016 | Ian Bremmer | The world in 2021

Isabelle Roughol
Isabelle Roughol

A continued pandemic and fresh vaccines, a new US president with old problems, China triumphant and mistrusted, Brexit done at last, and global institutions on the fritz... Let's take a world tour of the geopolitics we can expect in 2021, with Eurasia Group founder and president Ian Bremmer.

Sources & credits

Top Risks 2021, Eurasia Group.

Music by Dyalla.


Transcripts are published for your convenience, but they are automated and not always cleaned up. Please excuses typos and occasional nonsense, and always check the audio before quoting.

[00:00:00] Ian Bremmer: COVID has to be the number one, number two, number three priority. When you become president, when you assume office in the middle of the worst crisis of our lifetimes, how you respond to that crisis defines you.

Isabelle Roughol: Hi, I'm Isabelle Roughol and this is Borderline. We're going to talk about COVID and Joe Biden and climate change and China and Europe in a minute. But first, apologies for this short hiatus. It's been three weeks, turns out producing a weekly podcast on your own does take quite a bit of planning and entity, and I had a dip in both of those.

And I feel extra guilt because you, on the other hand, really have held your side of the bargain. I asked you in the last episode to help me keep Borderline alive and reach a stage by Christmas where at least it wouldn't be costing me money. And friends and strangers  really have showed up. [00:01:00] I'd normally do this at the end of the episode, but heck I'm so chuffed, allow me to introduce the newest Borderline members: Lynn Chouman, Ann R Solomon, Jacqui Banaszynski, George Anders, Lillie Dremeaux, Zan Variano, Lynne Everatt, Lisa Wyler, Patrick Robert-Nicoud, Chip Cutter, John Crowley, Marcella Kunova, Jill Wren, Alba Lucia, Jonathan Heawood, Karis Hustad, and two mystery supporters, lurierj and dreamerz8413, which is a wonderful old school AIM name. So many old friends, LinkedIn old-timers, some podcast guests and some new names as well. Borderline is secured for next year and I have so many ideas I can't wait to get into. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

If you want to join these fine souls in our community of defiant global citizens, you can find all the links to become a member at borderlinepod.com. I'll tell you more at the end.

Today's guest is also a LinkedIn old-timer, Ian Bremmer, founder and [00:02:00] president of Eurasia Group and geopolitical analyst. I've interviewed Ian this time of year, every year for a while now, looking back and ahead at a year of geopolitics for our Big ideas series. And because Christmas is a time for traditions, here is Ian Bremmer.

How have you been?

Ian Bremmer: I've been good. You know, I mean, it's weird to be just home so much, I'm in the office, I'm in the office right now, but I mean, obviously I travel half of the time. So a year of this is weird. How are you holding up?

Isabelle Roughol: Yeah, I haven't been in one place for this long in like over a decade, I think. So that's an adjustment.

Ian Bremmer: Are you in London right now? Where are you?

Isabelle Roughol: Yeah, I'm in London , but I'm hoping to go home for Christmas. We're still kind of waiting final word on, on whether France allows it. And then come back just before Brexit because… in case of no deal.

Ian Bremmer: Just in case. Yeah. Which we'll find out very shortly, but you know, it could go, It's still, it's close to a fricking coin flip, [00:03:00] right? It's crazy.

Isabelle Roughol: Yeah. I mean, maybe, maybe that's where we can start. I feel like I've talked to you about Brexit for like five years.

Ian Bremmer: For too damn long, yeah.

Isabelle Roughol: Are we done next year? Can we stop talking about this? Like how do you, how do you see it going?

Ian Bremmer: I think so. I think we can stop talking about it. I mean, you can't if you're in the UK, because if there is no deal, the economic impact of this and therefore the political impact of it is is going to be very long-lasting. But of course it's precisely that, that has moved Boris Johnson to want to meet privately with Ursula Von der Leyen and get this negotiation hopefully over the finish line himself.

