Biden Doubles Down on Defending Taiwan

What once seemed to be 'saying the quiet part out loud' is now administration policy.

CBS News (“Biden tells 60 Minutes U.S. troops would defend Taiwan, but White House says this is not official U.S. policy“):

Last Thursday, the same day 60 Minutes spoke to President Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin met with China’s leader, Xi Jinping. There’s concern that Russia’s war in Ukraine could inspire China to attack the island of Taiwan. U.S. policy since 1979 has been to recognize Taiwan as part of China, but remain silent on whether the U.S. military would defend the democratic government there. 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley asked Mr. Biden about that.

“What should Chinese President Xi know about your commitment to Taiwan?” Pelley asked the president.

“We agree with what we signed onto a long time ago,” the president said. “And that there’s one China policy, and Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence. We are not moving– we’re not encouraging their being independent. We’re not– that– that’s their decision.”

“But would U.S. forces defend the island?” Pelley asked.

“Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack,” Mr. Biden said.

“So unlike Ukraine, to be clear, sir,” Pelley said, “U.S. forces, U.S. men and women would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion?”

“Yes,” the president said.

After the interview, a White House official said U.S. policy on Taiwan has not changed. Officially, the U.S. maintains “strategic ambiguity” on whether American forces would defend Taiwan, but the Taiwan Relations Act obligates the U.S. to help equip Taiwan to defend itself.

WaPo (“Biden says U.S. troops would defend Taiwan in event of attack by China”) adds:

The interview is the latest of several occasions in which Biden has said that the United States would come to Taiwan’s defense militarily if China were to attack. Each time, White House officials emphasized that his remarks did not represent any change in U.S. policy.

A Biden administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the issue, pointed to remarks the president made in May, when he told reporters that the practice of strategic ambiguity toward Taiwan remained. At the time, he did not elaborate and did not explicitly say he would send U.S. troops to Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.

“He also made clear then that our Taiwan policy hasn’t changed,” the official said. “That remains true.”

A representative from the State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.

It also makes a subtle correction to the show’s setup (not Biden’s remarks):

The “60 Minutes” segment erroneously stated that U.S. policy since 1979 has recognized Taiwan as part of China. Under the United States’ “one-China policy,” the American government under various administrations has for decades acknowledged Beijing’s view without taking a position on the status of Taiwan’s sovereignty.

That may seem a distinction without a difference but it’s not. Indeed, for all intents and purposes, we treat Taiwan as a sovereign state but go through some weird machinations in maintaining a legal fiction that we do not in order to appease China.

Under the Taiwan Relations Act, which was signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, the United States agreed to provide Taiwan with arms to defend itself, and “to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan.” The language neither guarantees nor rules out the possibility of military intervention, though the United States has long practiced “strategic ambiguity” when it comes to what it would do.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Biden appeared to refer to the Taiwan Relations Act when asked what Chinese President Xi Jinping should know about Biden’s commitment to Taiwan.

“We agree with what we signed onto a long time ago,” Biden told Pelley. “And that there’s one-China policy, and Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence. We are not moving — we’re not encouraging their being independent. That’s their decision.”

Further,

Tensions between the United States and China — as well as between China and Taiwan — have escalated in recent months. Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, Biden sent an unofficial delegation of former U.S. defense and national security officials to Taiwan, an effort to show that the United States’ commitment to Taiwan “remains rock solid,” an administration official said at the time.

Last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) traveled with a congressional delegation to Taipei, becoming the first House speaker to visit Taiwan since Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) did so in 1997. There, the delegation met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, and Pelosi repeatedly affirmed the United States’ “commitment to” and “enduring friendship” with Taiwan.

So, here’s the thing: The President has repeatedly and forthrightly made public proclamations that the United States would defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion with military force. Reports from the National Enquirer notwithstanding, I do not believe Joe Biden is senile. So, I believe this to be an intentional and calculated shift in US foreign policy.

