Gaffs or trial balloons? Bidens comments to Routledge diplomats

Gaffs or trial balloons?  Embarrassed diplomats at Biden's remarks

U.S. President Joe Biden often headlines with a load or trivial answer.


From pledges to protect Taiwan militarily to advocating regime change in Russia, US President Joe Biden has created a NAC to declare off-the-cuff that has pushed diplomacy.

For journalists following Biden abroad, it has become almost routine – the outspoken U.S. president headlined with a load or trivial answer, and the White House quickly insisted he was not setting new policies.

At the last minute of a news conference in Tokyo on Monday, Biden responded positively that the United States would defend Taiwan militarily if attacked by China, which claims self-governing democracy.

This is not the first time that Biden has made waves on Taiwan with a formulation. For more than four decades, while he was a senator, under a policy-setting, the United States provided arms to the island for its own defense, but it was deliberately unclear whether it would intervene.

Lloyd Austin, a White House official and Secretary of Defense, both hastily said that US policy has not changed, as Beijing has expressed outrage and Taiwan has hailed it as evidence of an ironclad promise.

The episode comes two months after Biden advertised in a speech in Poland about Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying, “For God’s sake, this man can’t stay in power.”

The White House immediately denied that Biden was in favor of removing Putin, saying it would be a major blow to the US campaign, which Biden himself had said was limited to supporting Ukraine.

Before Putin invaded Ukraine in February, Biden, who warned of dire consequences if Russia went ahead with the attack, raised eyebrows at the suggestion of a mild Western response to the “small attack.”

But Biden, who has known his lifelong passion for politics and has limited opportunities at home for verbal mistakes, sometimes digs.

Biden has taken a firm stand against accusing Russia of committing “genocide” in Ukraine and has accused Moscow of “war crimes” before the rest of his administration.

‘Two level game’?

Each time, Biden’s comments raise questions. Is the 79-year-old just talking from his heart? Or is he setting a new policy – or perhaps an experiment?

Joshua Schifferson, an associate professor of international relations at Boston University, said: “It’s very difficult to say whether these are gaffs or a two-tier game. But if it’s a two-tier game, it’s incredibly dangerous.”

“It can escalate tensions; it creates uncertainty,” he added.

Biden took office with more experience in foreign affairs than any other president in decades and promised to make more predictions than his weak and restless predecessor, Donald Trump.

From insulting Allied leaders to threatening war on Twitter, Trump has often shocked the world with his non-diplomatic declarations.

“There was no prediction with Trump, but Biden was expected to be a very consistent type of person,” Schifferson said.

“Innocent can be a very good thing but in situations like Taiwan it can be quite dangerous.”

Bonnie Glaser, a Taiwanese expert at the German Martial Fund in the United States, said Biden no doubt believed what he was saying.

“But in the sense that it is a negligence that he is doing wrong to US policy,” he said.

He added: “I do not think it is in the best interests of the United States that the president misinterpret our policy.”

“I think our policy is more effective if it is clear and understandable to our friends, our allies and our enemies.”

Some hawks who usually quarrel with Biden give him credit for his comments.

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham tweeted that Biden’s statement was “the right thing to say and the right thing to do.”

But others see the risk in seemingly loose talks after months of US-backed efforts to rally support for Ukraine.

“The West’s strong response to the Russian aggression in Ukraine may deter China from invading Taiwan,” tweeted Stephen Wartheim, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“But Biden’s statement risks undoing the potential benefits and instead contributes to the conflict in Taiwan.”

(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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