Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the US Senate hearing on Afghanistan, French President Macron’s popularity, and China’s hostage diplomacy.
As top US military officials testify right now on Capitol Hill, just down the road, do you expect the Biden administration to suffer any long-term consequences for its botched Afghanistan withdrawal?
The answer is yes, but at the margins. I still think Biden will be most remembered overwhelmingly for how he handles the pandemic as well as for the three trillion plus dollars that will likely, but not certainly, get passed to pay for infrastructure and improve the social contract in the US. On both, he has been taking hits. Certainly the former has not gone well in terms of the pandemic response and on balance, I still think that means that the House in midterm elections is going to flip fairly solidly Republican. Means that they understand they have a narrow window to get policy done. Okay. That’s it.
Macron was hit with an egg! Is his popularity sinking in France?
Actually, not so much. He’s about 40% overall, but that’s partially because he’s particularly popular with older French citizens. They are less likely to be involved in egg pelting. Look, it’s been difficult. He has elections coming up in about half a year. And there are real contenders to his throne, not Marine Le Pen so much, but this fellow Zemmour, who is a right-wing personality, media personality, kind of like the Tucker Carlson of France. Can we even say that? Yeah, we kind of can, and he’s gaining a lot in the polls and there’s probably going to be a major centrist candidate coming up. And either way, Xavier Bertrand, either way, Macron is going to have a reasonably tough fight on his hand though. Right now you’d be betting on him.
Did China’s “hostage diplomacy” work as it freed the “two Michaels” after Canada released Huawei’s CFO?
Yeah, it did. But what was interesting is that usually, historically, the Chinese at least pretend, they like the fiction, that when they arrest people, it’s because they caused real crimes. They go through a legal system. The judges have to hear it. Not this time around. This time around, they weren’t even pretending. And like within hours of Meng being released by the Canadians after the deal cut with the American prosecutors, the two Michaels were released. It was basically a shot directly to the Canadians saying, “if you guys hit with a core interest of ours, we are going to hurt you and we’re going to rub your noses in it.” It definitely made the Canada-China relations much worse going forward. Also makes the Canadians feel like they’re the meat in the US-China sandwich, not a place they really like to be.