TIME Racism

These 5 Facts Explain America’s Enduring Racial Divide

***BESTPIX*** Charleston In Mourning After 9 Killed In Church Massacre
Joe Raedle—Getty Images Monte Talmadge walks past the memorial on the sidewalk in front the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church after a mass shooting at the church killed nine people in Charleston, S.C., on June 20, 2015.

Decades of racism have badly hurt black America

Baltimore was two months ago. Ferguson was eight months before that. And now Charleston. For many black Americans, there really are two Americas. As a thought experiment, we looked at the health, wealth and other stats on black America, and compared it internationally. The results show that America—all of America—needs to do much, much better.

1. Education

Education is supposed to be the great equalizer. The world may not be fair, but it’s supposed to be a lot fairer within the four walls of a classroom. But the numbers tell a different story. African Americans are twice as likely as whites not to finish high school. If white America were a country, its high school graduation rates would rank with the likes of the U.K. and Finland; black America would be on par with Chile and Poland. Black students are suspended and expelled at roughly three times the rate of their white counterparts. Of students who receive multiple suspensions, 42 percent are black; and 34 percent of students expelled are black. And the world they are sent out to isn’t much kinder.

(US News, OECD, US News)

2. Wealth

What happens after high school? 21% of whites end up successfully completing a college degree, compared to only 13% of blacks. But even if they achieve that milestone, the payoff is nowhere near the same. A white family at the median sees a return of approximately $56,000 after completing a four-year degree; a black family sees a return of around $4,900. In fact, “black household wealth is just over the median wealth of an adult” in the Palestinian territories, which is not a comparison you want to see made about any group living in America in 2015. Looking at GDP per capita, blacks make $23,000 compared to the U.S. national average of $53,000. If black America really were its own country, it would be ranked 44th globally on that figure—between crisis-hit Portugal and post-Communist Lithuania. The most damning statistic? The median black household has just 6 percent of the total wealth ($7,113) that the median white household has ($111,146).

(US News, Forbes, Atlantic, Politifact, Forbes, Washington Post)

3. Health

No surprise, a less wealthy lifetime means a less healthy lifetime—and it starts from the beginning. Infant mortality for blacks in America is 11.5 for every 1,000 births; the figure for whites is 5.2. Black Americans’ rates put them with the likes of Mexico (12.58) and Thailand (9.86), whereas white Americans are much closer to Switzerland (3.73) and Japan (2.13). That’s how the racial disparity starts, but how does it end? Black Americans can expect to live a full four years less on average than whites, who on average make it to 79. A life expectancy of 75 years places black Americans below Tunisia, Panama, Costa Rica and Cuba.

(US News, Economist)

4. Incarceration

From bad to worse: 1 in 3 black males will go to prison at some point in their life if current trends continue, compared to 1 in 17 white males. Women fare better, but not much—black women are incarcerated at (only) twice the rate that white women are across the country. Overall, blacks only make up some 14 percent of the national population, but are 38 percent of the total prison population. If black America were its own country, it would rank No. 3 on the world list of absolute prison incarceration, ahead of Russia, Brazil, India and Thailand. And once in prison, it gets worse; 60 percent of all prisoners sent to solitary confinement are black.

(Huffington Post, US Department of Justice, Salon, International Center for Prison Studies, Salon)

5. Violence

America’s homicide rate is a national tragedy—but it’s much worse if you’re black. White America’s rate of 2.5 deaths per 100,000 is just somewhat higher than Finland (2.0), Belgium (1.7) and Greece (1.7). But at 19.4 deaths per 100,000 people, black America’s homicide rate puts it above Burma (15.2) and just below Nigeria (20.0). But it’s fatal police shootings where the figures become truly tragic. If you are a young black male in America today, you are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by a police officer than if you are a young white male. If you’re black, you’re also more than twice as likely to be shot and killed by a police officer while unarmed. Over the past year, 41 percent of all unarmed people killed by police were black.

America is better than this. It’s about time we show it.

(FiveThirtyEight, ProPublica, Guardian, Salon)


Why Europe Can’t Leave Greece Adrift

Aris Messinis—AFP/Getty Images A protester at a pro-European demonstration in Athens.

Even though the country got itself into its huge debt mess

It’s easy to condemn the posturing of Greece’s Syriza-led government in its battle with its European creditors. Greece ran up a major debt and must pay. If Greece can walk away from its commitments, it will only need more bailouts in the future. Its creditors offer bitter medicine, but medicine is what’s required, and Athens must swallow it.

