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Producers' Pick | Ian Bremmer breaks down 10 biggest world threats in 2023

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January 8, 2023 12:00 am

Producers' Pick | Ian Bremmer breaks down 10 biggest world threats in 2023

Brian Kilmeade Show / Brian Kilmeade

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January 8, 2023 12:00 am

President of the Eurasia Group

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Ian Bremmer is president of Eurasia Group and author of The Power of Crisis, how three threats and our response will change the world. Ian, welcome back. Brian, happy to be here, man.

Same to you. First off, you told me, put it in perspective, this whole speakers thing, not that big of a deal long term. Yeah, I mean, the big deal is the fact that the Republicans have an incredibly narrow majority in the House, and that makes it hard to govern. It makes any speaker really, really weak, whether it ends up being McCarthy or Scalise or whoever, right? But I don't think that, I mean, there's no legislation that's going to get passed that's significant, irrespective of whether they have a speaker.

And once you finally get one, whether it's 12 votes or it's 24, a week later, a month later, no one's talking about the story. Are you worried from the, holistically, we're weakening the position so much? No, not particularly, because I also think that if it turns out that the Republicans have a speaker and then they pick up seats come 2024, then they're going to have a much stronger speaker. The issue is fundamentally about just how much the red wave didn't happen in the midterms.

That's a challenge. Why do you think it was? On balance, I think it's because it's two things. One, I think the abortion issue played very significantly for a lot of people. The country is a bell curve on abortion, and a lot of Republicans got squeezed into a position that was unpopular. That was challenging in a lot of races. Secondly, I think there was a quality of candidate issue and people that were really seen to be incompetent. And unfortunately, the Republicans ran a fair number of them, just underperformed structurally. But it could have so easily gone the other way. The Republicans could have easily had 20 or 30 seats in this majority, and then there wouldn't have been a second vote. This all would have been smooth. Right.

So it's very easy. People need to recognize how close the alternative was. So in the big picture, you said don't panic. But overall, if you have that combined with the fact that it's January 6th and every Democrat's on the steps saying that party created chaos on the 6th, and now they can't even pick a speaker in the one chamber in which they have the majority. Not a great look for Republicans. That's true.

That's absolutely true. But I think the broader picture is what matters for America and American power internationally is not whether the Republicans or Democrats happen to control one of the houses by a few seats. It's the fact that 2024, there's no likelihood of a constitutional crisis, when January 6th actually occurred, and it was an embarrassment. But it wasn't a coup, and it wasn't a possible coup. Because the Republicans that Trump called saying find me votes, they said no, because they weren't loyal to the individual of the president. Even his vice president said no. His vice president said no. His attorney general said no. The Supreme Court said no. The military said no.

Everyone said no. Very much like what we just saw in Brazil last week, when you also had a former president now hanging out with Trump in Mar-a-Lago, and he's like, oh, I'm not going to concede. It was stolen, all this stuff. And the reality is you've had a peaceful transfer of power. These are democracies, and these democracies turn out that they're much more powerful and entrenched than people had worried.

And that's what really matters. The fact that the United States, we're not going anywhere. Our country is not about to implode.

Our democracy is not about to fall apart. Brazil is not one of your top ten, but you have to be concerned about Central and South America and some of these socialist, communist countries that are infiltrating. If you look at what happened with Venezuela and how it's been destroyed, I think the role of Nicaragua has never changed, and then Brazil basically has a socialist criminal as a president. I'm much less concerned about Brazil than I am the other countries you just mentioned.

Really? Doesn't he want to do deals with China and further China's claws into this hemisphere? Bolsonaro supposedly didn't want to do deals with China and then, of course, had to because they're the largest trading partner. Lula is going to be just as pragmatic.

His cabinet has a bunch of different parties on it because the only way he can govern is by compromising with people. So you're not worried? Not at all. I'm worried about Haiti. We've got a criminal country that has no government that's run by gangs with a cholera epidemic and massive numbers of refugees literally just hundreds of miles from the U.S. southern coast, and the U.S. is doing nothing about it. So you've set up an unbelievable list of the greatest dangers, the greatest challenges, points of interest.

First off, number 10. You say water stress. Are we running out of water? Globally, water is increasingly not a crisis that we suddenly have to respond to when it hits, but it's a structural reality that whether it's in the United States with droughts and farmers having to produce less so that consumers can have access, or it's Europe and it's impacting shipping and waterways, or it's countries where literally they don't have enough water to actually survive, this is a massive and only growing structural issue. And we talk about the big summits every year on carbon emissions. We talk about the big summits on biodiversity.

There are summits on water. They accomplish nothing and they make no news. So we thought it was really important to actually put it on the list.

