Biden’s War Budget and its Political Logic

The first budget that Biden came up with totaled more than $6 trillion, and a commentary in the Wall Street Journal suggested that the current administration would raise the level of the U.S. federal budget to $8 trillion. Relative to the size of the U.S. economy, the size of the federal treasury will reach the level of World War II. In other words, the size of the Biden administration’s budget is at a level that only a wartime America could justify. Does this mean that the United States has resolved to go to war with China? Tied to another important Biden decision to order the U.S. intelligence system to make a systematic assessment of the origins of the Chinese virus within 90 days, I believe many can see that the likelihood of a U.S.-China war has indeed increased significantly.

Like many, I used to think that Biden would try to postpone a showdown with Xi Jinping’s China on the issue of epidemic accountability in order to achieve his main political goals for his term, and that it would be better to pass this risky dilemma on to the next president. But now it seems likely that Biden will have a showdown with Xi this year on the issue of accountability for the epidemic. The question that arises is what is Biden’s political logic behind this major decision? In particular, was he compelled by the situation to make this choice, or was he more proactive in making this choice, which could have very significant consequences?

One possibility is that the U.S. intelligence agencies had important evidence that could not be ignored, supporting that the virus originated from the Wuhan lab leak, leaving Biden with no choice. This is the logic of the so-called “paper can’t cover the fire”. After all, the United States is a democratic country, although the president has a lot of power, but not in any case can be a single hand. Biden’s political situation, in particular, gives him little political capital to forcefully suppress the strong evidence that supports the origin of the virus from the laboratory. Because if he did, it would give those who oppose him a great political opportunity.

The next logical step is, if the truth comes out that the virus did come from the Wuhan lab, how would Xi Jinping react? Would he admit it? Would he step down? If Xi Jinping does not admit it and does not step down, what should the United States do? I think it is by following this logic that we can understand why Biden had to prepare for the worst case scenario, which is to prepare for war with China.

Of course, there is certainly another analysis, which is that Biden is intentionally heating up viral traceability and accountability for his own political needs. This is a more conspiratorial analysis. While it is certainly beneficial for Biden to emphasize the Chinese threat to deal with the reality of the internal divisions in the United States, the room for Biden to artificially exaggerate the Chinese threat is actually very limited. One basic reason is that some dependence on the Chinese economy is a very significant reality for both the international community and the U.S. That is, unlike Iraq back then, for the U.S. to artificially exaggerate the China threat would touch on the vital interests of many Americans and foreigners.

Thus, a clear trend is that Xi Jinping and Chinese officials’ reaction and behavior toward the retroactive origin of the epidemic has led to a growing recognition that China’s attitude is completely unconscionable if it is not significantly culpable. Not only does China’s incomprehensible attitude suggest that it is trying to cover its tracks, but Xi Jinping is destroying Hong Kong’s freedom, intensifying his crackdown on Xinjiang and intimidating Taiwan at a time of a global pandemic, and even trying to “use the epidemic for hegemony” by using the U.S. and Western epidemic to expand China’s power. Such behavior shows that Xi Jinping has left himself no way out, which means that once the truth about the epidemic is revealed, Xi is likely to take desperate measures. It would be an inexcusable mistake for the United States not to prepare for the worst; conversely, the United States can only win the confidence of the international community to unite around China if it is prepared for a full-scale showdown with China.

And Biden’s war budget is the most powerful U.S. response to China’s threat, because at this critical moment, empty words without strength will only make China more arrogant and more likely to think it has an opportunity to take advantage of it.