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How to stop China’s spy balloons Building new air defences ignores a stealthier threat

US servicemen recover a balloon (Petty Officer 1st Class Tyler Thompson/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

US servicemen recover a balloon (Petty Officer 1st Class Tyler Thompson/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)


February 14, 2023   4 mins

Two things are clear about the four aerostats (“balloons”) that have penetrated the skies above US and Canadian territory in recent days. First, that the US authorities knew almost from the start they were Chinese because they intercepted transmissions of the data they were collecting; and second, that Beijing’s officials who authorised the blatant intrusions were not in the least bit concerned about America’s response if they were detected, or if the balloons crashed to earth. Nor, it seems, were they particularly worried about the danger of collisions with airliners: both the Airbus A380 and the far more common Boeing 787-8/9 can operate just above 43,100 feet, while one of the aerostats was shot down at around 40,000 feet.

The reason for China’s brazen balloon launch is simple. Since 1989, the Communist Party’s leaders have learned that Americans are very similar to the Xiongnu nomads the Chinese encountered 2,500 years ago. While formidable warriors, the Xiongnu were easily manipulated once their chiefs became addicted to Chinese silk robes in place of smelly furs, and to alcoholic beverages.

Each time the Party leadership does something outrageous — from the Tiananmen Square Massacre to the mass campaign to forcibly transform Uyghurs and extinguish Hong Kong’s liberties — US sanctions are loudly threatened or even imposed amid talk of decoupling once for all. Until, that is, key members of America’s ruling class emerge to explain the utter necessity of more trade and more financial cooperation, easily enlisting perennially needy political leaders, bankers and brokers, but also prestigious academic institutions whose leaders seem to view the FBI more negatively than China’s GuóānbĂč intelligence service.

They always have good arguments against making a fuss about Chinese misconduct. After Tiananmen, the secular religion of Free Trade was invoked to resume increasingly large investments in Chinese manufacturing, notwithstanding the catastrophic loss of manufacturing employment to Chinese imports. Free trade was supposed to generate increasing numbers of free traders in China, who would undermine, if not overtly resist, the Communist Party’s absurdly ill-fitting Maoist ideology. The same false promises — this time to resume investments in Xinjiang — are once again invoked in Germany and France, while prominent American CEOs, including Apple’s Tim Cook, have resumed their pilgrimages to Beijing and Shenzhen. Woke capitalism, it seems, stops at the water’s edge, overlooking China’s persecutions of entire nations while furiously denouncing solitary incidents at home.

To explain away the latest aerostat outrage, China’s faithful defenders could start by pointing out that, while the minimum orbital altitude for satellites is 160 kilometres (99 miles) above sea level, there is no lower limit to the freedom of movement in space, nor an upward counterpart in sovereign territorial waters out to 12 nautical miles, or 24 with the “contiguous zone” for customs and police enforcement. True, most countries seem to claim unlimited altitude sovereignty. But enforcement is actually a requirement for such claims, and that necessitates territorial air defences that very few countries have, and which the US itself dismantled long ago, scrapping its squadrons of specialised interceptor fighters, countless radars for search and fire control, and batteries of surface-to-air missiles. This time, the offending aerostats were shot down by “air superiority” fighters designed to outfly other fighters.

China’s defenders could also point out that, as far back as 2006, Beijing publicly declared its intention to rely on ”stratospheric airships”, as well as satellites and reconnaissance aircraft. Or they could point out that spy balloons are a common feature in the West. The Franco-Italian Aerostar partnership, for instance, modestly describes itself as “a world leader in the design, manufacture, integration, and operation of stratospheric balloon platforms and airships” — neither of which are likely to be confined to national airspace. And how did the US respond to the 2006 Chinese announcement? With the US-China Agreement on Earth Observation System and Related Data Activities, amicably signed in November 2, 2010, as if Chinese intentions were actually friendly.