Well it's interesting because I did believe some people thought the next war was going to be over water. Number nine, and this is huge, gets my daughter's attention, the TikTok boom. At one point this year is there going to be a banning of TikTok from everybody's phone or just government phones? Just government phones, but I also think that there's going to be a difference in how we think about the TikTok generation. These young people increasingly really believe that the way that they can get things changed is not by voting but by directly protesting in a way that we've not seen frankly in generations. And that's very impactful especially given the social media access that they have, given the ability to directly deliver their messages to people.

So they're used as an organizer? Absolutely. But why would that be any different than Instagram or Snapchat or Facebook in order to organize events? Oh no it's not.

It's the same. We use TikTok boom just because they're young exactly. But TikTok in particular do you think is... It's the most popular.

It's the most popular. And you know we watched Barack Obama sit down with an influencer and Joe Biden do an influencer before the election because most young people are on TikTok, it is their number one site. Are you legitimately concerned about being a spying tool of China? I'm legitimately concerned that China has access to that data if they want it and the fact that they can aggregate it, they can surveil it and we of course don't have reciprocal access to Chinese data. I wouldn't be as worried if Facebook and Google and Twitter were in China, right?

Because then we'd have mutually assured interdependence. But the fact that they refuse to give us that access but they have no problem scooping up that data in the U.S., yeah I have a problem with that. And how about the fact that it's dramatically different in China than it is here?

Of course. It's an educational tool that shuts off at 11. And it's much more heavily censured of course and the same way they cut off all their video games. I mean if you're under 18 you get two hours you can use video games and then that's it. Right.

Right? I know a lot of American parents that would love to implement that here. Right but in a free society that's a slippery slope. No absolutely.

So Ian, I'm going to see as far as I can get but now we can do two segments, right? So I'm going to cut this off in a little while but next one you said you're less concerned about divided United States now? You think the midterm election was a good sign?

In what respect? In the sense that the would-be election deniers that were running in campaigns that they would have direct oversight of 2024. So I'm talking about secretaries of state, governors, they lost their races. So this risk is not at all about Senate or House. It's about was there any chance of a constitutional crisis in 2024? Might the election be broken? And the answer is no.

The answer is no. That's a very strong signal to send to American allies around the world you're not going to see the United States suddenly break inwardly. Was there real worry? There was a growing worry. I think January 6th was a real issue. The fact that a majority of Republicans in the House even that evening decided to vote against certifying the election was a real issue. The fact that a majority of Trump supporters say that they believe that the election was actually stolen was a real issue.

I think that did damage the United States and its credibility internationally. Don't you think it's to our national interest to tighten up state by state election rules? Sure, absolutely. Do you believe that could we agree as a country because the polls say we should and voter ID? Yeah. And so start to reassure people in every state as blue or red as it is, you're not going to tell Oregon to start voting differently. That's not something we do.

Evidently they're all right in, correct? I think voter ID is a great idea. I also think having a day off on election day is a great idea. I think making it easy for people to vote in places where you don't have lots of what's hard to transport and the rest, that's a great idea. We need to make elections secure and we need to make it trivial. Is there a downside to having election season as opposed to election day?

Because now we're backing it up so much. There's a real downside to having two years of elections. There's a downside to having billions and billions of dollars spent on campaigns that start after midterms.

That is the most dysfunctional election system among any major democracy in the world is in the United States. As I get Matt Gaetz's email, he's raising money off blocking McCarthy. That's what he's doing. That's what they're all doing.

They all understand that this is about celebrity. I just found that John Bolton is going to run for president. Why?

Because it's going to help us book sales. I think his mustache is going to run for vice president. You don't think he's going to win? Oh yeah, absolutely he's going to win. You and I are going to be out there campaigning for him. And I liked him.

I know he's smart, but he's alienated everyone on the right and everyone on the left always hated him. I think for every American citizen for whom the North Korea issue is the single most important issue is going to be out there voting for John Bolton. Listen, Ian Bremmer is going to be here. We're going to make our way through the top 10 list. We'll pick up the pace because there's a lot of lists on this list.

Republicans and Democrats will and shown they agree on. Brian Kilmeachoe. Hey, welcome back, everyone. We got it.

I don't know how I can afford it, but I guess we're just going to use the overdraft on our checking account. But Eurasia Group president founder Ian Bremmer is still here to go through the top risks of 2023 and everything else that we stumble onto along the way. When we last left off, we were I don't want to give it away when number one is, but we have to make some tremendous progress.

Let's talk we talk about divided states of America. You felt good about the last election, the arrested global development. You're worried about the world's GDP after covid-19.

You're worried about for 50 years with globalization. You know, yes, you you definitely had problems with the working the middle classes in wealthy countries. But the fact is, you created a global middle class because manufacturing left manufacturing left. But the average human being on the planet was doing better. For 50 years, right, you were taking people out of poverty the last three years.