But look beyond Syriza’s amateurish posturing and see the ordeal the Greek people have already endured. Spain, Portugal and Ireland have lost less than 7% of GDP since the euro-zone crisis began. Greece has lost 26%. Nearly 1 in 5 Greeks can’t meet daily food expenses. Homelessness is rising. Rates of HIV infection have doubled since 2011 as unemployment pushes more young people toward drug use and treatment funding is sharply cut. In Norway, the child-poverty rate is 5.3%. In Greece, it’s 40.5%. The British Medical Journal has found a “significant, sharp and sustained increase” in suicides.

Greece has taken extraordinary steps to meet the demands of its creditors. Over the past five years, it has cut spending and raised taxes on a scale equivalent to 30% of GDP. No other euro-zone government has done nearly so much. Pension benefits have been cut and the retirement age raised to 67. And for every euro in bailout funds, the Greek government receives less than 20%. The rest goes to bankers and bondholders.

Both must be paid back, but Greece must eventually grow its economy as well. Today that’s more of an aspiration than a plan, but if the medicine used to cure this country’s profligate political culture leaves a generation of citizens flat on their backs, how can Greeks apply lessons learned and get back to work?

For Europe, the biggest risk is not that Greece will escape its responsibilities, encouraging other countries to try the same trick. It’s that this polarizing crisis could further fuel anti-E.U. sentiment across the continent. Anger at European institutions has boosted old and new parties of both the left and right: Syriza and Golden Dawn in Greece, Podemos in Spain, the U.K. Independence Party in Britain, the National Front in France, Alternative for Deutschland in Germany, the Five Star Movement in Italy and others.

It is the growth of these parties, and the public anger they represent, that poses the biggest threat to further European reform and the entire European project.

Tensions rise between the U.S. and Russia

The Pentagon has announced that it is sending tanks, artillery and other military supplies to U.S. allies in Eastern Europe. The total amount of equipment is equivalent to a brigade’s worth, or as a senior U.S. military official put it, not quite enough to “fill up the parking lot of your average high school.”

Still, the move is provocative, aimed as much at Vladimir Putin as it is at Washington’s wobbly European allies. On June 22, E.U. Foreign Ministers decided to extend sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine crisis. Imposing those sanctions, and bearing the brunt of Russia’s countersanctions, is taking a toll. But Washington needs a united front against the Kremlin. Positioning the equipment is enough to ramp up tensions but not nearly enough to convince Russia to back off. Bottom line? We’re heading for escalation with Russia.

How Pope Francis filled a global leadership vacuum

Amid the din in Europe, one voice has risen above the rest: that of Pope Francis. The substance of his encyclical on the environment wasn’t particularly groundbreaking; that it was received with such surprised fanfare speaks to how little we expect from religious figures when they weigh in on science.

The real takeaway is that there’s an obvious gap in global leadership. The Pope stepped into that role admirably, but it’s remarkable how much we now depend on a person who rose through the ranks of a conservative institution like the Catholic Church. Would it have been better if the same message came from someone like the Secretary-General of the U.N.? Maybe so, but it would have fallen on deaf ears.

Foreign-affairs columnist Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group, a political-risk consultancy

TIME 2016 presidential election

Republican Presidential Hopefuls Got Bailed Out on the Confederate Flag

Nikki Haley's call to remove the flag from the South Carolina statehouse takes the issue off the table for the 2016 election

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley yesterday called for her state’s legislature to finally remove the Confederate flag from Capitol grounds. In my mind, this was as close to a gimme as they come. The only problem with Haley’s call is that it gives presidential candidates an easy out from answering tough questions they’ve been flubbing for the last five days.

Prior to Haley’s announcement, Jeb Bush claimed that the Confederate flag issue was best left to the leaders of South Carolina to figure out. Ted Cruz said that the last thing South Carolina needed was “people from outside the state coming in and dictating how they should resolve it.” Marco Rubio wanted the state to “make the right choice for the people of South Carolina.” And so on and so on. They were buying themselves time in the hope that local politicians would bail them out. Mission accomplished.