Despite the events of the past week, the United States and its allies should not now divert military funds to build enormously costly national air defences specifically designed to detect and shoot down a handful of aerostats as soon as they enter their national airspace. Such defences are justified to defeat aerial attacks, not to see off a few balloons. Instead of guarding their territory, both the United States and its allies must deter intrusions by inducing fears of prompt and effective retaliation in Beijing — first and foremost by further restricting investments in China, as well as technology transfers. This will not be easy. As I write, Italy’s Leonardo aerospace company is still trying to sell airframe technology to the Chinese, while Germany’s Siemens, repository of much of the country’s high-tech material, eagerly invests in China with the help of successive Chancellors to defend it from criticisms.

In the US, meanwhile, the China lobby steps in with its long list of eminent advocates: from Henry Kissinger, who famously called for a US-China “G-2” condominium, to assorted Wall Street moguls led by Ray Dalio, founder of the gigantic Bridgewater investment house. As well as offering their own pearls of wisdom, they dispense ample funds to think tanks that disseminate their views, and obediently exclude dissenters. (According to Wikipedia, I am the inventor of “geo-economics”, but have never been asked to speak at Washington DC’s Geo-Economic Centre, funded by a prominent China investor.)

Of course, the China lobby does not actually defend the Communist Party’s regime. It merely deploys its influence against any serious retaliation for each particular outrage, from the Tiananmen massacre to last week’s balloons. Remarkably, this free-trade crusade is still vigorously advanced even after Xi Jinping’s recent announcement of his goal to build a “country that leads the world in terms of composite national strength and international influence by the middle of the century”. Given this open pursuit of supremacy, what exactly is the justification for investing even a cent or centime in China?

For now, at least, some hope can be found in President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken’s refusal to revoke any of Trump’s unprecedented technology-transfer prohibitions against China, as leading figures in both Silicon Valley and Wall Street loudly demanded. Indeed, Biden even strengthened such measures. But the China lobby will no doubt keep trying to revert to its preferred policies, and Beijing’s balloons will no doubt still lurk on the horizon.


Professor Edward Luttwak is a strategist and historian known for his works on grand strategy, geoeconomics, military history, and international relations.

ELuttwak

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J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

America is a profoundly divided society. The divisions began long ago (were almost baked into the founding of the nation) and have been massively expanded with the advent of modern “progressive” politics.
To remain cohesive in any meaningful way, the US requires two things: an external enemy and a stable economy. China provides both but the US-China relationship must be managed carefully to strike a workable balance. As the author notes, we can periodically denounce China and impose some sanctions, but we are hopelessly reliant on China as a source of cheap imports and also as a major export market, so we can never be too tough with them. Only today, I read an article predicting that the resurgence of the Chinese economy post-covid will save the US from recession.
To effectively combat China, the US would have to reorder its society; everything from the focus of secondary and higher education (more science/technology and tuition waivers to encourage students into those disciplines), manufacturing (much more on-shored), and a sincere commitment to redressing the severe economic imbalances that exist in US society. To achieve such a reordering requires a national spirit, a sense of, dare I say it, patriotism. Sadly, several decades of grievance politics, culminating in wokeness, has destroyed the ties that bind us.
To face down China requires us to face our own demons, and that won’t happen. Meanwhile we strut and posture over Ukraine, and jeer when Mr. Luttwak proposes a negotiated end to that conflict. At least we have a common enemy in Putin, and that will paper over the cracks in our own society, for now.

