Uncoordinated Global Coronavirus Response; Kim Jong-un; US Immigration

What's the coronavirus update? Is there global coordination yet fighting this pandemic?

Global coordination is completely absent. There is a level of harmonization from the central bank governors because they are mostly technocratic and independent. And because they all basically hail from Western advanced industrial countries. The Chinese don't have a convertible currency. So, it's a wholly different story, monetary policy.


Otherwise, fiscal policy is not oriented in coordination. It is certainly not what the emerging markets, the developing world, is going to need soon. The G20 and G-7 meetings so far have accomplished very little, on that front. But most importantly, a complete lack of coordination on the medical side, in terms of testing, metrics, even things like the contact tracing, really needed across the West. France says they want to start their own, but they've got privacy issues with Apple right now. Need the private sector and the public sector, at the very least, coming together on the tech fixes. That should be the easiest thing to do. You want one system. We've got every country at best, coming up with one for their own.

Even inside the United States, there's a lack of coordination. President Trump comes up with, "here is what phase one, phase two, phase three looks like." Then you've got a bunch of states around the United States saying, "we're going to open up even before phase one is in place." Not what you would have expected, but that's where we are.

What do you make of reports that Kim Jong-un is extremely unwell?

He's not that old. If he dies, there's probably not a good succession plan in place. I want to assume, his younger sister would take over since she's the one that has been given much more significant authority, big roles across the North Korean state government. But, might there be an internal military coup? One doesn't know. Danger in a country like this is, whenever the leader is sort of not there, whether it's out of the country or under surgery, the potential for a, you know, a hostile response internally is real. It's clearly very dangerous when the world's most totalitarian state, one of the only ones that still exists now, with virtually no intel, even from the Chinese on what's going on inside, and suddenly the leader might be gone. The people that will suffer the most on the back of this will be the North Koreans themselves. Hard to imagine that that would lead to military activities that would threaten stability in South Korea or Japan. But that doesn't mean that you would have, if he were to die, the question of the disposition of their nuclear weapons and material, whether the military would all act in coordinated fashion. Those are real concerns and one of the reasons nobody wanted them to have nukes to begin with.

And then finally, how will the US suspending immigration change the status quo?

Not very much. Trump makes announcements like this and then there are all sorts of exceptions. There are lots of immigrants you need. The State Department just a few days ago said they want more immigrants and they're going to make it easier for them to apply, if they can be a part of the health care response to coronavirus. We desperately need more people doing contact tracing. People involved in that I suspect we'll also be welcome in terms of immigrants. I suspect that there will be exceptions made for people that are able to pay large sums of money to get visas that way. So, first, not many people traveling right now. Generally, all sorts of quarantine, about 60% of the global population under lockdown.

Secondly, not going to have much real impact. There'll be exceptions. But of course, what Trump wants to do is give something that his base really loves and at the same time, if he agitates international alliances, he doesn't really care. That's a longer-term problem and it's one he doesn't think matters very much. So, unfortunate from my perspective, because you don't need to undermine alliances that have already gotten weaker over the past years. But Trump's view is those relationships don't add to very much in terms of American influence and power. And he's been consistent in the way he's acting, the way he's felt, and policy on that.

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?

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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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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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