Great Power Competition: Four Pillars Roundup

May 13, 2024News

There have not been any groundbreaking or world-shifting events that happened within the Four Pillars space this week, or in the past couple weeks rather, there have been some interesting developments to dig into.

News broke toward the end of the week, that US President Biden is planning quadruple tariffs on Chinese EV manufacturers, in addition to Chinese goods such as solar panels and medical supplies. Although it may not make good economic sense to leverage tariffs, given the state of the US auto industry too, it is sometimes necessary to make national security decisions like these. Auto, energy, and medical are some very vital industries that should not be dominated by a potential adversary. As the CCP continues to saber-rattle in the South China Sea and over Taiwan, the Pillars should safeguard their supply chains and industries from repercussions of conflict in the Indo-Pacific region. This upcoming tariff is in parallel with the row against TikTok (who have now officially sued the bill calling for its sale on First Amendment grounds), and demonstrates the competition against China is only beginning.

In Ukraine, there is some tension with a Russian attack in the Kharkiv region, potentially opening up another front in the war. It was reported that Russian forces did not breach Ukraine’s defense though. It is very relieving that US aid has resumed, but the Pillars, especially Europe, should firmly make a decision on how far they would be willing to support Ukraine, rather than dragging their feet on piecemeal assistance. It should be reminded that if Ukraine falls, NATO members in Central Europe and the Baltics would most likely be next. 

Regarding the Israel-Hamas war, the US has drawn a red line over the upcoming (or perhaps ongoing) Israeli operation in Rafah, the southernmost and final city in Gaza that Israel has not operated in. Although Israel’s casus belli and engagement in this conflict are understandable, the methods and executions of their war on Hamas still leaves a lot to be desired. The Pillars should find a way to provide humanitarian relief without using intermediaries on the ground, as middle-men and indirect aid distribution increase the chance of Hamas seizing supplies and keeping it for themselves. Still, the US has switched to conditional aid for Israel over Rafah – a necessity given the gravity of this operation. 

Article of the week: The New Propaganda War, Anne Applebaum [The Atlantic]