Major Premise: Biden Does Not
Want War With China
Minor Premise: He is Commander-in-Chief
Conclusion: Biden can order a Navy carrier battlegroup to change direction
In other words, a solution to the still up-in-the-air (so to speak) visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, amid Chinese threats of military action, should be a no-brainer for President Joe Biden. The more so since he did seek and find a similar solution with respect to Ukraine in April 2021.
Granted, for the conclusion to hold, one would have to assume the validity of both premises: that Biden wants to avoid war; and that he is up to acting like a commander in chief and can face down his own neocons, and MacArthur-esque 4-stars (as President Harry Truman did). Those who cannot buy into those two premises might wish to read further, anyway, as a kind of exercise in logic.
In April 2021 Biden Turned Ships Around
Someone should remind the president how the deployment of tens of thousands of Russian troops to the border area near Ukraine in spring 2021 grabbed his attention to the point he called Russian President Putin directly – and showed flexibility in working out a deal.
Here’s how things went down during those crucial weeks:
March 24, 2021: Volodymyr Zelensky issued a formal decree amounting to a de facto declaration of war on Russia, making the taking back of Crimea the official policy of Ukraine. Tons of Ukrainian military equipment began to roll south and east. On the other side of the border, Russian troops moved south and west, toward Crimea and the Donbas.
April 13, 2021: Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced that over the three preceding weeks Moscow had sent two armies and three airborne formations to western regions "as a response to the alliance’s [NATO] military activities threatening Russia". NATO had been increasing the number of its own troops and maneuvers from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Later that same day:
April 13, 2021: Biden suddenly telephoned President Putin to express concern over the Russian military buildup and called on Putin to "de-escalate tensions". Later that same day:
April 13, 2021: The U.S. canceled the deployment of two warships to the Black Sea. Russia had called the intended deployment a provocation, and the Russian navy had begun a drill in the Black Sea that rehearsed firing at targets on the surface and in the air.
April 13, 2021: Biden suggested to Putin, in a surprise move (and an oh-by-the-way vein), a bilateral "summit meeting in a third country in the coming months to discuss the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia". (The summit took place on June 16 in Geneva.)
April 21, 2021: Keeping the pressure on, Putin warned, "Russia’s response to provocations from Ukraine "will be asymmetrical, swift, and tough" and that the provocateurs "will regret what they have done in a way they have not regretted anything for a long time."
April 22, 2021: Defense Minister Shoigu announced that the large military exercises near Ukraine had been completed and that he had ordered troops to return to their permanent bases by May 1.
If the syllogism above holds up, President Biden’s earlier display of flexibility on Ukraine suggests that he can quench the fires of Pelosi-Taiwan-gate in similar manner. If he is up to it, he can simply order the aircraft carrier battle group now headed toward Taiwan to go to Hawaii instead.
Biden may not be willing/able to order Pelosi around; he should be able to move the US navy.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. His 27-year career as a CIA analyst includes serving as Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).