The fact that these candidates were equivocating on this issue at all speaks to politics over leadership, particularly on an issue as damaging as the Confederate flag flying on top of government buildings in 2015. I understand why they were trying so hard not to say anything substantive—a 2014 Winthrop University poll found that 61 percent of South Carolina residents believed the confederate flag should still fly on state house grounds. 73 percent of whites polled said it should stay, and a downright shocking 27 percent of black respondents agree.

But this is a level of nuance that the American people, and the residents of South Carolina, are allowed to have. Candidates running for president don’t get the same latitude. And with Haley’s announcement, they were given an easy out. They should have long ago ignored what the polls were saying and told us directly whether they believed the flag should continue to fly and why. Now they’ll never have to, claiming they were vindicated in allowing the state of South Carolina to make the “right” decision for themselves. These candidates should have acknowledged outright that the Confederate flag is a clear symbol of racism and hatred, the same type of racism that claimed the lives of those 9 people in the church.

Bremmer is a foreign affairs columnist and editor-at-large at TIME. He is the president of Eurasia Group, a political-risk consultancy, and a Global Research Professor at New York University. His most recent book is Superpower: Three Choices for America’s Role in the World

TIME foreign affairs

This Weekend’s Foreign Policy Must-Reads

A roundup of the smartest takes on politics and global affairs

The Islamic State’s Je Ne Sais Quoi — Foreign Policy

“…the Islamic State may be a psychopathic organization, but that doesn’t mean that the vast majority of recruits attracted to it are. It’s not cynicism, disillusion, and dystopia that the Islamic State is trying to sell, but rather hope and identity, as well as personal and religious fulfillment…And the fact is for all its clever negative messaging to combat the Islamic State’s propaganda, the United States lacks an effective counter-narrative — indeed it lacks a narrative that even begins to compete with the emotional resonance and power of either the online savage theater of choreographed beheadings or the more uplifting appeal of “come and be part of a community that will give you purpose and direction.”

In the battle over hearts and minds in the Middle East, ISIS is mopping the floor with the US; why? There are lots of reasons, but one of the biggest has to be Washington’s weak social media game. Washington does social media like McDonald’s does social media—grudgingly, acknowledging that this is the way the world moves today but secretly pining for the simpler times when it was king…

Don’t get me wrong: ISIS is absolutely depraved and desperate, but it comes across as authentic to its target audience. It is selling hope and the possibility of a different future to the many people who look around at their lives and wish for something, anything else. That’s a powerful message. There are few things that American’s can learn from ISIS, but transmitting authenticity is one of them.

Pols and Polls Say the Same Thing: Jeb Bush Is a Weak Front-Runner – FiveThirtyEight

“Of course, it’s not clear whether money raised through a super PAC or other independent groups differs in its predictive power from money raised by a candidate. Super PACs in their current form are too recent a development to know for sure. If money is predictive because donations from a lot of individuals foretell future support, then Bush’s haul this year is less likely to mean something because super PACs raise a lot from a few donors. If early money matters because it says something about organizational strength, then Bush’s super PAC edge could put him over the top.”

Strong analysis, but why would anyone think Bush is a front-runner? I predict that there’ll be a solid 6 front runners minimum over the course of the race. Donald Trump will not be one of them.

A Private Sector Solution to the Migrant Crisis – Politico EU

“Founded by Christopher and Regina Catrambone in 2014, MOAS is the only private organization of its kind, and has saved the lives of more than 4,500 migrants stranded at sea. The group’s current mission, which began on May 2 and will run until the beginning of October, has already saved around 2000 souls… MOAS is a private enterprise, the only one of its kind, so the movement of its vessels across the Mediterranean is virtually uninhibited, a tremendous logistical advantage.”

I’ve already written about this story earlier in the week. Here’s the short version: there’s a migration crisis in Europe and European governments aren’t doing nearly enough to solve it. Luckily, others have picked up the slack. My pick of the week.

The GOP is Not Going to Win This Election on Foreign Policy – Foreign Policy

“Republican candidates for the party’s presidential nomination are out-hawking each other on the stump as the campaign gets underway: With the exception of Rand Paul, all the Republican candidates would repudiate the Iranian nuclear deal, would counter Russian aggression more forcefully, give more support to Israel, and exterminate the Islamic State. And even Rand Paul has been trying to stake out less isolationist ground. But there are several reasons to think Republicans are overstating the strength of foreign policy as a winning electoral issue in 2016.”

