Apparently the commander-in-chief thinks that the United States has some kind of treaty or "commitment" to defend Taiwan in the scenario of an attack from China.
There is absolutely no commitment to do such a thing, but the casualness with which Joe Biden at last night's 90-minute CNN town hall pledged that he's ready to send young American men and women to die over an island in the Western Pacific is staggering and hugely alarming.
COOPER: "Are you saying that the United States would come to Taiwan’s defense?"— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) October 22, 2021
QUESTIONER: "If China attacked?"
BIDEN: "Yes, we have a commitment to do that." pic.twitter.com/YTgxMaD4MP
A Loyola student asked what President Biden would do to "keep up with China militarily" after reports of testing a hypersonic missile, and "what can you do to protect Taiwan?"
"Yes and Yes," the president answered.
"I don't want a Cold War with China, I just wanna make China understand - that we are not gonna step back, we are not gonna change any of our views..." - and that's when Anderson Cooper cut in:
Cooper: "Are you saying that the United States would come to Taiwan's defense if China attacked?"
Biden: "Yes. Yes, we have a commitment to do that."
Though after this surprise emphasis on having a "commitment" to go to war on behalf of the tiny self-ruled island which lies over 7,000 miles away from the US mainland, Cooper didn't follow up and simply moved on.
Just lost a 20-year war to a buncha dudes in sandals with rusty Kalashnikovs, but yeah sure WW3 for Taiwan sounds winnable. https://t.co/Ocn2Z69wIh— Will Porter (@TheWillPorter) October 22, 2021
As the South China Morning Post noted in follow-up to the exchange, Biden's words sparked immediate confusion over longstanding US policy:
Though Washington does not have official diplomatic relations with Taipei, US law requires it support the island’s efforts to defend itself, including through the sales of weapons. But the Taiwan Relations Act does not include an explicit commitment to intervene militarily in the event of an invasion of or attack on Taiwan by the mainland.
...The US has long maintained a policy of strategic ambiguity on Taiwan, opting not to state whether it would take military action if the island came under attack. The strategy is designed to discourage Taiwan from taking any unilateral action to declare full independence, while also dissuading Beijing from unilaterally seeking to annex the island.
"RIP strategic ambiguity," Derek Grossman, a senior defense analyst at the Rand Corporation, wrote in a tweet soon after Biden’s remarks.
It goes without saying that a direct military confrontation with China in the Western Pacific and South China Sea would make the 20-year Afghan fiasco and nightmare pale in comparison, not to mention the inevitable collapse of the economy and global trade while two military superpowers duke it out using advanced weapons on each other like hypersonics.