Walk right back

“President” Biden made big news this morning with his announcement that the United States would defend Taiwan in the event of an invasion by China. See the triple-bylined AP story “Biden: US would intervene with military to defend Taiwan.” The AP reports from Tokyo:

President Joe Biden said Monday that the U.S. would intervene militarily if China were to invade Taiwan, saying the burden to protect Taiwan is “even stronger” after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It was one of the most forceful presidential statements in support of self-governing in decades.

Biden, at a news conference in Tokyo, said “yes” when asked if he was willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if China invaded. “That’s the commitment we made,” he added.

The AP includes the video below along with its story.

I take it from the Washington Examiner’s Jerry Dunleavy that the White House immediately walked back the apparent shift in the policy of strategic ambiguity that has governed American policy regarding Taiwan (tweet below).

The Washington Post is not so blunt. More protective of Biden. the Post reported the backpedaling this way at 7:18 a.m. (Eastern) this morning:

On Taiwan, a White House official said Biden simply had reemphasized a pledge made through a 1979 law that calls on the United States to provide Taiwan with the military means for self-defense. The United States retains a policy of strategic ambiguity toward the island, meaning it is deliberately unclear on what it would do when it comes defending Taiwan. Both the official — who requested anonymity in clarifying Biden’s comments — and the president said that U.S. stance has not changed.

“Walk Right Back” should be the theme of the Biden administration. It won’t be long before they’re walking back the rumor that Biden is president of the United States.

UPDATE: Peter Van Buren takes up the quandaries in the American Conservative column “Biden’s harebrained diplomacy.” Although it seems to anticipates today’s big news, the column is date-stamped at 12:01 a.m. this morning.

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