Sadly, I agree that foreign policy will not win anyone the presidency. But this is where Hillary’s most vulnerable, so it’s going to be far more important than 2012. At this point I’m willing to vote for anyone who can just present a coherent foreign policy that doesn’t collapse under the weight of its own contradictions. A political scientist can dream, right?

Foreign-affairs columnist Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group, a political-risk consultancy

TIME Cyberwar

These 5 Facts Explain the Threat of Cyber Warfare

office of personnel management washington
James Lawler Duggan—Reuters Workers arrive at the Office of Personnel Management in Washington on October 17, 2013.

The disastrous hack of the federal government's Office of Personnel Management is the tip of the iceberg

America has spent decades and trillions of dollars building up the greatest military force the world has ever seen. But the biggest threat to national security these days comes from not from aircraft carriers or infantry divisions, but a computer with a simple Internet connection. That much became clear after the catastrophic hack—most likely by a foreign power—of sensitive federal employee data stored online. These 5 stats explain the evolution of cyber warfare, its astronomical costs and its increasingly important role in geopolitics.

1. Government Threats

The massive breach of the Office of Personnel Management a couple weeks ago made headlines, but Washington has been fending off cyber-attacks for years now. The federal government suffered a staggering 61,000 cyber-security breaches last year alone. This most recent wave of hacks exposed the records of up to 14 million current and former US government employees, some dating back to 1985. Compromised information includes Social Security numbers, job assignments and performance evaluations. This is dangerous information in the hands of the wrong people, which by definition these hackers are. There is a good reason why the U.S. Director of National Intelligence ranks cyber crime as the No. 1 national security threat, ahead of terrorism, espionage and weapons of mass destruction.

(CNN, Guardian, Reuters, Washington Post, PwC)

2. Business Threats

Hackers aren’t only in the game to damage governments—sometimes good old-fashioned robbery is enough. The FBI had to notify over 3,000 U.S. companies that they were victims of cyber security breaches in 2013. Victims ranged from small banks to major defense contractors to mega retailers. An astounding 7 percent of U.S. organizations lost $1 million or more due to cyber crime in 2013; 19 percent of U.S. entities have claimed losses between $50,000 and $1 million over the same span. Hacking costs the U.S. some $300 billion per year according to some estimates. Worldwide that figure is closer to $445 billion, or a full 1 percent of global income. The research firm Gartner projects that the world will spend $79.9 billion on information security in 2015, with the figure rising to $101 billion in 2018—and that still won’t be enough.

(PwC, The Wire, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal)

3. Social Media Threats

With the rise of social media also comes the rise in social media cyber crime. Social media spam increased 650 percent in 2014 compared to 2013. Nearly 30 percent of U.S. adults say one of their social media accounts has been hacked. That number is only set to grow: an estimated 10 to 15 percent of home computers globally are already infected with botnet crime-ware, and over 30,000 new websites are corrupted daily with compromising code. In a day and age where your online presence increasingly defines you to the rest of the world, hackers with access to your accounts can cause untold damage to both your personal and professional life. Back in 2011, Facebook admitted that it was the target of 600,000 cyber-attacks every day. Not wanting to scare off potential users, it hasn’t released official figures since.

(Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Cyber Shadows, Telegraph)

4. Russia

Speaking of social media, cyber threats don’t only come in the form of traditional hacking. Moscow has set up a sophisticated “troll army” under the umbrella of its Internet Research Agency to wage a massive disinformation campaign in support for its invasion of Ukraine, and of the Kremlin in general. These trolls work hard, each one pumping out 135 comments per 12-hour shift. Furthermore, each troll is reportedly required to post 50 news article a day while maintaining at least six Facebook and ten Twitter accounts. That’s a whole lot of misinformation. Despite economic hardship caused by sanctions, Moscow believes in this mission enough to employ a full-time staff of 400 with a monthly budget of $400,000.

(New York Times, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, Forbes, New York Times)

5. China

But the single biggest threat to the U.S. remains China. A full 70 percent of America’s corporate intellectual property theft is believed to originate from China. That doesn’t just mean random hackers who operate within China’s borders; we’re talking about elite cyber groups housed by the government in Beijing. China decided long ago that it couldn’t compete with the U.S. in direct military strength. The US already outspends China more than 4-to-1 in that regard, making catch-up near impossible. Beijing has instead decided to focus instead on commercial and government espionage. While exact figures are hard to come by, in May 2013 two former Pentagon officials admitted that “Chinese computer spies raided the databanks of almost every major U.S. defense contractor and made off with some of the country’s most closely guarded technological secrets.” That would be really impressive if it wasn’t so terrifying.

