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Why the US is sending aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan

Why the US is sending aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan
Why the US is sending aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan | Ian Bremmer | Quick Take

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. And a Quick Take to kick off your week. A big $90 billion package that has been approved by the US House of Representatives, going through the Senate shortly after months of debate and, all of the package, all three major pieces of it, have some significant, complicated features.

First of all, the biggest piece for Ukraine, $60 billion, massive military support.

They had been in danger of losing significant more territory. This certainly shores them up. It helps the Ukrainians. It makes the Europeans panic less, but, you know, can they longer term hold on? What is the end game? The Ukrainians are, of course, running short not just of material to fight, but also air defense capabilities and, critically, people, soldiers. It's much harder for them to get people for the front lines than it is for the authoritarian, and much larger populated Russia. And so, the intention is that the Ukrainians don't fall apart, but of course, longer term, the idea that the US will continue to be able to provide 60 billion in support year after year. Certainly not true if Trump becomes president, probably not true if Biden wins a second term. What you really want to do is try to find a way to get them in a better position so that negotiations, inevitably, that need to occur with Russia, can be more productive and more constructive from the Ukrainian side, from the European side, from the NATO side. The US kick the can on this last year when the Americans, were in much better position supporting Ukraine. Now it's harder. Always is the case is that you think that things are going to get better. You don't feel like taking the political risk and as a consequence you extend and pretend. And now they're in a worse position. So I'm glad that the money came through. I'm glad the Ukrainians, are still fighting courageously and want to fight courageously. But of course, longer term, this war leads to some degree of partition where the Ukrainians are losing their land.

Israel, closest ally of the United States in the Middle East. Some 17 billion in military support for Israel, also some 9 billion in humanitarian aid in Gaza in this plan.

But, of course, increasingly, the United States does not support Israel continuing to fight against Hamas in Gaza. They want to see a lot more protection for Palestinian civilians, which the Israelis have been reluctant to put in place. They don't want to see a ground offensive into Rafah. Over a million Palestinians shelter in there. The Israelis are fully intent on continuing with that, proceeding with it. They did want to see a cease-fire that was linked directly to a hostage release. Now, increasingly, the US is talking about those two things as critical but delinked. And at the same time as the US is providing all this money, you have sanctions being placed by the United States on battalions of the Israeli Defense Forces engaged in human rights violations. This shows just how impossible this position is for President Biden to maneuver domestically, not to mention internationally. The US is overwhelmingly, the one country that is most supportive of Israel. Biden is overwhelmingly the political leader that is most supportive of Israel. But most of his constituents are not. And this is absolutely going to hurt him, even though it's a foreign policy issue and they don't usually play that heavily in recent decades in the election coming up in November. And you’ll see it, of course, across campuses all over the country, including my own at Columbia.

And then finally Taiwan. And this is in a sense the least controversial, because everyone on the Democratic and Republican side pretty much supports more support for Taiwan, is opposed to China. It's very easy to get lots of legislation that makes life more difficult for China. At the same time, though, the long term strategy of the United States is to make Taiwan less important, less important for the Americans in making sure that semiconductor production, moves from Taiwan to the United States, to other allies, not just a few miles off of the mainland Chinese coast, but also export controls that prevent the Chinese from getting advanced semiconductors from Taiwan as well. In other words, the big US strategy is not just arming the Taiwanese and helping them defend themselves, but also making Taiwan fundamentally less important to mainland China. and one of the main reasons that the Chinese would not be interested in attacking Taiwan long term or squeezing them hard economically long term, is because they're so indispensable to the Chinese economy. This is not going to be the case long term.

In all three of these areas, you've got the United States with friends, but they are less aligned with strategically than they are tactically. And that means that this money that we see going forward is all about kicking the can on short term gains that make sense politically for the US right now. But long term do not resolve the challenges that exist for the US with these countries.

That's it for me and I'll talk to you all real soon.


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