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?

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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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American power was indisputable in the 20th Century. The US helped win two World Wars, developed a resilient economy, and in 1991 emerged from the Cold War as the sole global superpower. But today the country is facing unprecedented polarization. Its behavior in recent decades has left many asking: Has the US become less of a blueprint for success, and more of an example of what NOT to do in the world?

Headlines about police brutality, a botched COVID response, daily mass shootings: America isn't living up to its status as a "shining city upon a hill." Ian Bremmer examines the question: has the American Century come to an end?

Watch the episode: Is American democracy in danger?

When a government fails on disaster response, Stanford University historian Niall Ferguson says we often point the finger at the wrong person: the president — even if he's Donald Trump — instead of the mid-level bureaucrats who're actually responsible for most decisions. "When people are inclined to blame the person at the top, on closer inspection the point of failure is not there," Ferguson tells Ian Bremmer in the upcoming episode of GZERO World. Check local listings to watch on US public television.

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What will be the effects on the politics of Germany after the immense flooding?

Well, it's really been a catastrophe, nearly 200 people dead in Germany alone. First effect, naturally, questions about the competence of the government, has enough been done? And secondly, climate issues will be much more in forefront of the election campaign.

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Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

The US, NATO, and the EU have all condemned China for its hack of Microsoft Exchange servers. What happens next?

Now, the joint statement sends a strong signal, but there are operational steps that need to be clarified. Firstly, why was it possible to hack Microsoft servers at all and how to close the gaps to make software more resilient? Additionally, governments making statements condemning China or others are well-advised to attach consequences to such attributions. Sanctions of the economic, financial or immigration type, as well as restrictions on state-owned enterprises, should all be on the table. Certainly, clear criteria need to be there with regard to responsible behavior and the application of international law in cyberspace.

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Former US Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes argues that one of the biggest issues in American political discourse at the moment is the lack of regulation on social media platforms. Americans believe fake news, not because they are all crazy, but because this information is being effectively presented to them as though it is fact. Biden should work with Big Tech to regulate social media, Rhodes tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, because the situation is worsening. "Part of what's different is the way in which social media and technology has literally made it possible for a very large chunk of this country to live in an alternative reality."

Watch the episode: Is American democracy in danger?

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