As I have previously detailed, there is no rational scenario in which the United States could end up in a better, more secure place after a war with China. The best that could be hoped for would be a pyrrhic victory in which we are saddled with becoming the permanent defense force for Taiwan (costing us hundreds of billions a year and the equally permanent requirement to be ready for the inevitable Chinese counter-attack).
The most likely outcome would be a conventional defeat of our forces in which China ultimately succeeds, despite our intervention – at the cost of large numbers of our jets being shot down, ships being sunk, and thousands of our service personnel killed. But the worst case is a conventional war spirals out of control and escalates into a nuclear exchange.
That leaves as the best option something most Americans find unsatisfying: refuse to engage in direct combat against China on behalf of Taiwan. Doing so will allow the United States to emerge on the other side of a China/Taiwan war with our global military and economic power intact.
Publicly, Washington should continue to embrace strategic ambiguity but privately convey to Taiwanese leaders that we will not fight a war with China."
That ambiguity has been policy for a very long time. Bill Clinton committed a major faux pas when he said in a speech we would not go to war over Taiwan. Everyone knew that, but it was something we were not supposed to say... ever.
I think Biden is smart enough to avoid a war with China. And Xi is smart enough to know he would be damaging his own economy severely by invading.
But still, war drums make me nervous, we have a long track record of making dumb foreign affairs mistakes, a track record that goes back to the war of 1812. So when I say long, yeah, I mean centuries.