And so if you made me bet, I would bet that we get something done, but it's... and you've already seen Boris Johnson back off at the last minute on the Ireland - Northern Ireland border issue as expected, but it's still going to be challenging. And as with any [00:04:00] negotiations with the EU, it's not done until it's actually done. So it's close to a coin flip. It's close to a coin flip.

The fact is that the most important news coming out of the United Kingdom right now this week is actually very positive news. And that's the first, the first time that you can say that since the Brexit vote, which is that they are the first to be administering these vaccines among all of the democracies and God bless them. I'm delighted to see that happen. And, and I, and I... godspeed, I hope it goes well and quickly.

Isabelle Roughol: Yeah, it's definitely been the best news we've seen a long time.

Actually, I think, you know, the last time we talked, the last time I interviewed you was, was about this time last year, as tradition every year kind of looking at geopolitics for the year ahead. And obviously,  COVID is the big one that we couldn't have foreseen. How has that changed everything that you had pictured for, for what geopolitics would be like in 2020? Or has it?

Ian Bremmer: No it accelerated it. It didn't change trajectory. [00:05:00] It accelerated it. I mean, we knew that US institutions politically have been eroding incrementally over the past decades. That's become much greater now. We knew that inequality in the United States has been increasing for decades. That's sped up dramatically as a consequence of coronavirus.

You can now easily say that the United States is by far the most economically and politically divided country among all of the advanced industrial democracies. That wouldn't have been quite as clean a call before coronavirus hit. You look at the disruption that comes from technology companies and that's accelerated radically -- I mean, easily five years of investment and change in less than a year.

You look at the US China relationship, and the G-Zero more broadly, the absence of global leadership, that has also intensified as a consequence of coronavirus. There [00:06:00] wasn't even a G7 summit this year. There wasn't, there wasn't a meeting. And, the G20 has been completely absent, has accomplished nothing in response to this crisis. The United States announced they were leaving the World Health Organization in the middle of a pandemic. And that's, that's an obscenity, if you think about it. And the fact is that coronavirus has not only exposed a lot of this lack of global leadership, a lot of this inadequacy of both domestic and global political institutions, but it's also worsened those challenges over the course of the year.

Isabelle Roughol: And the irony is that it would have been the perfect time to, to do the reverse, right? To cooperate globally because the challenge is global.

Ian Bremmer: Like in 2008. The last crisis, global crisis, that you and I remember was what got the world to establish the G20 at the head of state level and the world did briefly come together to try to avoid a global [00:07:00] depression. This coronavirus crisis is a bigger crisis. It affects everyone around the world in a much more meaningful and in some ways permanent way. And yet there's been truly no coordination. It is, it's unfortunately the first crisis that we've had since we've entered this G- zero world. And the geopolitics reflects that.

Isabelle Roughol: What, what's different? I mean, you're, you're touching on it when you say, you know, G-Zero world... What's different now?  What was different in 2008 from now that that made it possible to cooperate in 2008, that is no longer possible in 2020?

Ian Bremmer: Three big sets of variables. The first being that the United States is much more divided, much less willing to provide that kind of leadership. That's obvious under the Trump administration and America First. But it's also obvious given the increasing unwillingness of the Americans to be the leaders on global trade or the global sheriff or [00:08:00] promoting democracy all over the world when a lot of Americans don't even know what the United States stands for, don't believe that their own institutions are actually representative of their interests.

Then you have the geopolitical environment: Russia, in fairly significant decline, but blaming the United States and doing everything they can to undermine the U S and the transatlantic relationship. The Europeans, with Brexit, weaker, more divided with all the euroskepticism, harder to align with the United States and the rest of the Western world. And then you've got China, much more powerful than they were in 2008, but under Xi Jinping who has now ended term limits for himself, and also strengthened the consolidation of power in a state capitalist and authoritarian system, making it very clear that as China gets wealthier, they will not align with Western political and economic institutions, standards and values. So that's the second set.

