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Pelosi Calls Biden’s Bluff on Taiwan

AMAC Exclusive – By Daniel Berman

Taiwan

Next month, in what will likely be among the final acts of her career on the international stage, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is scheduled to visit Taiwan. With her life in politics coming to an end, it is possible to see her desire to include Taiwan on the itinerary for her final Asian tour as an act of personal principle, rather than diplomatic calculation. That fact – that Pelosi, in a break from the norm from the last 18 months, has decided to act on principle – perhaps explains the reaction of the Biden administration to the news, as everyone from the President on down has made clear they don’t like the idea one bit.

For all the charges which can be levied against her domestic record, Pelosi has been more or less consistent when it comes to maintaining pressure on the Chinese Communist Party, even going so far as to visit Tiananmen Square in 1989 to show support for the pro-democracy protestors. But when asked about Pelosi’s planned visit to Taiwan last Wednesday, President Joe Biden told reporters that it is “not a good idea right now,” no doubt alluding to the fiery Chinese response threatening “strong measures” should Pelosi follow through with her visit. At least six sources who could only be close to the administration have leaked that Beijing has expressed even stronger opposition in private, while some even suggested that the CCP had threatened “a possible military response” to a potential Pelosi visit to Taiwan.

We have long since learned that leaks are the favored method of communicating bad news from this administration. This was evident in the case of Ukraine, where officials denied in public that they had any doubts about Ukrainian prospects or wished Ukraine to make concessions while privately briefing the New York Times and Washington Post that they felt Ukraine was misleading the U.S. about its military prospects and needed to be prepared to withdraw from the Donbass. The past week witnessed the same sort of passive aggression when it came to Pelosi’s trip.

John Kirby, the Director of Communications for the National Security Council, denied that the administration was pressuring Pelosi to cancel her trip, insisting that the NSC team provided “context, facts and geopolitical relevant information” and that the Speaker “made her own decisions.” Yet, “two sources familiar with the debate” informed the Financial Times that “US national security adviser Jake Sullivan and other senior National Security Council officials oppose the trip because of the risk of escalating tension across the Taiwan Strait.” Even the President joined in, noting that it was not he, but the military which did not think it was a good idea for the trip to proceed.

Pelosi, to her credit, was dismissive of this effort to coerce her by leak to back down. She suggested that perhaps the military was concerned that her plane might be shot down, but fired a shot across the bow of the administration, noting “I’ve heard it anecdotally, but I haven’t heard it from the president.” In effect, Pelosi was telling Biden that if he wanted her trip cancelled, he should do it himself.

Without a doubt, there are reasons to be concerned. The Biden administration seems to lack a coherent strategy for Taiwan, as it did for dealing with Ukraine and Russia. Superficially, the position of the Biden administration is to adopt a hardline position rejecting “appeasement” of Sino-Russian demands, combined with belligerent rhetoric about human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Province and the domestic behavior of both governments. Unlike the Trump administration, which tried to mix a hardline approach on trade or arming Ukraine with a willingness to discuss issues if Moscow/Beijing made concessions, the Biden administration has maintained there is nothing to discuss. Yet at the same time, the administration made few efforts to actually prepare for war and seemed surprised when it occurred.

In the case of Taiwan, Pelosi is serving a useful function. She is not only demonstrating American solidarity with Taiwan, but calling out the dangerous double-game the Biden administration is playing. It is not the House Speaker who is risking conflict in the Taiwan Strait with a single act, but rather the Biden administration by failing to prepare for one while pursuing rhetoric making it more likely. If Nancy Pelosi cannot safely visit Taiwan because the United States cannot protect either her or Taiwan from the anger of Xi Jinping, then China has already all but won, as it is an admission that the United States cannot protect Taiwan from anything which makes the CCP mad. And with China’s “Zero-COVID” policy leading to the country’s worst economic performance in fifty years and Chinese soldiers opening fire at Chinese citizens seeking to recover their savings from failing banks, Xi Jinping has a whole lot to be angry about.

There is a fundamental dishonesty at the heart of our approach to Taiwan. In much the same way that relations with Putin’s Russia became a proxy for grandstanding in U.S. domestic politics rather than a serious effort to formulate a policy to deal with one of the world’s largest nations and leading energy producers, denouncing the CCP and expressing support for Taiwan has become a way for American politicians to toot their own horns rather than engage with the challenges of defending the island or managing the CCP. Taiwan has become a justification for spending billions in subsidies for chip manufacturers just as almost any foreign aid can be justified as “countering the Belt and Road initiative.” Yet for all the money and rhetoric, when Beijing says they will be bad, the Biden administration too often panic and falls back on appeasement.

No greater demonstration of this exists than that in the same week the Biden administration was fretting over whether the Speaker should be allowed to visit Taiwan – an ally Biden has pledged to defend militarily – the Pentagon produced five different targets for the number of ships in the U.S. Navy, three of which are below the 2016 number of 355, and all of which are at least 30% below the final Trump administration target of 500 ships. Beyond the raw numbers, the chaos betrays not just a lack of vision, but the lack of any urgency to settle upon one defined course of action to counter China.

There are many marks one can lay against Nancy Pelosi’s career in politics, but this month she is performing a valuable service to her country, even if she is doing so unintentionally. She has highlighted exactly how bankrupt U.S. military planning is when it comes to China. For all the blustering rhetoric and hundreds of billions spent, the White House still feels that it cannot effectively deter Beijing. Nor is it even willing to admit this weakness. Pelosi, by indicating that unless and until she hears from the President himself that her trip is off, is forcing Biden and his team to do something they have consistently resisted during their entire tenure in office: publicly confront tradeoffs and take responsibility for the choices they make – or refuse to make.