(The Wire, International Institute for Strategic Studies, Bloomberg)

TIME China

The U.S. Needs a Global Strategy Like China’s

Bremmer is a foreign affairs columnist and editor-at-large at TIME.

The competition for influence continues

There is no Cold War today, no ideologically driven battle for hearts and minds. But there is a contest for influence between two very different political and economic systems, one that will determine who sets the standards and writes the rules for international trade and investment in the coming years. And the U.S. is losing ground.

Democrats and Republicans are locked in tactical combat over two basic questions: Is trade good for America? And what role should Congress play in the trade-negotiation process? That deadlock helped lead to the at least temporary defeat of President Obama’s signature Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal in Congress on June 12. But as Washington argues with itself, Beijing is forging commercial agreements that enhance China’s ability to shape the next global order.

In recent years, a rising China has used its development banks to begin to chip away at American dominance in global trade, with programs like the $50 billion New Development Bank and the $40 billion Silk Road investment initiatives. The new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, with a capital base of $100 billion, counts U.S. allies like Britain, Germany and France among its members and further enhances China’s development role across Asia. By the end of June, China will pledge billions for infrastructure investment in Europe.

In years past, China’s primary purpose was to secure access to long-term supplies of the commodities needed to fuel its continued growth. But an additional goal now is to promote international alignment with Chinese industrial policy on such strategic matters as telecom and Internet standards and financial architecture and regulation, while encouraging wider use of the Chinese renminbi, further eroding the dominance of the dollar. In the process, China has become the only country in the world with a coherent global strategy.

Democracy is messier than autocracy–and may it ever be so. But the real-world impact of all the current trade confusion in Washington is that China is expanding its international influence and the U.S. is not. Beijing is wise to follow this path, and the global economy needs more investment from both the East and the West. But until Washington can build as solid a consensus in favor of trade as it often does in favor of sanctions, its foreign policy will become increasingly incoherent–and America’s loss will be China’s gain.

Foreign-affairs columnist Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group, a political-risk consultancy

This appears in the June 29, 2015 issue of TIME.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME migrants

The Private Sector Tackles Europe’s Migration Crisis

MOAS rescues migrants
Jason Florio/MOAS MOAS rescues migrants in the Mediterranean

While European government struggle to respond to a migrant crisis, one couple is making a difference on their own

A Private Sector Solution to the Migrant Crisis – Politico Europe

One of the more interesting pieces I’ve read came from this past weekend’s European edition of Politico. I’ve written myself about Europe’s growing migrant crisis, but I expected that whatever solution was proposed—be it good or bad—would come from European governments. Instead we get this story of Christopher and Regina Catrambone, who saw reports of refugees drowning off Europe’s shores and decided to act themselves. They bought a scientific research vessel in 2014 and founded the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), and in partnership with Doctors Without Borders have started patrolling European waters. From the Politico piece:

Founded by Christopher and Regina Catrambone in 2014, MOAS is the only private organization of its kind, and has saved the lives of more than 4,500 migrants stranded at sea. The group’s current mission, which began on May 2 and will run until the beginning of October, has already saved around 2000 souls…The M.Y. Phoenix doesn’t fly a national flag. MOAS is a private enterprise, the only one of its kind, so the movement of its vessels across the Mediterranean is virtually uninhibited, a tremendous logistical advantage. The enterprise costs the Catrambones, who describe themselves as “social entrepreneurs,” around € 400,000 a month. A German businessman, Juergen Wagentrotz, donated an additional € 186,000 worth of fuel. Chistopher Catrambone says other organizations have not offered to cooperate. He and his wife finance most of the project, and MOAS operates as a private philanthropy.

To date they’ve rescued over 4,500 migrants stranded at sea, providing them with food, water, clothing and medical care. Their ship doesn’t fly any flag, so it sails undisturbed through the Mediterranean. It’s a private sector solution to a public-sector problem, and the results so far are impressive. The Catrambones pay a substantial amount of the $450,000-a-month operating costs out of their own pockets. While they have found other “social entrepreneurs” like themselves to help defray the costs, they continue to need help with funding. (You can donate to MOAS on their MOAS.)