And then the third set is that the global [00:09:00] institutions and architecture that we have really are not reforming close to adequately in response to the big changes in the geopolitical balance of power that I talked about in the first two variables. So those are the three things that have changed really dramatically since 2008. And those are the things that have gotten you the G zero. Those are the things that create a very different kind of a response to a very global crisis.

Isabelle Roughol: So you mentioned China. Are they the big winners of 2020? It seems like even though the pandemic started there, they're coming out of it in a much better position than the U S or Europe.

Ian Bremmer: It's interesting to say that mean. I think that in many ways what's happening in the US and what's happening in China are mirrors of each other. I mean, China, the economy is the only major economy that's experiencing growth in 2020. And despite covering up the virus, human- human transmissions the first few weeks of January, [00:10:00] once they admitted to it, they've done an extraordinary job in, in controlling it. They also have a vaccine that is now showing itself to be 86% effective that doesn't require freezing , that they can use in developing markets around the world, not just on China. So,  you would think that, that would mean that China's doing very well.

On the other hand, mistrust of China is growing dramatically. The U S China relationship is getting much worse and that's a bigger problem for China than it is the United States.  China problems with Australia. China problems with India. China problems with Canada. The level of instability and conflict in Hong Kong and over Taiwan. These are all real problems. And so I would argue that even as China's hard power is growing, its soft power reflects a yawning gap.

Frankly, you could make the same argument about the United States. I mean, the US has by far the most powerful technology companies in the world, aside [00:11:00] from China, and those companies have become much more important because of coronavirus.  Amazon is hiring a hundred thousand people a month right now. The hard power of the United States and the relevance of its banks and how much stronger its banks are than the Europeans or the Asians, much more important in a more highly indebted environment in 2020 and 2021.

So the US in many ways is in a better, hard power position than it was before. And yet soft power, for all the reasons we just described -- not, not to mention the fact that the US election is a disastrous outcome in terms of de-legitimization. The sitting US president tweeting just this morning, "it's rigged. It's been stolen. Come on, Supreme court." I mean, this does horrible damage to US ability to project soft power, to get other countries to want to align themselves with the US, to think that the US has a model that you would want to emulate. So it's very interesting. I think [00:12:00] there are similar dynamics at play right now between the United States and China on the back of coronavirus.

Isabelle Roughol: So let's talk about the US then. You're a few weeks away from a Biden administration. Does he get to, to change that? Does he have the magic wand or are we past, you know, the influence of one president?

Ian Bremmer: He certainly slows the degradation. This is a man that is not going to be a divisive leader. Trump is a divisive leader. He won by being us versus them, red versus blue, you know, telling Minnesota, telling Iowa "you better vote for me, or I'm never coming back," right? And Biden's saying, "I'm going to be your leader, whether you voted for me or not, I want to reach out."

And, and, and that does reflect, that's not just campaigning. That reflects who Biden has been for his entire political career. He's not going to change suddenly at 78 years old. [00:13:00] But the reality is that the partisan gap in the United States, both between the parties and also inside the Democratic and Republican parties themselves, is far too great for any one man or an administration to be able to reach across, especially because government is going to be divided. With the exception of the presidency, the Republicans really outperformed expectations in all of the elections, in Senate, in House and in state legislatures. And that's really important.

So I, I think that biden's ability to rebuild US institutions at best would be the beginning of an incredibly long slog. And at worst, he's going to be dealing with, you know ... He becomes president in the middle of this crisis with 400, 500,000 Americans dead of coronavirus by January 20th, with a former president Trump who is doing everything possible to delegitimize Biden's [00:14:00] presidency and a number of Republicans that believe Trump and are prepared to go with that. And much greater inequality because Corona virus as a crisis, though the markets are doing very well, has really hurt anyone that's not an active part of the knowledge economy, and that is a majority of Americans.