In that light, I have revised my assessment of Pelosi’s trip. Rather than a reckless stunt, it was an intentional reinforcement of this new policy, thinly disguised as an unauthorized visit by the Speaker. As I was recently reminded, Members of Congress do not travel abroad without robust support from the Defense Department and State Department.

I’m torn as to whether this ratcheting up of pressure on Beijing is a wise policy. Regardless, the President is our nation’s chief diplomat and he has the backing of the only Constitutional officer in Congress. It seems to me that, therefore, the State Department and White House staff should stop publicly trying to walk back the message. Biden is clearly trying to convey resolve. It makes no sense to water it down.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Members of the White House staff are trying to walk that back now. I think that U. S. foreign policy is whatever the president says it is. They don’t, apparently. I wonder what their Constitutional authority for that is?

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  2. Kylopod says:

    Is this 2012 gay marriage all over again? Biden has a history of this sort of thing.

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  3. MarkedMan says:

    @David J Schuler:

    Members of the White House staff are trying to walk that back now.

    This is part of a long standing pattern that precedes the Biden Administration: President puts a bold stake in the ground. Then the State Department makes calming noises that allows the aggrieved nation to publicly pretend like there is confusion in the US policy and so can publicly focus on that rather than having to respond to the direct challenge. It’s good statecraft.

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  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    This is China’s lunacy we’re dealing with here. They have the same claim to Taiwan that Putin has to Ukraine: because an insecure autocrat has delusions of grandeur.

    Biden is maintaining strategic ambiguity while also sending a clear threat. It’s awkward. We have to defend Taiwan and China has to be told we’ll defend Taiwan so they don’t do anything stupid. At the same time we don’t want to make it official that we’ll defend Taiwan. Even though we will have to. If Xi wises up we can all un-flex and go back to wearing that one China fig leaf.

    The Chinese Communist Party has to decide whether they want Taiwan enough to lose the world, because make no mistake, we can shut down China’s exports and its imports of hydrocarbons. Their next move, after we close the Straits of Hormuz to Chinese-bound tankers, is either acquiescence or war. Either way, they don’t get Taiwan.

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  5. Scott says:

    Maybe in this day and age, strategic ambiguity is no longer useful. Especially when countries are led by leaders who think more of themselves than what is needed by their country or people.

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  6. Lounsbury says:

    @Scott: In this instance, not this day and age. The judgement is contextual, and no need nor basis to over-interpret.

    Biden’s call on the danger seems reasonable – may or may not be right but it is a reasonable judgment call.

    Especially when countries are led by leaders who think more of themselves than what is needed by their country or people.

    Pious inanity, humans are humans and it has always been such, whatever pieties and myths have later been sold.

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  7. Michael Cain says:

    Part of me believes that this is going to be the 70- and 80-year-old leaders dragging us into an incredibly unpopular war in Asia.

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  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    Past Chinese leaders could make claims to Taiwan and hint at a military take over, but their term would end and nothing had changed. Xi is setting himself up to be President for life, the merry-go-round of the new administration ‘studying’ the issue and ramping up hollow threats before exiting has ended. Xi is painting himself into a corner on Taiwan and it won’t belong before the nationalists begin demanding that he act.

    The China-Taiwan problem has fundamentally changed and US policy needs to adjust to the change. Domestically, he is also limiting the options for a future R president to walk away from Taiwan. Trump certainly would and likely DeSantis, who avoids talking about FP issues, would as well. As much as R’s love them some Vlad, they hate Xi and the Chinese, so a conundrum is created for them.

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  9. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Cain: I don’t know if dragging is the right word. China is looking as if it is psyching itself up to grab an entire country, one that makes north of 90% of the advance microchips in the world. It also has made it clear that it is psyching itself up to seize control of the entire South China Sea and act as gatekeeper to, what, half of the worlds imports? If those things happen we have no choice but to defend our vital interests. Average citizens in Europe and the US have a blind spot wrt Asia, but fortunately the leadership does not.

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  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    As much as R’s love them some Vlad, they hate Xi and the Chinese, so a conundrum is created for them.

