“U.S. authorities said that Ukraine cannot get Patriots when the full-scale assault began because, as you said, it might be a pointless escalation. And it’s happening right now. And right now, Ukraine is in dire need of more tools, like ATACMS long-range missiles. Maybe I sound naive, but can we cut to the chase and give Ukraine whatever it requires in order to liberate all of the regions as soon as possible?
Biden rephrased the query after an embarrassing wisecrack and the expected crowd titter:
Why don’t we simply offer Ukraine what we have to offer? … The notion that we would provide Ukraine with equipment that is substantially different from what is now going there has the potential to destroy NATO, the European Union, and the rest of the world. … They have no intention of fighting Russia. They don’t desire a third World War. And I believe that everything may be prevented by ensuring that Ukraine can win on the battlefield. … There is more to say, but I think I’ve said it all.
To put it frankly, Biden claimed that because of their concern about further enraging Vladimir Putin, our European partners would not allow America to assist Ukraine as much as we could. In March, Poland offered Ukraine Russian MiGs to establish the no-fly zone that Biden had rejected, and he also vetoed Poland’s request. He was presenting the opposite situation at the time.
Inevitably, a consensus organization like NATO operates on a lowest common denominator basis, which is how Turkey has been able to delay its approval of Finland and Sweden’s entrance until it wins concessions on unrelated issues.
Though Biden warned of the threat of WWIII even before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, history may ultimately disclose the precise balance between American leadership and European anxiety. Patriots will now be given, thus either NATO has revised its assessment or Washington has opted to ignore it after all.
The other potential spark for conflict is Taiwan, which was set off by clear authoritarian assault against a weak democracy. Regarding American and partner security obligations to Taiwan, the contradiction between the West’s resolve and its fear of escalation on show in Ukraine has major implications. China, Russia’s “no-limits strategic partner,” is dangerously near to attacking the democratic island, and only the United States is able to prevent it or, if necessary, defeat it.
Ominous analogies can be seen between the development of American and Western security obligations in the two scenarios. Ukraine received security guarantees from the US, UK, and Russia in 1997 when it gave up its nuclear weapons. The NATO statement that “Georgia and Ukraine will become members of NATO” was made by Washington in 2008.
However, the US and NATO did little when Russia attacked Georgia in 2008 or Ukraine in 2014. And again out of fear of confronting Russia, the West was unable or unable to prevent a new invasion of Ukraine in 2021, despite Washington’s intelligence agency’s certainty that Russia was planning one.
As a result, Putin warns even worse escalation if the West continues to support Ukraine’s defense while also stepping up his inhumane aggression against the Ukrainian people and civilization.
Congress approved the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) in 1979 to attempt to rebuild as much of the diplomatic and security ties as possible after the Carter administration moved diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing and canceled the U.S.-Taiwan Mutual Defense Treaty.
In addition to promising to give Taiwan defensive weapons, it called Taiwan’s security “a matter of significant concern to the United States.” It also mandated that the executive branch “retain the capacity… to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion” against Taiwan, albeit it made no commitment on the part of the United States to use that power.
Washington would support Taiwan, Biden has said four times. However, each time, his subordinates’ “clarifications” have rendered his statements meaningless. It’s obvious that Biden wants to clear up the confusion that started with the Clinton administration in 1995. Since then, there have been numerous substantial changes to the situation, many of which have damaged U.S. credibility and raised the possibility that Beijing may make a strategic error. As a result, there is an even stronger need for clarity on Taiwan. Just as Ukraine’s future is intimately linked to that of Europe, what happens to Taiwan will undoubtedly have an impact on the security fate of the entire area.
Global security is also irrevocably involved given the stakes in the conflict between democracy and authoritarianism, which the Trump and Biden administrations both accurately identified. The efforts of the two administrations to increase partners’ contributions to collective defense, considerably stepped up by the Biden team, offer an optimistic foundation for avoiding what happened in Europe in the Indo-Pacific, but only if it is strengthened by consistent U.S. leadership.
Currently, Xi Jinping’s “new normal” plan for pressuring Taiwan fits perfectly with Biden’s stalemate strategy in Ukraine. To further thwart Russia’s revanchism and China’s expansionism, the West needs to be clear about its strategic objectives in both theaters.