May 23, 2022

"You didn’t want to get involved in the Ukraine conflict militarily for obvious reasons. Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?"

A reporter asked President Biden (in Japan this morning), the NYT reports

“Yes,” Mr. Biden answered flatly. 

“You are?” the reporter followed up.

“That’s the commitment we made,” he said. 

The president’s declaration, offered without caveat or clarification, surprised some members of his own administration watching in the room... The White House quickly tried to deny that the president meant what he seemed to be saying....

But Mr. Biden’s comments went beyond simply reiterating that the United States would provide Taiwan with arms, because the question was posed as a contrast to what he had done with Ukraine. The president made no effort to qualify what he intended when he agreed that he would “get involved militarily.”... “The idea that that can be taken by force, just taken by force, it’s just not appropriate,” he said of Taiwan. “It would dislocate the entire region and be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine. And so it’s a burden that is even stronger.”

59 comments:

tim maguire said...

My understanding of Taiwan policy is that we support the status quo and will oppose whoever breaks it. If China invades Taiwan unprovoked, we defend Taiwan. But if Taiwan provokes China (say, by formally declaring independence), then they are on their own.

JPS said...

I'm not convinced "strategic ambiguity" is the greatest policy, but I don't think it should be rescinded off the cuff by a president who, not to put too fine a point on it, has a history of speaking without having thought things through.

"The White House quickly tried to deny that the president meant what he seemed to be saying" is kind of a recurring feature of this administration.

gilbar said...

That’s the commitment we made,” he said.

What'd mean, WE? white man?
No President, has ever, made such a commitment
Strategic Ambiguity

TreeJoe said...

I get very tired of reading the following statement, "The White House quickly tried to deny that the president meant what he seemed to be saying..."

Either he's the President or not. Either he can speak in public or he can't.

Stop playing the in between game. It's embarrassing to our nation. What other country has a leader who frequently speaks publicly and whose administration is a hair trigger away from denying or clarifying the leader's statements at almost every single engagement.

Leland said...

The idea that that can be taken by force, just taken by force, it’s just not appropriate,” [Biden] said of Taiwan. “It would dislocate the entire region and be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine.

I agree with Biden on this. It is a much better statement than he made about the Ukraine, but then I don't know what "obvious reasons" the reporter claims. Can we ask the reporter to clarify what they claim to be obvious.

Heartless Aztec said...

The Chinese military do not have the landing craft capacity to invade Taiwan. They would sustain a million casualties just getting across the Straight of Formosa to the beaches. It would take the Chinese two months just to gather the forces for the invasion in which time Taiwan would easily go nuclear. The Chinese are in a much to precarious position demographically and economically to even attempt it much less be successful in that attempt - and the Taiwanese have had 70 years to do nothing but prepare for an invasion. China will be lucky to avoid mass starvation this year much less invade Taiwan.

WK said...

I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

Bob Boyd said...

Who is "the White House" if not the Joe Biden?
Is it Joe Biden's call or are these Biden pressers just theater?

Enigma said...

Time for the 25th Amendment. If he was Trump, there'd have been a push to remove him long ago.

With a pragmatic view, military conflict over Taiwan is a suicide mission. China has 4x the population and Taiwan. The US has a half a world away, smaller, has a bickering population and trouble recruiting people for its volunteer military. The ROTC has been suppressed on college campuses since Vietnam, limiting interest and exposure for many. The US military has long been dominated by Yes Men, people seeking a safe career, the profits offered by $$$$$$ defense contractors, and box-checking bureaucrats. Think Ottoman empire.

China has been manufacturing everything for us, mining rare earth minerals for us, and allowing utopian Greens in the west to think they are saving the planet with electric cars and vegan diets (while China does all the dirty work and burns coal). If you think the shortages of COVID were bad, just wait until the Twitter horde can't buy new cell phones.

Biden is way, way out in the middle of a lake covered by thin ice.

TreeJoe said...

