Biden keeps pledging direct US war with China over Taiwan

Sep 25, 2022
Joe Biden, the 47th vice president of the United States
Image: Flickr / Presidencia de la Republic Mexicana

The president of the United States has once again committed the US military to direct hot war with China in the event of an attack on Taiwan, a commitment that was once again walked back by his White House handlers.

In a recent 60 Minutes interview, Biden was asked point-blank by CBS News’ Scott Pelley if US forces would defend Taiwan from an attack by the mainland.

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

“After our interview a White House official told us US policy has not changed,” Pelly narrates after the comment. “Officially, the U.S. will not say whether American forces would defend Taiwan. But the commander-in-chief had a view of his own.”

“So unlike Ukraine, to be clear, sir, US Forces, US men and women would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion?” Pelley asked.

“Yes,” Biden replied.

This is by my count the fourth time the US president has made such remarks in transgression of his government’s standing policy of “strategic ambiguity” on this issue only to have them walked back by administration staff.

This past May Biden said “yes” when asked by the press if the US would defend Taiwan militarily in the event of a Chinese invasion, adding, “That’s the commitment we made.” A White House official later stated that the president’s comments did not reflect a change in US policy.

At a CNN forum in October of last year Biden responded in the affirmative when asked by an audience member if the US would intervene to defend Taiwan, and said “Yes, we have a commitment” when asked to clarify if he meant intervening against an attack from China. Again, the White House quickly clarified that “there is no change in our policy.”

In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in August of last year Biden implied that the US would defend Taiwan as it would a NATO ally, saying that the US has “kept every commitment… same with Taiwan” when asked if China might be emboldened to attack the island by the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Again a senior administration official told the press, “Our policy with regard to Taiwan has not changed.”

(It is worth noting at this time that Biden’s repeated assertion that the US has a “commitment” to defend Taiwan militarily is objectively false; that hasn’t been the case for over 40 years.)

I’ve listed these statements in reverse chronological order, and you can see they get more vague the earlier they are. Now you’ve got the president clearly and explicitly saying that he will send US troops to kill and be killed in a direct hot war with China to defend Taiwan.

I don’t know why the US president keeps verbally committing his armed forces to a third world war against a nuclear-armed nation only to have it walked back over and over again by the administration he’s supposed to be in charge of. Is this just some neurological glitch in an ageing brain which promoted war and militarism throughout its entire time in office? Is it some weird new tactic in “strategic ambiguity” to have different parts of the administration saying completely different things in totally unambiguous ways? Is Biden just a crazy warmonger? I don’t know. But what I do know is that all this chaos and confusion is happening at the worst possible time.

As Brett Wilkins explains for Common Dreams, a new bill from the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee threatens to bring the world much closer to a horrific war due to the way it would upend existing US policy on China with its recognition of Taiwan as a major “non-NATO ally” as part of a commitment to send billions of dollars worth of weapons to the island. Fears of what this could unleash upon our world have caused even fairly reliable empire facilitators like Ed Markey to vote against the bill, which Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning says would “greatly shake the political foundation of China-US relations and cause extremely serious consequences to China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

This is just one of the ways that tensions with China are being ramped up with astonishing speed over Taiwan, among them also the normalisation of sending an increasingly high number of US officials to Taipei in steadily rising contempt for Washington’s One China policy which has kept the peace along this flashpoint for decades.

This Taiwan situation is getting uglier and uglier, much faster than many expected, and the president of the world’s mightiest war machine is either two stupid, too bloodthirsty, too careless or too demented to navigate this situation with the sensitivity it deserves. Things never should have been allowed to get this far, and the US empire is showing us every indication that it intends to take things much, much further.

Caitlin Johnstone is a reader-supported independent journalist from Melbourne, Australia. She now lives in the US. Her political writings can be found on Medium.

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