Now internationally, Isabelle, of course, there will be a honeymoon. He has more flexibility internationally than he does domestically. There are a lot of countries around the world that want anything but Trump, and Biden is anything but Trump. Not everyone, not Brazil, not the Philippines, not Turkey, not Russia, not Saudi Arabia... I mean, there's a meaningful number of countries that prefer Trump, but, but the, the solid majority of American allies really do prefer Biden. That's particularly true with the Europeans and I think that that will reflect some progress in, you know, the [00:15:00] United States being seen as more accountable as an ally. You'll see the U S rejoin the Paris climate accord, the intermediate nuclear forces agreement, the World Health Organization, and join the Covax initiative on distribution of vaccines to low and medium income countries.

Those things may be at the margins, but when you add them all up, they aren't, they aren't nothing, right? I mean, they will actually make a difference. Still, everything I talked about as to all of the reasons that we have G zero, none of them go away when Biden becomes president in a few weeks.

Isabelle Roughol: What can he do with, with that good will and that honeymoon period? And are there areas where, you know, Biden could have a real legacy? Or is COVID going to be his only realm of action really, [00:16:00] for the next couple of years maybe?

Ian Bremmer: I mean, COVID has to be the number one, number two, number three priority. When you become president, when you assume office in the middle of the worst crisis of our lifetimes, how you respond to that crisis defines you. And, you know, we haven't hit the inflection point yet. It's going to get worse still before it gets better.

Now we know how it gets better because the vaccines, there's more of them and they're better than we had dared hoped, than the epidemiologists themselves had dared hope. And that's a wonderful thing. But the difference between a strong rollout of vaccines and a weak rollout of vaccines for the United States is immense.

And there's a lot of uncertainty around that. Uncertainty around the cold chain infrastructure that's required to get that vaccine into underprivileged, rural areas across the country. Uncertainty around how long your immunity will last, and therefore how much you need to stockpile [00:17:00] before you start exporting. Uncertainty around how many people are going to trust a vaccine that they decide to take or not take or take the booster as well or not take, because they're concerned about side effects or they're concerned about disinformation. About  whether or not we have adequate amounts of healthcare professionals that can do the dilution onsite that's required for the Pfizer vaccine for example, that requires specialist labor, and those people are already really stretched right now.

There's a massive difference in how well a Biden administration will be seen to perform and a lot of it is not up to Biden. A lot of it is on state governments and he's going to have to put a lot of effort, but also cajole and, and appeal to the better halves and sensibilities of a lot of people. And it's going to be tough. It's a very divided country, as I say.

But beyond that, it's not like that's the only thing he's going to do. In fact, you know, I think the danger is that when you have a group of cabinet officials [00:18:00] that have such experience and for such a long time, so capable and they've been out of office, they're gonna come in and want to do everything. And so there's a danger that they try to do too much and they disappoint.

But I think there are some areas that they will make a big difference. In addition to coronavirus by far, the number one will be climate because they're so different from the Trump administration, alright? Immensely different. You've got John Kerry , who is a cabinet appointee in a new position for a Special Envoy on climate change. He will hire up, he will have a staff that has never existed before in Washington for a cabinet position. That's a very big deal. And, and Kerry, in addition to being kind of a force of nature, also has a massive ego and so believes that he's smarter than Biden, should have been president himself. He's going to have a lot of influence. Brian Deese, who runs sustainable investing at BlackRock and will be the head of the national economic council, [00:19:00] will do the domestic side of climate.

That is so different than a Trump administration that focused on regulatory rollback and supporting fossil fuels, including even coal. I mean, you couldn't see a bigger change on a very important issue. And that's where I think, after coronavirus, Biden will probably have the greatest impact.

Isabelle Roughol: How much room is there for climate action in a global, probably double dip recession?

Ian Bremmer: Well, there's a lot more when you recognize that the companies that have been hurt the worst have been the fossil fuel companies. I mean, prices have gotten lower. The willingness of financial institutions to allocate capital into fossil fuel portfolios has dried up. The tech companies are doing by far the best. The European redistribution of wealth, a massive and unprecedented offer, almost a Marshall plan for the South and East Europeans, is very oriented [00:20:00] towards sustainability, towards green, both internally in Europe and also in terms of aligning the regulations of other countries, or else they will suffer economic consequences. So, I mean...

