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Bremmer: There's a 'real chance' Afghanistan withdrawal destroys Biden's presidency

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Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer joins 'Influencers with Andy Serwer' to discuss the U.S. decision to pull out of Afghanistan.

Video Transcript

ANDY SERWER: So why all these screw-ups then. I mean, you talk about, you know, this intelligence, massive intelligence failure, the failure to communicate with the British, the Chinese. What were they thinking here? What happened?

IAN BREMMER: We're America. And when you've got a whole bunch of people that have been fighting this for a long, long time and they know what the answer is, American exceptionalism and especially in the foreign policy establishment is that we make the decisions. And multilateralism is we inform our allies before we go public but after we've made the decision. Multilateralism is not that we actually want their inputs to come with a compromise or maybe change our mind.

So number one, that attitude is still pervasive inside the Beltway in the United States. And it's a mistake. But, you know, there are other issues at play here too. I think the United States-- I mean, to the extent that Biden has a foreign policy doctrine. That doctrine is a foreign policy for the middle class, for the American middle class. Jake Sullivan has articulated that fairly well, the National security advisor.

And Afghanistan is the farthest thing possible, a US presence there in terms of supporting the middle class. Biden is the person who came in saying, we're not doing enough to make foreign policy relevant for the average American. And I'm going to change that. And I'm going to get out of Afghanistan, right. And I want the average American to care and support what we're doing.

And this war has been fought on the backs of underprivileged Americans for decades now, and while they see that their life expectancy is being reduced, while they see that they're the ones hit hardest by the pandemic. So I get why Biden was completely committed to getting the hell out. But you still have to do it right. And I mean, I have to say that in my wildest imagination, I would not have expected that they would have mishandled this decision this badly. I really wouldn't have.

ANDY SERWER: And it's so ironic that this was a policy decision that Donald Trump and Joe Biden agreed on. And that, as you said, you might expect Donald Trump and his people to screw it up and then it was Biden who screwed it up. So how much political capital can the Republicans really get out of this? You mentioned possible domestic political fallout.

IAN BREMMER: Well, they can gather some. I mean, one of the things here is that Biden, you know, certainly knows that this is an environment that is incredibly toxic. And you don't want to give your enemies any grist for them to attack you with. And he's now given them-- you know, he's given them months and months, right.

I mean, you know, just playing Biden's July 8 speech saying, this can't possibly happen. And then it exactly happens. I mean, that is just going to be an election, the campaign line for, you know, anybody that's running against the Dem in midterms in 2022. Why would you want that to happen? So they just didn't-- they didn't hedge that risk at all. And now, they're going to take consequences.

But I do want to be clear, the average American is supportive of this policy broadly speaking. They wanted out, Democrats, Republicans, and independents. It was incredibly popular as a policy under Trump and under Biden. And if the only thing that happens is the debacle that we see on the ground affecting Afghans, then I'm not sure it has huge lasting effects on Biden.

It makes him look more incompetent. You know, it makes him look like he can't execute well. But I don't see a lot of Americans voting on the back of leaving Afghanistan one way or the other. I really don't. Having said that, there is now a proximate risk that this gets a lot worse. I mean, right now, this is not the Iran crisis, the hostage crisis of "79, it's not. But it could become that.

I mean, there are a lot of Americans that we want to get out of there. What if we have a hostage crisis? What if we have a firefight? What if Americans get killed? What if we end up not being able to get all these Americans out? That destroys Biden's presidency. And there is a real chance of that happening. It's not a 50% chance, maybe it's a 5% chance. But it is way higher than it should be. And again, Biden now owns that.

In other words, right now, I still think you $3.5 trillion through in terms of infrastructure. And that's a big win for Biden. And I don't think that anything that has happened in the last few days in Afghanistan changes my view on that. But that could change in the next week, depending on what happens on the ground in Afghanistan. So we are not remotely out of the woods on this yet.