Political analyst Ian Bremmer discusses COVID-19 and worldwide politics – The Guilfordian
Independent political scientist and global risk expert Ian Bremmer, also founder of political risk consultancy, Eurasia, spoke on Guilford College’s Bryan Series on January 14th. He reflected on how COVID-19 and the political turmoil in 2020 impacted the US international political landscape and what this suggests for the future of the United States.
Bremmer, who started his discussion by introducing his dog Moose, sat in the front and center of a dark office room while the participants watched him through the computer screen. He started on the subject of the COVID-19 pandemic, which he described as the worst global crisis he has seen in his life. He stated that the politicization of the virus in countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and Brazil has led to the failure of COVID-19 policies as it has resulted in a lack of trust and coordination. Bremmer also suggested shifting this year’s focus from the health impact of the virus to its economic impact. He believes the effects of the virus will lead to increasing economic inequality in both affluent and less affluent countries, leading to inequality in allocated resources such as vaccines and medical assets.
Bremmer then switched from the effects of COVID-19 to changes in international politics. He explained that geopolitics has become more unstable due to institutional flaws, divisions in Europe such as Brexit shows, and the increasing influence of “alternative architecture” or government models from countries like China.
He linked this to how the United States’ role in geopolitics has narrowed. Bremmer stated that because of the current political instability, the US no longer has the same international leadership or influence. He argues that this leadership departure has been ignored because the US still has a strong economy, which means the country’s success does not depend on it serving as a global role model.
Seeing this as a clear problem, he explains: “We have barely beheaded the legislature of our country, and I mean that literally, and the economy has reached record highs.”
He stressed that political divisions and threats to democracy’s credibility, even if they do not negatively impact the economy, must be addressed in order for the country to regain its position of influence.
“Most of our problems are local and not geopolitical,” said Bremmer.
The growing polarity between factions has created a culture of division in which the problems associated with violence and social oppression result from the chaos that is mutually creating rather than from what is happening abroad. Bremmer pointed out that focusing on structural racial problems in the US is only one of the ways our own problems can be slowly addressed.
History professor Damon Atkins agrees, saying, “Deeply institutionalized white privilege seems to me to be at the core of many of our critical problems.” Stressing the need for further recognition of the harm the United States is doing to marginalized people, he says, “We cannot deal with racism until we deal with slavery. We cannot deal with caustic nationalism until we deal with our identity as a (continuous) colonial nation of settlers. We can only tackle environmental crises if we recognize the illegitimacy of the theft and marketing of the land by industrial capitalism. “
Professor George Guo responded to Bremmer’s comments on the political polarization in the country by saying, “We lack identity… Americans have no consensus on where to go. And the politicians divide society and look for their own interests. You are not looking for a common good. “
Bremmer closed the event on a hopeful note, saying he was optimistic about the US direction as he saw younger generations of Americans as more globalized and more aware of the international political landscape. He advised students to read global news and be discerning readers in order to make informed decisions together for a better American future.