China's Spy Balloon Is About Much More Than the Pentagon or Biden Admit

Charles Dharapak

Never underestimate the willingness of American mass media and their audiences to be fascinated for a few days by a balloon from China. The fact that the Pentagon said it was an immense surveillance balloon carrying a load of instruments the size of three school buses made the story even more irresistible.

You should also never underestimate their willingness to miss the real intent of this ancient diplomatic ploy by Xi Jinping.

Combine that with the mental clarity of our president – who boasts that half of the women in his administration are women – and you’ve got a narrative guaranteed to endure a bunch of news cycles.

The only possible better enticement would be if the Washington Post somehow tied the balloon caper to Donald Trump colluding with China. Like Russiagate, it need not be true, just briefly credible in that troubled newsroom. Maybe it would earn another Pulitzer.

Now, Commander in Chief Joe Biden says he commanded the military to shoot down the Chinese balloon on Wednesday. Donald Trump, who is no longer commander in chief, was more emphatic. He ordered the balloon’s doom in all-caps: “SHOOT DOWN THE BALLOON.”

But the U.S. military feared that wasn’t safe somehow. So, it didn’t obey immediately. It allowed the communist balloon to complete its alleged intelligence mission, transmit its data up to Chicom satellites, and exit U.S. airspace before perishing off North Carolina.

There, an F-22 dutifully launched a Sidewinder missile that destroyed, not the balloon, but the huge equipment capsule that might have revealed WTH the Chinese were looking for.

The GOP’s scripted reaction came from Rep. Mike Turner:

Taking it down over the Atlantic is sort of like tackling the quarterback after the game is over.

China was more upset about the shootdown than Joe Biden was over the actual incident. But he was on another break.

But wait! Let’s think this through without the mainstream media’s Tom Clancy fixation. Any nation with a space program has all kinds of satellites. This includes China, which has even established a research station on the backside of the Moon and is creating its own GPS network.

The Union of Concerned Scientists reports there are 6,542 satellites currently orbiting Earth, of which 3,372 are active, including 1,030 for “Earth observation,” 22 for “Earth science,” and 18 “Other purposes.”

Some are stationery. Some can be re-positioned. And many pepetually circle Earth, capable of photographing every inch of the planet every day.

China’s intelligence services have already compromised numerous U.S. universities and instructors with large sums. This includes the University of Pennsylvania, where Joe Biden had a now infamous D.C. office and was paid an enormous amount for not teaching.

China’s newest jet fighter suspiciously resembles an early design of the U.S. F-22. Already possessing the world’s largest military, China has expanded its ICBM sites and naval fleet, now larger than the U.S. Navy.

Chinese intelligence successfully placed a female agent in the bed of a congressman on the House Homeland Security Committee. And in 2015, China hacked into — and for weeks mined undetected — data of the Office of Personnel Management.

Those files contain confidential personal and professional information on multiple millions of federal employees, information that would be gold for targeting potential spy recruits.

Does seem rather paper-tigery, doesn’t it?

So why, one might ask, would China feel the need to dispatch, on only nominally predictable wind currents, a 19th century-style observation balloon visible from the ground with a non-stealth instrument capsule the size of three school buses to drift slowly across its top strategic global competitor? And then, promptly admit ownership?

I’ll tell you why: Face.

It’s one of the most important facets of life in China. And Asia.

An example: At the 20th Communist Party Conference in October, Hu Jintao, who chaired the party for a decade, was seated next to Xi. Suddenly, two men appeared and removed Hu. On national TV. Xi just watched the arrest that was clearly orchestrated to humiliate and ostracize his predecessor.

No one in China ever wants to lose face in public. Suicides have happened over face. Fair to say, Americans’ frenzy over this observation tool hovering above underground ICBM control sites, the home base of the B-2 Spirit bomber, and other sites of strategic interest to a once-and-likely future military opponent was pretty darn public.

The old-fashioned instrument of war drifting in slow motion at will over the United States for its entire mission with no official action beyond hollow words says bluntly to Americans:

We own you. We can send a balloon over your strategic sites. And you don’t do anything.

The balloon also amplifies China’s message to the world: “See, the Americans are paper tigers, just like we said.”

P.S.: “Don’t trust this president. He’s a doddering fool.”

Biden US Ecuador
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

There is ample evidence of that for the world to see. In 2021, Biden thoroughly botched the Afghan troop withdrawal without notifying allies and then casually broke his promise to evacuate anyone who wanted out.

The United States, in effect, has no southern border anymore and is paying a huge price for that. On his first day in office, Biden intentionally began destroying U.S. energy independence. He then begged Saudi Arabia in person to produce more oil. The alleged leader of the free world was rejected.

Then, Biden began draining America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve by one million barrels a day, now at its lowest level in 40 years. He’s now not refilling it. The other day Biden noticed Bill Clinton in the White House and welcomed him to Congress, which Biden left 14 years ago.

It was the Pentagon that identified the Chinese balloon as an intelligence-gathering device. Yet Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin allowed it to perform its dual function for almost a week claiming it was too risky to down it over rural America where hardly anyone is.

Too much risk, by the way, was the excuse for abandoning Americans in Benghazi when Biden was VP. Four died.

Of course, the military could have eliminated the Chinese balloon over water after Alaska before Canada. But that would require foresight and decisiveness. And it would violate the Biden Doctrine of Timidity.

Its first mainland stop was Montana. That’s a very big, very beautiful place, where high-school football teams can travel 700 miles for an away game.

Montana is the fourth largest state, but it ranks only 48th in population density with just seven people on each of its 147,000 square miles. In fact, Montana is home to more than twice as many cows and sheep as people.

Montana ranchers no doubt appreciate Austin’s concern for livestock safety. But the failure to down the Chinese balloon over one of the country’s least-populated states before it could complete its cross-country spy junket has much more to do with hesitant incompetence than always “putting the safety and security of the American people first.”

China claimed the errant device was “mainly meteorological.” The U.S. similarly lied about its downed U-2 spy plane in 1960.

Besides checking on the weather around Montana’s numerous Minuteman III ICBM silos, the Chinese balloon also wafted over the Show Me state, which has only 87 people per square mile.

Interestingly, seven of Missouri’s 70,000 square miles belong to Whiteman Air Force Base, home field for America’s B-2 bombers that can fly nonstop around the world and deliver 20 tons of munitions each. Probably coincidence.

Turns out, Chinese balloons have often flown over this country in recent years with only verbal U.S. complaints. To no effect. None were shot down. A Chinese balloon scanned Florida, which is headquarters for U.S. Central Command. Also Hawaii, headquarters for the Pacific Fleet.

And Chinese balloons also just happened to drift over the Western Pacific U.S. territory of Guam, 3,000 miles beyond San Francisco.

Guam does have beautiful beaches. But the island is also home to a major naval base for Polaris nuclear subs that leave the harbor and submerge, not to surface again for 90-days of patrolling throughout Asia or not even the crew knows where.

Oh, look! At the other end of Guam just 30 miles away is Andersen Air Force Base, where 130,000 Vietnamese refugees landed in 1975 at the end of that war.

Andersen is also home to B-2, B-1B, and B-52 bombers. If you see armed guards circling the planes, they’re loaded with nuclear weapons.

As you can see, the spy-balloon tale has absolutely everything going for it to make compelling mid-winter entertainment, which is what news has become in the Internet age.


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