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.