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On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

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John Nance Garner gave up the powerful position of Speaker of the House to serve two terms as Franklin Roosevelt's vice president (1933-1941), but he's best remembered today for a comment (he may never actually have made) that the job of VP "is not worth a bucket of warm spit."

In reality, the role of US vice president is determined almost entirely by the president. With that in mind, how might Kamala Harris advance President Biden's agenda? A few thoughts.

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Saturday will mark the beginning of an historic turning point for European politics as 1,001 voting members of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, hold an online conference to elect a new leader.

Here are the basic facts:

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The US House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to impeach President Trump a second time. The outcome was a bit different this time because 10 House Republicans (of 211 total) voted in favor.

But there's a far more consequential difference between this impeachment and the one early last year. This time, there's a genuine possibility that when the article is sent to the Senate, two thirds of senators will vote to convict Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors. That would be a first in American history.

The outcome hinges on one man: Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

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Embracing Taiwan and provoking China: Over the weekend, the Trump administration eased long-standing restrictions on US diplomatic relations with Taiwan. In essence, just as President Trump is preparing to exit the White House, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has lobbed a diplomatic Molotov cocktail toward Beijing and doubled down on the outgoing president's challenge to US orthodoxy on cross-Strait relations. In 1979, the US cut ties with Taiwan to open a new era in relations with China. Though Washington has continued to support Taiwan's security against possible Chinese attack, including by selling Taipei sophisticated weapons, Pompeo's directive goes much further in establishing new US-Taiwan ties — diplomatic and military — than any US administration in four decades. Although this isn't a complete break with the "One China Policy" and the US-Taiwan relationship remains "unofficial," we're watching now to see how the Chinese government will respond. It has good reason to wait to see what the incoming US president will say and do. That leaves Joe Biden with interesting problems, and Beijing wondering whether a future Republican president will push even harder on this hottest of hot-button issues.

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Did Belarus have plans to kill dissidents abroad? On Monday, the EU Observer, an online newspaper, published a recording of unclear origin that is allegedly an April 2012 conversation between a former Belarusian spy chief and two unidentified men, in which the three discuss a plan to assassinate Belarusian dissidents living under asylum abroad, including in Germany. The men discuss the names of assassination targets, the use of poison and explosives, and refer to a "special account" to fund the plans. Adding to the intrigue, is the resemblance between the methods discussed in the recording and those used to carry out the car bomb assassination in Ukraine of a Belarusian journalist in 2016. None of the targets named in the recording itself has been killed, and the dissident who leaked the recording claims that Western intelligence foiled the plans. German authorities aren't saying much about this story, but the news will again focus Europe's attention on abuses of power by the government of strongman President Alexander Lukashenko.

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Buckle up for an historically ugly week in US politics.

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Every year, Eurasia Group, our parent company, produces its list of the top 10 geopolitical risks for the coming year. This year's report is authored by Eurasia Group's president, Ian Bremmer, and its chairman, Cliff Kupchan.

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Europe minus Merkel

Top Risks 2021