Some Republicans are losing their minds over the Chinese surveillance balloon that Biden ordered shot down once it was over the water on the East Coast of the US.  They were outraged that Biden didn’t order it shot down sooner. Biden was following the direction of his military advisors. Republicans politicized what was going on as is often the case these days. Our intel agencies asked Biden to wait until the balloon was over water to avoid potential damage to people and structures on the ground as well as have a better chance to gather the remains so that they could study them. Our intel agencies were also taking measures to intercept the information being gathered by the Chinese while the surveillance device was moving through the sky so that they could see what China was interested in learning. They also took action on the ground to limit access to sensitive information by the Chinese. It was good to learn what the Chinese were gathering information about and after shooting it down we have learned even more.

 At Least 3 Surveillance Balloons During the Trump Administration

This is not the first time Chinese surveillance balloons have flown over our country. (By the way, we also fly surveillance devices over other countries.)

“Craig Singleton, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said Chinese surveillance balloons have been sighted on numerous occasions over the past five years in different parts of the Pacific, including near sensitive U.S. military installations in Hawaii,” the Associated Press reported on Saturday.

Bloomberg News and Forbes also reported that the Chinese sent surveillance balloons over this country when Trump was president. Three of them. And did Trump bravely order any of them shot down? Nope.

The AR-15 Crowd Takes Selvies

Speaking of shooting these balloons down, this recent Chinese surveillance balloon was assessed to be floating at an altitude of at least 60,000 miles up while some people pointed their AR-15s at the sky and took  selvies to show how brave and fearless they were compared to Biden. Did they really think their AR-15s were going to be effective at hitting a balloon so far out of range of their guns? Really?

If you go to hunting websites to learn about the range of AR-15s here is what you get:

If you want to use an ar-15 for shooting out to 500 yards, you absolutely can, you just have to be a little more choosy about the rifle and ammunition you purchase in order to do so.

No way an Ar-15 is going to be helpful shooting at a Chinese balloon floating 60,000 miles up, y’all.

Greater Awareness

Why did the Trump administration fail to shoot down any of the three surveillance balloons that floated over our country when he was president?  The Trump administration was probably unaware of their presence. There was a “domain awareness” problem in the past when it came to these surveillance devices. What does that mean? Our intelligence agencies did not know these devices were even up there intentionally flying over our country for the probable purpose of surveillance. But that has changed now. Our country will be tracking these balloons and that new concern and awareness has resulted in unidentified objects being shot down three more times in the last 8 days. One over Alaska, another over Canada, and the third over Lake Huron.

Van Herck said the U.S. adjusted its radar so it could track slower objects. “With some adjustments, we’ve been able to get a better categorization of radar tracks now,” he said, “and that’s why I think you’re seeing these, plus there’s a heightened alert to look for this information.”

The Reason Behind These Surveillance Efforts

We know China definitely sent the first balloon across the country and that it was not a random flight. The balloon can be guided and it was. It lingered over key areas in our country that house our nuclear response systems. Why? The most thoughtful people I have read or heard speak about the reason for China to do this say that China is planning to invade Taiwan to force that country to be part of China.  Like Russia with Ukraine, China is telling its people that Taiwan belongs to the Chinese motherland even though the Taiwanese government is a separate democratic government and the people of that country want to keep it that way: separate and democratic. Our intelligence agencies say that China will invade Taiwan to reclaim it in the next few years. China is sending us a message. It wants the United States to know that they know where our nuclear sites are in the event we decide to engage in a responsive military action against China once they invade Taiwan.

The real reason China and Russia feel the need to retake these neighboring independent democracies is that they are independent democracies and people living in Ukraine and Taiwan have better lives than people living under the dictatorships in Russia and China.  It is far better to live in a democracy than to live under autocratic rule where journalists and people in general are not allowed to express ideas or do so at their peril and where the populace gets a steady daily diet of propaganda. Democracies are messy but they allow opinions and disagreements and rely on compromise rather than strong man tactics to govern. Democracies allow free speech and free thought. People want that. The contrast is bad for autocracies.

An autocratic movement has risen up in our country too. It has aligned itself with the Christian Nationalist movement. Donald Trump, Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida, the extremist House Republicans, Governor Abbott in Texas and the MAGA movement generally in the United States are all part of a global push to take over democracies and replace them with autocracies and dictatorships that will cater to the will of ultra conservatives and ultra wealthy people who want to get and stay in power. It is more complicated than that, of course, but most important is that our government, led by Joe Biden, is taking a strong stance, determined to push back against autocratic regimes: China and Russia; push back against the autocratic movement in our country, and rally the rest of the world to support democratic countries that are and will be under attack in the coming years.