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Pelosi warmly welcomed to Taiwan as China fumes, plans live-fire protest

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 8/3/2022 Jamie McIntyre
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DEMOCRACY VS. AUTOCRACY: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, defying threats from China and against the advice of the White House, landed in Taiwan last night and met today with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, delivering a strong pro-democracy message.

Pelosi said her visit comes as the world is in a “struggle between autocracy and democracy,” and she called Taiwan a “model in this region,” a “demonstration of a democracy that has evolved to a stronger place now and offers a very strong contrast to what's happening on mainland China.”

“America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad,” she said.

In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Pelosi said her trip was rooted in the promise made in the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which committed the U.S. to support the defense of Taiwan and ”to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means … a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States.”

“America must remember that vow,” she said. “We must stand by Taiwan, which is an island of resilience.”


WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? In a press event following her meeting with President Tsai, Pelosi brushed aside the Chinese complaints that a visit from the third highest government official was a grave provocation.

“It's important to note that Members of Congress, several of them, had made trips just earlier this year. Five senators, bipartisan, came — again, including the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Menendez came. Not too much of a fuss was made. Individual senators have made trips or plan to make trips,” Pelosi said. “They made a big fuss, because I'm speaker, I guess. I don't know if that was a reason or an excuse, because they didn't say anything when the men came.”

China summoned the U.S. Ambassador to Beijing Nicholas Burns for a dressing down, according to the Foreign Ministry, which said Burns was told Pelosi’s visit was “deliberate provocation,” “playing with fire,” and a “serious violation of the One China principle.”


QUALIFIED GOP SUPPORT: While Pelosi’s Taiwan trip was seen as needlessly fanning tension by many on the left, the often polarizing speaker won qualified support from Republicans who said the Biden administration was displaying weakness in the face of Chinese aggression.

“I'm about to use four words in a row that I haven't used in this way before, and those four words are ‘Speaker Pelosi was right,’” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. “We believe in democracy and we believe that the Taiwanese people have a right to that democracy. That's exactly the message that Speaker Pelosi is taking with her today.”

“Speaker Pelosi is right to visit Taiwan because the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t control Taiwan or puppet Congress,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). “This visit, unlike the administration's self-deterrence, is an encouraging sign to anyone who wants America to stick with our allies.”

“Good that she went, the Chinese Communist Party are a bunch of bullies and they're trying to shake America's resolve when it comes to supporting the democracy in Taiwan. The speaker did the right thing,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Fox radio. “All this bluster will be in the column of bluster. There'll be no real action against Taiwan. However, if the Chinese see us abandoning Ukraine, and Putin's still standing after he invades Ukraine and actually successful, I think it's almost certain they will invade.”


Good Wednesday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense, written and compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre) and edited by Victor I. Nava. Email here with tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. Sign up or read current and back issues at If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter: @dailyondefense.


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HAPPENING TODAY: A historic vote is set for today in the Senate, as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has an agreement with Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to ratify the articles of accession for Finland and Sweden to join the 30-member NATO alliance “as fast as we could.”

The ambassadors of both Nordic countries have been invited to witness the debate and vote of the ratification resolution, which has wide bipartisan support in Congress.

France was the latest country to approve the expansion, ratifying the protocols yesterday. The U.S. would be the 22nd nation to approve membership for Finland and Sweden, with eight countries left to go: the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and Turkey.

ALSO TODAY: Secretary of State Antony Blinken is beginning a 10-day trip to Cambodia, the Philippines, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda. Blinken’s first stop is Phnom Penh, where he will take part in the U.S.-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, and the ASEAN Regional Forum.

“At each ministerial, the secretary will emphasize the United States’ commitment to ASEAN centrality and successful implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific,” the State Department said in a statement. “He will also address the COVID-19 pandemic, economic cooperation, the fight against climate change, the crisis in Burma, and Russia’s war in Ukraine. ”

HELLFIRE WITHOUT THE FIRE: There was a reason the building that al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri was holed up in was not destroyed when a CIA drone fired two Hellfire missiles killing Zawahiri as he sat on his third-floor balcony Sunday morning.

The version of the missiles used does not contain an explosive warhead but rather sprouts six large rotating blades that inflict deadly wounds on contact, but limit collateral damage and unintended civilian deaths, which was a mission requirement set by President Joe Biden.

The Hellfire R9X variant goes by various nicknames, including the “ninja bomb,” the “flying Ginsu,” or “knife bomb.”

Administration officials repeatedly declined to confirm the use of the secret version of the weapon. Asked on CNN if a “sword bomb” was used, White House homeland security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall said only that two highly-precise Hellfire missiles were used. “They were fired with great precision and accuracy, and that led to the death of Ayman al Zawahiri, and that prevented the collapsing of the building due to its precision.”

