Several days after the flight of a Chinese spy balloon over the U.S. became public, U.S. President Joe Biden ordered its downing. He explained the initial delay was due to a desire to protect civilians from falling debris, be it from the balloon or from any missile used to down it.
Republicans sought advantage from Biden’s slow reaction. “Would Trump have let China fly a spy balloon over our country? Would Reagan? JFK? Truman? No, no, no, and no,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) tweeted on Feb. 3, adding, “So why’s Biden letting China off the hook?”
Jordan’s tweet did not age well. Parrying to seek political advantage, Biden appointees in the Pentagon made it known that Chinese balloons did, in fact, overfly the United States during the Trump administration.
Arguments Fall Flatter Than Balloons
Trump’s team, perhaps uncharacteristically, kept the alleged Chinese balloon overflights of Hawaii, Texas, and Florida secret. The Biden administration also tried, unsuccessfully, to keep the most recent violation of U.S. airspace secret in order to prevent any interruption of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to China.
But the political parrying misses the point, and the balloon fiasco indicates a broader problem: Democrats and Republicans have become so distracted by point-scoring, virtue signaling, and battling over social issues that they have collectively dropped the ball on the fundamental purpose of the federal government: to protect American sovereignty.
There is little difference between tolerance for balloon overflights and illegal immigration. Both represent government failure, in the first case to defend airspace, and in the second to secure borders. In both cases, there is also a troubling pattern in which the government circles the wagons and seeks to impose a cloak of secrecy in order to avoid meaningful action. Only when residents of Montana noticed and publicly photographed an object that appeared almost like a second moon in the sky did the White House react.
Arguments that the Pentagon needed to wait until the balloon traversed the country to safeguard the public fall flat: After all, the balloon entered American airspace off the coast of Alaska. If protecting Americans from falling debris is the issue, the United States might have intercepted the balloon off Alaska’s 12 miles of territorial waters. If that would have interfered with recovery — it is unclear whether the U.S. Navy has succeeded in recovering much balloon debris from the Atlantic — then there was always the land option. Vast swaths of not only Alaska but also Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Nebraska are sparsely populated.
A Matter of Focus
Across administrations, the White House also shirks responsibility for securing borders. Whether under Presidents Bush, Obama, Trump, or Biden, administrations focus most on border defense only when news breaks of mass breaches. To sympathize with illegal aliens is to reward line jumpers and bypass a much more necessary conversation about the number and character of legal immigration. There is little difference between the demand for open borders on immigration and the failure to defend America on all other matters.
That Trump failed to stop balloons does not exculpate Biden. That Biden failed, until forced, does not exculpate Trump. It is time leaders of both parties refocus the federal government on its core mission to secure America from coast to coast and from the ground up. So many other debates on social issues should be secondary, at least at the national level. If the federal government does not have the will or capability to do its job effectively at present, it is time for congressional oversight to identify and help resolve that problem. If they do not, members of both parties will follow their worst instincts and try to cover their own culpability while America’s adversaries laugh at the advantage we are giving them.
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Author Expertise and Experience
Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, Dr. Michael Rubin is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Dr. Rubin is the author, coauthor, and coeditor of several books exploring diplomacy, Iranian history, Arab culture, Kurdish studies, and Shi’ite politics, including “Seven Pillars: What Really Causes Instability in the Middle East?” (AEI Press, 2019); “Kurdistan Rising” (AEI Press, 2016); “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes” (Encounter Books, 2014); and “Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos” (Palgrave, 2005).
February 6, 2023 at 3:11 pm
Another screwy title hides
A very good article.
You authors need to form
A union to fire whoever or whatever (ai ? Robot ?) writes these titles…
February 6, 2023 at 4:03 pm
…that gives “asleep at the wheel” a whole new meaning
February 6, 2023 at 4:15 pm
So if Biden was briefed on the balloon on Tuesday the 30th and ordered the shootdown the next day on the 31st, how quicker would you need the chain of events to occur to say that Biden didn’t fail “until forced?” Unless you don’t care about responsible analysis and are just grinding a political axe.
The Al U Know
February 6, 2023 at 4:53 pm
Wrong on a couple of levels.
Tuesday was the 31st. Just so ya know.
