RNC 2020 takeaways; Russian poisoning; South Korea's schools; Kim Jong-un rumors

Watch Ian Bremmer discuss the World In more than 60 Seconds:

What are your takeaways from night one of the RNC?


That the country is incredibly divided. That if you are pro-Trump and you were watching that RNC, you thought it was very powerful. You thought it was a strong message. It reflected interest that you have in the country. And if you can't stand Trump, then you thought it was a dumpster fire and it solidified your preexisting beliefs.

I accept that the RNC is more of a cult of personality around Trump, who occupies all the oxygen in the room, but also just has a far greater reach and following in media than we've seen from other leaders of Republican or Democratic parties in recent history. But I also recognize that there are a lot of people out there, Senator Scott, certainly Nikki Haley, Steve Scalise, others. It's you know, I wouldn't say it's a broad demographic tent, but I do think it is a broad political tent in terms of the ideological orientations of the people that are represented there, as well as the fact that if Trump wasn't president, you would say that there would be a lot of infighting among that group. But there isn't in this environment.

There were a couple of disastrous speeches, certainly, and everyone's making fun of Kimberly Guilfoyle, who really shouldn't be public speaking about issues that matter. But, you know, she's with Donald Trump Jr. and the family is, you know, a very big piece of this.

I will say I'm a little surprised Jared Kushner has not been announced as giving a speech yet. Maybe he will show up over the course of the week, given that every member of the Trump family that likes the president is speaking. But, you know, that's where you have it. The amusing thing, I suppose, is that they're doing so much more of it live and so while the production quality isn't as high, the potential for there to be something of interest, gaffes, something that's more sort of newsworthy and watchable, does go up a bit. But again, completely divided and it's not like there a lot of people that are watching both. Okay, that's it.

Alexei Navalny was poisoned. What is going on?

Well, you know, if you're a Russian opposition member, that has to be one of the most physically dangerous occupations in the world. And the fact that he was poisoned but was not killed and looks like he was poisoned with the same kind of agent that other Russian, you know, double agents and others have been, the Skirpal poisoning, for example, a few years ago in the UK, the same kind of thing. The Russians, of course, denied it. The Russian government said that there was no such poisoning. The doctors in Omsk that were spoken to by the Kremlin said, "no, he definitely wasn't poisoned." Of course, they get him to Germany and the truth actually comes out.

What's extraordinary is that there's almost complete impunity. President Putin in Russia feels like there is nothing that can be done against him, irrespective of what he does to Russian citizens. There is no rule of law. There are no constraints on his power. And it's deeply disturbing that one of the most important countries in the world has a leader that feels like he can act that way. Of course, in China, Xi Jinping. The way that the Uighurs are treated, the way that they've acted in Hong Kong recently, same kind of thing. In the case of Navalny, the German government, both the chancellor and the foreign minister, Merkel and Heiko Moss, had a very strong statement saying that they would not tolerate this. That they demanded a full investigation, that the people responsible must be held to account. But not supported by the EU as a whole. And President Trump is saying no such thing.

So, I mean, the Germans are kind of talking themselves, almost voices in the wilderness, and it increases the sense of impunity that President Putin actually has. It's depressing from a global and human perspective. But boy, it sends a message. I mean, Navalny on this plane and crying out in pain and then in a coma and probably isn't going to die, but, you know, certainly dangers for the rest of his life in terms of, you know, the ongoing health that he has. It's hard to imagine he's going to want to go back to Russia any time soon. It's going to give you second, third, fourth thoughts if you're a member of the opposition in Russia or you're a journalist that wants to write about truth. There is no challenging President Putin at this point or any time in the foreseeable future. And for those that see what's happening in Belarus and say, the Russians, you're next. Even with the demonstrations we've seen in Siberia and the Far East, I just don't see it.

What's happening in South Korea with the closure of schools?

Well, we have a few hundred cases a day now, which in South Korea is a lot. The South Koreans have had, you know, sort of zero tolerance in terms of trying to ensure that they can control the virus and therefore, lots of contact tracing, extensive testing, and quarantine - shutting things down. Even though they have, you know, almost complete compliance in mask wearing and social distancing in their schools, now that they've seen a few hundred cases coming out of these schools, they're shutting the schools down. Not everything, not higher ed kids that are about to take their big exams. I mean, high schoolers to get into college. But younger kids, they are all going to be virtual for the coming month. And on the one hand, that has improved the popularity of President Moon, who is seen as handling this very effectively by the South Korean people. So, for those of you watching South Korea as a country, that's significant. In the United States, it certainly tells you that as we try to get kids to go back to schools in areas where you have hot zones, where you have lots of cases, likely you're going to have a lot of schools closing down again. I think it's hard to imagine that schools are going to be able to open, you know, feasibly and across the board, at least until next year. That's my view right now. And for all of you parents out there that are like, "please, God, get my kids out of the house, I can't take this. I'm also working. So is my husband. So is my wife." I'm sorry, but I think that's where we're going. It's going to be challenging.

