Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Biden faces new threats to U.S. leadership as instability rises

Hot spots have mushroomedacross the world in 2021, adding multiple international crises to President Biden's formidable domestic to-do list.

Why it matters: Cracks in the global order, which had been presided over by unrivaled American influence since the end of the Cold War, are growing. The proliferation of great-power flashpoints, and failing or failed states, creates new threats to American leadership — and to the global economy, which has been recovering.

Here's a tour of world instability. Biden has faced new versions of several familiar crises:

  • Russia massed troops on Ukraine's borders this spring, and the skies over Gaza were lit in May with fire from Israel and Hamas. Both crises were paused, rather than ended.
  • Tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir are decades in the making. But there's new cause for concern in the Himalayas after border skirmishes between India and China. All three are nuclear powers.
  • The power struggle in Venezuela continues, Yemen's humanitarian crisis has deepened, and Syria and Libya remain hotbeds of unrest and foreign meddling.

Biden can expect escalation from the newest nuclear power, North Korea, at some point in his tenure. Iran is accelerating its nuclear program.

  • And Taiwan is the flashpoint of all flashpoints. A Chinese invasion of the self-governing island seems increasingly likely, though not imminent, and could lead to a scale of warfare the world hasn’t seen in decades.
  • Even short of that, flare-ups will continue over the South China Sea.

The world has also experienced a wave of protest and political instability, from the coup in Myanmar to the assassination of Haiti's president.

  • Peru's presidential transition has been held hostage by electoral fraud claims, Colombia's security forces have cracked down on mass protests, and Cubans have come out into the streets on an unprecedented scale. Violence and instability in Central America continue to push migrants northward.
  • Lebanon's political deadlock is fueling its economic collapse, with the West unsure whether to aid the country's hapless leaders or sanction them.
  • Ethiopia is in the midst of a civil war. Even in comparatively stable South Africa, destructive riots swept through cities in recent days.

Afghanistan remains one of the world’s most unstable countries, as the massive American footprint is suddenly withdrawn.

  • A total Taliban takeover is a very real possibility.
  • Biden has a decision to make about the remaining U.S. troops in Iraq, which are now engaged in a proxy war with Iran-backed militias. 

What we're watching: Inflation creates its own political risks around the world.

  • If inflation proves more severe and persistent than forecast, central banks will be forced to raise rates — and risk stalling the current economic recovery and employment gains.

Elite trans athletes decry youth sports bans

TOKYO — While transgender inclusion in elite sports presents some challenging issues, bans on participation in youth sports are simply about hate and cruelty, several top trans athletes told Axios this week.

The big picture: Lawmakers in more than half of the states have considered such bans, and they have been signed into law in at least eight states, though legal challenges remain.

Keep reading... Show less

The case for global warming realism, rather than panic

It’s getting harder and harder to communicate the two essential realities of human-caused climate change: that our failure to slow and eventually stop it is contributing to devastating human suffering all over the world, and that it’s not too late to act.

The big picture: Experts have long told climate communicators —including scientists, journalists and politicians — that disaster porn immobilizes people, leaving them cowering in a corner. You've got to give them a sense of hope, the research shows.

Keep reading... Show less

Simone Biles will compete in her final Olympic event

Simone Biles will compete in the Olympic individual balance beam final, her last event of the Tokyo Games, USA Gymnastics announced Monday.

What's happening: "We are so excited to confirm that you will see two U.S. athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow — Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!! Can’t wait to watch you both!" USA Gymnastics tweeted.

Keep reading... Show less

In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 10 highlights

Day 10 of the Tokyo Olympic Games saw Puerto Rico bag its first-ever track gold medal when Jasmine Camacho-Quinn beat American world record holder Kendra Harrison to win the women’s 100-meter hurdles Monday.

The big picture: There was better news for Team USA in the basketball, where the women's national team beat France 93-82 — meaning the Americans are entering the medal round undefeated as they go for yet another gold, Axios' Ina Fried reports from Tokyo. France still advanced to the quarterfinals as well.

Keep reading... Show less

Belarus sprinter who sought refuge in Tokyo "safe" with Japanese authorities, IOC says

Belarus' Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who's refusing orders to return home, is in the care of Japanese authorities and the UN refugee agency is now involved in her case, an International Olympic Committee official told reporters Monday.

Driving the news: The sprinter said she wouldn't obey orders and board a flight home after being taken to Tokyo's s Haneda airport by team officials Sunday following her criticism of Belarusian coaches, per Reuters. She spent the night in an airport hotel.

Keep reading... Show less

Olympic sprint champ Jacobs says reconnecting with U.S. father "gave me the desire to win"

Italy's surprise 100-meters Olympic gold medalist Lamont Marcell Jacobs opened up Sunday about how reconnecting with his American father over the past year has helped spur him on.

What he's saying: The Texas-born sprinter told reporters after setting a European record of 9.80 seconds to win gold in Sunday's event that getting back in touch with his father "gave me the desire, the speed, that something more that helped me being here and win the Olympics."

Keep reading... Show less

Bipartisan Senate group releases $1 trillion infrastructure bill

A bipartisan group of senators released full legislative text for their $1 trillion "hard" infrastructure bill late Sunday night, setting it up for debate on the floor this week.

Why it matters: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer kept senators in town for a rare legislative weekend in order to formally begin debate on the 2,702-page bill. Now the Senate can begin a potentially days-long amendment process before a final vote this week.

Read the bill.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

American Raven Saunders protests oppression with "X" sign on Olympic podium

U.S. shot-putter Raven Saunders told AP Sunday she placed her hands above her head in an "X" formation while on the Olympic podium after winning a silver medal to stand up for "oppressed" people.

Why it matters: The International Olympic Committee has banned protests during the Tokyo Games, but Saunders, who is black and openly gay, said she wanted to take a stand.

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories