Blame Biden’s reckless waffling over Pelosi’s Taiwan trip for creating an international incident
President Joe Biden’s irresolution and incompetence has transformed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan into a major international incident. For weeks, President Biden’s weakness, in the words of Winston Churchill, offered China “temptations to a trial of strength” over Taiwan. China’s President Xi Jinping saw an opportunity to re-write the status quo in Taiwan and believed he could intimidate our president into submitting to his will.
Every year, members of Congress travel to Taiwan to meet with Taiwanese officials, educate themselves on this key national security issue, and strengthen diplomatic bi-lateral relations between our two countries.
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In this photo released by the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center pose for photos after she arrives in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. P (Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AP)
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A U.S. military aircraft with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on board prepares to land at Sungshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan, on Aug. 2, 2022. (SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images)
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Supporters hold a banner outside the hotel where U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is supposed to be staying in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, Aug 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
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Pro-China demonstrators protest outside the Grand Hyatt hotel ahead of the arrival of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Taipei, Taiwan, on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. (I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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FILE – Flags of Taiwan and U.S. are placed for a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan March 27, 2018. (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu) ((REUTERS/Tyrone Siu))
In 2016, I personally visited Taiwan with Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain and a large Congressional delegation. Our visit occurred without a major incident, even though I was travelling with one of the highest-ranking members of Congress and a former nominee for president.
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Similarly, President Trump dispatched cabinet and sub-cabinet level officials to Taiwan. Contrary to claims made by Biden administration flacks, the United States does send senior officials to Taiwan—and does so often.
President Biden couldn’t have botched this anymore if he tried.
Furthermore, House Speaker Newt Gingrich traveled to Taiwan in 1997, in a clear precedent for Speaker Pelosi’s visit this week. Ultimately, the Speaker’s trip is more routine than revolutionary, and far from unprecedented. Whatever one thinks of Nancy Pelosi, she is entitled to travel to Taiwan. China has no right to deny her access to the island.
Speaker of the U.S. House Nancy Pelosi arrives at the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s house of parliament, on August 03, 2022 in Taipei, Taiwan. (Photo by Central News Agency/Handout/Getty Images)
Nevertheless, President Biden has pitifully waffled on this clear-cut issue. When asked in July about the Speaker’s planned trip, Biden responded, “the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now. But I don’t know what the status of it is.”
This was an unbelievably stupid and reckless thing to say. In two sentences the president admitted to internal divisions within the U.S. government, a reticence within the military, and personal ambivalence, if not ignorance. Making matter worse, the president has made no effort to correct his obvious error.
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China’s dictator, Xi Jinping, clearly noticed the president’s gaffe and sensed weakness. Ever since, he’s ratcheted up the pressure and the stakes of Pelosi’s visit. The People’s Liberation Army soon announced large scale military exercises across the straits from Taiwan and Chinese officials have threatened to launch a war against the United States and to shoot Pelosi’s plane out of the sky. In response to Chinese saber-rattling, Taiwan has reportedly mobilized its air defense forces, while the U.S. Navy has deployed four warships, including an aircraft carrier, east of Taiwan.
Yet, the White House continued to waffle and refused to provide a full-throated defense of Pelosi’s right to travel. In fact, indications are that Biden tried to talk Pelosi out of the trip, consolidating his weak reputation and ensuring that no matter the outcome, America would lose. He couldn’t have botched this anymore if he tried.
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Almost exactly one year ago, the world watched in shock as the United States was humiliated in Afghanistan by a band of medieval savages and abandoned our allies in disarray.
Gloating communists in Beijing asserted that a so-called “Afghan Effect” would reverberate around that world—that our allies would see us as unreliable and liable to cut-and-run at the first sight of trouble.
Far from dispelling this fear through his handling of this manufactured crisis, Joe Biden has deepened it. After all, he did abandon an ally. He abandoned Nancy Pelosi.
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In his famous Iron Curtain speech, Churchill observed of the Soviet Union that “there is nothing they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for weakness.”
What was true for Russian communists in the last Cold War is true of Chinese communists in this Cold War. It’s past time for Joe Biden to reverse course and get tough on China.
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