Finally, what do you make of Kim Jong-un rumors of incapacitation?

I've only seen them come out of one news source so far. I don't find them very credible. It's not the first time. Last time around, a couple of months ago, reported widely by the AP and CNN and turned out it was no such thing. We have very little information on what's happening inside North Korea. And, you know, you don't have intelligence that's coming out. You don't have journalists on the ground that have sources that are off the record. So you basically have to deal with accounts that come from people that have left North Korea, who certainly have political agendas and can't really be trusted about what they do and don't know. And whatever you can find, the tea leaves you can read from watching North Korean state television, state media, satellite imagery. That gives you a lot of information when they're preparing, say, a nuclear or ballistic missile tests, gives you very little information when you're talking about whether Kim Jong-un is alive or dead.

The fact that they thought he was in a coma a couple months ago and now they're saying it again, I don't have any particular reason to believe it, nor do I have any reason to believe that North Korea is going to cause much trouble, especially in the run up to US elections. I think they at the very least want to see what's going to happen out of the US before they decide how much they want to orient towards a more friendly engagement, see if they can shake some cash loose or a tougher line policy to see if they can shake some cash loose. Either way, the outcome they're looking for is shaking some cash loose.

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"The people are stronger," pro-democracy demonstrators chanted as news broke that the Sudanese military had staged a coup Monday, overthrowing the joint civilian-military government and dashing hopes of democracy in the war-torn country.

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Sort of, but governments haven't lost all control yet. On the one hand, The Atlantic CEO Nicholas Thompson says that governments can still push tech companies for transparency in their algorithms, while Microsoft has partnered with the US government to together fight hackers "so the company is seen as a champion for freedom and democracy." On the other, over time Thompson expects tech firms in the US and China to gradually become more powerful as the state becomes less powerful toward them. Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Big Tech: Global sovereignty, unintended consequences

As COP26 nears, the need for real climate action has never been more urgent. There are reasons for hope, but many scientists believe the ambitious goal of net zero emissions by 2050 is unattainable without immediate and significant change. Governments, financial institutions, and private sector companies alike have all recognized the need for a multistakeholder approach to solving this crisis of a lifetime.

Watch "Climate Crisis: Is net zero really possible?" a one-hour virtual livestream, hosted by GZERO Media and Microsoft as part of the Global Stage series, to hear scientists, corporate leaders and policymakers debate this question and offer critical perspectives on the way forward. Live on Tuesday, November 2nd at 11am ET, we'll break down what "net zero" means, take stock of where the world is on the path to carbon neutrality, and discuss critical steps needed to make real progress.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody and happy Monday. Back in the office, getting a little cool. So I've got my sweater going on. It's the first time I've had a sweater on. What do you do with that? Discussing fashion, as I talk to you about what is on my mind this week?

And what's on my mind this week, Facebook. Facebook is on my mind. It's a tough week for Facebook. There are all sorts of whistleblowers out there. There's testimony going on. There's calls for regulation. Everybody seems unhappy with them. Indeed, you even got the government relations types, Nick Clegg, who I've known for a long time back when he was a policymaker in the UK saying that the headlines are going to be rough, but we're are going to get through it. But I will say, first of all, I'm kind of skeptical that any of this goes anywhere in terms of impact on how Facebook actually operates.

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Turkey's Erdogan ups the ante with the West: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared diplomats from 10 Western countries "persona non-grata" after the group — which includes the US, France, and Germany — called on Ankara to release Osman Kavala, a Parisian-born Turkish businessman who's been held in jail since 2017 but hasn't been charged with a crime. Erdogan says that Kavala was involved in an attempted coup against the government in 2016. This latest move is a sign of Turkey's authoritarian drift in recent years, which has seen Erdogan's government increasingly crack down on opposition members as well as journalists. It also reflects Turkey's increasingly fraught relations with the West: things got particularly bad between Washington and Ankara after Turkey purchased missile defense systems from the Russians in 2019. The Council of Europe (the continent's leading human rights organization) had previously warned that Ankara has until November to release Kavala or it would impose "infringements," though it's unclear what those would be.

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ASEAN gets tough(ish) with Myanmar: The leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations meet Tuesday for their annual summit with one notable absence: the head of Myanmar's military junta. It's a rare snub from ASEAN, a regional bloc that's gotten a lot of heat in the past for giving tyrants a free pass. The junta says ASEAN violated its traditional principles of deciding by consensus by disinviting its leader, and non-interference in domestic affairs for demanding the bloc's special envoy meet detained former leader Aung San Suu Kyi. For their part, the other ASEAN members have grown visibly alarmed at Myanmar's rapidly deteriorating political and economic situation since the February coup, and they're worried about the spillover effects of Myanmar becoming a failed state. More importantly, Myanmar is a big thorn in ASEAN's side as it walks a fine line between keeping warm ties with the US — which most members want cash and security from — and getting along with China, one of Myanmar's few remaining friends and viewed with suspicion by most ASEAN members over its South China Sea shenanigans.

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