That's actually not true on any metric. Far more people in poverty, far more people out of school, far more women being forced in the formal economy, a lot more refugees. And it's the combination of the pandemic, the Russian invasion, and now this really high inflation, all the supply chain challenges. You put that together.

The poorest people in the world are doing much, much worse. This is huge. Number six is the energy crunch because people are under the impression that we can build enough windmills. We're going to be fine. And we have this transition to the green economy, which I still think is a theory. Energy crunch.

Where are we at? You because there's a big pushback on fossil fuels, period. In many cases. Yes. The funny thing is the biggest challenges here are not to the United States. They're to the Europeans and to developing countries who are paying far more for energy in the case of the poor countries.

Can't afford it. Absolutely. But when you add to that, that you're suddenly cutting off for 20 years, they were happy to get really cheap energy from Russia. And it turned out that was a huge mistake from a national security perspective. So now they've cut it all off in one year. The prices are going to be structurally higher as a consequence. But one thing that we brought up yesterday, stunningly, a place like Germany has done a great job stockpiling, realizing not only don't you have Nordstrom two from Russia, you don't have Nordstrom one from Russia. That's right. So they've done an effective job of other European Western countries, done a good job, start getting there from elsewhere.

And long term, this is a good move. The Germans have had a lot more money and they've been a lot more focused, more disciplined than the other European countries have. And France, of course, gets most of the energy from nuclear.

So it's less of a problem for them. Other countries are under more stress. But here's the issue is that last year they were able to seriously stockpile when for the first half of the year they had Russian coming Russian energy coming in. This year, they don't have Russian energy coming in. So even though they're in great shape for this winter, next year, they're starting behind the eight ball.

It's a lot harder. So next winter is going to look a lot worse for them. Don't you think we should be doing more here and getting those terminals built on natural gas, which burns clean, obviously? Don't you think that there's an opportunity for us to be have to be a great supplier and then be a great customer of America?

Just earlier this week, the Germans got the first shipments of LNG directly from the United States. The U.S. should lean into that. You've got a whole bunch of companies, particularly in Germany, like BASF and Volkswagen, that realize they can't manufacture in Europe anymore.

It's too expensive. A lot of those companies will move to the United States, to Mexico. That's a big advantage for the U.S. What are we going to realize that solar panels and solar panels and windmills are not going to replace fossil fuels? Coal certainly is being phased out very quickly, especially among wealthy countries, and that's a very useful thing to do. Natural gas and oil are transition fossil fuels that we are going to need and we're going to need further investment in them for decades. And as that occurs, renewables will be a bigger piece of the pie. That's where the country needs to go.

Rapid fire. Iran in a corner. You just informed me the protests are just as big as they have been, starting with the murder of this woman because she was not wearing proper headgear.

That's right. And not only are the demonstrations only being met by repression, at the same time there's no chance of a nuclear deal. The Americans no way are going to give that kind of a benefit to a country doing that at home. And the Iranians are Russians' best friend. They're giving them the drones. They're selling them ballistic missiles. Iran, the likelihood of military confrontation with Iran in the Middle East is growing. Inflation shockwaves, obviously getting a hold of that. America is still reeling.

We got spoiled, but it's not coming down. It's not transitory. Weapons of mass disruption is important, but let's go to one and two. Number one threat, number two threat is China. Number one is Russia. Start with China.

We can put them together, because in both cases we're talking about individual leaders that have amassed an enormous amount of power in their countries, surrounding themselves with yes-men, with no checks and balances, nothing like an American president, and making really big mistakes. With China, it was zero COVID, and then suddenly maximum COVID two weeks later. They're dying at a rate where they're burning bodies in their backyards.

Only 25 have died officially, according to China. So they're the epicenter of global COVID once again. While nationalizing businesses.

And they're not going to tell us a damn thing about how many people are getting it or about any new variants that are coming. It's an enormous danger for the world, and their ability to make those kind of mistakes also, as you just mentioned, in the business platforms and technology are massive. Putin's already made those mistakes in the last year. He obviously wants this move back the last eight months. He's been exposed to have a hollow army where their generals are killed first, and their soldiers don't want to fight.

That's right. And they can't win on the ground in Ukraine. They increasingly can't even win in the air in Ukraine as the Patriot system starts coming, and that's going to make it more clear. Which means that other than surrender, the only thing Putin can do is increasingly take the war beyond Ukraine, take it to NATO. And that's a danger. The asymmetric attacks that you see from Iran in the Middle East. The drone strikes, for example, the espionage, the proxy wars.

That's what I think you increasingly see from Russia. Ladies and gentlemen, you are now briefed on the top risk of 2023, as Ian Bremmer calls it, and I agree from the Eurasia group. Ian, thanks so much. Brian, always good to see you, man. All right, how do we subscribe? You get in touch with us at You can check it out.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-08 00:39:13 / 2023-01-08 00:46:53 / 8

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