What We’re Watching: Suu Kyi charged, Draghi back in Italy, Russian jabs for (some) Ukrainians

What We’re Watching: Suu Kyi charged, Draghi back in Italy, Russian jabs for Ukraine separatists

Myanmar junta charges Suu Kyi: Days after taking over in a coup, the newly minted military rulers in Myanmar have slapped Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's recently deposed de facto leader, with a flurry of frivolous charges. Among other grave offenses, the Nobel laureate is accused of a vague conspiracy to illegally import walkie-talkies for legal cover to justify her long-term arrest pending an eventual trial. Meanwhile, Western countries are calling for her release because they are "concerned" about the erosion of democracy in Myanmar. But virtue-signaling and even threats of new international sanctions from the US and the EU are unlikely to move the generals, who can look to their trusted allies in China and Russia after they both blocked a UN condemnation of the putsch. We're watching to see how long the West will continue to be interested in Suu Kyi and Myanmar, and how the junta balances forging stronger ties with Beijing without becoming China's puppet.


Can "Super Mario" save Italy? Former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has accepted Italian President Sergio Mattarella's offer to try to form a new coalition government, following outgoing PM Giuseppe Conte's resignation a week ago. Draghi — known to his fans as "Super Mario" for preventing the collapse of the Eurozone in the wake of the Great Financial Crisis of 2009 — has a tough task ahead. The previous cabinet headed by Conte, a political outsider like Draghi, collapsed in mid-January after a junior partner walked away because of a dispute over how to spend EU coronavirus relief money. And Draghi is presumably aware that the last economist to hold the job, Mario Monti in 2011-2013, was dropped by his own supporters in the cabinet after he proposed too much austerity to address the country's debt crisis. Will Draghi's international fame and track record be enough to convince lawmakers to back a new coalition government? Or will they balk, pushing Italy towards a pandemic general election that the far-right Lega party and its allies are favored to win?

Moscow gives jabs to Ukraine separatists: Even as the government of Ukraine struggles to get enough coronavirus vaccines for its 40 million people, separatists in the east of the country have begun an inoculation drive with thousands of the Russian-made Sputnik V jabs. Leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics — which have been supported by Russia since breaking away in 2014 — said that doctors and soldiers would be first in line. Meanwhile in Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has seen his approval rating plunge to below 20 percent (source in Russian), in part because of the slow rollout of vaccines. Ukraine is expecting 8 million doses from the global COVAX facility, and 1.9 million from China's Sinopharm, but his country is — as ever — caught in the middle of things: unable to access EU vaccination schemes because it is not a member, but left out in the cold by Russia, a country with which it is still at war. "We are not a priority," Zelenskiy lamented in a recent interview with Axios.

Ken Burns discusses Muhammad Ali's background and how the journey of boxing's greatest champion is just as relevant today—in sport, culture and beyond.

"He is speaking to us with a kind of force and clarity...that to me is just so enduring." - Ken Burns

No country in the Western Hemisphere is more closely associated with disaster and misery than the Caribbean nation of Haiti. Its latest upheaval centers on news that the country's top prosecutor wants Haiti's prime minister to answer questions about the murder of the president in July. Haiti is again locked in a power struggle among competing factions within its ruling elite.

Why is Haiti still so poor and disaster-prone?

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For Michael Chertoff, former US secretary of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009, the fact that America has not experienced a single attack by foreign terrorists since 9/11 proves that the US was "successful" in its strategy to prevent terrorism. That "was not [an] accident and there was a deterrent effect to be honest — had we been lax, more would have tried." Although he admits the US government wasn't transparent enough about the intelligence it was collecting, Chertoff credits US intelligence agencies with helping to foil the plot to blow up airplanes mid-air from Heathrow to the US in 2006. The US mission in Iraq, or what came after was not clearly thought out, according to Michael Chertoff, who served as the Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush. The Iraq war made it difficult to focus on the US mission in Afghanistan and absorbed resources that could have been used more effectively elsewhere, he said.

Watch the full episode: Is America safer since 9/11?

Listen: In a frank interview on the GZERO World podcast, António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, speaks with Ian Bremmer at the UN ahead of the annual General Assembly week. Guterres discusses COVID, climate, the US-China rift, and the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, and does not mince words when it comes to the dire state of the world. "We are standing at the edge of an abyss," Guterres warns. COVID is "defeating" the global community and a climate catastrophe is all but assured without drastic action. Amidst this unprecedented peril, there remains a startling lack of trust among nations. And yet, there is still hope.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.


"Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still." — Harry S. Truman

The former US president's warning feels particularly prescient as world leaders prepare to gather at the 76th United National General Assembly in New York City, the first such in-person event in over 18 months. The importance of apt leadership in determining societies' ability to cope — and survive — has been on full display since COVID-19 enveloped the globe, decimating communities and killing some 4.5 million people.

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As the 76th UN General Assembly gets underway, dealing with the pandemic is still the top priority for world leaders. But for John Frank, vice president of UN Global Affairs at Microsoft, COVID is not the only major challenge the world faces today.

One of them — included in the UN Secretary-General's new Common Agenda for strong, inclusive pandemic recovery — is a different way to measure economic growth beyond the traditional productivity-led GDP model by taking more into account the cost of pollution, one of the main causes of climate change.

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For UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the pandemic has made the world even more divided than it was before COVID. That's especially true on climate, in his view, because rich and poor countries simply don't trust each other anymore. If we want COP26 to succeed, Guterres says we must rebuild that trust — or face the consequences of inaction. "If you are on the verge of an abyss, you must be careful about your next step." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

"Pandemic" was the most used word of 2020. "Delta" looks set to inherit this year's title.

Vaccination rates are ticking up slowly. Governments aren't talking to each other enough. Parts of the world are back to normal, while others are still locked down.

Have we actually made any progress since the COVID-19 outbreak?


Unfinished Business: Is the World Really Building Back Better?

Wednesday, September 22nd, 11am ET/ 8am PT

Our speakers:

Special appearance by António Guterres, UN Secretary-General.

Visit gzeromedia.com/globalstage to watch on the day of the event.

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UNGA 76: Vaccines, climate, crises

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UN Chief: Still time to avert climate “abyss”

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