Daniel Berman is a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He also writes as Daniel Roman.        


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Kelli
2 months ago

She is pure evil!!

Hal
2 months ago

Don’t be surprised if you start hearing “rumors” that Pelosi is intending to run for POTUS in the next POTUS election. She is now trying to put herself in the image of being “tough”, which I guess might be also having a purpose of disguising her stupidity and self-gratification habits. Just think … can you really think of a better example of the need for Congressional term limits? Maybe so and maybe no, but she is definitely in the running for that title!

W. Lee
2 months ago

Indeed one of the few useful things that Pelosi is doing for my US of A, and her true Allies.
Previously, only Barry Goldwater stood up for the folks who stood alongside us aboard the USS Missouri, across from the Japanese.

Mjb
2 months ago

Maybe the Chinese will follow through on their threats and shoot Pelosi’s plane down! That would be one way to have forced term limits.

Bruce
2 months ago
Reply to  Mjb

That would be a loss to a goon airplane.

Hal
2 months ago
Reply to  Mjb

I doubt that China would follow through on their threats … they will come to realize that they might be doing a favor for the USA if they do that!!!!!

Wayne
2 months ago

Good bye you old washed up hag. You’re a disgrace to the United States.

Hal
2 months ago
Reply to  Wayne

You really know how to disgrace “old washed up hags!!! LOL

Animal Chiro
2 months ago

What a disgrace to the United States.

Rod
2 months ago

What a fraud … insider trading hack needs imprisoned. Resign winch!

Theleftrcrooks
2 months ago

What a disgrace of a United States Senator. She should travel to Taiwan on her own dime and NOT represent the USA … What a joke she is. She has done nothing in her career but bilk the USA taxpayers out of millions. She should be imprisoned for all of her fraudulent Insider Trading deals and fraudulent midnight bills she’s pushed through over the years.

gerald serlin
2 months ago
Reply to  Theleftrcrooks

Pelosi is not a Senator.

Robert Aughenbaugh
2 months ago

The Biden Administration’s foreign policy is even more feckless than Obama’s. Barack mostly traveled around the world telling everyone how bad the United States was, and how wonderful he is, and everyone seemed to love him.
Occasionally Barack would take his staff down to the Situation Room to kill a terrorist. Biden would object for whatever reason, Barack would ignore him then have his staff schedule another trip around the world to tell everyone how awful the United States has acted, and how wonderful he is. This soon became his foreign policy.
Biden, being both senile and mentally unfit to run a coffee shop, has decided that hollering, then whispering and keeping Kamala away from him is the framework for his foreign policy. His fellow heads of state have decided that that works for them so they point him at a problem, tell him to provide any needed weapons, and let him go back to shouting, whispering, avoiding Kamala and frequently napping.

Tim Tobin
2 months ago

Nancy does “good?.”

Rick
2 months ago

Go for it Pelosi

Doug
2 months ago

Pelosi smells a buck, thinks she’s smarter than Biden and isn’t going to pass up an opportunity to turn a crisis into a bank deposit.

Carolyn Exposito
2 months ago
Reply to  Doug

She is smarter than President saggy balls

Bill
2 months ago

China does not dictate to us which allies we can visit or not visit. If Pelosi backs down, China wins and we are weakened to the point of becoming irrelevant on the world stage. Obviously, if we can’t visit Taiwan because China says so, we aren’t capable of defending Taiwan as we have promised to do.

Blondie
2 months ago

Please drop her off and leave her. So glad to read that this is the end of her career. She will not be missed.

John
2 months ago

The Chinese has blackmail on the Biden’s and it must be some pretty nasty stuff. M

Rick
2 months ago

There’s money to be made somewhere for the Pelosi family in all of this! That’s the only reason she does anything! With any luck, her plane goes down somewhere in the Pacific. Someone ask Hillary for pointers!

Martie
2 months ago
Reply to  Rick

You hit the nail on the head!

mamas spit
2 months ago

 have respect for other countries laws. If like them or not. Pelosi has no respect to anyone other than her self interest. Not sure of paperwork she personally has to bring to Taiwan. Must be really criminal not to wire it. Or trust anyone else with it. Hope China intercepts the mission. Like to know what she was bringing. That would put us in a world war.

ingvard
2 months ago
Reply to  mamas spit

It’s what they want, can’t “win” any other way.

Bill
2 months ago
Reply to  mamas spit

China has no law that a representative of the United States can’t visit Taiwan and if they did it would not be valid. China cannot control who does and doesn’t visit another country, in this case, Taiwan. What’s next, a European country that they are angry with? China doesn’t tell us what we can or cannot do unless we breach their airspace, enter their waters or land on their soil, period.

Phillip
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill

Let’s assume worst case scenario where China invades Taiwan because we didn’t back down. What’s Biden going to do about it? Nothing. And the US is further embarrassed on the world stage, and North Korea and Iran are emboldened to attack South Korea and Israel, respectively, WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONS. As much as I hate to suggest it, the Biden administration should work with Taiwan to find some face saving way to “disinvite” Nancy.

Jeb
2 months ago

I love watching groups, in this case the dimwits attack and fight each other.

becca
2 months ago

Let her go. We are always backing down to other countries. About time the USA showed some guts.

Jean
2 months ago

Madam Speaker does as Madam Speaker wishes. Do not cross her. The Pelosis, including Paul, Jr., have investments and business dealings in China. Unless Taiwan has something to offer, Nancy may just throw it under China’s bus. Why does Pelosi feel she has any business going to Taiwan herself?

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