Last edited 1 year ago by J Bryant
Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The reason why the author is not invited to make those speeches is that his emphasis on realism isn’t going to make anyone wealthier.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I disagree with the need for more STEM education here in the US. We have plenty of graduates in these fields, but not enough for them to do. Too many postdocs chasing after limited funding, and churning out “safe” research to get continued funding rather than risky research that will either fail (most likely) or lead to breakthroughs (rare, but they make it all worthwhile). It’s that way with those with master’s and bachelor’s degrees as well.
As James Dyson said of the UK In his autobiography Invention: A Life, we need more people designing and building things. Those people with STEM degrees need to be encouraged to take risks, and allowed to fail without that being the end of their career (as long as they fail in the right way). All this sounds platitudinous because it’s hard to say well. But it’s important. James Dyson does a good job describing it in his book.
With problems like climate change, instead of know-nothing, yammering people like Greta Thunberg and Al Gore getting attention, we ought to focus on what science and technology can do about the problem. But those who do never seem to get the support they deserve.
I don’t know much about China, but when I was a graduate research fellow studying law at Tokyo University in the 1980s there were several Chinese students studying there. One was studying securities law, and told me that the Shanghai Stock Exchange would re-open soon and become one of the world’s leading stock exchanges. I scoffed at the time, but he was right.
There are lots of things not to like about the Chinese Communist Party, but the comparison between the patriotism and can-do character in the US and that in China, I think China comes out on top. As you point out, we have our work cut out for us.

Will Will
Will Will
1 year ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

I was involved in Japan and the Japanese securities market in the 80s. Japanese companies were so keen to invest and offshore manufacturing into China I couldn’t believe it.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Interesting that you see the STEM degree product an academic rather than an industry innovator.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Pursuing foolish goals like climate change and DEI are rotting our scientific establishment. You are correct in pointing out that we should be focused on REAL problems. Government programs divert resources from the more important problems.

Will Will
Will Will
1 year ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

I was involved in Japan and the Japanese securities market in the 80s. Japanese companies were so keen to invest and offshore manufacturing into China I couldn’t believe it.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Interesting that you see the STEM degree product an academic rather than an industry innovator.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Pursuing foolish goals like climate change and DEI are rotting our scientific establishment. You are correct in pointing out that we should be focused on REAL problems. Government programs divert resources from the more important problems.

Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The reason why the author is not invited to make those speeches is that his emphasis on realism isn’t going to make anyone wealthier.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I disagree with the need for more STEM education here in the US. We have plenty of graduates in these fields, but not enough for them to do. Too many postdocs chasing after limited funding, and churning out “safe” research to get continued funding rather than risky research that will either fail (most likely) or lead to breakthroughs (rare, but they make it all worthwhile). It’s that way with those with master’s and bachelor’s degrees as well.
As James Dyson said of the UK In his autobiography Invention: A Life, we need more people designing and building things. Those people with STEM degrees need to be encouraged to take risks, and allowed to fail without that being the end of their career (as long as they fail in the right way). All this sounds platitudinous because it’s hard to say well. But it’s important. James Dyson does a good job describing it in his book.
With problems like climate change, instead of know-nothing, yammering people like Greta Thunberg and Al Gore getting attention, we ought to focus on what science and technology can do about the problem. But those who do never seem to get the support they deserve.
I don’t know much about China, but when I was a graduate research fellow studying law at Tokyo University in the 1980s there were several Chinese students studying there. One was studying securities law, and told me that the Shanghai Stock Exchange would re-open soon and become one of the world’s leading stock exchanges. I scoffed at the time, but he was right.
There are lots of things not to like about the Chinese Communist Party, but the comparison between the patriotism and can-do character in the US and that in China, I think China comes out on top. As you point out, we have our work cut out for us.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

America is a profoundly divided society. The divisions began long ago (were almost baked into the founding of the nation) and have been massively expanded with the advent of modern “progressive” politics.
To remain cohesive in any meaningful way, the US requires two things: an external enemy and a stable economy. China provides both but the US-China relationship must be managed carefully to strike a workable balance. As the author notes, we can periodically denounce China and impose some sanctions, but we are hopelessly reliant on China as a source of cheap imports and also as a major export market, so we can never be too tough with them. Only today, I read an article predicting that the resurgence of the Chinese economy post-covid will save the US from recession.
To effectively combat China, the US would have to reorder its society; everything from the focus of secondary and higher education (more science/technology and tuition waivers to encourage students into those disciplines), manufacturing (much more on-shored), and a sincere commitment to redressing the severe economic imbalances that exist in US society. To achieve such a reordering requires a national spirit, a sense of, dare I say it, patriotism. Sadly, several decades of grievance politics, culminating in wokeness, has destroyed the ties that bind us.
To face down China requires us to face our own demons, and that won’t happen. Meanwhile we strut and posture over Ukraine, and jeer when Mr. Luttwak proposes a negotiated end to that conflict. At least we have a common enemy in Putin, and that will paper over the cracks in our own society, for now.

