Winning the Great Balloon War

Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

OK, so America used an ultra-expensive F-22 stealth interceptor to shoot down what may prove to be a common weather balloon that was “made in China.” But, dammit, we won! It was a perfect one-shot kill! Maverick himself couldn’t have done it better. Take that, China!

A friend watches the nightly NBC News, and he tells me NBC repeatedly showed the balloon being shot down. He counted nine times on the first night and four or five times the next night. Is the U.S. military and MICIMATT so desperate for a victory that it has to show a balloon being shot down more than a dozen times over the period of 24 hours? “Yes” is the answer.

As the US surrounds China with more and more military bases, including new bases in the Philippines aimed directly at Taiwan, what the American people are told is that a balloon drifting from China across the US is the true provocation. We are supposed to get hot and sweaty about this while ignoring our own military’s substantial buildup near China. Unarmed balloons, after all, are far more dangerous than military bases and plans for war. (I just read the balloon was “taller than the Statue of Liberty,” so now I know it was a threat!)

Indeed, Americans had to be discouraged from taking potshots at the balloon in places like Montana. Sorry, your bullets won’t reach a balloon floating at 60,000 feet, but they may hit some innocent people on their way down. Fortunately, I’m not aware of any collateral damage or friendly fire incidents in our great balloon war triumph.

And so we have yet another instance of threat inflation in America, another opportunity to distract the American people from the real threats facing us, such as nuclear war. The doomsday clock is not moving closer to midnight because of balloons, I know that much.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools. He writes at Bracing Views.

20 thoughts on “Winning the Great Balloon War”

  1. I read in The Diplomat that China considered it odd that Blinken insisted on meeting with their leaders at this time, just before the Lunar year.
    What a coincidence that the balloon started drifting towards Alaska just when Blinken was inviting himself to China. Anybody with the basic knowlege of prevalent wind patterns in the stratosphere could easily plot the path of the balloon and the time it would take to reach the Atlantic.
    So the US detected the balloon, determined its path and time had Blinken inviting himself only to “cancel” the non-trip and all the while whip-up anti-China sentiment in preparation for war. Negative comments in Yahoo alone were between 5000 to 9000 in most of the visited outlets.

  2. Fortunately, I’m not aware of any collateral damage or friendly fire incidents in our great balloon war triumph.

    Pollution of the ocean and very possible killing of fish and/or marine life by shooting this down over the ocean. Aware now?

    1. And shooting the balloon down over land could also cause pollution on land, kill humans, animals, plants and destroy vehicles, roads and buildings. Either way, it will cause pollution and deaths.
      If the balloon could not be brought down safely, you would have to let it run out of air.

      1. If it had been brought down over land, it could have been recovered. Now it will just pollute the ocean indefinitely.

        I’m an environmentalist and am very on top of these kinds of issues. Plastic pollution in the oceans is a huge problem. Obviously more so for marine life and sea birds than for humans, and also for the ocean itself. But I’m not a human supremacist and I advocate for all life, not humans alone.

  3. They need to parade the captured balloon through the streets of Washington so that the populace can jeer at it.
    I am looking forward to the pilot-“hero” who shot it down getting presented a medal at a prime time ceremony. “tell us again how you managed to catch and shoot it down!!”

  4. “your bullets won’t reach a balloon floating at 60,000 feet”

    Tell Don Jr. and MTG that. Although they should have known since their love affair with guns is well known.

  5. This incident is a textbook example of spin over reality. It is physically impossible to direct the flight path of an unpowered balloon, and laughably impossible to make it hover over a particular spot, yet that was the narrative pushed by the government/media and that’s what people believed. Indeed, you couldn’t rile people up over a balloon that was just aimlessly drifting along, so the narrative was simply adapted to the need, elementary physics be damned. And it worked. Again.

    1. My understanding is that modern balloons can be directed and have a source of propulsion. I know that the traditional ones can’t be, but hasn’t that changed?

      That’s not to say that this is worthy of being made into an incident, especially a major one. These countries spy on each other all the time, so what?

        1. Thanks for the info. Are there any modern balloons that can be directed and/or have a source of propulsion?

          1. You’re thinking of blimps or dirigibles, which either have a propulsion system or are tethered. I’m not aware that a spherical balloon (such as the Chinese one) has ever had a propulsion system, as the aerodynamic drag on such a shape would make directed flight impractical.

          2. Any propulsion systems components would very likely be below the balloon envelope to keep the center of gravity below the center of buoyancy for stability.

            It’ll be interesting to see how many secret missile base pictures, Clinton emails, Covid-19 cultures, etc., they recover from the wreckage.

          3. OK, then I was given incorrect information by someone who’s been very credible in the past. He said he’d researched balloons — he’s a political journalist, not a scientist — but he was clearly wrong about this.

          4. Journalists, political or otherwise, generally know essentially nothing about flight dynamics.

  6. Oh, but the balloon had English words, letters on it. So says our administration. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Comments are closed.