And, and frankly, I mean, Xi Jinping's speech at the general assembly this past September surprised me with it. Surprised Antonio Gutierrez, the secretary general. He didn't expect it. Where they said that they were going net zero by 2060, because Xi Jinping sees that that's where the world is heading and he wants to be there first. And he wants China to dominate the post carbon energy market, and they've been putting a lot of money into that.

Now that's a strategic challenge for the United States in the West. It's a really important issue coming down the pike. But I mean, these are all answers to the question of how much can be done in a double dip recession. Frankly, probably more can be done on climate given the nature of this double dip recession than would have been the case, if it had not been for coronavirus.

[00:21:00] And, and add to that, the fact that if it wasn't for coronavirus, I think Trump wins a second term. Or, I mean, he, he didn't lose by that much. I mean, 7 million votes in terms of the national vote count. But as you know, that's not the way you get elected. If you look at the actual electoral college, a relatively small swing of votes gets Trump reelected. With 250,000 plus dead, with a superspreader incident in the White House, with Trump himself having contracted coronavirus, he could have won if it wasn't for that. And then we'd be having a very different conversation about climate. So for all of these reasons, coronavirus itself has really been a driver of a change in trajectory on climate.

Now, now the big question is whether that change in trajectory is going to create more international cooperation or does it create more confrontation, particularly with the [00:22:00] Chinese. And I think it is early to say.

Isabelle Roughol: It's interesting what you, what you pointed out about the US election and in a way how close it was despite, you know, the catastrophe that COVID has been. Because I think especially over here in Europe, people imagined that Trump losing the presidential election would kind of sign the end of this populist era and the Republican party would return to being a, you know, responsible, fiscally conservative kind of party. And it's, it's not heading that way. Do you think, you know... do we get a Trump 2024 campaign announced, you know, maybe even as soon as inauguration day? Do we... where do you see that going?

Ian Bremmer: That's exactly right, Isabelle. And I'm glad that you framed it that way because a lot of Europeans don't see it that way. A lot of Americans, a lot of never-Trump Americans don't see it that way. A lot of [00:23:00] people were saying that a vote for Trump is basically a vote for racism. I mean, that's a dominant narrative among never-Trump people in the United States. It's insane.

The fact is that Trump actually got higher numbers of votes from Hispanics and blacks in 2020 than he did in 2016. And among people that thought that Corona virus was the biggest concern, trump got destroyed. Among people that thought that the economy was the greatest concern. Biden got destroyed. Trump won overwhelmingly with those voters.

So this is a much deeper issue than, you know, Trump has gone and we can move on. The level of populism, the anti-establishment sentiment in the United States is enormous and it's going to grow because the average American is going to be increasingly disenfranchised.

This coronavirus crisis has not been a problem for well-educated, wealthy Americans. It's been a disaster for people that don't have college educations. It's been a disaster for [00:24:00] people whose jobs don't allow working from home or social distancing. And I'm not sure we are going to be able to help them very well under a Biden administration with a likely Republican-controlled Senate, which is where I think we're heading.

The Republicans basically won these elections, Isabelle. I mean, they'll probably hold the Senate. They won seats in the House. They won state legislatures, which means they're going to have an easier time with redistricting after the census. And they hold a six - three majority in a conservative Supreme court. The only way they lost was the presidency. And by the way, Trump isn't really a Republican anyway.

So I mean, if you're a serious Republican thinking long-term, you can't say that you lost these elections. And I think people around the world need to understand that because, you know, there are a lot of countries where populism is not the same degree or not the same depth of problem as in the United States, [00:25:00] where animal spirits have always been freer in terms of capitalism, but also where special interests increasingly capture the regulatory process. And that is a big piece of why so many Americans feel like the system is indeed rigged against them. And when Trump says rigged, you know, I mean, maybe you and I recognize that the election wasn't rigged. But in some deeper way, the American system is increasingly rigged for an increasingly small number of Americans. And that's a problem. We're not addressing that. Trump is the symptom of that. Trump was not the cause of that.

