Pete Riehm
Cow tipping and kowtowing
By Pete Riehm
August 1, 2022

The Biden Administration has badly bungled America’s China policy, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has completely confused US-Sino relations. Well, Americans are confused by the chaotic and contradicting pronouncements coming out of Washington, but China is quite clear that it will not tolerate any interference in Taiwan. And it appears that China will prevail as Biden and Pelosi awkwardly and quietly acquiesce to China’s insistence Pelosi not visit Taiwan, but even worse is that this silly situation is an imprudent paper tiger puffed up to be a super power showdown where China wins a significant moral victory over the USA by simply denouncing Pelosi’s ill-conceived trip to Asia.

How in the world did Pelosi ever come up with the idea to visit Taiwan without first coordinating with the Biden Administration? She originally was scheduled to visit Taiwan this past April, and there was no huge brouhaha, but it was cancelled when she tested positive for COVID. Biden cannot deny knowing her intentions then, so why didn’t they quickly huddle up then to avoid being at cross purposes? Pelosi unilaterally inserting herself into the Taiwan conflict without seemingly coordinating with Biden is on par with her planning to go cow tipping. What did she think she would accomplish? Or perhaps, she never thought it through.

The first and foremost problem is Congress does not set foreign policy; that is the province of the executive branch, so Pelosi is absolutely out of her lane. If Biden and Pelosi were of opposite parties, it might be understandable, but both are Democrats. So why are they setting up a no win situation for either? Not unexpected, both look stupid in this charade, but ultimately it makes the USA look indecisive and weak. Or, was that the goal?

Pelosi’s folly precipitates several grave concerns. As mentioned above, why is she going rogue? If she were truly a champion for Taiwan’s sovereignty, her solo performance might be courageous, but it seems more likely she’s just handing China an easy slam dunk without ever leaving the ground.

Her planned trip to Taiwan evoked a troubling response from the Pentagon. The Defense Department publically stated they were uncomfortable with her visit and believed it caused a threat to national security, so they recommended she not go. Whoa! All that may be true, but the Pentagon does not set foreign policy. They set Defense policy and determine how best to support the President’s foreign policy. All their concerns should have been expressed confidentially, but generals should never be seen trying to influence public opinion on foreign policy – it’s not their job. An overreaching military should be disconcerting to every American.

Pelosi’s foreign free lancing further exposed Biden’s abject ineptitude. He obviously has no control over the Democrat Party and doesn’t even control his own administration’s foreign policy. Why did he not rein in Pelosi back in April? Why is he letting his generals run around opining about foreign policy? He has previously declared the USA will defend Taiwan, so why has he not weighed in forcefully against China’s threats to the Speaker?

Herein lies the silliness of this superficial situation, but it has wrought very real, very grave defense threats to U.S. national security. No one wants to go to war with China, so it seems reasonable to continue the rhetoric, but unreasonable to unnecessarily provoke China. Pelosi carelessly created a no win situation for Biden. If she goes to Taiwan, she may trigger a military response from China when the USA is not ready. If she doesn’t go, she gives China a tremendous triumph by showing the world China can arbitrarily dictate to the USA, and we will dutifully back down. That ignoble retreat will only embolden China and strengthen their hand.

Biden finally acted by having a two hour plus phone conference with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping last week. Unfortunately, Biden spent most of the time chortling about climate change and health security without holding China accountable for their unchecked pollution or their negligence with the COVID outbreak. When he mentioned Taiwan, Xi just warned Biden that “those who play with fire shall perish by fire.” Xi essentially repeated to Biden the threat of military action Chinese officials and media have been floating for weeks. Biden did not directly rebuff his not-so-veiled threat. In his failure to forcefully respond, Biden tacitly kowtowed to Xi’s will.

Again, this is a no win situation, but it was totally avoidable. Biden and Pelosi should have been on the same page, so it’s incomprehensible that they didn’t coordinate. Was this sheer incompetence by all involved? Or worse was this contrived to give China not only a moral victory but to signal that the USA will not act to protect Taiwan without saying as much?

Pelosi has left for Asia, but Taiwan is no longer on the schedule. Will there be a surprise visit? Unlikely. China’s economy is stumbling badly, so they desperately want Trump’s tariffs lifted. If Biden lifts them unilaterally, the big question will be why didn’t he use them as leverage for Taiwan? If China attacks Taiwan in the near future, you will know Biden and Pelosi just gave them the green light. If all that happens, Americans must ask why China has so much influence over the Biden Administration. Perhaps Hunter knows.

“And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:2).

Pete Riehm is the host of Common Sense Radio heard 8 pm every Thursday on FMTalk106.5 or streaming at Email him at or on MEWE @PeteRiehm or read all his columns at

© Pete Riehm


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Pete Riehm

Born to German immigrants, Pete Riehm grew up in Texas as a first generation American. Working his way through college, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve. After graduating from the University of Houston, Pete was commissioned into the United States Navy through Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. He also earned a Master's Degree in National Security from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas... (more)


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