THE ‘OVER-THE HORIZON’ DEBATE CONTINUES: The successful strike against Zawahiri has revived the debate over whether the use of a CIA drone with advanced technology has vindicated Biden’s argument that the U.S. doesn’t need boots on the ground to pursue terrorists in Afghanistan, or had validated the Republican criticism that Biden's abandonment of Afghanistan last year created a vacuum that al Qaeda quickly filled.

“I've heard some of the rhetoric about, oh, this shows that we should have stayed in Afghanistan. It doesn't. If we'd stayed in Afghanistan, we would have U.S. service members, you know, fighting and dying in a very difficult circumstance,” House Armed Services Committee Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) said on CNN. “We do need to be worried about the terrorist threat from Afghanistan, but the message this sends to al Qaeda is you may have thought you were all snug and secure in Afghanistan, you are not.”

“The idea that the U.S. can counter terrorism by occupying a country that this is going to make us, you know, better able to protect ourselves has been proven not to be the case,” Smith argues. “What has helped us is our ability to do things like what we just did with Zawahiri, to use our intel assets, to use our strike capability, to put the terrorists at risk no matter where they are without us having to commit tens of thousands of troops in a fruitless effort to remake a country.”

“I think it's also important to remember that about a year ago, we pulled out of Afghanistan. At the time, the Taliban was out of power and al Qaeda was not around.”


MCCONNELL: ‘UTTERLY ABSURD’: “Our professionals did an extraordinary job, congratulations to them, but I think it's also important to remember that about a year ago, we pulled out of Afghanistan. At the time, the Taliban was out of power and al Qaeda was not around,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) at a press conference yesterday. “So it is noteworthy where Zawahiri was — in Kabul. So, al Qaeda is back as a result of the Taliban being back in power, and describing the current situation in Afghanistan as a ‘success’ is utterly absurd.”

“So, after 20 years, in fact, the Afghanistan strategy was working, the Taliban was out of power, al Qaeda was not around, we were not losing people in combat, and that precipitous decision to withdraw a year ago produced the return of the conditions that were there before 9/11,” McConnell said.

“The killing of al-Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri will be sold as a counterterrorism success. But that narrative masks the undeniable truth that Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is a safe haven for al-Qaeda,” tweeted Bill Roggio, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“Trump's negotiations with the Taliban and Biden's subsequent withdrawal — particularly the method of withdrawal, which left the Afghan government to the predations of the Taliban — was a disaster. The Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance remains stronger than ever,” Roggio concludes.


BURN PIT BILL GOES TO BIDEN: After much Sturm und Drang, the bipartisan legislation to expand benefits for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits passed the Senate yesterday 86-11 and heads to the White House, where Biden is ready to sign it.

A move by Senate Republicans to modify the mandatory spending provisions of the bill stalled its passage, sparking emotional protests by veterans groups, but never seriously threatened its final passage.

“We are finally doing what we should have done two decades ago,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), one of the original backers of the bill. “Once President Biden signs this bill into law, our veterans will finally be able to access the care they desperately need and selflessly earned.”

INDUSTRY WATCH: The State Department has approved two potential foreign military sales — one to Saudi Arabia for 300 Raytheon Patriot missiles worth $3 billion and another to the United Arab Emirates for 96 Lockheed Martin Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missiles worth $2.25 billion.

“These missiles are used to defend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s borders against persistent Houthi cross-border unmanned aerial system and ballistic missile attacks on civilian sites and critical infrastructure in Saudi Arabia,” said the Defense Security Cooperation Agency of the Saudi purchase. “These attacks threaten the well-being of Saudi, International, and U.S. citizens (approximately 70,000) residing in the Kingdom.”


The Rundown

Washington Examiner: Nancy Pelosi lands in Taiwan for historic visit, pledging 'unwavering commitment' to democracy

Washington Examiner: Pelosi says US support for democracy in Taiwan 'remains ironclad'

Washington Examiner: China rejects US call for nuclear arms control talks amid Pelosi visit to Taiwan

Washington Examiner: Kremlin declares ‘solidarity’ with China over Pelosi’s Taiwan visit

Washington Examiner: Why Pelosi's flight to Taiwan took a three-hour detour

Washington Examiner: Opinion: How the US should — and should not — respond to Chinese exercises in Taiwan's waters

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Why China has announced military action in response to Pelosi's visit

Washington Examiner: White House hit on al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan after al Zawahiri strike

Washington Examiner: Zawahiri strike raises new questions about US 'over-the-horizon' capabilities

Washington Examiner: America’s new Most Wanted: Terrorist with key role in Black Hawk Down may be al Qaeda leader

Washington Examiner: Opinion: Ayman al Zawahiri's death evinces a tactical win but also a broader strategic loss

Washington Examiner: Phones of Trump officials in Pentagon 'wiped' of Jan. 6 messages

Washington Examiner: Biden administration offering $10K signing bonus to boost dwindling Border Patrol ranks

Stars and Stripes: Senate Confirms New Leaders Of SOCOM And AFRICOM, Including Marine Corps’ First Black Four-Star General

New York Times: Chinese Military Drills Circling Taiwan Set Up Potential Standoff.

