Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here and a Quick Take to kick off your week. And yes, we are back to the Israel-Gaza war and it is at least a little bit of good news with some hostages finally being released over a month and a half from when they were originally taken. That has gotten us some Palestinian prisoners released, some humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza and a ceasefire for a few days. And indeed, looks like it will now plausibly be extended for another day or two as more hostages are being let go.
Got to give Qatar a lot of credit here for playing a role in negotiating between Israel and Hamas. Not an easy thing to do. Qatar, an ally of the United States, the biggest military base on the ground, but also a government that has allowed the political leadership of Hamas to live inside their territory in peace and security as they have Taliban leadership for years. And that proves to be useful for both the Americans and the Israelis, more on that later. But is this potentially the beginning of the end of the war? And on that front, I think we have to say absolutely not for a few reasons.
First of all, because there are still well over 100 hostages and they're going to be much harder to get released because here you're not talking about women and children. You're talking about men of fighting age, and in some cases you're talking about soldiers. And Hamas is going to demand a lot more in return. And the Israelis are going to be very reluctant to provide it. So first, I don't expect that's going to happen. And as long as there are hostages on the ground, there's still going to be an awful lot of fighting from the Israeli side.
Secondly, we still have a Hamas leadership, a military leadership active in the north of Gaza. Their ability to continue to fire rockets and their ability to continue to have command and control infrastructure, that's not been destroyed. And the Israeli military saying that it's probably another two months of fighting that they need in the war. By the way, this is about a month after they told the Americans privately that there would be 4 to 6 weeks required.
Now, part of that is, hey, just say the absolute minimum so you get support from the US. You can always extend it later. It's a tactic, but also because it's proving to be more challenging on the ground than the Israeli Defense Forces had anticipated. Not to mention the fact they haven't started fighting in the south, where they told all the Palestinian civilians to evacuate to, but there are also Hamas militants operating in the south. And so Israel intends to try to take them out as well. In other words, we're still talking about weeks, maybe months of active fighting.
The other thing I will say, though, is that the level of pressure on Israel internationally to stop that fighting is going to grow a lot. You've seen the Chinese, the Gulf states, the Egyptians, the Jordanians and Europeans, many Europeans, though not all, and increasingly many inside the United States as well, now actively calling for a ceasefire. And Biden even saying, President Biden, something he had been saying privately, but is now saying publicly that he might be willing to condition further military and financial support to Israel on the basis of Israeli behavior on the ground in the war. And he's very concerned, certainly as everyone is, about the level of civilian casualties that we've all seen in Gaza. Now, does that mean that Israel is no longer America's top ally? No. Under no circumstances can I see that. And Biden would not move in that direction, not personally and not politically. But I could see, for example, some high tech offensive weaponry being held back by the Americans for example, becoming more controversial.
And I also see that happening from Democrats in the House and in the Senate. Again, this is no longer a matter of just a small number of hard-line progressives on the squad in the House. This is much broader. I think we are at the point where Israel has probably lost some degree of support from the United States permanently. The demographics in the United States and how they feel about Israel and what that means politically for the country longer term has shifted. And certainly you can now see things in mainstream media that never would have been printed sort of even three months ago, never mind ten years ago, about their feeling of how Israel does and doesn't run a democracy, nature of the occupation in the West Bank, nature of detentions of those that are accused of, but not yet convicted of crimes, and on and on and on. That level of attention, which only grows, that level of scrutiny that only grows, the longer this war goes on. And of course, the longer we see massive civilian casualties on the ground, that's going to be more challenging for Israel.
There also remains what is the plausible long-term impact of all of this. And for now, it just looks like misery and it's very hard to imagine how the Palestinians could ever come to peace in the region until they have an option that looks attractive. And right now, if you're a Palestinian in Gaza, the option is run away and find someplace to not get blown up. And they're not going to leave Gaza and they're not allowed to leave Gaza, even if they did want to leave Gaza and they don't want to. And then you have Palestinians in the West Bank who are living on smaller and smaller pieces of territory and their lives have become more and more challenging. So, I mean, clearly, at some point, the Israeli government, with a lot of international support and pressure, are going to need to provide meaningful opportunities for the Palestinian people.
