According to Biden, a balloon that gathers only a small amount of intelligence and doesn’t pose a military danger isn’t the end of the world.
The story of “Balloongate” is intriguing for several reasons, not the least of which is the balloon itself.
As it travels throughout the continent, the attention of the American public is fixed on commentary.
It was “maneuverable,” according to the Pentagon, implying that someone was in control of it.
If the Chinese are in control, where will they fly it, where will it land, and who will claim ownership?
The US military is considering them as it tracks the balloon’s movement and decides whether or not to shoot it down.
A significant political shadow is being cast by the little white dot 60000 feet in the air.
The diplomatic climate has become so gloomy that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was forced to cancel his trip to Beijing.
He announced the cancellation of his meeting with President Xi, calling it “unacceptable and reckless”.
Events would “limit the agenda,” according to State Department officials, which seems like a fair assessment.
Given the recent history of the most significant bilateral relationship in the world – Taiwan, tensions, and all that – the negotiations were going to be challenging enough.
As an attempt to thaw the diplomatic thaw we may have witnessed at the G20 last year when Biden and Xi met, the meeting scheduled for next week was advertised as a reset in ties.
As the US describes the three pillars of its relationship with China, “invest, align, compete,” the goal of the visit was to establish a framework and basis for better relations.
The act of violence that actually hung over the event, however, could only erode confidence and tilt discussions toward the hostility that exists between Washington and Beijing.
The decision to postpone the trip was an important political one at a time when the US is negotiating one of “its most difficult and consequential” relationships, according to state department sources.
However, some argue that the US should have taken things a step further.
Through social media, the hawks in Washington vented their frustration.
Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican, tweeted: “President Biden has to quit pandering to and placating the communists in China. Bring the balloon down right now and take advantage of its tech, which might be a gold mine for intelligence.”
As President Biden’s opponents called for a forceful reaction, similar emotions reverberated throughout the Republican ranks.
What they received was a measured response, a clear discontent grounded in diplomacy that acknowledged the fact that superpowers always spy on one another.
We are all in danger as tensions between the United States and China rise.
According to Biden, a balloon that doesn’t gather much intelligence and doesn’t constitute a military danger isn’t the end of the world.