Last edited 1 year ago by J Bryant
Emre S
Emre S
1 year ago

I think another war is on the horizon and the defiance shown by China here betrays that intention. I’d time it soon after the US presidential election possibly with a new president and either way against a busy and divided country. Invasion of Taiwan may solve China’s chip design and production problems which are crippling Russia today and are key to AI supremacy.

Last edited 1 year ago by Emre S
Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago
Reply to  Emre S

As I have said lots of times China cannot win any war – never could.

They are totally dependent of endless streams of tankers and freighters – they are like UK and Japan in WWII – Both brought to their knees by a couple hundred simple submarines which had to search for targets with binoculars.

If they insanely invaded Taiwan – first they will go into global depression if the Chip Foundries get destroyed and all industry stops

But the real thing is just some torpedo’s and ship missiles – and China goes into a Famine. Super tankers sunk, food freighters sunk, cargo disrupted – they starve.

And also 3 out of the 4 ‘Balloons’ are extraterrestrial in a way – they come from the Liza4rd People’s 5 th Dimension ‘Great Underground Caves’, so more pan-dimensional really.

from the Guardian

”Psychologists are trying to determine why otherwise rational individuals can make the leap from “prudent paranoia” to illogical conspiracy theories

According to a Public Policy Polling survey, around 12 million people in the US believe that interstellar lizards in people suits rule our country. We imported that particular belief from across the pond, where professional conspiracy theorist David Icke has long maintained that the Queen of England is a blood-drinking, shape-shifting alien.”

It is because the Lizards of Davos are REAL! These are their Balloons….things are getting strange these days…

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

You forgot to mention that the dreaded U-boats failed spectacularly! (There were never enough of them.)

China is quite well practiced at famine. During “The Great Leap Forward”*, upwards of 40-50 million died of it.

(*1959-62)

Tony Day
Tony Day
1 year ago

I would not agree that the U=Boats failed spectacularly, I would say it was a close run race. Something that the UK did not learn a lesson from.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Day

Karl Dönitz estimated he needed 300 U-boats ‘at sea’ to knock out Great Britain. In reality he never had more than about 65, which was simply NOT enough.

Off course as far as Adolph & Co were concerned the Navy, (including U-boats) was a bit of a side-show and funded accordingly.

‘We’ were never a priority and Dönitz was being somewhat unrealistic if he thought otherwise.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Day

Karl Dönitz estimated he needed 300 U-boats ‘at sea’ to knock out Great Britain. In reality he never had more than about 65, which was simply NOT enough.

Off course as far as Adolph & Co were concerned the Navy, (including U-boats) was a bit of a side-show and funded accordingly.

‘We’ were never a priority and Dönitz was being somewhat unrealistic if he thought otherwise.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

If sinking 5,000 allied ships is failing spectacularly, then you are quite correct.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

It wasn’t nearly enough and they were defeated.*

The US Navy submarines did much better against Japan.

(*Let’s compromise and call it a spectacular defeat then.)

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

It wasn’t nearly enough and they were defeated.*

The US Navy submarines did much better against Japan.

(*Let’s compromise and call it a spectacular defeat then.)