P.s. As much as I truly don't want a global hot war with China, I support Biden's stance on this with Taiwan. And it is the commitment we made in the Taiwan Relations Act.

"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"

To me that's fairly clear cut and I want our nation to stand by it's commitments. A big part of the fear of America, militarily, is that minor incursions would be met with terrible judgement and response. I believe a big part of the push the last few decades towards symmetrical warfare was outside efforts to nullify America's strategic advantage in military capability.

For example, Trump's bombing of Libya bases or bombing of Soleimani. Those comparatively simple, one-off exercises make America's enemies take a giant step back. Woe if only we had taken similar steps in Afghanistan during our withdrawl...instead we tolerated our air bases and soldiers being threatened and surrounded.

ga6 said...

He thought they were asking about the Twin Cities.

Kevin said...

I'm not convinced "strategic ambiguity" is the greatest policy

Probably not, but the point was to ensure the Taiwanese took their own security seriously.

We did not want them to be another NATO nation -- wholly dependent on the US coming to their aid in a crisis.

And we did not want them provoking China with the knowledge "Big Brother" would pull them out of any scrapes.

wildswan said...

How can you guys be so cruel and stupid as not to see that this wasn't policy from a US President, it was Joe from the locked ward, gotten loose and setting fires. "Ramblin' Joe gets away from his minders again" - that should be the headline. The pretense that Joe has a real mind is proving to be a very expensive and dangerous game. Babies are hungry in the US - that's domestic policy. And - now this.

robother said...

"A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying... nothing."

Joe has managed to destroy 50 years of diplomatic efforts to drive a wedge between Russia/USSR and China in less than 18 months. Now he wants to risk a 2 front nuclear war with both. The USA has become like the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1913, dragging the whole world into war over the amour propre of a degenerate Biden dynasty.

Dave Begley said...

I say we put Hunter Biden in charge of defending Taiwan.

Hunter Biden's tax payer funded Hooker said...

Obama's red line.

The world knows that Obama-Biden are too busy lining pockets. The world is laughs at the US. We are a joke. A joy Behar Joke.

John henry said...

I sure am glad that we are not getting allegedly mean tweets any more. I do wish we still had a president who actually kept us out of war (As Wilson, FDR and LBJ promised but didn't deliver)

Biden seems to be doing his very best to get us into a war. He tried in Ukraine to get us into a war with Russia. He said he would be OK with Russia invading Ukraine as long as they kept it minor. So here we are. He might still succeed in getting us into a war with Russia but it looks like Russia doesn't want to play.

So what now? Is he trying to get us into a war with China?

As with FDR and LBJ, it will help end, or at least hide all the domestic economic problems at home. It will increase his power "We're at war! The Constitution is not a suicide pact. I need more powers!

John LGKTQ Henry

Bob Boyd said...

Tree joe said...
For example, Trump's...bombing of Soleimani.

An interesting aside:
As you may recall, 5 days after Soleimani was killed, Iran shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 killing 176 people. The flight was bound for Kyiv from Tehran.

At the same time, Ukrainian President Zelensky was in Oman, just across the gulf from Iran, on a secret trip not published on his official schedule. The trip was cut short and Zelensky returned home the same day. Later his foreign minister was unable to answer questions in the Ukrainian Parliament about why Zelensky had traveled to Oman, how he got there or who he had met with.

Paul said...

Buffoon Biden had no choice but to say that... least China does a Ukraine.

Only real question is... would he actually back up that statement with real troops and toe the line... Talk is cheap... Especially with Biden.

Tom said...

If China invades Taiwan, our idiot president just agreed to start WWIII.

If Russia invaded Alaska, I doubt Taiwan is sending troops to our aid. But we’ll start WWIII, which would likely go nuclear, over Taiwan?

Maybe China wants WWIII. Maybe that’s what they’re paying for with Biden.

SendlingerTor said...

It may be that having a position of great power occupied by an elderly individual who is far advanced on the path of mental decline is by itself a brilliant move of strategical ambiguity.