And we are not close to that. We are still talking about more war, not less, and less opportunities for building peace, not more. I hope that that will turn in the coming weeks and months. Certainly the international pressure is turning, but not yet the situation on the ground. From that perspective, we're still going to be talking about this quite a bit.
That's it for me. I'll talk to you all real soon.
- Israel-Hamas war: "Just bring them back," says brother of 9-year-old Israeli hostage ›
- Why Israel’s war aims may “break Israeli society”: a conversation with Israeli hostage negotiator Gershon Baskin ›
- Third hostage and prisoner exchange goes ahead, but will there be ... ›
- Dealing with Hamas: What a former hostage negotiator learned ›
- The debate over a “cease-fire” for Gaza ›
Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, DC, shares his perspective on US politics.
What are three things that lawmakers have to be grateful for this Thanksgiving?
Well, the first is that they get to go home. Lawmakers reached a short-term deal to fund the government until January 19th, which means that they won't be around Washington, DC, beating each other up over levels of funding. That can all wait until 2024. They can go home and enjoy the holidays with their families and not pass much other legislation this year.
The second is that so far, the Inflation Reduction Act seems to be working to spur manufacturing in the United States. There are 22 new battery plants currently under construction. There's record investment in electronics manufacturing, and a number of European companies have announced their intention to expand green energy projects in the United States and not because of these subsidies. Now, of course, the real question about the success of the program is going to come when the subsidies stop, and you can judge how well the US has done in spurring this manufacturing in the US. But for now, Democrats are happy because it looks like the IRA is working. Republicans like the jobs, even though they didn't vote for the bill.
The third thing that both parties have to be grateful for is that there are no competitive primaries, which means that there's no choosing sides. There's no traipsing through the snowy fields of Iowa to campaign for one guy or another. Donald Trump is almost certain to win the Republican nomination, and Joe Biden faces no real challengers. So, both parties can marshal all their resources for the general election in 2024. And neither party is likely to go through a particularly divisive primary in the first half of the year.
Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.
Will Israel and Hamas finally reach a hostage deal?
We keep hearing about this deal. We're now saying it's imminent, but imminent doesn't mean announced. And, you know, things can go wrong at the last minute still, where the details make it seem like this is going to happen. And what that means is not only we're going to see at least a few dozen Israeli women and children released and some Palestinians, also mostly women, it looks like, released as well from Israel, but that you'll get a temporary ceasefire in three days, five days, and maybe that leads to more diplomacy. It doesn't lead to Israel no longer attacking Hamas. Let's be clear. It's not an actual ceasefire, but it creates more space for people to be talking, especially talking with the Israelis, major leaders in the region. That is something we'll be watching very closely.
What does Javier Milei’s election mean for the future of Argentina?
Well look, it means that the Argentines were absolutely sick of the country falling apart and they were voting between a guy who said he was going to dollarized and get rid of a lot of the government and someone who represented economic policies that have driven the country into a ditch, 140% inflation and massive poverty and, you know, nobody investing and close to a default from the IMF. So, I mean, all of this is a disaster. But Milei, he doesn't have a single governor. He won't have a majority in Congress. He doesn't have an economic team. And his economic plans are mostly vaporware. So, I mean, this is not a country that has the ability to screw around for an awful lot. It's not like the United States in Afghanistan or Iraq. You make mistakes. But the economy is still great. Argentina is not Afghanistan, but they are in serious, serious trouble. And so, yeah, the economy is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. And we'll watch that. It's very expensive to dollarize by the way. And so that means you got to have to print a lot more. I suspect that this is going to be a lot more hardship on the backs of a lot of Argentines. Okay.
Happy Thanksgiving! What world leader has the most to be thankful for this holiday season?
What a hard thing. I mean, all leaders should be thankful because, you know, in principle, they're doing a hell of a lot better because they're representing their people and they should appreciate that and they should take that seriously. And a lot of them don't. But I guess I probably say Modi. Narendra Modi in India, because I mean, he is a very popular leader of the world's largest democracy, 1.4 billion people, the most populous country in the world, is pretty democratic. It's growing economically. It is a leader of the Global South, but it's also with increasingly stable relations with the United States, with Japan and with Europe. And Modi has accomplished a lot of that. So he has a lot to be thankful for. And he is not going anywhere anytime soon. So there's that.