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago

Current Chinese demographics can’t support the losses today.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

While China has a bad mix of ages and sexes, it does have many men of fighting age. And their leaders do not care how many they have to sacrifice.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

While China has a bad mix of ages and sexes, it does have many men of fighting age. And their leaders do not care how many they have to sacrifice.

Tony Day
Tony Day
1 year ago

I would not agree that the U=Boats failed spectacularly, I would say it was a close run race. Something that the UK did not learn a lesson from.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

If sinking 5,000 allied ships is failing spectacularly, then you are quite correct.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago

Current Chinese demographics can’t support the losses today.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

interstellar lizards in people suits 
Great – you watched the SOTU speech.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

You forgot to mention that the dreaded U-boats failed spectacularly! (There were never enough of them.)

China is quite well practiced at famine. During “The Great Leap Forward”*, upwards of 40-50 million died of it.

(*1959-62)

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

interstellar lizards in people suits 
Great – you watched the SOTU speech.

Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago
Reply to  Emre S

As I have said lots of times China cannot win any war – never could.

They are totally dependent of endless streams of tankers and freighters – they are like UK and Japan in WWII – Both brought to their knees by a couple hundred simple submarines which had to search for targets with binoculars.

If they insanely invaded Taiwan – first they will go into global depression if the Chip Foundries get destroyed and all industry stops

But the real thing is just some torpedo’s and ship missiles – and China goes into a Famine. Super tankers sunk, food freighters sunk, cargo disrupted – they starve.

And also 3 out of the 4 ‘Balloons’ are extraterrestrial in a way – they come from the Liza4rd People’s 5 th Dimension ‘Great Underground Caves’, so more pan-dimensional really.

from the Guardian

”Psychologists are trying to determine why otherwise rational individuals can make the leap from “prudent paranoia” to illogical conspiracy theories

According to a Public Policy Polling survey, around 12 million people in the US believe that interstellar lizards in people suits rule our country. We imported that particular belief from across the pond, where professional conspiracy theorist David Icke has long maintained that the Queen of England is a blood-drinking, shape-shifting alien.”

It is because the Lizards of Davos are REAL! These are their Balloons….things are getting strange these days…

Emre S
Emre S
1 year ago

I think another war is on the horizon and the defiance shown by China here betrays that intention. I’d time it soon after the US presidential election possibly with a new president and either way against a busy and divided country. Invasion of Taiwan may solve China’s chip design and production problems which are crippling Russia today and are key to AI supremacy.

Last edited 1 year ago by Emre S
Will Will
Will Will
1 year ago

Good piece, I couldn’t believe when I began iin investment banking in the 80s why so much Western capital and expertise was being applied to Communist China with all its baggage and all it entailed for its neighbours and the West.

Will Will
Will Will
1 year ago

Good piece, I couldn’t believe when I began iin investment banking in the 80s why so much Western capital and expertise was being applied to Communist China with all its baggage and all it entailed for its neighbours and the West.

BW Naylor
BW Naylor
1 year ago

Clearly China is in the same company as Russia and Iran when it comes to security threats, corruption and tragic human rights, but we don’t impose the same sanctions on them for one reason: greed. The corporate world is willing to park their morals for the economic potential of selling to 1,000,000,000 people.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  BW Naylor

The NBA, for example. They see China as their main growth market. So, to keep the ridiculous profits and salaries coming, they bow to Beijing.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  BW Naylor

The NBA, for example. They see China as their main growth market. So, to keep the ridiculous profits and salaries coming, they bow to Beijing.

BW Naylor
BW Naylor
1 year ago

Clearly China is in the same company as Russia and Iran when it comes to security threats, corruption and tragic human rights, but we don’t impose the same sanctions on them for one reason: greed. The corporate world is willing to park their morals for the economic potential of selling to 1,000,000,000 people.

