Nancy Pelosi Taiwan Visit Could Get Us All Killed

Biden’s unwillingness to clearly head off such a visit reflects the insidious style of his own confrontational approach to China, writes Norman Solomon. 

Nancy Pelosi at the Munich Security Conference, Feb. 15, 2020. (Sicherheitskonferenz, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Norman Solomon
Common Dreams

The arrogance of power is especially ominous and despicable when a government leader risks huge numbers of lives in order to make a provocative move on the world’s geopolitical chessboard. Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is in that category.

Thanks to her, the chances of a military confrontation between China and the United States have spiked upward.

Long combustible over Taiwan, the tensions between Beijing and Washington are now close to ablaze, due to Pelosi’s desire to be the first House speaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years. Despite the alarms that her travel plans have set off, President Joe Biden has responded timidly — even while much of the establishment wanted to see the trip canceled.

“Well, I think that the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now,” Biden said about the prospective trip on July 20. “But I don’t know what the status of it is.”

Biden could have put his presidential foot down and ruled out Pelosi’s Taiwan trip, but he didn’t. Yet, as days went by, news trickled out that opposition to the trip was extensive in the upper reaches of his administration.

“National security adviser Jake Sullivan and other senior National Security Council officials oppose the trip because of the risk of escalating tension across the Taiwan Strait,” the Financial Times reported. And overseas, “the controversy over the trip has sparked concern among Washington’s allies who are worried that it could trigger a crisis between the U.S. and China.”

Underscoring that the U.S. commander-in- chief is anything but an innocent bystander in terms of Pelosi’s trip, officials disclosed that the Pentagon would provide fighter jets as escorts.

More than a year ago — under the apt New York Times headline “Biden’s Taiwan Policy Is Truly, Deeply Reckless” — Peter Beinart pointed out that from the outset of his presidency Biden was “chipping away” at the longstanding U.S. “one China” policy:

“Biden became the first American president since 1978 to host Taiwan’s envoy at his inauguration. In April, his administration announced it was easing decades-old limitations on official U.S. contacts with the Taiwanese government. These policies are increasing the odds of a catastrophic war. The more the United States and Taiwan formally close the door on reunification, the more likely Beijing is to seek reunification by force.”

Beinart added:

“What’s crucial is that the Taiwanese people preserve their individual freedom and the planet does not endure a third world war. The best way for the United States to pursue those goals is by maintaining America’s military support for Taiwan while also maintaining the ‘one China’ framework that for more than four decades has helped keep the peace in one of the most dangerous places on earth.”

Now, Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has amounted to further intentional erosion of the “one China” policy. Biden’s mealy-mouthed response to that move was a subtler type of brinkmanship.

Many mainline commentators, while very critical of China, acknowledge the hazardous trend.

“The Biden administration remains committed to being more hawkish on China than its predecessor,” conservative historian Niall Ferguson wrote on Friday. He added:

“Presumably, the calculation in the White House remains, as in the 2020 election, that being tough on China is a vote-winner — or, to put it differently, that doing anything the Republicans can portray as ‘weak on China’ is a vote-loser. Yet it is hard to believe that this calculation would hold if the result were a new international crisis, with all its potential economic consequences.”

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal summed up the current precarious moment with a headline declaring that Pelosi’s visit “would likely sink tentative rapprochement between U.S., China.”

But the consequences — far from being only economic and diplomatic — could be existential for all of humanity. China has several hundred nuclear weapons ready to use, while the United States has several thousand. The potential for military conflict and escalation is all too real.

“We keep claiming our ‘one China’ policy hasn’t changed, but a Pelosi visit would clearly be precedent-setting and can’t be construed as in keeping with ‘unofficial relations,'” said Susan Thornton, a former acting assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the State Department. Thornton added: “If she goes, the prospect of a crisis goes way up as China will need to respond.”

Last week, a pair of mainstream policy analysts from elite think tanks — the German Marshall Fund and the American Enterprise Institute — wrote in The New York Times:

“A single spark could ignite this combustible situation into a crisis that escalates to military conflict. Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan could provide it.”

But July ended with strong indications that Biden had given Pelosi a green light. This is the kind of leadership that can get us all killed.

Norman Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of His books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death (2006) and Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America’s Warfare State (2007).

This article is from  Common Dreams.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

31 comments for “Nancy Pelosi Taiwan Visit Could Get Us All Killed

  1. susan
    August 3, 2022 at 12:13

    Nancy Pelosi needs to sit down the fuck and shut the hell up!