Better or Worse? What happened when two frenemies -- China's President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden -- met at the APEC Summit in San Francisco? Did the two superpowers move closer to conflict or actually get something positive done? What will make a difference? Ian Bremmer was in San Francisco and took in the big event, and he sits down for an exclusive conversation with GZERO's new partner, TED, to explain what it all means.
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Marietje Schaake, International Policy Fellow, Stanford Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, and former European Parliamentarian, co-hosts GZERO AI, our new weekly video series intended to help you keep up and make sense of the latest news on the AI revolution. In this episode, she talks about the potential pitfalls of the imminent EU AI Act and the sudden resistance that could jeopardize it altogether.
After a weekend full of drama around OpenAI, it is now time to shift to another potentially dramatic conclusion of an AI challenge, namely the EU AI Act, that's entering its final phase. And this week, the Member States of the EU will decide on their position. And there is sudden resistance coming from France and Germany in particular, to including foundation models in the EU AI Act. And I think that is a mistake. I think it is crucial for a safe but also competitive and democratically governed AI ecosystem that foundation models are actually part of the EU AI Act, which would be the most comprehensive AI law that the democratic world has put forward. So, the world is watching, and it is important that EU leaders understand that time is really of the essence if we look at the speed of development of artificial intelligence and in particular, generative AI.
And actually, that speed of development is what's kind of catching up now with the negotiators, because in the initial phase, the European Commission had designed the law to be risk-based when we look at the outcomes of AI applications. So, if AI is used to decide on whether to hire someone or give them access to education or social benefits, the consequences for the individual impacted can be significant and so, proportionate to the risk, mitigating measures should be in place. And the law was designed to include anything from very low or no-risk applications to high and unacceptable risk of applications, such as a social credit scoring system as unacceptable, for example. But then when generative AI products started flooding the market, the European Parliament, which was taking its position, decided, “We need to look at the technology as well. We cannot just look at the outcomes.” And I think that that is critical because foundation models are so fundamental. Really, they form the basis of so much downstream use that if there are problems at that initial stage, they ripple through like an earthquake in many, many applications. And if you don't want startups or downstream users to be confronted with liability or very high compliance costs, then it's also important to start at the roots and make sure that sort of the core ingredients of the uses of these AI models are properly governed and that they are safe and okay to use.
So, when I look ahead at December, when the European Commission, the European Parliament and Member States come together, I hope negotiators will look at the way in which foundation models can be regulated, that it is not a yes or no to regulation, but it's a progressive work tiered approach that really attaches the strongest mitigating or scrutiny measures to the most powerful players. The way that has been done in many other sectors. It would be very appropriate for AI foundation models, as well. There's a lot of debate going on. Open letters are being penned, op-ed experts are speaking out, and I'm sure there is a lot of heated debate between Member States of the European Union. I just hope that the negotiators appreciate that the world is watching. Many people with great hope as to how the EU can once again regulate on the basis of its core values, and that with what we now know about how generative AI is built upon these foundation models, it would be a mistake to overlook them in the most comprehensive EU AI law.
Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Ian Bremmer here and a Quick Take to kick off your week. And more from the Middle East, the story that continues to dominate the headlines.The story that continues to dominate the headlines. And right now, foreign ministers from across the Middle East and the Muslim world, including the Palestinian foreign minister in Beijing and soon to be in Moscow and soon after that, to be in London and Paris to talk about efforts to contain and end the war in the Middle East. The Chinese foreign minister calling for an immediate ceasefire, also calling for a two-state solution, agreeing with the Americans on the latter, not agreeing with the Americans on the former. This is an environment where pretty much everybody involved is trying to get an end to the fighting except the United States, which is the most important ally, the critical ally of Israel.
And the Israelis intend to continue their military strikes until they feel like they have destroyed Hamas on the ground. And that means not just in Gaza City, but also it means in the south of Gaza. This is causing difficulties inside the United States with stronger opposition inside the Democratic Party, especially among young people where Biden is under water wanting a much more balanced, much less pro-Israel policy. And Republicans who on balance think that Biden has been too soft in his support for Israel. This means that Biden's at 40% approval right now, the lowest of his administration to date. And it's hard to see this getting any better any time soon. I think that the Israelis are clearly having military successes on the ground in Gaza. And when you talk to the generals, they feel like they're on the timeline they want to be. They are finding the tunnels, finding the militant leaders, able to go after with impunity, those that are there. Of course, the very fact that Hamas is fighting inside a civilian area, that they have tunnels underneath schools and hospitals, and that's where they're putting the hostages. And we've seen those videos now that are confirmed and where they're putting their military equipment makes Hamas responsible for a lot of the civilians that are getting killed, but also makes the Israelis responsible in the global environment for not being able to take out Hamas unless they put massive numbers of civilians at risk.