    The GOP will turn on a dime if Trump tells them to. They will have absolutely no difficulty in flipping 180 degrees if they think it will give them power. MAGAts don’t do patriotism, they do subservience to their cult leader. Xi, Putin and Trump are the same, albeit in descending IQ order: needy men desperate to control, desperate to be worshipped.

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  11. Chris says:

    Leaders often employ confusion as a means to meet their objectives. The question in this case remains, will China suffer from any flummox over the divergent statements provided by Biden and his Administration. Even if it only serves as a “McAuliffe-Nuts” like moment for Chinese totalitarians, it will likely create a brief or momentary pause in their thoughts, ambitions, and actions.

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  12. Franklin says:

    @Michael Reynolds: LOL, there’s a lot of room to stick more authoritarians between 2nd and 3rd in your IQ list. Victor Orbán, Nicolás Maduro, Kim Jong-Un … you could slot in plenty above Trump.

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  13. Pylon says:
  14. Raoul says:

    The goal here is to prevent an outright attack. I don’t believe that that’s where China is now but the U.S. does not want China to believe a military confrontation with Taiwan would be without consequences. The reality is that a war against Taiwan would be exceedingly brutal and it would be a different type of warfare than we see in Europe now. China itself needs to figure out how to deal with Taiwan short of attacking it.

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  15. Gustopher says:

    Good.

    Ambiguity allowed China to save face, so long as they weren’t making clear threats or actively taking steps towards a takeover of Taiwan. It was fine and dandy.

    But, we need to be clear with China that there would be a response.

    I also expect that the Biden administration has communicated this privately to the Chinese leadership before this, to try to keep everything in the face-saving, fictional-ambiguity status quo.

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  16. Andy says:

    Biden is seemingly changing the status quo rhetorically while also not trying to change it in fact. His own administration is reiterating the status quo, and I very much doubt that those reiterations are being done without WH knowledge and consent.

    This more aggressive rhetoric seems clearly intended to be a warning to China, but why and why now? Absent some specific intelligence suggesting that China has changed its own policy or is preparing for or seriously considering an invasion, then upsetting the status quo seems unwise to me.

    The problem with strategically ambiguous gamesmanship is that it’s often questionable whether an adversary will interpret it in the way you intend. This has always been the problem with this kind of strategic ambiguity.

    This could certainly backfire or be a ratchet increasing the incentives and the probability of a Chinese attack. This is especially the case if China believes that the US is committed to Taiwan’s independence above and beyond the status quo. The way to ensure a Chinese attack would be to dangle the possibility of formal diplomatic recognition and a military alliance with Taiwan – China would then want to strike before any kind of alliance or formal recognition can be achieved, which is precisely what happened in Ukraine.

    Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan gives that appearance, even if officially unauthorized by the WH. But actions matter more than words. And China’s reaction – over a week of military exercises that were unprecedented in scope and scale, was a clear message from China.

    So I don’t really understand what Biden is trying to do here unless there is some specific intelligence that suggests that China needs to be sent this message and some knowledge that it will be interpreted in the way the Administration intends.

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  17. Modulo Myself says:

    Biden’s a realist and a hawk, and he’s riding the high of having masterminded a counter to Russian aggression and expansionism. They could be privy to data that says that China has reconsidered the practicality of its own projected fantasy about taking over Taiwan. Maybe the Chinese are looking at Putin’s quagmire and wondering if it’s worth it. Or the administration could be overconfident and this could be a screw-up, and we’re all dead in the end because of nuclear war, etc. I do wonder about the stakes any public pronouncement has in 2022. I would like to believe that the people who run the major nuclear powers don’t have the same capacities as social media users.

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  18. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    which is precisely what happened in Ukraine.

    I think it’s a mistake to try to make a 1:1 comparison between Ukraine and Taiwan.

    Putin had been adventuring past his borders for some time now, trying to rebuild a great Russian empire, and he had been planning on adding Ukraine to that empire for years.

    (Planning poorly, it turns out.)

    The triggers were largely internal to Ukraine, with the ouster of the Russian stooge PM, and looking for stronger ties towards Europe rather than Russia. And facilitated by Ukraine not being part of NATO — which likely saved the Baltics from invasion.

