Biden's statements on Taiwan

huh…why does it mean “impending war” in diplomatic speak? I just gave you examples of diplomats using “grave” for meanings other than war, and you call it “misuse”, please on what basis? The dictionary suggests that these are correct usages.

[quote=“dictionary”]grave 2 (grv)
adj. grav·er, grav·est

  1. Requiring serious thought; momentous: a grave decision in a time of crisis.
  2. Fraught with danger or harm: a grave wound.[/quote]

In any case the point is that the phrase “grave concern” is deliberately ambiguous, and cannot be seen as indicating an obligation for the US to defend Taiwan. It is also not an international treaty, and therefore could be unilaterally revoked.
An actual obligation to defend (defined by international treaty)would be stated in plainer language, for instance:

[quote=“US-ROC mutual defence treaty”]
Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the West Pacific Area directed against the territories of either of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.[/quote]

obligation? no. long-standing commitment? yes. the united states, be it mccain, obama, or mickey f. mouse in charge, abandoning its long-standing commitments in east asia? no. the chinese having to well worry about bombs falling on their heads if they want to try anything? yes. that giving them a pretty good reason not to try anything? yes. taiwan independence calls off all bets? yes.

Yes, indeed you did.

Look, I’m just telling you what I was taught when I studied for my masters in foreign affairs/diplomacy, a long time ago. As I understand, the term, “grave concern” traditionally was used by diplomats to refer to situations in which nations were [color=#4000FF]prepared[/color] to go to war (not that they necessarily would go to war). I understand that the term is often used [color=#4080FF]now[/color] more frequently and in situations where a nation is not necessarily prepared to fight or even thinking of a fight. Nonetheless, the TRA was written decades ago and it includes the [color=#BF0080]traditional diplomatic-speak[/color], “grave concern” in connection with a certain type of threat.

Yes, the TRA contains a certain amount or degree of ambiguity, no doubt by design… but it has been a very successful piece of legislation in that it has served well to deter China from taking any steps to unilaterally alter the status quo with respect to the Taiwan issue.

I think it can be argued that China has considered the term “grave concern” in the TRA to mean that the US would be [color=#BF00BF]willing[/color] to defend Taiwan in the case of a Chinese attempt to change the situation unilaterally.

[quote=“Tigerman”]
Look, I’m just telling you what I was taught when I studied for my masters in foreign affairs/diplomacy, a long time ago. As I understand, the term, “grave concern” traditionally was used by diplomats to refer to situations in which nations were [color=#4000FF]prepared[/color] to go to war (not that they necessarily would go to war). I understand that the term is often used [color=#4080FF]now[/color] more frequently and in situations where a nation is not necessarily prepared to fight or even thinking of a fight. [/quote]

This is not the case, “grave concern” has often been used in the past where a nation is not prepared for or contemplating war. Of course “grave concern” can be used as a pretext for war, but it most definitely does not by itself indicate an obligation or even a willingness to fight. That is why it was used in the TRA. It is deliberately ambiguous, just like Biden’s comments.

Time, July 1933, on the arrest of US citizens in Spain. Grave concern was simply “fairly strong diplomatic talk.”

What Biden basically said…
China is most certainly not going to “try anything” in any case.

Umm, I am not arguing that the use of the term “grave concern” indicates an obligation to fight.

It does, however, indicate that one may well be willing to fight.

I have not argued against the ambiguity.

[quote=“Tigerman”]Umm, I am not arguing that the use of the term “grave concern” indicates an obligation to fight.

It does, however, indicate that one may well be willing to fight.

I have not argued against the ambiguity.[/quote]

If you agree why did you object to my original argument? :loco:

A “grave concern” could be used as a pretext for war, but does not by itself indicate an obligation or willingness to fight. It seems we basically agree.

Except that a matter of “grave concern” generally refers to a reason to go to war in diplomatic-speak.[/quote]

Ah… I see. Sloppy writing on my part.

I was trying only to indicate that the “grave concern” term, while ambiguous, does add a degree of seriousness to the warning.

No matter… the TRA is ambiguous… but, I do believe that at times it has been interpreted to mean that the US would indeed go to war to defend Taiwan… at other times it has been interpreted more ambiguously… we can argue this forever without a conclusion… I’m not up for that, though.

Ah… I see. Sloppy writing on my part.

I was trying only to indicate that the “grave concern” term, while ambiguous, does add a degree of seriousness to the warning.

No matter… the TRA is ambiguous… but, I do believe that at times it has been interpreted to mean that the US would indeed go to war to defend Taiwan… at other times it has been interpreted more ambiguously… we can argue this forever without a conclusion… I’m not up for that, though.[/quote]

I agree. In fact I think that the situation has moved on from the issue of whether Taiwan can be defended, and if the US would help or not.