Milo Minderbinder said...

The only thing more sad than watching Mr. Magoo and his teleprompter try to be president is listening to the few still admitting to have been part of the 81 million argue Mr. Magoo should continue to be president.

Buckwheathikes said...

"The White House quickly tried to deny that the president meant what he seemed to be saying."

I'm sorry, but WHO tried to deny this? Isn't it interesting that these alleged "reporters" never quote the person who is actually president. They merely refer to this person as "The White House." And the never reveal who that person is to the American citizenry.

The White House is a building. Buildings don't speak. Who in the White House is denying that the President of the United States said a thing or that he doesn't really mean what he says? What is that person's name? Who is the real President of the United States? It is clearly not Joe Biden.

And what does this say about any "commitment" that the United States has made to Taiwan when "the White House" can just overrule the President?

Narayanan said...

Either he's the President or not. Either he can speak in public or he can't.
========
This White House maintains strategic ambiguity with USA citizens about securing their liberty

Howard said...

If this was Trump chest thumping, you people would be high fiving strutting around like banty roosters talking about 7-dimensional chess brilliance, etc.

rcocean said...

Do people understand that the USA has offically agreed that Taiwan belongs to China? We do however, disagree that China should takeover by force. We want any incorporation to be done peacefully.

Second, why would China invade Taiwan? They're getting stronger and stronger every year, and once China becomes rich enough, Taiwan will make some sort of agreement.

Third, we are no position to go to war with China. They provide us with our manufactured goods and hold huge of amounts of the USA debt. They hold all the cards. We could militarily attack them, but we are no position to wage economic war or sanction them.

Fourth, this is where the "Invade the world, invite the world, in hock to the world" strategy gets you. Thanks Bush! Thanks Clinton and Obama! Thanks Dumbass USA voters!

rcocean said...

I love how all these Jingo and crazed DC politicans - led by Pelosi, Miss Lindsey, Chicom Mitch and Mittens - think they can threaten everyone and bend them to our will. The World is the USA oyster and we're in charge.

1995 called and it wants its Foreign policy back.

We can barely afford our current military budget and we're paying for it with borrowed money. The idea that we're going to "Take on China" while fighting a proxy war with Russia is insane.

Narayanan said...

@ TreeHJoe ... For example, Trump's bombing of Libya bases
==========
=== Trump's bombing of ISIS bases in Libya

“In coordination with Libya’s Government of National Accord and aligned forces, U.S. forces conducted six precision airstrikes in Libya against an ISIS desert camp on Friday,” US Africa Command which oversees US troops in the region, told CNN in a statement.

and Soleimani was in killed in Iraq not Iran

Narayanan said...

let us say Russia had reasonzzzz

does China have reasonzzzz

could Biden have pointed out reasonzzzz why China would be foolish to do

Owen said...

All good comments but I gotta single out “wild swan” @ 8:00 for special merit. “Ramblin’ Joe” is very good, and the image of his keepers chasing after him as he lights fires at random is, IMHO, exactly right, and a rare small source of dark humor as we race down the hill to Hell.

Michael K said...

The White House is a building. Buildings don't speak. Who in the White House is denying that the President of the United States said a thing or that he doesn't really mean what he says? What is that person's name? Who is the real President of the United States? It is clearly not Joe Biden.

We've known that since 2020. I think it is a committee but who chairs it ? Obama?

dbp said...

"...The White House quickly tried to deny that the president meant what he seemed to be saying...."

If Biden doesn't fire whoever "The White House" is, then he only proves that he's a puppet and his strong stand means nothing.

M Jordan said...

Biden is a nasty, moronic man. Always has been. The fact that he became a president is deeply disturbing.

Scotty, beam me up... said...

