On Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Shootdowns, The American People Deserve Answers

Earlier this month, the Biden Administration allowed a Chinese spy balloon to traverse our entire country, floating over the heads of Americans from Montana to South Carolina, before finally shooting it down.  In just the past week, three more unidentified objects flying in North American airspace were shot out of the sky.  What links each of these incidents is a lack of communication and leadership from the Biden Administration. 

President Biden should have simply shot down the spy balloon, but instead, he opted to deflect criticism rather than be straight with Americans.  And the Administration’s claim – that it didn’t shoot the balloon down out of concern for Americans below – doesn’t hold up.  We now know that American officials were tracking the balloon the moment it lifted off from the south coast of China.  It strains credulity that our military could not have safely shot it down before it drifted into Montana.  If we knew when the balloon lifted off from China, we surely could have identified an opportunity to take it out over an unpopulated area of Alaska, or even Canada. 

Even if this was simply a matter of bad intelligence, even if our officials first learned of the balloon’s existence when it crossed into Montana’s airspace, it still would have been prudent to take it down.  There is always risk in case such as these, and it is the job of our leaders to responsibly mitigate that risk.  Instead, the CCP’s spy balloon traversed the United States for the entire world to see.  This embarrassment actually created far more risk in the future.  Weakness is provocative – and displays of weakness only invite aggression and further attacks on our sovereignty.  The American people deserve better answers than what Team Biden has offered thus far.

They also deserve a better explanation regarding the other three shootdowns which have occurred since the spy balloon fiasco.  It is simply not normal for the US military to shoot down this many unidentified objects in such a short period of time, in such a public way.  President Biden attempted to address them, finally, on Thursday this week. But all he did was cause more confusion.  It seems these targets really were meaningless from a military or intelligence point of view.  Why was the Administration so quick to shoot down these three seemingly harmless targets, yet so slow in shooting down a balloon that we knew threatened American sovereignty? It is reminiscent of Biden’s response to the tragic terror attack in Kabul that claimed the lives of 13 Americans: He ordered a hasty drone strike that failed to eliminate any threats to America, but got 10 Afghan civilians killed, including 7 children.  This recent flurry of activity seems to be a similar, misguided attempt to show strength.  We should be imposing costs on the Chinese Communist Party, not shooting down every blip on our radar.

The real issue here is the Biden Administration’s continued efforts to treat the CCP softly.  Vice President Kamala Harris said in an interview this week that she doesn’t feel the spy balloon incident will affect our relationship with China, and that “(w)e seek competition, but not conflict or confrontation.”  In his address this Thursday, Biden echoed the same sentiment.  This is the opposite of leadership – Xi Jinping just sent a clear message that he is willing to instigate conflict and confrontation, yet Biden has only responded with platitudes about seeking ‘competition.’  We should be publicly imposing costs on the CCP so that the whole world, including Xi Jinping, knows not to mess with us or our sovereignty.  By not doing so, this Administration is once again showing its own weakness and inviting further attacks. 

Americans deserve better leadership.  They want to know why our fighter jets are shooting objects out of the sky, and whether they pose any threat.  President Biden – not the National Security Council spokesperson, not an unnamed Pentagon official, but the President himself – needs to get in front of a camera and give the American people an explanation for these incidents.  He needs to take real action to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable. And he needs to show that America will defend its borders and sovereignty, from our southern border to our own airspace.

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