I tried to argue on another thread that China will not invade Taiwan and is not pursuing reunification, but of course is opposed to Taiwan independence. This position is acceptable to the US as well as the KMT government.
The issue now is what degree of cooperation is possible between Beijing and Taipei, and how much international space the ROC can achieve. Taiwan independence may be possible in the future, but pursuing it now will get Taiwan nowhere.

I think the best interpretation the US can make is the one that reduces the risk of war. And that one is “if China attacks Taiwan we will intervene on the side of Taiwan. If Taiwan declares independence unilaterally, any issues with China are their problem.”

The problem with Biden is that he has changed the first part of this policy
taiwandc.org/wp-2001-06.htm

[quote]What is the appropriate role for the United States? The president’s national security adviser last Wednesday claimed that “the Taiwan Relations Act makes very clear that the U.S. has an obligation that Taiwan’s peaceful way of life is not upset by force.”

No. Not exactly. The United States has not been obligated to defend Taiwan since we abrogated the 1954 Mutual Defense Treaty signed by President Eisenhower and ratified by the Senate. The Taiwan Relations Act articulates, as a matter of policy, that any attempt to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means would constitute “a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area” and would be, “of grave concern to the United States.”

The act obliges the president to notify Congress in the event of any threat to the security of Taiwan, and stipulates that the president and Congress shall determine, in accordance with constitutional processes, an appropriate response by the United States.[/quote]
So under the Bush administration, attacking Taiwan means a guaranteed smackdown for China. Under an Obama administration it means the President and Congress will determine the response. Except of course VP Biden has already said Taiwan is not worth American lives. So the Admin might well decide to write the Chinese a very stern letter and go back to business as usual after a year or so. Which is how the US has responded to all the other bad stuff that China has done for a very long time.

Pop quiz: if you were a Chinese leader and you were planning to attack Taiwan, would it be safer to do it under the Bush admin or the Obama one?

This sort of thing is what leads to war, not the kind of dumb sabre rattling the people criticize the Republicans for. And it’s pointless too, the US would inevitably be dragged into a war over Taiwan, the difference is that the US will have to enter the war late rather than deterring it.

I don’t think we can know that. The PRC government is dictatorial and incredibly secretive. How can you know that they won’t take advantage of a US weakness to complete their long term aim of “re” unification?

[quote=“KingZog”]I think the best interpretation the US can make is the one that reduces the risk of war. And that one is “if China attacks Taiwan we will intervene on the side of Taiwan. If Taiwan declares independence unilaterally, any issues with China are their problem.”

The problem with Biden is that he has changed the first part of this policy.[/quote]

What Biden said reflects the ambiguity of the TRA.

Also under the Bush administration, despite some “stern” words about human rights.
Bush may say that he would rush to Taiwan’s aid, but whether this would actually happen or it would be feasible is debatable. Biden was referring to the prospect of US intervention in the case of a deceleration of Taiwanese independence and a subsequent Chinese invasion. He was pretty much ruling out an intervention in this case, as Bush has already done.

China doesn’t want to invade, but if it did…umm…maybe it would pick a time under a Bush regime when US troops are busy fighting two other major wars, it is questionable whether they could fight a third (and against a major power to boot), despite the brave talk.

They may be dictatorial and secret, but they are not irrational.
Current PRC policy provides for use of military force in only two circumstances: (1) deceleration of independence, (2) all options for peaceful reunification have been exhausted. The second one can be interpreted very flexibly, and in effect delay reunification indefinitely.
The current generation of PRC leaders are very practical, they want the regime to survive. Ultimately, trying to force reunification threatens that. Even without any US intervention, the risks are huge. The benefits, asides from nationalist propaganda, are almost non-existent.

They may be dictatorial and secret, but they are not irrational.
Current PRC policy provides for use of military force in only two circumstances: (1) deceleration of independence, (2) all options for peaceful reunification have been exhausted. The second one can be interpreted very flexibly, and in effect delay reunification indefinitely.
The current generation of PRC leaders are very practical, they want the regime to survive. Ultimately, trying to force reunification threatens that. Even without any US intervention, the risks are huge. The benefits, asides from nationalist propaganda, are almost non-existent.[/quote]
I think that’s completely naive. The problem with dictatorships is that they’re completely out of touch with reality. E.g. if you watch the PBS special on the First Gulf War, and particularly the interviews with Tariq Aziz, Saddam was 100% sure before he attacked Kuwait that his army could beat the Americans and that there was nothing he could do to avoid war. Neither were true of course - if he’d have pulled troops out of Kuwait the US would have found it very hard to attack him. They would have left and he could try the same thing in a couple of years time. Even more seriously before the second Gulf War he seemed to decide to destroy his WMDs but not announce it because that might embolden the Iranians. But objectively the US was a far more serious threat to his regime and to him personally than the Iranians. Hitler and Stalin both were spectacularly bad as predicting other country’s reactions too.