Biden makes a gaffe every time he speaks at a press conference where he is asked a question and thus not reading off a teleprompter. Now that his staff is letting him out of the White House more than earlier in his term, these gaffes are more frequent. And what he says becomes a gaffe when his staff immediately issues a correction or clarification, which clearly is not what he said and at times is the opposite of what he said. He is either not in command of his faculties or he is a “frontman” placed on the ballot by far leftists because he was the opposite of Trump with name recognition for electability plus he desperately wanted the prestige of the job to cap his career or both. Personally, I think both. Historically, Biden was closer to left-center and his administration’s “actions” since elected are of someone far left in almost everything. His statement on Taiwan is a remnant of what he used to stand for and what he still believes how the US should respond to China. The fact that SoS Blinken’s head snapped immediately at this presser and he went into damage control mode after Biden made his statement means that Biden went “off script” as to what his handlers would have wanted Biden to say.

Bob Boyd said...

and Soleimani was in killed in Iraq not Iran

Who said Soleimani was killed in Iran?

Earnest Prole said...

“Get involved militarily” covers a lot of ambiguous ground, so I’m having a hard time seeing what’s wrong with this statement (unlike virtually everything else that’s come out of Biden’s mouth).

cassandra lite said...

Who has the power to override the president's comments? And why doesn't the president ever object to being overridden?

JPS said...

Buckwheathikes, 9:21:

"The White House is a building. Buildings don't speak."

I wondered about that evasive phrasing myself.

Reminds me of a story about Baltimore's Mayor Thomas D'Alesandro. Some reporters were in his office for a press conference. One asked him a question that infuriated him, and thought for a second the mayor was about to launch across his desk. In a scared tone he hastily added, "My desk wants to know!"

The mayor held up a finger, put his ear to his own desk, straightened up, then said, "My desk is telling your desk to go fuck itself."

Readering said...

What was he supposed to say? Lots of stories about PRC supposedly analyzing Ukraine to figure out best way to proceed.

Personally I'm in the camp of those who believe PRC knows it can't pull off an amphibious operation of that scale.

We just need to be sure nothing is said to encourage a declaration of independence. Biden didn't do that.

Skeptical Voter said...

Well they make a lot of pudding cups in Taiwan. So naturally Joe would defend the place.

Joe was sold to a gullible public as someone who could restore "normalcy" and "nuanced" diplomatic relations. We were conned. Well I wasn't part of the "we"--but you get the idea.

Static Ping said...

President Mush for Brains makes a challenge to China for two out of three falls in a steel cage!

His demand for a death match with the pope is going to be lit!

THE ADULTS ARE IN CHARGE!!!1!

n.n said...

Biden dreams of Slavic and Sino Springs. Russia is not dependent. China is dependent on external food, and was on external energy sources. America is dependent on labor and environmental arbitrage for a Green deal.

Lurker21 said...

I would have thought it would have been easier for China to subvert Taiwan from within than to mount a World War II style invasion, but I would have said the same thing for Russia and Ukraine.

Blair said...

This should be uncontroversial. It's what I expect a US President to say. It's what Reagan and Trump would have said, and probably did.

There is just not going to be a war over Taiwan. Taiwan has the second largest per capita military in the world, and nukes, which they will not hesitate to use. The PRC is crazy, but they're not stupid.

William said...

Nixon used a the madman with his finger on the button tactic in his negotiations. Perhaps senile bastard with his finger on the button will have a similarly useful application....I might agree with Biden. We'll see how it goes. If China is not sufficiently restrained by the example of Putin in the Ukraine, perhaps this will give them further food for thought.....If all of this ends in a thermonuclear war, then my opinion of Biden will be further lowered, but it will be China's fault.....Two cheers for democracy. Leaders of democracies sometimes make the wrong decision, but leaders of autocracies have a tendency to fuck up the world beyond all recognition.

JLT said...

They (whoever "they" is or are) won't let Biden be Biden.

JLT said...

They (whoever "they" is or are) won't let Biden be Biden.

Lucien said...

One approach would be to make it clear that no Chinese troop ship would ever make it to the shore of Taiwan. That would be a short, cheap war.

farmgirl said...

