Is Joe Biden President? That’s the question to ask after staffers walked back Biden’s latest remarks on Taiwan.
During his rather uneven “60 Minutes” interview with Scott Pelley last weekend, Biden firmly and clearly announced that the United States would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.
This was a dramatic statement, and a substantial shift from America’s traditional policy of “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan, in which our response to Chinese saber-rattling over the island nation was essentially “fool around and find out.” Biden was not at all ambiguous: If China went to war with Taiwan, it would be war with the United States and its allies.
That departure made some sense. Back in February, Biden seemed to grant Vladimir Putin a green light to invade Ukraine. White House spokesmen quickly walked that back, but the green light, coming directly from Biden’s lips, apparently convinced Putin that he could launch an invasion without blowback.
That turned out to be wrong, of course, and now the United States is involved in a proxy war with Russia, while sanctions and export disruptions cause the world’s food and fuel markets to go crazy and have Europe looking at a long, cold winter of gas shortages and electrical blackouts. So firmness, this time.