Opinion

Ian Bremmer

Political risk must-reads

Ian Bremmer
Apr 3, 2014 18:28 UTC

Political risk must-reads

Eurasia Group’s 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 by tweeting at us via @EurasiaGroup or @ianbremmer.

China and the environment

Traveling to China? Consider ‘Smog Insurance’” — Emily Rauhala, Time

The largest online travel agency in China may offer tourists a rebate if they should visit China’s major cities on days when pollution is severe — which is quite often.

China deploys drones to spy on polluting industries” — Jennifer Duggan, the Guardian

China has a novel use for drones: policing polluting industries. Offending companies cannot anticipate a drone flyover as readily as a conventional inspection trip. According to China Daily, drones have helped the ministry of environmental protection “resolve” over 200 environment-linked cases.

The G7 and the limits of Russia’s ‘political isolation’

Ian Bremmer
Mar 28, 2014 00:57 UTC

 

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama delivered the major address of his weeklong trip to Europe, focusing on the Russian incursions into Ukraine and the coordinated Western retaliation. “Together, we have isolated Russia politically, suspending it from the G8 nations,” Obama said. For annexing Crimea, Russia was punished with temporary exile from this coalition of advanced industrial democracies, a group of Western countries that collectively act on their shared values.

There is just one problem: Russia never shared these values, and the G7 has neither represented global interests nor driven the international agenda for quite some time.

There are a few reasons why that’s the case. Even among countries with similar values and political systems, it can be difficult to align interests, as we’ve seen with the varied Western response to Crimea. Second, as new players have emerged in recent decades, the global power balance has shifted, leaving the G7 representative of a smaller piece of the pie. Any organization that does not include China, for example, is not truly global.

Who loses most in Ukraine?

Ian Bremmer
Mar 13, 2014 21:38 UTC

 

As we march toward Sunday’s Crimean referendum, the result is predetermined. Crimea will vote Russia, and tensions will only escalate. At this juncture, it’s important to take a step back and ask who “lost” here. What could the United States have done differently? What about Russia? Was the outbreak of violence and explosive geopolitical confrontation inevitable? Where does it go from here?

If the United States’ primary goal has been to keep violence in Ukraine and tensions between outside powers to a minimum, it has made a series of significant missteps. The United States failed to offer real economic support to the Ukrainian government before events reached a crescendo. Former President Viktor Yanukovich didn’t want to just work with the Russians; he was looking to strike a balance between Russia and the EU while skirting economic collapse. Europe pushed too hard, and the IMF wasn’t going to step in in time. The lack of support from the West helped push Yanukovich far enough towards Russia that protests in Kiev reached a point of no return.

On February 21st, key Ukrainian opposition figures and President Yanukovich signed a deal along with a group of European foreign ministers, only for it to soon break down and Yanukovich to flee. The United States eagerly jumped ship with the new pro-West Kiev government. This was a mistake. Washington could have expressed its reservations and urged that the signed deal at least be respected as a factor in determining political processes moving forward. Showing public support for that position would have been an important acknowledgment to Russia that the United States respects Russia’s interests. In Syria six months ago, the United States was perfectly happy to pretend (as were the Russians) that the chemical weapons deal was a breakthrough that would address the underlying conflict, even though it was just a smokescreen for relieving Obama of his obligation to intervene militarily. The Americans could have offered the Russians a similar face-saving gesture here, but they chose not to.

Political risk must-reads

Ian Bremmer
Mar 5, 2014 20:30 UTC

Political risk must-reads

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 by tweeting at us via @EurasiaGroup or @ianbremmer.

The Tragedy of Argentina: A Century of Decline” — the Economist

Last month, the Argentine peso saw its value depreciate by more than 20 percent. But 100 years ago, after 43 years of consecutive GDP growth of 6 percent annually, Argentina was considered a leading land of opportunity. What changed after World War One? Where is the country headed now?

