Whoever greenlighted Joe Biden’s appearance on 60 Minutes is probably polishing up their resume this morning. Left to his own devices with a reporter, there’s just no telling what the President might say in response to sticky questions. Or, at least in this case, perhaps it was completely predictable since he’s said it multiple times before. 

Host Scott Pelley asked Biden about the United States’ One China policy and the President started off well enough, saying that the policy was still in place and Taiwan has to make it’s own decisions. But then Pelley followed up by asking if U.S. forces would defend the island in the event of an attack by China. And once again, Biden responded by saying that we would. If this had been filmed in a supermarket, somebody would have gone on the public address system to say ‘cleanup on aisle one!.‘

“We agree with what we signed onto a long time ago,” Biden replied. “And that there’s one China policy, and Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence. We are not moving — we’re not encouraging their being independent. We’re not — that — that’s their decision.”

“But would U.S. forces defend the island?” Pelley pressed.

Biden responded: “Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack.”

To his credit, Pelley actually gave Biden a chance to back down from that statement. He followed up by contrasting the situation to the war in Ukraine. Unlike Ukraine, he said, “U.S. forces, U.S. men and women would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion?” Biden once again answered with the single word, “yes.”

It’s probably safe to assume that Ron Klain has someone on standby at all times in case this situation arises. An unnamed “White House official” almost immediately contacted 60 Minutes to say that “U.S. policy on Taiwan has not changed. ” Of course, that is the precise opposite of what the President had just finished saying. Twice.

This marks at least the third time that Joe Biden has said that we would go to war with China on Taiwan’s behalf. The most famous of these gaffes took place during his trip to Tokyo. Sooner or later, Xi Jinping is going to take him at his word and start gearing up for war.

And why wouldn’t he? Ron Klain may be running the country in all but name, but he’s still not the President or the Commander in Chief. Joe Biden is the one person who can order our armed forces to launch an attack and the military has no choice but to obey. If Biden is this fickle on the subject on the rare occasions when he agrees to talk to a reporter, China is totally justified in being nervous that he might actually order some bombers to head for Beijing.

This clearly had to be intentional on Scott Pelley’s part as far as I’m concerned. This exchange was in the same line as getting Biden to threaten Vladimir Putin over the use of nuclear weapons. Pelley was obviously aware that the President was prone to saying we would fight China and he baited the trap to drive some additional clicks and attract a few more eyeballs for his show.

But even if that’s the case, it doesn’t change the reality of our foreign policy situation. For better or worse, America’s foreign policy is whatever Joe Biden says it is for as long as he’s in office. If he is bound and determined to bumble his way into war with the other two major nuclear powers on the planet, even through a series of gaffes, there’s not much anyone can do to stop him barring some Washington adventure involving the 25th Amendment. And even if that happened we’d be stuck with Kamala Harris taking on these responsibilities. Does anyone honestly believe we’d be in better shape in that scenario? After one or two instances of her cackling inappropriately at something that Putin or Xi Jinping said we’d probably see mushroom clouds rising up over Newark. And to think… we’ve still got more than two years left of this. Heaven help us.

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