Isabelle Roughol: And probably wasn't the solution either. I think...

Ian Bremmer: oh my God, no.

Isabelle Roughol: What surprised a lot of us is who people have turned to for

Ian Bremmer: But, but it's important to recognize that, I mean, Trump was the opposite of a solution if you talk about draining the swamp and his personal support for wealthy individuals and their tax cuts, they got the [00:26:00] most for corporations and the regulatory roll back. And, you know, the people that he put in cabinet who represented those special industry interests, you're absolutely right.

But Trump promised that he was going to reduce immigration in a country where, why would you bring in more people when you're not taking care of your own? And he did do that and they like it. And Trump promised he was going to put an end to these wars and try to pull troops back. Those wars that have been fought on the back of the same disenfranchised people. And he's done more than previous leaders to do that despite very strong opposition from within the professional military corps and special defense interests in the United States.

So I think it is, even though I personally consider Trump to be the least fit for office president that I can conceive of, I think it is overly stereotyped to say that Trump did nothing and only lied to his base and they've all been hoodwinked. I don't buy that.

[00:27:00] Isabelle Roughol: Where do you see that populist trend going, you know, beyond the United States? I've been... surprised at some of the directions that Macron has taken in France, for instance. And the more sane leadership we're seeing in the world is perhaps Angela Merkel and she's on her way out. Where do you see more populism rising?

Ian Bremmer: Certainly France. Massive inequality in France, massive anti-Muslim sentiment in France, big problems, you know, in the debate about policing and Macron's willingness to support an incredibly hard-line law that would make illegal, you know, filming surveillance of police by citizens, and then having to back away from it with massive outrage. I mean, there's a lot of disenchantment and anti-establishment sentiment in France though, [00:28:00] given the nature of the French political party system, I mean, Macron, even with comparatively low approval ratings, probably doesn't have that hard of a time getting reelected.

I'm less worried about Germany because Germany so structurally benefited from the nature of the Eurozone. Their social contract works well and works even better because of that. Because, because of where the Euro currency is priced, and how the Germans are able to import and export, and how German workers do and are taken care of... She clearly got punished for allowing in all of those Syrian refugees -- a million of them almost -- but her handling of coronavirus has been exemplary in my view, certainly in terms of Western advanced industrial leaders. And I think that her level of support will translate into a smooth transition for her successor with a center right-led grand coalition that will be quite stable.

Japan has just had a transition and I [00:29:00] was just with the prime minister just a few hours ago, by Zoom. And there's very little anti-establishment sentiment populism in Japan. There's not, they don't spend.. Like Germany, they don't spend any money on defense. There's virtually no immigrants in Japan and the population is shrinking, so per capita, they're not worried about inequality.

Canada is doing better than the United States, though populism is growing in Canada. So I think it's a mixed story, but it's a bad story because the place where it's by far the most yawning gap, it's the greatest problem, also happens to be the largest economy in the world and the world's only true superpower --- the United States.

Isabelle Roughol: The reason I think I was thinking about Angela Merkel is that she has been this sort of pillar in the EU for 15 years, and this pillar of multi-lateral thinking. And as you're thinking about the G zero, and we've seen this year borders closing [00:30:00] and, and a lot of countries kind of closing in on themselves , where is that leadership coming from to restore and, and reinvent a multilateral world? Or are we, are we closing up for, for a while still?

Ian Bremmer: The big countries that are most interested in rule of law, common standards, multi-lateralism, trying to uphold these institutions, you would say Germany and Japan and Canada, right? I mean, among your G 20, that's where you'd focus. And the United States will be less of an active force in, in tearing it down and at the margins will probably be somewhat more constructive under a Biden administration.