And so what you have is the Israelis winning, at least tactically, the military battles on the ground, whether one can destroy Hamas or extremist militarism against Israel through bombing and a ground war is another longer question. But losing the information war where around the world and including in the United States, there is just a lot more sympathy increasingly for the Palestinians. Only six weeks after the worst terrorist attacks, the worst violence against Jews anywhere in the world since the Holocaust. That is the reality.
And, you know, it's very different in this regard than covering the Russia-Ukraine invasion, where, first of all, the Ukrainians were winning the information war and also it was very clearly a black versus white struggle. I mean, these were, you know, not that the Ukrainians are Democrats and didn't have problems with corruption, but they were minding their own business. They wanted to join NATO. True. That's a decision that is made by a sovereign country. But they weren't threatening Russia. They weren't invading Russia. They were doing nothing to Russians in the Federation. And that was even true despite years of annexation illegally by the Russians of Ukrainian territory. So it was very clear when the Russians invaded Ukraine that the Russians were at fault and that the question is how can you respond to that? It was black and white.
In the case of Israel and Palestine, it is very clear that Hamas is responsible for October 7th. That's clear. But it's also clear that the Israelis have engaged in a lot of illegal actions in taking Palestinian territory on the ground in the West Bank and continue to occupy territory that is not theirs that nobody thinks is theirs and not prepared to do anything about it. It's also clear that the Israeli government had been supporting Hamas in undermining the Palestinian Authority and in refuse thing to consider a two-state solution under Netanyahu and his far right coalition. So, I mean, it's not black and white. There are different shades of gray. There are you know, it's very easy to say that Hamas is a terrorist organization and that means they should be destroyed and Netanyahu is a bad leader and that means he should be voted out. But there's no equivalence between these two leaders. But saying there's no equivalence doesn't mean that one is good and the other's bad. Here we are talking about different shades of illegal activity and we're also talking about different shades of behavior that is causing immense amounts of responsibility for human suffering.
And you can't simply say that Hamas is only responsible for all the people that are getting killed. You can't say that. You can say they're mostly responsible because they're the ones that have the hostages. They're the ones targeting the civilians. They're the ones putting civilians in harm's way. But certainly the Israeli Defense Forces deserve some culpability for their willingness to, you know, have a siege and not allow in humanitarian aid. And their willingness to engage in attacks that are going to take out some militants, but are going to risk the lives of far more civilians. And, you know, how do you balance that? Is it 90:10 Hamas responsible? Is it 70:30? Is it 80:20? I'm not sure I care, you know, doing a percentage as I am in recognizing that we have to describe the nuance. We have to be reasonable in not trying to play one side off as purely responsible and guilty and bad, that the only way this is going to lead to peace is if Hamas is removed, if they are destroyed as a terrorist organization. Number one. If there are prospects for peace for Palestinians to have livelihoods in Gaza and the West Bank going forward, and if Netanyahu and his far right coalition are removed from office, those things are all necessary antecedent conditions before we can have stability in the region.
That's where we are. So it's not an easy conversation. It's a nuanced conversation. It's one that makes almost nobody satisfied and happy in a way that on Russia and Ukraine, it was very easy to be on team Ukraine, even though they frequently lied about stuff in terms of propaganda and support of the war. And their government wasn't 100% clean and isn't 100% clean. But it's still very easy to say the Ukrainians deserve their territory back. It's much harder in this environment on Israel-Palestine to put your thumb on one side of the scale, you have to have a broader conversation if you want to be accurate and if you want to have peace. And that's where we are, and that's part of the reason why it's been so damn difficult to get peace in the Middle East for decades and decades, why the Americans, like many others, have kind of given up on it in favor of just trying to create stability with everybody else. And that worked to a degree. But now we see it wasn't enough. And so we're going to have to go back yet again in one of the most challenging geopolitical missions that we face in the world today.
So that's it for me, but I'm sure we'll be back to this real soon.
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