    Meanwhile, Taiwan has been navigating psuedo-independence/pseudo-China for decades, walking the same path it has been.

    Or have I missed some major shifts in Taiwan?

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  19. Gustopher says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    I would like to believe that the people who run the major nuclear powers don’t have the same capacities as social media users.

    People are all too often driven by petty grievance and spite.

    Given Xi apparently not liking to be compared to Winnie The Pooh, this would likely be a bad time for a Winnie The Pooh theme park to open in Taiwan.

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  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy:

    Absent some specific intelligence suggesting that China has changed its own policy or is preparing for or seriously considering an invasion

    China has become increasingly aggressive with flights and ships and missile launches for several years now, escalating almost on a month by month basis. The leadership has also become more verbally aggressive. Quite simply, it is the Chinese who have been attacking the status quo. While there may be additional intelligence we don’t know about, what we do know about is entirely sufficient to believe that Xi and China is working its way up to invasion, for many of the same reasons that Putin and Russia invaded Ukraine.

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  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andy:
    I don’t think it requires new intel to tell us that Xi is seeking work-arounds to the geographical limitations imposed on Chinese power. He’s not building and militarizing islands in the South China Sea for shits and giggles, he clearly wants a blue water navy, and we clearly don’t want that to happen.

    If Xi takes Taiwan then, for the first time since WW2, there will be a powerful , potentially peer opponent for the US Navy. We need to keep him bottled up behind the island chains. Which means we cannot let him go after Taiwan. Better to have him – and the rest of the CCP – know that’s not going to happen without war with the US.

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  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    I have never been a fan of ambiguity in international relations. Ambiguity got us war in Ukraine. Had we been able to credibly warn Putin that we would sanction his economy, retard his economic and military development, expand NATO and arm the Ukrainians, I don’t think the Russians would have invaded.

    Had Germany known in 1939 that they were going to be faced with a USA on a war-footing, I don’t think he’d have invaded Poland and France. Ditto WW1. Had the Taliban known that harboring Al Qaeda would result not in a flashy bombing raid, but in a 20 year occupation, I think they’d have given Osama up. Would Saddam have taken Kuwait if he’d known how we would react?

    Ambiguity invites miscalculation. It’s one of those approaches that sounds subtle and clever and like we’re playing n-dimensional chess, but which in effect helps to cause wars.

    Telling Xi bluntly that we’d stop an invasion of Taiwan forces him to ask himself whether Taiwan is worth the kind of embargo we can place on China. Unlike Russia, China is not energy self-sufficient. If we close the Straits of Hormuz and Malacca, there’d be literal starvation in China. Then there’s the likely military humiliation when all his ships are sitting on the bottom of the Taiwan strait.

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  23. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    Meanwhile, Taiwan has been navigating psuedo-independence/pseudo-China for decades, walking the same path it has been.

    Or have I missed some major shifts in Taiwan?

    See my note above. China has definitely been ramping up consistently and clearly. It doesn’t get much play in the popular press (Because, Asia) but it is very, very real. China gives every indication it is going to seize Taiwan, absent a credible threat. Internally, Xi is tying his personal prestige to “putting Taiwan in its place”. And this ramping up goes right to our most vital interests. A strong argument could be made that in this day and age seizing the IC manufacturing facilities in Taiwan is more serious than say, seizing all the oil fields in the Middle East.

    George W. saw the beginnings of this change and started to re-engage with Taiwan militarily in response, and the Obama administration started drawing clear lines in the sand, upping the military ante and taking on the broader South China Sea threat as well as the commercial threat, and spent a lot of time on it. Trump is a moron and had no policy as such, but that left the State Department free to continue on Obama’s path as best they could. Biden is seeing that none of this has stopped China’s aggression and is ramping it up.

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  24. Michael Cain says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    If China declared (a) they were bringing the rogue province back into the fold, and (b) Taiwan’s seaports and airports were now blockaded and that would be enforced, I don’t believe the US would commit acts of war in support of Taiwan. I also believe that if the US were to announce they were going to commit such acts, and asked their various allies “Who’s with us?”, the response would be silence.