In fact every time a dictatorship has fought it’s amazing how far conventional wisdom inside the regime is from reality. And is sort of obvious why - dictatorships punish heterodox thinking and reward paranoia. They also don’t have much idea of how proper open societies work and thus how they will respond to events.

That’s the reason you have to send clear signals to them that you will respond to them trying to grab land in an incredibly dramatic way.

[quote=“KingZog”]
I think that’s completely naive. The problem with dictatorships is that they’re completely out of touch with reality. E.g. if you watch the PBS special on the First Gulf War, and particularly the interviews with Tariq Aziz, Saddam was 100% sure before he attacked Kuwait that his army could beat the Americans and that there was nothing he could do to avoid war. Neither were true of course - if he’d have pulled troops out of Kuwait the US would have found it very hard to attack him. They would have left and he could try the same thing in a couple of years time. Even more seriously before the second Gulf War he seemed to decide to destroy his WMDs but not announce it because that might embolden the Iranians. But objectively the US was a far more serious threat to his regime and to him personally than the Iranians. Hitler and Stalin both were spectacularly bad as predicting other country’s reactions too.

In fact every time a dictatorship has fought it’s amazing how far conventional wisdom inside the regime is from reality. And is sort of obvious why - dictatorships punish heterodox thinking and reward paranoia. They also don’t have much idea of how proper open societies work and thus how they will respond to events.

That’s the reason you have to send clear signals to them that you will respond to them trying to grab land in an incredibly dramatic way.[/quote]

Yes but not all dictatorships are same. At the head of the PRC is a heavily bureaucratised collective leadership, decision making is collective and has to achieve consent from all kinds of different interest groups within the party. Such regimes tend to be very conservative, but their decision making process is more predictable.
Contrast that to regimes dominated by one leader. Because one person is effectively making all the decisions, and does not have to consider other groups, decision making may be more erratic and less “rational.”
From another perspective, the PRC has nothing to gain from invading Taiwan. In contrast, Saddam had the important issue of the Iran war debt as a reason to invade Kuwait.

I can see the logic in your argument for providing strong deterrence though. Another good example would be the Falklands War- if the Thatcher government had managed to effectively communicate a determination to defend the Falklands the Argentinians may not have invaded and a war could have been avoided.

[quote=“KingZog”]Actually the US can avoid having do anything like fight a war provided it makes it clear to China that it will fight a war if China attacks Taiwan. Which is something Biden seems hazy on.

His comment about Taiwan not being worth fighting over actually makes a Chinese attack much more likely. Bush’s “we will do whatever it takes to defend Taiwan” makes it less likely. The fact that the Democrats don’t seem to get this very simple idea makes me extremely concerned about them being in power.[/quote]
Dude, the idiot POTUS said he would do anything to protect the “Republic of Taiwan.”

That was the first gaffe that illustrated to Chinese all around the world this POTUS had no freakin’ clue what he was talking about.

The last Democratic POTUS sent an entire carrier group off the shores of Taiwan. The current Republican POTUS is only interested in send jobs to the PRC.

no he didn’t. he said “taiwan.”

anyway if you couldn’t figure out what that would have meant anyway i don’t think you’re in a position to comment on his intelligence.

The current POTUS is genius? That’s really contrary to popular belief in the US.

The idiot referred to the ROC, Taiwan as the Republic of Taiwan. An unrefuted fact. I have not distorted or misrepresented the idiot POTUS in his statements.

Why doesn’t the 1st amendment apply to me again?

Bush sent two aircraft carrier groups on exercises off Taiwan during the last election.

Because you’re not a person.

I have no reason to doubt that he has done that at one time or another. I don’t see the bearing on the US’s straits policy or the perception of it among Chinese around the world, but whatever. Anyway this:

[quote]
Dude, the idiot POTUS said he would do anything to protect the “Republic of Taiwan.”[/quote]

…is indeed a distortion and a misrepresentation. He said he would “do anything it takes to protect Taiwan” and that’s a quote.

That doesn’t mean as much. You can have military exercises anywhere in open water. Russia can have exercises in Venezuela, and it doesn’t mean much of anything.

Clinton’s actions were a direct result of PRC missiles being launched.

Why would you even doubt that POTUS currently in office is an idiot and often invents new words for the American dialect? Is there anything in the media that leads one to think otherwise.

Sure once the Chinese observed POTUS demostrate he had no clue about the Strait Issue, they took advantage of it, pressing the POTUS to lean on the legislators to lay off the currency issues that was headlining at the time.

I think two separate incidents are being confused. Yes, Bush called Taiwan the Republic of Taiwan,

http://edition.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/asiapcf/east/04/08/willy.column/

and yes, he vowed to do ‘whatever it takes’ to defend it,
edition.cnn.com/2001/ALLPOLITICS … taiwan.03/

but I don’t know that the two were ever combined in one breath.