“The White House quickly tried to deny that the president meant what he seemed to be saying"…

W/Jordan Peterson, it was always: ”So, what you’re saying is…”
W/Joe Biden, it always goes like this: “So, what he’s saying is…”

Strategic Ambiguity.
Oxymoronic.


Jupiter said...

"The world knows that Obama-Biden are too busy lining pockets. The world is laughs at the US. We are a joke."

This is profound. What various very wealthy persons and organizations have discovered is that our institutions can be bought, or at least rented. Soros buys our local prosecutors for pocket change, and turns our cities into hellholes. The Chikes have rented Hollywood, the NBA, and the Ivy League. Foreign billionaires fund PACs that select and finance our political candidates. Big Pharma owns the CDC and the FDA. The MSM is a plaything of random billionaires.

What makes this profound is that all this is a consequence of the nature of our society and the form of government we have chosen. Putin and Xi can't be bought, at least not so far as I know.

Jim at said...

Remember the World War that crazy guy Trump was going to start at any moment?

Well, your stupid buffoon may do just that.

Thanks, leftists. Be proud.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

TreeJoe said...
P.s. As much as I truly don't want a global hot war with China, I support Biden's stance on this with Taiwan. And it is the commitment we made in the Taiwan Relations Act.

"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"

To me that's fairly clear cut and I want our nation to stand by it's commitments


The statement you quote makes it clear that we committed to maintain the capacity. It is clearly not a commitment to use that capacity. Maybe we have committed to that elsewhere, but not in the passage you quote.

mikee said...

If you think this stage of Joe's increasing dementia is bad, give him another 6 months or a year. He'll be calling his VP "Honey" because he won't remember her name, and suggesting China needs another strong leader like Mao because he won't recall Xi Pooh.

Earnest Prole said...

In a statement like this it's better to err on the side of strength than weakness -- that's the best we can hope for from Biden.

Richard Dolan said...

It would be very interesting to see how Biden's comments are being reported in the Chinese press (both CCP and Taiwan). The CCP press will reflect the official reaction. Do they disregard it (because they don't regard anything Biden has to say as important), or do they take it at face value and react accordingly? It's the kind of comment that in any normal administration would get huge coverage from both sides. But we do not live in normal times.

n.n said...

Obvious reason: Slavic Spring with "benefits" and dreams of redistributive change a la South Africa, Libya, etc. China has been an equitable resource for labor and environmental abitrage, but promises to be a belligerent deplorable on a forward-looking basis.

Clyde said...

Chauncey Gardiner was the best-case scenario when Biden took office. We've gotten something significantly worse.

Achilles said...

Howard said...

If this was Trump chest thumping, you people would be high fiving strutting around like banty roosters talking about 7-dimensional chess brilliance, etc.

Brilliant retort Howard.

Way to show off your powerful critical thinking skills.

The only people dumber than Joe Biden are the people like Howard that support him.

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

This is a weird re-write of history. It is NOT true that we never had an alliance with Taiwan.

We had a formal treaty obligating us to defend Taiwan from 1955-1980 (the Sino-American Mutual Defense treaty). No shit. That was withdrawn because we made nice with the PRC because we wanted an ally against the USSR. Barry Goldwater sued President Carter when the president unilaterally withdrew from the treaty.

So, this weird "strategic ambiguity" crap is diplomacy from the Cold War era to placate China while they were an ally against the USSR. That no longer applies. Of course Taiwan is an ally and of course we have an interest in guarding their sovereignty.

We also had nuclear weapons deployed in Taiwan until 1974. Really, no shit.

In 1996 the Clinton administration deployed two carrier groups to the area, one to the straits, to discourage the PRC from invading. The Secretary of Defense said specifically that they would react to any attack on Taiwan.

The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act was Congress pushing for as much of a defense treaty as they could get through a presidential veto. It's not a straitjacket.

If Biden wanted to, yeah, he could make a guarantee more explicit and does have the power to sign treaties. The Senate could even ratify it.

I don't understand why foreign policy can't change. Why not?