Al-Qaeda Rebels in Syria Tell Christians to Pay up or Die” — Aryn Baker, Time

This is not Ukraine: Venezuela will erode, not explode

Ian Bremmer
Feb 28, 2014 17:13 UTC

Presidents beleaguered by mass protests seem to use the same phrasebook. After protests turned exceptionally violent in Ukraine, the security agency waged an “anti-terrorist operation” in retaliation. Within days, President Yanukovich’s support had crumbled, he had fled, and the “radical forces” he disparaged had seized power. In Venezuela, President Maduro has dubbed the billowing unrest a spree of “fascism” aiming to “eliminate” him; he urged the opposition to halt its acts of “terrorism.”

But Venezuela is no Ukraine, and it’s unlikely that Nicolas Maduro will soon suffer Yanukovich’s fate. Here’s why.

Things have not been going well for President Maduro, with massive protests stemming from a steady rise in economic turmoil, crime and inflation. A weak opposition initially made progress through electoral channels: former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles came within 1.5 percent of beating Maduro during last year’s semi-rigged election.

Political risk must-reads

Ian Bremmer
Feb 24, 2014 20:35 UTC

Political risk must-reads

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 by tweeting at us via @EurasiaGroup or @ianbremmer.

More Money, More Power for Asian Militaries” — Trefor Moss, Wall Street Journal blog

Last year, Asia Pacific accounted for a quarter of the more than $1.5 trillion spent on defense worldwide (according to a review of annual defense budgets by IHS Jane’s). Global defense spending has been in a five-year slump, but is expected to rise modestly this year. China is leading the charge, with annual defense spending growth of approximately 10 percent. In the early 2000s, Taiwan’s defense budget was half of China’s. Today, at $14.8 billion, it’s one-tenth.

Political risk must-reads

Ian Bremmer
Feb 14, 2014 18:33 UTC

Political risk must-reads

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 by tweeting at us via @EurasiaGroup or @ianbremmer.

Cancer ‘tidal wave’ on horizon, warns WHO” — James Gallagher, BBC News

The World Health Organization predicts that by 2035, global cancer cases will rise from 14 million to 24 million. Are economic growth and a more robust social safety net in developing countries driving these alarming gains? What could best prevent the surge in cancer?

Is the China-Japan relationship ‘at its worst’?

Ian Bremmer
Feb 11, 2014 22:58 UTC

At the Munich Security Conference last month, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said the China-Japan relationship is “at its worst.” But that’s not the most colorful statement explaining, and contributing to, China-Japan tensions of late.

At Davos, a member of the Chinese delegation referred to Shinzo Abe and Kim Jong Un as “troublemakers,” lumping the Japanese prime minister together with the volatile young leader of a regime shunned by the international community. Abe, in turn, painted China as militaristic and overly aggressive, explaining how — like Germany and Britain on the cusp of World War One — China and Japan are economically integrated, but strategically divorced. Even J.K. Rowling has played her part in recent weeks, with China’s and Japan’s ambassadors to Britain each referring to the other country as a villain from Harry Potter.

Of course, actions speak louder than words — and there’s been no shortage of provocative moves on either side. In November, Beijing declared an East Asian Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) — which requires all aircraft to follow instructions issued by Chinese authorities, even over contested territory, which pushed tensions to new highs. The following month, Abe visited Yasukuni Shrine — a site associated with Japanese World War militarism that makes it an automatic lightning rod for anti-Japanese sentiment among Japan’s neighbors.

Political risk must-reads

Ian Bremmer
Jan 14, 2014 22:53 UTC

Political risk must-reads

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 by tweeting at us via @EurasiaGroup or @ianbremmer.

India-Japan Defense Ministers Agree To Expand Strategic Cooperation” — Ankit Panda, the Diplomat

India and Japan recently announced their decision to strengthen their defense relationship. While China went unmentioned, the two countries’ larger neighbor was clearly the elephant in the room.

2014’s top 10 political risks

Ian Bremmer
Jan 7, 2014 19:30 UTC

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the world’s biggest risks have been economic. From a euro zone meltdown, to a Chinese hard landing, to the U.S. debt crisis, analysts have spent the past five years worrying about how to stave off financial implosion.

That’s over. In 2014, big-picture economics are relatively more stable. But geopolitics are very much in play. The impact of the G-Zero world — one that increasingly lacks global leadership and coordination — is on display.

So what are this year’s top 10 political risks? I’ll describe them, in video and text, below.

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