  2. Richard A. Pelto
    August 3, 2022 at 12:08

    The reporting on this action says much about why and how American belief systems are enabled easily today.
    Because of Pelosi’s position as third in line to the presidency, her actions identify “official” acts. This country agreed to a one China policy and doing providing no “official” recognition of “Formosa”–meaning beautiful in Chinese) changed to Taiwan. That is not identified providing another of the many examples of how USA media provides selected facts that consistently serve an agenda.
    If the purpose of this is as officially noted, to highlight differences between “democracies” and “autocracies” then this is indeed as Xi declared, “playing with fire.”
    And the establishment parts of the Republican party are now cheering this. And the only media outlet I have seen providing some ability to question it was Tucker Carlson on Fox.
    We live in interesting times. One’s requiring rational observation.

    • marvinhanson
      August 4, 2022 at 01:39

      Formosa is Portugese for beautiful once they land on Taiwan. We can only hope for peace as the US empire gradually weakens and the new China emprie re=emerges from centuries of rot and humiliation. The most obscene aspect of the Chinese leaders wanting to retake Taiwnan is that none of them have ever visited Taiwan and understand the people there , who live in democracy. The Taiwanese overthrew Fascism without mass killings , they do not want to take on Communism with a corrupt party that can take whatever it wants form citizens.

  3. Em
    August 3, 2022 at 10:11

    A fraught afterthought!
    Light at the end of the tunnel???
    If Biden had “put his presidential foot down” he’d probably have broken his other ankle, and then where would we be; with him already tripping all over his broken mind!
    Does the author truly feel that Biden would have put his presidential foot down, “and ruled out Pelosi’s Taiwan trip”, even if he hadn’t always the duplicitous double dealing lying American hawk he has always been?
    Perhaps, if he was actually the ‘head’ in full command of the government!
    Let’s not forget, America is a democracy and the “buck” is literally spread around as much as possible, among the echelons of power, with no one ever taking responsibility for their plundering and scamming.
    So, let’s not, once again, vote for the “least-worst” candidate when the next general election comes around in 2024; if America, as it has actually operated in reality, in the past, has somehow faded into history as only a bad dream. .
    What kind of an observation is this, you ask?
    Ever since, at least after the 1980 presidential election, we have seen that it really makes no difference which party’s candidate one prefers; for that’s the year the ship of state, well and truly, began to list to starboard – to the ultra-right wing of the duopoly party; when Ronald Reagan took over the helm of USS Corporate State.
    The U.S. may certainly have had a longstanding “one China” policy, however, it amounts to virtually the same thing, though in reverse, as the U.S. having had a long-standing commitment to a two-state solution in Palestine/Israel.
    The duration of the committed policy there has endured for 75 years now.
    What’s the likelihood the Palestinians will ever live free in their own sovereign national state?
    Answer: Identical to the likelihood that the U.S. will ever upturn Chinese rule over all of its sovereign national territory simply by way of a highly intimidating ‘visit’ by the 3rd in line to the aristocratic, oligarchical American throne of democracy!
    How does this form of rule, in fact differ from any other type of autocracy, wherein the powerful reign supreme?
    “It’s too late baby now, it’s too late”! Laughing at our youthful selves is all that remains, other than “crying over spilt milk” and staying politically, socially, and economically “wet behind the ears” – gullible to a fault.
    “Will I ever awaken from the afterburn of the perpetual wars forced daily down my throat”? Every day, lived in vain attempts at staving off the fear of this constant traumatization, while holding back the tears.

  4. Robert Emmett
    August 3, 2022 at 07:45

    Little old Nance takes her kabuki dance overseas to pleas of mock horror. How could such performance be taken as blunder? A message to shake the stars in their firmament and to rend the heavens asunder?

    Lashed to a striped pole, the ol’ island hopper stirs-up a whopper as she leads screaming minions into the teeth of gales, amid undiplomatic sound & fury, a slurry of mixed signals, the breaching of whales & her own white teeth a-gleeming, ‘til you wonder where the yellow went…

    You have to admit she’s got the face for it, perfect to make such a dent.

  5. Realist
    August 3, 2022 at 02:15

    Even if China makes absolutely no military escalation in response to our deceit and hypocrisy (acting diametrically opposite to the “One China” treaty we have signed), did our fearless leaders forget that after moving most of our heavy industrial, high-technological, chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing capabilities to China (permanently!), we must purchase virtually everything we require to maintain our modern way of life from those people? It’s called having us by the short hairs, an edge which we deliberately gave to them! If you think the alleged present inflation rate of 9.1% is onerous, guess how pleasant life will become if China decides it needs to jack up its prices on every one of its exported products substantially–maybe double if they are really pissed, not just to keep up with Biden’s gift to the world, his universal inflation tax crafted in Europe with wily Nato connivance, but to punish us for meddling in their internal political affairs, and not just for Taiwan but for Hong Kong, Macao and three centuries of Western oppression before that. Washington acts like the perfect stereotypical bully: not just thuggish and violent, but stupid and self-defeating as all get out.

