It’s no secret the foreign policy of President Joe Biden has been a cataclysmic disaster. But a recent admission by his top diplomat shows anew just how inept his administration is on the world stage.
A few days before Christmas, Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a press conference to provide an overview of what the administration considered the “most consequential areas where diplomacy delivered in 2022.” Included on the list were U.S. actions such as rallying the world to support Ukraine, accelerating “strategic convergence” with allies to contain China, mobilizing “broad-based coalitions” to tackle global problems, and using American diplomacy to “advance peace and prevent and mitigate conflict.”
The more notable part of Blinken’s remarks, however, came during the question-and-answer portion of the press conference when the secretary was asked about lessons the administration learned from its 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan. In his response, Blinken tacitly admitted that the administration is incapable of handling multiple foreign policy ventures at once.
“When it comes to Russia’s war against Ukraine, if we were still in Afghanistan, it would have, I think, made much more complicated the support that we’ve been able to give and that others have been able to give Ukraine to resist and push back against the Russian aggression,” he said.
Taiwan in Focus
Whether intentional or not, Blinken’s statement doesn’t exactly promote confidence in American leadership — especially pertaining to Taiwan.
In recent years, the island nation has endured an uptick in aggression from China’s communist government, which views Taiwan as a Chinese territory led by Western-aligned separatists. Just this week, it was revealed Beijing had nearly doubled the number of times it sent military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone in 2022 (1,737) compared to the year prior (972).
Following a visit to Taiwan by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in August, China has also begun normalizing military crossings of the median line in the Taiwan Strait. Developed during the Cold War, the imaginary line has acted as a buffer between Beijing and Taipei for decades.
In response to China’s growing hostilities, Taiwan has significantly increased its military readiness in preparation for a potential invasion. Last week, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced that starting in 2024, compulsory military service will be extended to one year from the current four-month requirement to “protect [Taiwan] and defend democracy.”
The move came several months after Taiwan’s government proposed a record 14 percent increase in defense spending.
Biden’s Ukraine Focus is Kneecapping Taiwan Support
While Biden has regularly approved arms sales to Taiwan as part of America’s commitment to the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, his administration’s overzealous devotion to involvement in Ukraine is hampering U.S. commitments to the island nation.
Back in November, The Wall Street Journal published a bombshell report documenting a “nearly $19 billion backlog” of weaponry slated for Taiwan. In the report, U.S. officials expressed concern that the increasing number of weapons being shipped to Ukraine “is now running up against the longer-term demands” of America’s goal of arming the island to help “defend itself against a possible invasion by China.”
“The U.S. has pumped billions of dollars of weapons into Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February, taxing the capacity of the government and defense industry to keep up with a sudden demand to arm Kyiv in a conflict that isn’t expected to end soon,” the report reads.
Among the backlogged items are 208 Javelin antitank weapons, as well as 215 surface-to-air Stinger missiles. As of the report’s Nov. 27 publication, none of the weapon systems had been delivered to Taiwan.
Meanwhile, Biden recently signed a $1.7 trillion omnibus bill that includes $45 billion in aid to Ukraine. The allocation of funds comes in addition to the $68 billion already given to the Eastern European nation last year.
Taiwan Deserves Better than Biden
Despite his administration’s insistence that its commitment to Taiwan is “rock solid” in light of the Ukraine conflict, Biden, as it turns out, can’t walk and chew gum at the same time when it comes to managing multiple foreign affairs.
Whether the U.S. should be sending tens of billions of taxpayer dollars overseas is a separate conversation that certainly deserves to be had. But even if Americans did support such a policy, their leaders shouldn’t be prioritizing the second most corrupt country in Europe over one of the most successful democratic nations in East Asia.
Unfortunately for Taiwan, the failure to adequately fulfill America’s commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act is just one aspect of the chaos surrounding the Biden administration’s Taiwan policy. On several occasions, Biden has declared U.S. military support for Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, only for his White House handlers to walk back such statements hours later.
(For decades, the U.S. has practiced a policy of “strategic ambiguity,” wherein the decision to militarily defend Taiwan remains publicly unclear.)
Blinken’s remarks signal to Taiwan the reality millions of Americans have endured for years: Biden is an incompetent politician not cut out for international relations. Sadly, for Taiwan, such a fact comes at a time when the island needs strong American leadership the most.