N T
N T
1 year ago

wait…WHAT?
someone has demonstrated a vector for delivering…anything, and we shouldn’t do something about it, because, you know, no one else would think of exploiting that vector?
really?
Were you alive for 9/11? We knew for FOREVER that security at airports was lax (and, it seems, it still is, just maybe a bit less so…maybe).
Congrats to us. The ChiComs have demonstrated a capability. Now, we need to ensure a means of defeating it.
Imagine NoKo, Moscow, Raqqa, etc. saying “screw ICBM’s. Let’s build airships.”

Tony Day
Tony Day
1 year ago
Reply to  N T

Balloons are a cheap and simple irritant I see it as a win win for the Chines, Cost of balloon a couple of hundred dollars (probably) cost of a sidewinder missile and delivery a few thousand.

Jonny Stud
Jonny Stud
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Day

$330,000 per missile apparently, and the first shot missed…so $660,000 plus the costs of air crew, ground crew, flight control, fuel and running the plane etc etc and you are absolutely correct. Oh and throw in the search and recovery efforts, followed by the brains in R&D devoting several weeks to working out the computer on board just lists Pi to a thousand places in the shape of Ji Xinping laughing and each relatively cheap balloon could well drain $2 million in US resources all told.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonny Stud

It is the understatement of the year to say that shooting down a balloon with a sidewinder missile was overkill.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonny Stud

Wouldn’t good old-fashioned bullets be good enough? Why use a missile?

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonny Stud

It is the understatement of the year to say that shooting down a balloon with a sidewinder missile was overkill.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonny Stud

Wouldn’t good old-fashioned bullets be good enough? Why use a missile?

Jonny Stud
Jonny Stud
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Day

$330,000 per missile apparently, and the first shot missed…so $660,000 plus the costs of air crew, ground crew, flight control, fuel and running the plane etc etc and you are absolutely correct. Oh and throw in the search and recovery efforts, followed by the brains in R&D devoting several weeks to working out the computer on board just lists Pi to a thousand places in the shape of Ji Xinping laughing and each relatively cheap balloon could well drain $2 million in US resources all told.

Tony Day
Tony Day
1 year ago
Reply to  N T

Balloons are a cheap and simple irritant I see it as a win win for the Chines, Cost of balloon a couple of hundred dollars (probably) cost of a sidewinder missile and delivery a few thousand.

N T
N T
1 year ago

wait…WHAT?
someone has demonstrated a vector for delivering…anything, and we shouldn’t do something about it, because, you know, no one else would think of exploiting that vector?
really?
Were you alive for 9/11? We knew for FOREVER that security at airports was lax (and, it seems, it still is, just maybe a bit less so…maybe).
Congrats to us. The ChiComs have demonstrated a capability. Now, we need to ensure a means of defeating it.
Imagine NoKo, Moscow, Raqqa, etc. saying “screw ICBM’s. Let’s build airships.”

Jonny Stud
Jonny Stud
1 year ago

As the Americans have now admitted that the balloons are probably benign and not even tied to the CCP, are you going to re-do the headline on this article?

M Lux
M Lux
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonny Stud

Haha nope, the news cycle moved on. I think this whole charade was just to create some noise because of the Nord Stream 2 article.

M Lux
M Lux
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonny Stud

Haha nope, the news cycle moved on. I think this whole charade was just to create some noise because of the Nord Stream 2 article.

Jonny Stud
Jonny Stud
1 year ago

As the Americans have now admitted that the balloons are probably benign and not even tied to the CCP, are you going to re-do the headline on this article?

james elliott
james elliott
1 year ago

“The reason for China’s brazen balloon launch is simple. Since 1989, the Communist Party’s leaders have learned that Americans are very similar to the Xiongnu nomads the Chinese encountered 2,500 years ago. While formidable warriors, the Xiongnu were easily manipulated once their chiefs became addicted to Chinese silk robes in place of smelly furs, and to alcoholic beverages.”

Well, yes, very much so – the Democrat leadership is very openly bought and paid for and acting nakedly *against* American interests.

But the other element in the equation is Woke culture, which is very obviously a weapon of war of the CCP.