Most “non-state actors” we tend to hear about these days are terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS that constantly threaten to destabilize the world around them. Every once in a while it’s nice to hear about non-state actors like the Catrambones who are going above and beyond to make the world a better place. My pick of the week.

TIME 2016 Election

How Donald Trump Stole Jeb Bush’s Moment

Tis the season. Donald Trump just announced his candidacy for president. Despite America’s pleas, Trump insists on being Trump. I suppose we should not be surprised by this.

Of course, the Donald’s announcement is a sideshow, especially when compared to Jeb Bush’s announcement yesterday. Bush’s speech was years in the making, and for the most part he delivered. He talked about passing both immigration and education reform, and even went so far to label himself a “reforming governor.” He spoke about his economic goals with unusual specificity—for those curious, he’s aiming for 4 percent economic growth per year. But it was hard not to notice that Bush went light on foreign policy specifics. He briefly mentioned Israel and Cuba, but did not make a single other reference to the Middle East. He lamented the “swift, mindless drawdown of the military” without explaining how he would use it after restoring it to full strength.

I had high hopes that we’d get a bit more foreign policy detail from Bush, especially since his announcement came on the heels of his 5-day trip to Europe. The trip was hailed a success since Jeb managed to avoid saying anything particularly dumb or cringe-inducing, which is what passes for success if you’re a presidential hopeful these days (read this Atlantic piece for a brief yet entertaining history of GOP travels to Europe). Truth be told, it is worrying that we’ve needed to set the bar of expectations so low in the first place—Trump notwithstanding. But as the 2016 primary season rolls on, the American people need to start demanding more from their candidates, especially on the foreign policy front.

The sad reality is that the only politicians who have so far presented coherent foreign policy visions are all considered long shots (ex: Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham). They have nothing to lose by telling people directly what they think about America’s role in the world. On the flip side we have perceived front-runners like Jeb and Hillary, who have so much to lose that they don’t say much of anything. Left to their own devices, they will continue not saying anything till Election Day. Primaries are an important part of the democratic process, and nominees should be held to a higher standard—which in 2016 means having some semblance of a foreign policy vision.


Here Are 5 Reasons the G7 Summit Was a Disappointment

Angela Merkel Barack Obama G7 summit germany
Michael Kappeler—AFP/Getty Images Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) gestures while chatting with US President Barack Obama sitting on a bench outside the Elmau Castle after a working session of a G7 summit near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany, on June 8, 2015.

The group of some of the world's largest economies isn't what it used to be

Once upon a time the G7 countries ruled the world. Today, not so much. The leaders of Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Canada and the U.S. wrapped up their annual summit in Bavaria earlier this week. The results were disappointing to say the least. These five facts show why we no longer live in a G7 world—even if the G7 themselves haven’t gotten the message.

1. Climate Change

The G7 announced an “ambitious” plan to phase out all fossil fuels worldwide by 2100. Unfortunately, they didn’t make any concrete plans to scale back their own conventional fuel consumption. That’s a big deal when 59 percent of historic global carbon dioxide emissions—meaning the greenhouse gases already warming the atmosphere—comes from these seven nations. Taken as a group, G7 coal plants produce twice the amount of CO2 as the entire African continent, and at least 10 times the carbon emissions produced by the 48 least developed countries as a whole. If the G7 is serious about tackling climate change, they should start at home.

(BBC, Slate, Guardian)


One of the biggest stories to emerge from the two-day summit was President Obama’s acknowledgement that the U.S. didn’t “yet have a complete strategy” for dealing with ISIS. Why not? “Because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis,” he said. But ISIS is no longer just a regional concern: With a fighting force of 22,000 foreign fighters from over 100 countries, ISIS now officially qualifies as a global threat. The U.S. has managed to train about 9,000 Iraqis since December, with another 2,500 in the pipeline, but that won’t be near enough manpower to root out the radical terrorist group. Now that Palmyra has fallen, ISIS controls over 50% of the Syrian landmass and is poised to expand further. As much as the G7 wishes it would be otherwise, the Iraqis are not going to solve the world’s ISIS problem alone.