New York Times: Could China Invade Taiwan?

AP: China blocks some Taiwan imports but avoids chip disruption

AP: Ship with Ukrainian corn anchored off Turkey for inspection

New York Times: In Ukraine, Devastation Spreads as Russia Regroups for New Offensive

Reuters: Russian Claims Of Destroying Ukrainian HIMARS False -Pentagon

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Sanctions Woman It Calls Putin’s Girlfriend

Washington Post: Zawahiri Mission: Months In Motion

Air Force Magazine: New Missile-Warning Satellite, Set to Launch, Will Complete SBIRS Constellation

Air Force Magazine: Saved from Closure, RAF Mildenhall Starts Planning: ‘What Should Tomorrow Look Like?‘

Air Force Magazine: Space Force Drops Garrison Name in Favor of ‘Space Base Delta‘

Military Times: Big Changes Ahead for How Troops Battle Future Chemical, Biological Threats

Defense News: Pentagon’s Secret Communications Network to Get Upgrade

Breaking Defense: After RIMPAC, Sailor Feedback Shows Evolving View Of Unmanned Vessels: Officials

Task & Purpose: This Little-Known Air Force Jet Just Became the Most-Watched Aircraft in History

USNI News: Navy Ready to Distribute Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine Taiwan Wants Hypersonic Missiles Yes, China Would Go To War Over Taiwan China Is a Missile Superpower with Plans to Beat America in a War Ukraine War: Putin Has the Blood of 41,000 Dead Russian Soldiers on His Hands

The Cipher Brief: Justice by Hellfire: The Killing of Ayman al-Zawahiri

The Cipher Brief: Pelosi, Taiwan, and US Strategy in the Indo-Pacific

Forbes: Bell/Textron Says Keeping Future Vertical Lift On Track Is Critical To Renewing The Rotorcraft Industrial Base



7:15 a.m. 2425 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, Va. — Association of the U.S. Army discussion with Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels, chief of the Army Reserve and commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve Command.

10 a.m. 419 Dirksen — Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the nomination of Nathaniel Fick to be ambassador at large for cyberspace and digital policy.

12 p.m. — Hudson Institute virtual book discussion: "The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People," with author Walter Russell Mead, fellow at Hudson, and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE)

2:30 p.m. S-116, U.S. Capitol — Senate Foreign Relations Committeemarkup of S.4428, the "Taiwan Policy Act of 2022," with an amendment in the nature of a substitute.


9 a.m. — Center for Strategic and International Studies virtual discussion: “Toward a Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis," with John Culver, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council; Ryan Hass, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; and Bonnie Glaser, director of the German Marshall Fund of the United States' Asia Program

10 a.m. — Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies virtual discussion: “National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), United States Space Force and U.S. Space Command collaboration, current threats, and space acquisitions," with National Reconnaissance Office Director Christopher Scolese

11 a.m. — Atlantic Council virtual book discussion on "Coalitions of the Weak: Elite Politics in China from Mao's Stratagem to the Rise of Xi,” with author Victor Shih, associate professor at the University of California San Diego

12:30 p.m. — Institute for Policy Studies virtual book discussion on "Whatever Happened to the Peace Dividend, and Can We Get One Back?" with Miriam Pemberton, associate fellow at IPS and author of "Six Stops on the National Security Tour: Rethinking Warfare Economies."

2 p.m. 214 Massachusetts Ave., N.E. — Heritage Foundation discussion on "A Matter of Survival: The Future of Taiwan Arms Sales," with retired Army Gen. John Keane; Lara Crouch, senior professional staff member at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council; Dean Cheng, senior research fellow at the Heritage Asian Studies Center; and Walter Lohman, director of the Heritage Asian Studies Center


“I'm about to use four words in a row that I haven't used in this way before, and those four words are ‘Speaker Pelosi was right’ when she decided to include Taiwan on her visit to Asia … We believe in democracy and we believe that the Taiwanese people have a right to that democracy. That's exactly the message that Speaker Pelosi is taking with her today.”

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), chairman, Senate Republican Policy Committee.


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Tags: National Security, Daily on Defense, Afghanistan, Nancy Pelosi, Taiwan, Ayman al Zawahiri

Original Author: Jamie McIntyre

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