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The larger issue of the Chinese balloon is a test to see how we would respond. We failed the test. We could have taken action over the Pacific as it wandered into Alaska. We could have taken action as it wandered into very rural northern Idaho and Montana, where the loss of lives would be virtually non-existent. Instead, we waited until it traversed the whole United States, floated over the Atlantic, then shot it down.
Biden ordered the shootdown on Wednesday. It happened on Saturday.
In the run-up to the shootdown, several defense sources said these balloons also happened in prior years, predating Biden. Also, several made clear that they were not sure what was actually on the balloon, so it was better to wait for the ocean in case there were biological or radiological issues, particularly with power. But considering the solar panels, that seems to be excuse-making. And, with a seven-mile debris field possible, the damage of impact on the land would not have been much different.
What is intriguing to me is that Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley wanted to wait. He is the same man who told the Chinese he’d give them notice if Trump wanted to take hostile action against China.
Let’s just consider a few thoughts here.
First, perhaps this is a new thing, and the Biden team is lying that it happened during Trump. It does seem to suggest much of the world recognizes Biden’s weakness. After all, Putin did not invade Ukraine until after Trump left office, and China has only gotten bolder since Biden’s unpredictable predecessor left office.
Second, perhaps the Trump team is lying. Perhaps they are, though no one saw or recorded a very visible spy balloon during the Trump years like has happened now. But Trump has no more fidelity to the truth than Biden, so any denial from him may not be true.
Third, and this is where I have serious questions — what if it did happen during the Trump years and the national security bureaucracy did not tell Trump and his appointed leaders? John Bolton, a man who wrote a tell-all book slamming Trump, has no reason to deny a balloon sailed over and the President he came to hate did nothing. But Bolton denies it. John Ratcliffe denies it. They all deny it. The men with nothing to gain through false denials are denying it. The Pentagon bureaucracy says it happened.
It is entirely plausible the national security bureaucracy kept it quiet from the appointed leadership, fearing what Trump would do. That, in and of itself, is a big deal and should be investigated. The bureaucracy does not get to call the shots. If they kept this secret from their commander-in-chief, we need to know, and heads need to roll.
We should have intercepted that balloon before it got over Alaska. The signal to China is that they can keep doing these things. They are probing our responses.
Our military leadership has failed again in this. The Biden military team is too cautious and too reserved, and too academic.
But again, like with the student debt situation, much of the COVID response, etc., the press reports tell us Joe Biden’s instincts were right — he wanted the thing shot down. But the press reports tell us his advisors were the ones who persuaded him not to go with his gut.
That Joe Biden’s gut still tells him to go with the advisors who keep leading him astray is a problem with Joe Biden, not with his advisors. He looks weak.