Opinion

Ian Bremmer

Political risk must-reads

Ian Bremmer
Feb 22, 2013 20:38 UTC

Eurasia Group’s weekly selection of essential reading for the political risk junkie – presented in no particular order. As always, feel free to give us your feedback or selections @EurasiaGroup or @IanBremmer.

Must-Reads

China denies it is world’s biggest trader despite data showing it passed US last year

By The Associated Press

With great trading comes great responsibility. For China, the bragging rights of being the world’s #1 trader don’t offset the perceived political obligations that come with it. What will this mean when China becomes the largest economy in the world overall? 

They Actually Plan to Mine Asteroids. Here’s How

By Daniel Bukszpan, CNBC

The space market is skyrocketing. First, take the black market that arose in the wake of the meteor striking Russia last week—even space debris is subject to the corruption and supply/demand forces at play in Russia. This article outlines how Planetary Resources, Inc. aims to mine asteroids that travel close to Earth. Says the CEO, “a single 500-meter LL chondrite has more platinum on it than has been mined in the history of humanity.”

Globalising giving

The Economist

Of the 1,223 billionaires in 2012, 102 have signed the Gates-Buffett pledge to donate half of their total worth over the course of their lives. Finding emerging market billionaires who’ll contribute has proven a lot more challenging: one Indian (out of 48) and no Chinese (out of 95) have signed on thus far.

Questions for Graham Allison and Robert D. Blackwill

Ian Bremmer
Feb 20, 2013 22:43 UTC

Graham Allison and Bob Blackwill have important questions to ask about China, America and the extraordinary impact of the relationship of those two countries on the rest of the world. For answers, they turned to Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first premier and one of the world’s most formidable geopolitical thinkers and strategists. The result is a fascinating book called Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World. I had some of my own questions for them. The answers are written responses that Allison and Blackwill wrote together.

Q: Why is Lee Kuan Yew invaluable as a source of insight into China, America and the world? And why is Singapore so important for Asia’s future?

If you were to ask the world’s smartest and most influential people the question, “Who, by virtue of intelligence and life experience, is likely to have the most insightful answers about China, America, and the world?” their answer would be: Lee Kuan Yew.

Culture of silence

Ian Bremmer
Feb 19, 2013 19:41 UTC

American companies are at war, but don’t ask them why. They won’t tell. They’re besieged not by one another, but by hackers who target their intellectual property and confidential information. Just how deep this cyberwar goes is largely unknown to all but the companies being targeted. That’s because they are staying silent in an effort to not aggravate the countries in which they are being hacked. China is the site of the most cyber-aggression, and in many instances, the biggest opportunity for many businesses. Companies are turning the other cheek in an attempt to turn another check.

If the companies are not talking, how do we know it’s happening? Because the U.S. government has noticed.  On Tuesday, The New York Times ran a piece highlighting the link between anti-U.S. cyberattacks and the Chinese military.  In the Washington Post last week, word leaked that the United States has put out a National Intelligence Estimate that “identifies China as the country most aggressively seeking to penetrate the computer systems of American businesses and institutions to gain access to data that could be used for economic gain.”

This is the front in the U.S. cyberwar that we’re not winning. We know the U.S. does fine when it comes to its sovereign cyber-warfare, waged on a state-to-state platform.  Take Stuxnet — the US/Israel initiative to destroy Iranian nuclear centrifuges through a complex cyberattack (not to mention an odd follow-up that purportedly blasted AC/DC’s ”Thunderstruck” at odd hours). But when it comes to corporate sabotage and espionage, the United States is far less experienced than China. Blame free-market capitalism: The U.S. government does not intervene on the private sector’s behalf to obtain information that would benefit the economy. China, however, is far more adept at this because of its use of state capitalism (a system in which the state uses markets to create wealth that can consolidate its hold on power).

Political risk must-reads

Ian Bremmer
Feb 11, 2013 15:49 UTC

Eurasia Group’s weekly selection of essential reading for the political risk junkie – presented in no particular order. As always, feel free to give us your feedback or selections @EurasiaGroup or @IanBremmer.

U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Africa defined by a decade of missteps

Craig Whitlock, Washington Post

Hindsight is 20-20. In light of recent events in Mali and Algeria, this is an interesting look back on a decade of U.S. counterterrorism in Africa. 

Red Obsessions: Film Business Moves from Hollywood to Asia

Lars-Olva Beier, Spiegel Online

With China slated to replace North America as the world’s #1 film market by 2020, navigating the Chinese market is increasingly difficult – and necessary.

C’est Mali: Intervention in a G-Zero world

Ian Bremmer
Feb 8, 2013 17:13 UTC

I’ve just come back from a trip to France last week, where French officials told me that come 2014, they expect there will still be a significant number of French forces in the north of Mali.

That, however, does not make Mali “Afrighanistan,” no matter what The Economist might say. Unlike the American invasion of Afghanistan, the French military operation is a small intervention ‑ France says it has 4,000 troops in Mali ‑ by a country that has no appetite to do any more. There will be no state-building by the French; there will be no great mission to democratize its people and its values (partly because democracy already has a hold in Mali). There are few densely packed urban areas for rebels to stage hard-to-detect insurgent attacks.

In recent days, French officials have been trying to make this as clear as possible. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius pledged, “France has no intention of remaining in Mali,” explaining it’s up to “the Africans and the Malians themselves to guarantee security.” The number of troops in Mali should begin to fall in March, he added.

Political risk must-reads

Ian Bremmer
Feb 1, 2013 19:32 UTC

Eurasia Group’s weekly selection of essential reading for the political risk junkie – presented in no particular order. As always, feel free to give us your feedback or selections @EurasiaGroup or @IanBremmer.

China has been all over the news this week, with the New York Times hacking episode dominating headlines. But recent stories related to China venture much further than cyberspace.

Must-reads

The resource race: China dips toes in Arctic waters” – Christoph Seidler, Spiegel Online

  •