    I might be more receptive to your demand that the US not allow a military peer to emerge if our own military weren’t responsible for hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths during the last 30 years when we had no peer.

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  25. Michael Cain says:

    @Michael Cain:
    Never an edit button when you want it. ETA: China can take Taiwan’s IC capabilities off the map in 15 minutes if they choose to do so. Wouldn’t even need nukes.

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  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Had we been able to credibly warn Putin that we would sanction his economy, retard his economic and military development, expand NATO and arm the Ukrainians, I don’t think the Russians would have invaded.

    “Credibly” is the active word there. The danger in lacking credibility is very real, and Ukraine is the perfect example. Putin invaded despite Western threats because he didn’t believe they were credible. I think the reason Biden and the rest of the West are being very blunt is a) to head China off from thinking that since we are distracted by Ukraine, we will sit idly by as they invade, and b) our credibility is high right now and we should make use of that.

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  27. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Cain:

    China can take Taiwan’s IC capabilities off the map in 15 minutes if they choose to do so.

    China has no intention of wiping Taiwan’s IC manufacturing off the map. They have been futilely and clumsily trying to build their own capabilities for two decades and view seizing Taiwan’t facilities and design engineers as a very fast way to achieve what they couldn’t do on their own. And I’m sure they also believe, probably correctly, that we would have to deal with them.

    This is why we are investing billions in public funds to get IC manufacturing back here and in Europe.

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  28. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan:

    The danger in lacking credibility is very real, and Ukraine is the perfect example. Putin invaded despite Western threats because he didn’t believe they were credible.

    I could swear I have seen reports that Putin expected sanctions, and stockpiled cash reserves, etc., but was likely assuming that once he took over and held Ukraine, that they would mostly fall apart in recognition of a new status quo. Europe likes Russian energy, after all.

    All of this was hampered by the most incompetent invasion in modern history, which then gave modern Ukraine a national origin story*, and made it really awkward for the west to drop sanctions while Ukrainians are still fighting, and moved Finland and Norway into NATO.

    But, the threats of sanctions were credible, and accounted for as a cost of the invasion. (Sanctions were then increased above the original level of threats because of the inspiring Ukrainians.)

    ——
    *: Ukraine and Russia have always been intertwined, with Rus originally coming from Kyiv before Moscow was founded. There were a lot of Russians living in Ukraine for generations who are now think of themselves as Russian-speaking Ukrainians because of this war.

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  29. DK says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Putin invaded despite Western threats because he didn’t believe they were credible.

    Putin escalated the invasion of Ukraine he began in 2014 because Putin is a warmongering, genocidal maniac just like Stalin, Peter I, and Ivan the Terrible before him.

    Imperialist warmongering is what Russia does. It just is. They’ve been at it for 500 years. Russia does not think its neighbors have a right to exist independent of Russia. That’s why Russia keeps invading its neighbors.

    However imperfect a vehicld, NATO seems to be the only container for this madness: Putin has not invaded his NATO neighbors. Hence why Russia’s neighbors very rationally keep scrambling to join.

    Thus, there is no credible threat the US could have issued to keep Putin out of Ukraine, as Ukraine has never been eligible for membership in NATO — having either been a Russian satellite or at war with Russia since NATO started expanding.

    That’s another reason why the Greenwald-Taibbi set’s intellectually lazy “Blame NATO” canard is prima facie nonsense. Putin knew NATO membership for Ukraine was heretofore impossible based on NATO’s charter. Just another lame excuse only useful idiots fell for. (Admittedly, less stupid than the Pizzagate-level “pUtiN hAd tO boMb tHe BioLabS!!11!!” excuse the really useless idiots swallowed.)

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  30. becca says:

    @DK: there’s a line in The Great where Catherine is horrified to find out her sensitive, sweet lover has killed people. He replies “ I’m Russian. It’s what we do.”

