What We're Watching: A New Arms Race

A New Arms Race – The US and Russia have now both officially pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). A key piece of the global arms control regime constructed by Moscow and Washington during the Cold War, the INF Treaty prohibits land-based missiles with ranges between 300 and 4,000 miles. The US signaled its intention to pull out last year, saying Russia was violating its terms, and noting that China isn't even party to the pact. Now Moscow has bolted as well, and we are watching, with no small degree of unease, to see whether this prompts a new global arms race. Remember the 1950s civil defense drills in New York? We don't either, but these photos from the era are chilling.


A New Wiosna (Spring) in Poland? An openly gay LGBT activist is leadinga new leftist party breaking ground in conservative Poland. Robert Biedron, a former mayor from the Western border town of Slupsk, hopes that the upcoming European parliamentary elections in May can be a springboard for his Wiosna (Spring) party to launch a domestic political movement. He has growing support among young city-dwellers disenchanted with the conservative nationalism of Poland's ruling Law and Justice party. But Wiosna may struggle to expand its base in Europe's most Catholic nation. We're watching to see whether a political spring has sprung for Poland.

What We're Ignoring:

Curbing Germans' Need for Speed Germans love driving fast almost as much as Americans love their guns. It's no surprise then that a recent proposal to limit speeds on the country's famously freewheeling Autobahn (to an oozing 75mph) didn't go over well. Proponents of the idea say it would close one-fifth of the current gap in Germany's 2020 carbon emissions goals. But when a German transport minister imposed similar restrictions in the 1970s, they lasted just four weeks. We're ignoring this story because we're confident Germans will put their foot down – and then speed off into the sunset.

Trump-Churchill comparisons – A new report suggests 60 percent of President Trump's day is consumed by unstructured "Executive Time," much of which is spent watching cable news, reading newspapers, and making phone calls. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich responded to the report by comparing the president's habits to those of the famously misanthropic UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill. We're ignoring the comparison though because Churchill wrote 17 books during his lifetime and won World War II.

In Italy, stacks of plastic boxes in supermarkets and stores are not garbage - they are collected and reused, thanks to a consortium that specializes in recycling them for food storage. How do these "circular" plastic boxes help reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions?

Learn more in this episode of Eni's Energy SUPERFACTS series.

Over the past few years, we've seen three major emerging powers take bold action to right what they say are historical wrongs.

First came Crimea. When the Kremlin decided in 2014 that Western powers were working against Russian interests in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to seize the Crimean Peninsula, which was then part of Ukraine. Moscow claimed that Crimea and its ethnic Russian majority had been part of the Russian Empire for centuries until a shameful deal in 1954 made Crimea part of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Americans and Europeans imposed sanctions on Russia. But Ukraine is not part of NATO or the EU, and no further action was taken.

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British economist Jim O'Neill says the global economy can bounce back right to where it was before, in a V-shaped recovery. But his argument is based on a lot of "ifs," plus comparisons to the 2008 recession and conditions in China and South Korea that may not truly apply. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Robert Kahn take issue with O'Neill's op-ed, on this edition of The Red Pen.

Today, we're taking our Red Pen to an article titled "A V-Shaped Recovery Could Still Happen." I'm not buying it. It's published recently by Project Syndicate, authored by British economist named Jim O'Neill. Jim O'Neill is very well known. He was chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. He's the guy that coined the acronym BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China. So, no slouch. But as you know, we don't agree with everything out there. And this is the case. Brought to you by the letter V. We're taking sharp issue with the idea that recovery from all the economic devastation created by the coronavirus pandemic is going to happen quickly. That after the sharp drop that the world has experienced, everything bounces back to where it was before. That's the V. Economists around the world are debating how quickly recovery will happen to be sure. But we're not buying the V. Here's why. W-H-Y.

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The United States and the European Union have comparable population sizes, but their COVID-19 death toll trajectories have recently become very different. Since the beginning of July, the average number of both new fatalities and new deaths per 1 million people is rapidly increasing in the US while it remains mostly flat in the EU. We compare this to the average number of new cases each seven days in both regions, where the US trend continues upward but is not surging like the death toll. EU countries' robust public health systems and citizens' willingness to wear masks and maintain social distance could explain the disparity.

"Neither America first, which is ultimately America alone, nor America the world's policeman," Sen. Chris Coons told Ian Bremmer in describing VP Joe Biden's approach to foreign policy should he win the presidential election in November. In the latest episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer, Sen. Coons provides details of how U.S. relationships with foreign governments and multilateral alliances could change in a Biden presidency. He also defended President Obama's track record, saying "I think it is a mischaracterization of the Obama-Biden foreign policy for President Trump to say that we were picking up the tab and fighting the world's wars and that we were disrespected." Coons stated that Biden would work to restore U.S. involvement in alliances like NATO, and shore up global support to pressure China on labor and environmental standards. The exchange is part of a broad conversation with the Senator about COVID response and economic relief, Russian interference in elections, and the 2020 presidential race. The episode begins airing nationally in the U.S. on Friday, July 10. Check local listings.