But that's very different from the world that we saw when the wall came down in 89 or when the Soviet union collapsed in 91. It's radically different because it comes at a time when the Chinese are [00:31:00] building increasingly alternative architecture. And you're seeing that in 5g and technology and digital currency and FinTech and Ant financial. You see it in solar and wind and you know, rare earth infrastructure and, and electric vehicle supply chain.. And you'll see it with the, with the production and export of vaccines in the coming year.

Unfortunately I think it's going to be a deeper G zero, before we can talk about what the new global order looks like. And it's too early to say if that new global order will feel more multilateralist and indeed global.

Isabelle Roughol: Okay. Okay. Well, I guess we'll leave it there and continue defending multi-lateralism as Don Quixote's maybe. Do you see any bright spots for 2021 to kind of end on?

Ian Bremmer: Of course

Isabelle Roughol: Yeah. All right. Give me some.

Ian Bremmer: Well, there, there are two big [00:32:00] ones. O

ne, well, we've already spoken about the fact that we are doing vastly more on climate in 2021 than could have otherwise been expected and the coronavirus becomes an opportunity for that. That's a good thing. Clearly.

Number two: the the fact that this crisis has really targeted the least innovative sectors of society does lead to a lot more inequality, that's bad. But it also creates vastly more innovation in economic development. Imagine if the same 10% hit had occurred, but it had actually been a cyber attack. So it knocks out the tech companies and the banks and your digital, your virtual identity, and your willingness to trust that.

Think about how much worse your expectations for the next five, 10 years would have been without all of that investment into new innovation. Think about all the people... I mean, just look at Southeast Asia right now, so many more people getting online and getting productive. We're unlocking so much more human [00:33:00] capital because of the investments that have come from coronavirus. Same thing in Sub-Saharan Africa. You're going to see more distance learning. You're going to see more distance medicine. You're going to see improvements in AI and efficiencies around agriculture. These are big deals for a lot of countries that have been at the, at the lowest end of development around the world. So that's a, that's a second thing.

And the third thing is in less than a year, we have developed six minimum working vaccines for a disease that did not, we did not know existed. And not only is that astonishing, and and a testament to human ingenuity, despite the fact that there's been no coordinated government response, but that MRNA technology that actually underpins both Pfizer and Moderna's approaches, the most effective vaccines, is also a technology that has been worked on for 20 [00:34:00] years and, and now will be used to help vaccinate human beings around the world from all sorts of other diseases. And that's just a fantastic thing.

So, I mean, it's impossible to look at these kinds of advances and not be excited about the level of dynamism of the world that we live in today. There's a lot of uncertainty, but a lot of that uncertainty translates into opportunity too.

Isabelle Roughol: There is opportunity in crisis. It's a cliche perhaps, but it is true. And show me to that needle. Sign me up for that vaccine. I would take it today if I could, but hopefully that will be sometime in spring 2021. A big thank you to Ian Bremmer for taking the time to speak, even on a much smaller platform than we used to have.

For more big ideas exploring the world of global citizens in 2021. Sign up for the newsletter. I've written up a few that are on my mind. And I'd love to hear yours. There's also like every year, the Big Ideas campaign on LinkedIn. I've passed the mantle and my friends there [00:35:00] are doing a wonderful job. So search and contribute with #BigIdeas2021.

Again, a big thank you to Borderline members old and new for making this possible. You can join them by becoming a member on Patreon, that's patreon.com/borderlinepod, or on Substack with an upgrade to the annual newsletter subscription. You'll get more content, more community and you'll help me keep Borderline thriving. You'll find the links right at the top of the website, borderlinepod.com, or in the show notes. Don't forget to rate and review and share the podcast with your friends. It helps it get discovered.

I'm your host, Isabelle Roughol. Borderline is a One Lane Bridge production. Music by Diyalla. We'll have one more episode before the Christmas break. So I'll talk to you next week.

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Journalist, podcaster, media consultant. Telling stories & building better newsrooms. Writes The Lede. Ex- LinkedIn News, Le Figaro, The Cambodia Daily. 🎓 Mizzou '08, Birkbeck '25.