  6. WillD
    August 2, 2022 at 23:35

    Well, she’s there now. The Chinese are understandably very angry indeed. Biden could have stopped the visit but chose not to, pleading stupidity and senility, as usual. He let the warmongers and neocons override him – again. A very weak leader, totally unfit for the job.

    So, now we wait for China to respond. The US can’t say it wasn’t warned!

  7. robert e williamson jr
    August 2, 2022 at 19:54

    FYI For what is worth !

    Published Aug 2, 2022 hXXps:// Yes I know, cnbc, like I stated above, for what it is worth.

    “If China were to invade Taiwan, the most advanced chip factory in the world would be render inoperable.” TSMC Chair Mark Liu said.

    The article states that no date is given for interview. This seems very odd, but what ever.

    Liu continues on saying that “Because this is such a sophisticated manufacturing facility it depends on real-time connection with the outside world, with Europe, with Japan, with the U.S., from materials to chemicals to spare parts, to engineering software and diagnosis .”

    ” . . it’s time we stop hey what’s that sound everybody look what’s going down . . .”

    Thanks CN

  8. Jeff Harrison
    August 2, 2022 at 19:43

    The US will continue to do this kind of crap until somebody kicks us in the teeth. It’s the bully’s credo.

  9. Doug
    August 2, 2022 at 18:40

    Those who predict the end of life on earth are behaving like Civilians, this is business as usual and all you have to do is follow the money
    Can someone answer the question, what would cause a nuclear power to press the button, at what point does that compute
    None of the major powers could be invaded for the simple reason no Army on earth has enough boots on the ground to hold a country

  10. Riva Enteen
    August 2, 2022 at 18:17

    Pelosi is the perfect figurehead for the democrats: greedy, entitled sociopaths. It’s not the lesser of two evils, it’s the evil of two lessers. Let’s hope we survive this moment of madness.

  11. Rob
    August 2, 2022 at 17:47

    Both Pelosi and Biden are well beyond their expiration dates, and yet, here they are still causing trouble for highly questionable reasons. The Dems have already plunged the US and Europe into a proxy war with Russia that could hardly be a going worse, and now they think that playing “chicken” with China is a good idea. The level of stupidity and rank incompetence is astonishing.

  12. August 2, 2022 at 17:24

    Until we take the private money system away from the banks and implement a public money system we will not be able to get money out of politics, if you haven’t noticed money is what its al about because money is power.

    • J Anthony
      August 3, 2022 at 05:47

      Exactly. This goes unsaid all too often. The monetary-system is the hub of everything in our modern society, and allowing it to be privatized by oligarchs has been a grave mistake.

  13. August 2, 2022 at 17:20

    So I hope this means that you will work against electing Democrats or Republican to office as they cause the problems. The Greens offer an alternative and a platform that addresses all the major issues in our society that are ignored by the current power structure. The Greens need good candidates who will embrace these life affirming policies in pursuing the public interest.

    • Richard A. Pelto
      August 3, 2022 at 12:15

      Nothing will change so long as money continues determining politics.
      Hey, its “free speech” isn’t it? And isn’t that what enables the “democracy” in our democracy that stands in contrast to “autocracies?”

  14. Lorna Hillman
    August 2, 2022 at 16:29

    The US seems to be on a roll. They ignored Russia’s red-line warnings since at least 2014 and now they are baiting China. I assume, as per US modus operandi, we will begin to hear about how evil Xi is and how China is a threat to our (NATO members) way of life.

  15. Tom Thumb
    August 2, 2022 at 16:25


    By this time, ‘later’ is pretty much off the table. America is desperate to start WW3 on 3 fronts. The Yankees have already lit the match in Ukraine. Joe was just in Saudi Arabia partying with the headchoppers to try to organize an ‘Arab NATO’ for a war with Iran. And apparently, Taiwan has been two quiet, so Nasty Nancy shows up with a flamethrower to fan the flames for war there.

    Joe Biden has been acting for two years like he’s always planned to cancel the midterms with martial law during wartime. The Democrats have not been behaving like they expect to face the voters again. War, Inflation, Starvation, Disease, Death are not usually winning campaign slogans.