(CNN, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Department of Defense, Guardian)

3. Russia

Until last year, the G7 used to be the G8. But then Russia decided to invade Ukraine, so it was booted from the group. Sanctions followed, and the Russian economy took a tumble. Inflation hit 15.8 percent this past May, while GDP fell 4.2 percent year-on-year in April. The ruble has lost 11 percent of its value against the US dollar in the last month alone. Food prices are soaring: 50 percent of Russians have reduced consumption since sanctions began, and 20 percent say they have no disposable income left after paying for food and shelter. Yet Russia remains in Ukraine, and Vladimir Putin remains undaunted. The G7 announced at the summit that sanctions will remain in place so long as Putin ignores the Minsk ceasefire agreement brokered in February… and that was pretty much it. So for those wondering, the crisis in Ukraine continues.

(Reuters, Deutsche Welle)

4. Greece

Greece is turning into an existential crisis for Europe while posing a systemic threat to the global economy—impressive for a country that makes up only 0.32 percent of the world economy by GDP. Germany and France, the ostensible leaders of the EU, are trying to keep the Euro intact without compromising the union’s political integrity. For months now the Greeks have tried to draw the Americans into the game as the “Institutions” (the EU, European Central Bank and IMF) harden their negotiating stance against Athens. But long gone are the days when America could fix Europe with a Marshall Plan. Aside from thorny question of EU politics and sovereignty, the cost would be exorbitant. Greece owes roughly $360 billion to creditors, with roughly $63 billion owed to Germany alone. For reference, the Marshall plan only cost the US $13 billion—approximately $120 billion in today’s dollars. The only help Greece got in the end from the G7 summit was Obama plaintively asking all sides to show “sufficient flexibility.”

(World Bank, BBC, New Yorker, Hoover Institution, White House)

5. A New G8?

The G7’s influence is undoubtedly waning. Part of this can be attributed to global economic and population trends. In 1980, the G7 countries accounted for 61.1 percent of world GDP and roughly 13.85 percent of the global population. Today, the G7 countries are only responsible for 46.3 percent of global GDP output and house 10.5 percent of the world population. And these numbers are on course to continue their decline.

Complicating matters is that, in our globalized world, the responsibility divide between developed and emerging markets is blurrier than ever. To truly solve global problems, world leaders will have to work together with developing nations to tackle cross-border challenges like terrorism and climate change. The most obvious candidate for G7 inclusion is China. Adding China to the G7 would vault the group back to 61% of world GDP share and take it to 29.6% of the world’s population. That would make the G7 global again.

(IMF, IMF, IMF, World Bank)


A Welcome Victory for Democracy in Turkey

Turkish voters reminded us on June 7 that Turkey is not Russia and that the country’s authoritarian President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, can’t simply become Vladimir Putin. In parliamentary elections Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, known by its Turkish initials AKP, fell far short of expectations. For the first time in 13 years, the AKP didn’t even win a simple majority and will now have to form a coalition government. In an election viewed as a referendum on his leadership–he wanted a supermajority in order to rewrite Turkey’s constitution to give himself more power–Erdogan was turned back by Turks.

But a loss for Erdogan was a victory for democracy in a country that had lately gotten off track. In his earlier years in power, then Prime Minister Erdogan helped unlock the country’s growth potential by empowering development and entrepreneurship across the country’s Anatolian heartland. Under his leadership, Turkey’s per capita income practically tripled in a decade. Erdogan and the AKP proved that an explicitly Islamist political party–a first for Turkey–could promote political stability, religious freedom, a forward-looking foreign policy and a pro-growth economic agenda.

Then things got more complicated. Tougher economic times triggered by the financial crisis heightened Erdogan’s sense of vulnerability, and domestic political rivalries became fights for survival. He spoke loudly and often about enemies who would remove him and his party from power. His foreign policy became a mix of nationalist paranoia and anti-Western resentment straight out of the Putin playbook.

When party term limits prevented further service as Prime Minister, Erdogan ran for President in 2014. After winning, he campaigned for constitutional change that would centralize more power in what had been the largely ceremonial presidential role.

The AKP’s lackluster election results put Erdogan’s ambitions on hold for now. Make no mistake: Turkey will be a mess for some time to come. Markets and the Turkish lira swooned on news of the election results and speculation over the uncertain road ahead. But the big news is that there are still checks on Erdogan’s ambitions, even within his own party. It’s a step back for a still powerful leader–and a step forward for his country.

Foreign-affairs columnist Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group, a political-risk consultancy

This appears in the June 22, 2015 issue of TIME.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com