Why was Biden notified on a Tuesday, a full 3 days after the military knew about it?
The we excuse is maybe they knew about it when it was targetable over Alaska, Canada. If so they did nothing. Think about it. Balloon gone means no invasive threat. Balloon gone means no questioning the integrity of our Norad detection and defense system. No headache for the administration.
If they knew.
Was the military keeping it a secret from the Biden presidential administration? Much like the Trump administration then, as many former staffers claim they weren’t briefed.
Then that is on the military.
Also on the military is that if the Commander and chief, President Joe Biden, wants it shot down and these advisors refuse, they are acting against the interests of American sovereignty. Which includes protecting its airspace from invasive balloons.
From The Al U Know
February 6, 2023 at 5:50 pm
“There is little difference between the demand for open borders on immigration and the failure to defend America on all other matters.
Kudos! Yes, agreed. Except that unlimited open borders for immigration will destroy the nation (at least, it will destroy it as a broadly prosperous society), and the occasional Chinese balloon is trivial. But the ruling class doesn’t care about protecting America, they only care about their own power and profits.
February 6, 2023 at 6:19 pm
“China’s Spy Balloon Proves America Can’t Protect Its Borders”
So does the impeachable offense of not defending the southern border from an invasion of millions of people.
So, given what’s happening on the southern border, is it any surprise Biden fails an easy assignment.
Stop the balloon over Alaska or empty Canada.
But what was it? A spy balloon? Weather balloon, weapons platform? A “beta” test of how the U. S. would react to a foreign balloon of unknown potential?
The Sovereign, the American People, need to know, have a RIGHT TO KNOW!
Will Biden come clean to the American People?
If past is prologue… Biden will lie or hide the ball.
Whatever Biden does… the American People have a right to know.
This episode is an example of how the Biden administration acts… when under pressure and close scrutiny.
… hiding things from the American People…
Hunter Biden’s laptop… anyone? That raises questions of whether Biden is compromised by China.
So, possibly does this episode.
We need to know.
February 6, 2023 at 7:11 pm
Could be the US Military was monitoring the ballon to see what it’s capabilities were.
February 6, 2023 at 8:10 pm
Can’t or won’t?
More likely won’t.
February 7, 2023 at 12:23 am
Russians and Chinese look at this circus and laugh. At first, the US air defense could not detect an object larger than an elephant in the sky on the border. When he flew over an important military facility, they were able to detect him. Surprise!!. Then they couldn’t shoot him down for several days. Finally, they shot down the probe, spending a rocket worth 400 thousand dollars on it. Putin wipes away tears of happiness in his office: “And these people are going to fight with us?”
February 7, 2023 at 2:58 pm
What is it about borders that drives people into such a tizzy. We live in a single planet earth…we share air, the oceans, rivers, weather etc. with the rest of the worlds inhabitants. We can not put an impenetrable wall around a continent sized country and it would bankrupt us if we tried. Furthermore, imagine the omnipotence of a government that could surveil the entirety of our 50 states. All of this notwithstanding some of you idiots think that we should try….all I can say is y’all are morons if you think this ballon episode represents a catastrophic failure.
February 7, 2023 at 3:12 pm
Is the same Putin who has had to resort to flinging untrained reserves in human wave assaults against outnumbered Ukrainian conscripts?
February 7, 2023 at 9:20 pm
I read china has a satellite.
Goodnight moon, good night cow jumping the moon, goodnight chinese balloon!
Anyway its our own fault. We’ve been realeasing birthday balloons for 60 years.
February 7, 2023 at 9:37 pm
“Is the same Putin who has had to resort to flinging untrained reserves in human wave assaults against outnumbered Ukrainian conscripts?”
You have Western propaganda of unscrupulous journalists about untrained Russian recruits splashing in your head. Last fall, the Russians mobilized 300,000 people from those who had already served on conscription or participated in wars earlier. That is, ONLY veterans were called up. It is easy to see this if you read Putin’s decree on mobilization. More than four months have passed since then, but still not all the mobilized units have been sent to the front and are undergoing training so that they can be used as efficiently as possible. So you can be calm, the Russians will not throw untrained recruits under fire, as Ukraine does.