  16. Tom Thumb
    August 2, 2022 at 16:19

    “Nancy Pelosi Taiwan Visit Could Get Us All Killed”

    That’s the point.

    Remember two facts. The US Congress serves the oligarchs, and the oligarchs want a ‘win-it or bin-it’ war with China to prevent the rise of the Chinese oligarchs. And secondly, the big pile of over 1,000,000 American corpses from a containable deadly disease like COVID says very clearly and obviously that the rulers of America do not give a damn about the lives of Americans. If you haven’t stolen your first $Billion, Nasty Nancy and the rest of the Democrats really don’t give a damn if you live or die. And if you aren’t a corporate wage-slave and are not able to die for the oligarchs by fighting a war, then the Democrats actually consider you to be useless and would prefer you dead.

  17. Michael Kemper
    August 2, 2022 at 16:10

    …and it also couldn’t.

  18. Lois Gagnon
    August 2, 2022 at 16:01

    Those who profit off of global conflict are also the same interests who own our politicians. Until we get money out of politics, we will continue down this dangerous path towards extinction.

  19. Geoff Burns
    August 2, 2022 at 15:39

    Pelosi flew to Taiwan on an Air Force plane. The military answers to the executive branch, not Congress. Of course Biden gave her the green light. He’s talking out of both sides of his mouth, (im)plausibly denying complicity.

    • Dienne
      August 3, 2022 at 12:49

      This. I’m tired of people saying Biden is “weak” when what he is is *complicit*.

  20. BB
    August 2, 2022 at 15:39

    The US ruling class is playing with fire around the world, constantly provoking China and Russia, two military superpowers with devastating nuclear arsenals. We urgently need to change the political elite, otherwise the super-dangerous games of our insane and arrogant rulers will sooner or later drag us all into the abyss of non-existence.

  21. Carolyn aka Cookie
    August 2, 2022 at 15:36

    Freud (Civilization and Its Discontents) and Jung (The Undiscovered Self) These two short books written in their last years, both warn about the societal world consequences of Hubris Ego Inflation, especially among Idealists who think of themselves as more enlightened, better than those they look down upon as ignorant, less kind, etc. Sadly the warnings of these two psychiatrists are ignored today. That is, people seek a Freudian or Jungian or whatever therapist for personal suffering, resolution, etc., but Freud and Jung were warning about the need to psychoanalyze the society, country, etc. Though using different words, categories, etc. in their writings, their words and works converged in their final years.

    • Xandra M
      August 4, 2022 at 13:33

      Very apt comment. Most historical analyses of the US 21st c policy showed a Thucydides Trap was inevitable, and experts like Mearsheimer concluded US exceptionalism would lead to the hubris of confronting Rus and Sino at the same time. Not sure if even he imagined Iran would be included as well!

      Shunyamurti does a wonderful job including Freud, Jung, modern political and econ theory and nonduality/physics into his YouTube streams. I suggest all who want to integrate and accept what is very likely to end TEOTWAWKI give him a watch. Nate Hagen’s Great Simplification is also edifying and soothing.
      Peace to all.

    • Xandra M
      August 4, 2022 at 13:38

      Edit, “bring about TEOTWAWKI”

  22. BB
    August 2, 2022 at 15:34

    The US ruling class is playing with fire around the world, constantly provoking China and Russia, two military superpowers with devastating nuclear arsenals, to the delight of the military-industrial complex. We urgently need to change the political elite, otherwise the super-dangerous games of our insane and arogant rulers will sooner or later drag us all into the abyss of non-existence.

  23. Ruby Reviere
    August 2, 2022 at 14:22

    Nancy Polosi is an embarrassment to our country. She should be fired/ empeached, etc.
    HOW did she ever get such a position.

    • Tim N
      August 3, 2022 at 09:46

      It was essentially handed to her. Pelosi was (still is, actually) a lobbyist, and took the seat of the previous congresswoman who retired. Pelosi’s chief recommendation for the job is her ability to raise tons of money. That’s it. She’s got the political and moral sense of a malevolent 10 year old. To get the full flavor of what a condescending, narcissistic simpleton she is, search out her 2018 acceptance speech after she won (again, inevitably) her seat. She speaks to her admirers and the peoplevwho worked to elect her as if they’re a classroom of 3rd graders. A truly wretched and awful politician.

  24. dave
    August 2, 2022 at 14:13

    Remember a few years ago when everybody was screaming about the “Logan Act”? Where are these people now?

    And now we’re told that the military is going to send “fighter jets as escorts” into what the US supposedly recognizes as Chinese airspace.

    What could possibly go wrong?

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