The American president has very limited influence on the country’s foreign policy. In particular, contrary to the constitution, he repeatedly allows his subordinates to contradict his words on Taiwan defense, writes 19FortyFive columnist Gordon Chang.

Apparently, US President Joe Biden is no longer engaged in foreign policy. Moreover, it is unclear whether he is still serving as commander-in-chief, says 19FortyFive columnist and author of several books on China Gordon Chang.

According to the publicist, such doubts arose after the White House chief recently gave an interview to CBS News. He said in it that the US would send troops to defend Taiwan “in the event of an unprecedented attack”.

Biden’s unequivocal statement signalled a dramatic reversal of America’s longstanding policy of “strategic ambiguity”. Under it, Washington is not telling Beijing or Taipei whether it will defend the island republic against a Chinese invasion, Chang explains.

However, after the interview, administration officials were quick to assure that the White House “has not changed its policy on Taiwan”. At the daily press briefing, Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan made a similar statement.

Notably, this is the fourth time the US president has made a public promise that the US will come to the rescue of Taiwan. In doing so, administration officials, both anonymously and officially, have contradicted Biden all four times, Chung points out.

In particular, Sullivan characterised the US leader’s remarks in an interview with CBS News as a response to a “hypothetical question”. “When the President of the United States wants to announce a policy change, he will do so. He has not,” the official added.

But with his clear answers on defending Taiwan, Biden has effectively put an end to the policy of strategic ambiguity by bringing clarity to it. Hence, this is about changing it, the author of the article reasoned.

“According to the constitution, Biden, as commander-in-chief, is responsible for shaping US foreign policy. However, his subordinates have directly contradicted him by actually using his power. This suggests a constitutional coup,” the publicist emphasises.

“So why should the American people worry about someone other than Joe Biden engaging in politics and exercising his authority? Because China and other hostile powers may sense confusion in the Biden administration, in which case America is unlikely to hold them back,” the expert warns.

“Confusion” in the US government could have real consequences. Especially in a world that is moving from “a period of relative calm to a period of constant unrest”, Gordon Chung concludes. 

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