JT: First and foremost, we're keen to find out the implications of the election for US foreign policy and trade policy. The US election is normally determined by domestic issues, but there is a stark contrast between Trump and Biden on their world views. We're interested to see how the foreign policy debate unfolds on issues such as relations with China, with Russia, or with traditional allies like Japan and NATO countries. We're also watching how trade issues or global issues may or may not be debated.
For us, Trump represents a protectionist view, whereas Biden has more of an internationalist view. And all this can greatly impact not only US-Japan relations, but international affairs as a whole.
Secondly, we're interested in which candidate has a more viable plan to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and recover the economy at the same time. We were shocked to see the US, the superpower of the world, suffer the most from this pandemic. President Trump seems to be paying a political price to a certain extent, but we don't know how much. We're not sure whether Biden has a specific plan to pull this country out of this situation.
Lastly, another angle is whether the legitimacy of the election will be preserved this year, in a pandemic. We are interested to see how the actual voting will work in this situation, and whether the outcome of the election is respected by both sides.
In more general terms, we understand that American society is so polarized now that the outcome will suggest which side is more upset and has more political force. The big question is how people in the middle, the "silent majority," are feeling and voting. Overall, we're interested in where the center of gravity in US society is, and in which direction it is shifting because that can have an enormous impact and ripple effects throughout the world — just like the election four years ago of Trump prompted the rise of anti-establishment populism in other countries, and that affected geopolitics around the world.
CS: How would you say that the 2016 outcome of the election affected Japan?
JT: I would say mixed. When Trump was elected in 2016, many people in Japan, including myself, were taken as surprised. Just like many other people in the world. But I would say we were relatively quick to adapt to the new reality. There is more or less a consensus in Japan that whoever the US president is, whether you like him or not, we need to maintain strong relations with the US. We can't afford to have a bad relationship. So when other leaders of the world, especially in Europe, distanced themselves from Trump, Prime Minister Abe flew to New York right after the election to become the first world leader to greet the president-elect, and declared that Trump was the leader we could trust. Ever since, Abe has been very careful not to offend President Trump and has been seen as one of Trump's close partners. Maybe for that reason he has avoided the outright humiliation by President Trump that other leaders in Europe experienced, and US-Japan relations have been relatively stable.
However, we also understand the transactional nature of foreign policy by President Trump. It is obvious that President Trump doesn't care much about the mutual benefit of the alliance mechanism. His focus in dealing with allies is the balance sheet, whether in terms of trade or defense burden-sharing. Although not as strongly as the Europeans, Japan has certainly been feeling the pressure from the US. And we wouldn't be surprised if President Trump one day decides to demand much higher contribution from Japan by suggesting a possibility of withdrawing the US troops from Japan. So, there is always this little cloud of unpredictability hanging over our head when it comes to President Trump. But we also have to understand that his stand reflects a certain public opinion in the US, who say they are tired of being the policeman for the world.
CS: What would you say are the stakes for Japan if Trump is reelected, or Biden wins?
JT: Well, we feel that the US-Japan bilateral relation is basically stable, no matter who is in the White House. However, the tone with the relations may change depending on the outcome of the election, because the two candidates have completely different views about the alliance mechanism. If Trump is reelected, he might become tougher on Japan. Biden has a more traditional and comprehensive view of the alliance mechanism. Biden will be more predictable, and we may feel a little more secure about the stability of the alliance.
Another important factor for us is relations with China. China is our neighbor, and even though we have differences, Japan would like to avoid too much tension with this rising superpower. Therefore, we hope that whoever is the next president can strike a right balance in dealing with China. Right now in this election, the two candidates are competing with each other: Who is tougher on China? But we want to see their true intentions beyond the election. One thing for sure is we don't want to see a new Cold War. The most important thing from Japan's point of view is that a strong US presence remains in the region because if the US withdraws, China will fill the vacuum and set the rules of conduct in the security and economic arena.
CS: Biden has mentioned that that if he were elected, he would consider building a global coalition to stand up to China. Would Japan join it?
JT: Yes, in a general sense. It depends on what he means. Japan hopes that the US will take a lead in reestablishing the liberal world order in the region, which is probably missing in the last several years because the US is becoming so inward-looking. If the US takes a lead again to establish that liberal world order based on the rules and freedom of trade and investment, I would say Japan is all for that.