Trump and police reform; India-China tension; North and South Korea

Ian Bremmer on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

Number one: What police reform will result from Trump's executive order?

Well, on the one hand, it is a recognition that very strong and across the board, pretty bipartisan support in the United States for police reform. And so, he has to respond. And he can respond. I mean, the fact is that one of the most broadly supported bipartisan policies in the US that has come out of the Trump administration was penal reform.


That you got really strong progressive left and right wing support that Trump, Jared Kushner, others got done a couple of years ago. Here, we're talking about federal leverage on funding to ensure that there is more training for nonlethal and nonviolent climb-downs, non-escalation with engagement with people. There is talk of ending chokeholds. The thing that I guess concerns me is that there's really nothing that's going to be done from the executive order about police unions. And that is one area that really strangles to use that, any potential of long-term reform, structural reform in the police departments. But again, the message it sends very clearly is that no one, not even the president, can ignore the grassroots support for police reform, the outrage over the treatment of George Floyd and so many others in the United States. And that's going to also put more support for bipartisan reform in Congress, which will be much more substantive and hopefully much more lasting.

How serious is the escalating tension between India and China?

Well, two nuclear powers fighting over a very long and non-demarcated, non-walled border, non-policed border between the two. We now see that that soldiers have been killed. And India is in the middle of a number of border disputes right now that have escalated into skirmishing, not just with China. Also, with Pakistan, also over Tibet. And that is leading Modi, whose approval ratings are very high right now, there over 80%, because of a strong and decisive response to coronavirus, and a level of leadership that's quite supported domestically as a rally around the flag effect, it's going to lead to a lot of xenophobia in India. So, it is something we should, I think, watch out for, not because I think this is going to precipitate World War III, but rather because greater Indian nationalism, as driven by a leader who has shown himself very savvy and capable of using that, could lead to more broad confrontation, strategic confrontation and maybe even realignment between India and the subcontinent that has always wanted to steer clear of broader, great game geopolitics. And the China that is feeling increasingly insecure and besieged by its bad relationship with the United States really doesn't want a very bad relationship with India right now. But it might end up getting one.

What's going on between North Korea and South Korea?

Well, North Korea in North Korean fashion blew up this liaison office, literally exploded it inside North Korean territory. No one in it. Nobody injured or died. But showing very clearly that the North Koreans are not happy with the charm offensive between summitry with the American president. Been there, done that. And a lot of joint cultural exchanges, sports exchanges, others and some economic exchange with South Korea. But they want more. And their feeling is by playing hardball, they can get more humanitarian support. Particularly important for them with the global economy doing badly and therefore trade with China not being what it was a year ago. Having said that, no test of ICBMs, no nuclear tests, nothing that would precipitate a significant response from President Trump himself. And that seems to be the most important point is that North Korea wants me to be answering this question, they want headlines in the news. They've got that. But it does not in any way appear that they're trying to create a real confrontation. And, you know, with President Trump maybe on the ropes, certainly with a tougher election in front of him in November, I think that the North Koreans would like a reset from a period of more diplomatic normalization with either a second Trump term or with Biden. But that's very different from saying they're looking, they're itching for conflict and brinksmanship with the United States. Doesn't seem that way.

The fight against COVID-19 continues. What is the update?

The update is a lot more R or reproduction rate over 1.0. So, exponential in a bunch of US states. That's the bad news. Linked to the opening of the economy and opening in a much more dramatic and immediate way than where we've seen, for example, in Europe. It does seem pretty clear that linked to those openings are a lot more cases. We're seeing that Florida, we're seeing that in Texas, we're seeing that, in fact, across the American South and in some cases in the west as well. 18 states now that have an R 1.0 or higher. So, again, exponential growth of new cases. That's the bad news. The good news is that death rates are still quite low in the United States compared to where they were a few weeks ago. Now, of course, death rates lag new hospitalizations. So, that's a danger. It's still early to say that we're in a better place. I think this is, well, I'm getting more concerned, frankly, that the US economy is going to have a longer hit that comes off of this not second wave but extended first wave that we're still in very much in the United States.

Meanwhile, you've got countries all over the world, developing countries that clearly have people that have been under lockdown. They're not prepared to tolerate much more of it. They're economically much more challenged than the developed world. The governments in terms of relief and bail outs. The people in terms of how much they can sustain not being able to work productively and staying at home. You're seeing that play out in countries like Mexico and Brazil and India and Pakistan. All over the emerging markets. Less so sub-Saharan Africa, where there's not much testing and much younger populations. But that's a real danger. And certainly, you're going to see more explosive cases, both in terms of what we know, but also what we don't know, because they're not testing nearly as much in those countries. They're going to learn to live with and maybe die with coronavirus. So, not the happiest outlook.

One nice piece, it does seem like there is a treatment, coming out of the UK, that does seem to have some success. And they're now planning on rolling it out to those that are hospitalized and have severe symptoms, are on ventilators. And the early testing shows about maybe 10% reduction in the death rate in the UK if everyone had been able to be treated with this drug. And if, that is a steroid, if that's the case and you can get that rolled out broadly, and there's a lot of production that already exists around the world, that would be meaningful good news. Not in terms of a vaccine. But in terms of actual treatment of the disease. First time we might have seen a breakthrough on that scale. So, we'll watch that very carefully.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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Listen: Stanford historian Niall Ferguson joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast to talk about the geopolitics of disaster. Throughout human history we seem to be unable to adequately prepare for catastrophes (natural or human-caused) before they strike. Why is that? And as we emerge from the greatest calamity of our lifetimes in the COVID-19 pandemic and look to the plethora of crises that climate change has and will cause, what can we do to lessen the blow?

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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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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When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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