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  31. Michael Cain says:

    @MarkedMan:

    China has no intention of wiping Taiwan’s IC manufacturing off the map. They have been futilely and clumsily trying to build their own capabilities for two decades and view seizing Taiwan’t facilities and design engineers as a very fast way to achieve what they couldn’t do on their own. And I’m sure they also believe, probably correctly, that we would have to deal with them.

    Once an authoritarian starts down a stupid path, there’s no telling how far they’ll go. Putin is clearly going to destroy his own military and economy. The only thing I feel confident of with Xi is that he won’t repeat Russia’s mistake of a head-on brute-force attack. But that still leaves a whole lot of other stupid things to do. Try to take the fabs hostage? “Remove your carrier strike group, Mr. Biden, or the newest 5nm fab dies.”

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  32. al Ameda says:

    I think this is good politics – both in terms of foreign policy and even domestically. Biden had supported American strength with respect to the Ukraine and our European alliances, and now he’s getting out in front with regard to China, an empire that is looking to see if we have the resolve to confront them if necessary on Taiwan.

    Republicans are kind of stuck on this one. If Trump had done this they would be hailing his toughness, but since Biden is out in front on this all they can do is say, “can’t we talk about the libs on Martha’s Vineyard?”

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  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Michael Cain:

    I also believe that if the US were to announce they were going to commit such acts, and asked their various allies “Who’s with us?”, the response would be silence.

    Japan and South Korea would back us actively, and much of the rest of Asia would cheer quietly from the sidelines. China is not making itself popular in Indonesia, Malaysia or the Philippines. The Vietnamese hate them. No one in the region wants Chinese hegemony with no counterweight.

    I might be more receptive to your demand that the US not allow a military peer to emerge if our own military weren’t responsible for hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths during the last 30 years when we had no peer.

    I don’t see the relevance of that. Civilian deaths are not the issue, the end of a US-imposed and policed regime of freedom of the seas is. Our defense budget would skyrocket as we replayed the lead-up to WW1 with the Chinese. (Great for the shipyards.) We would risk accidental war as the two navies played their games.

    We’ve had a Pax Americana for ~75 years with no 3 to add to WW, and China is a brutal, increasingly totalitarian regime actively practicing genocide. I should think the need to contain their expansion is obvious.

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  34. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “If Xi takes Taiwan then, for the first time since WW2, there will be a powerful , potentially peer opponent for the US Navy. ” (sorry if I include the actual quote html my post fails completely)

    I agree it’s Xi that’s changed the calculus more than anything else, but I don’t see why he needs Taiwan to build a peer opponent to the US Navy. Not like we are actually going to blockade the Chinese coast before a war starts, so it doesn’t matter that Taiwan, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and other unsinkable air bases are sitting there. Whatever navy they do have they can get out into the ocean-where they will almost certainly head towards the ME. And we aren’t going to stop them from building a near peer one preemptively. It comes down to their own industrial and technical base, plus training. They are a long way away from that, of course, but whether they get there doesn’t have much to do with Taiwan.

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  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I just hope he is not writing checks we can’t cash.

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  36. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:
    No, in a war, the Chinese navy cannot escape. That’s the importance of the first island chain which includes Taiwan. They cannot move without being spotted and potentially interdicted. That’s the whole point of this conflict, it’s the reason for the Belt and Road initiative, it’s the rationale for the constructed islands: geography.

    Geography loves us and does not love China as much. We have two ocean coasts and nothing at all between Norfolk and the ocean, or San Francisco Bay and the ocean. China has excellent ports but those ports disgorge ships toward South Korea, Japan and Okinawa. Or toward Taiwan and the Philippines. And from there to where? The Malacca straits, the Hormuz straits, the Suez or Panama canals, all choke points easily managed by the US Navy.

    So long as the US has the only true blue water navy, we will be holding Xi’s balls in our fist. We can literally shut down the Chinese export economy, cut off their oil and gas imports, cut off their food imports and bring the country to the brink of starvation, with a few warning shots, or the sinking of a demonstration ship.

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