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Spycraft or Not, Shootdown of Chinese Weather Balloon Using 5th-Gen Jet Looks ‘Silly’, Observer Says

© Photo : Twitter / @TheIntelFrogChinese 'spy balloon' flight path map.
Chinese 'spy balloon' flight path map. - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.02.2023
A US jet destroyed a Chinese weather balloon off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, with US officials saying the balloon had engaged in espionage as it flew over US airspace over the past several days. Beijing insists the dirigible was just a meteorological research balloon that drifted off course.
It's unclear whether the Chinese weather balloon downed over the Atlantic was an intelligence-gathering vessel, but the incident has certainly given Washington the pretext it needs to feed anti-China hysteria amid tectonic shifts being witnessed in the global geopolitical and economic order, former Department of Defense analyst-turned anti-war whistleblower and activist Karen Kwiatkowski has told Sputnik.
“The only reason to shoot down the balloon after it had completely transversed the continental US would be to confirm exactly what the balloon was carrying before it got out of the 200 nautical mile exclusion zone. If we do hear about any analysis from the Pentagon later, this could be used to inform or propagandize the Biden administration’s actions or inaction,” Kwiatkowski explained.

“If the balloon constituted a legitimate threat, and apparently this is not the first time such balloons have drifted this way, then the Biden administration obviously failed to react in defense of the US. More likely they knew it wasn’t a threat but as it was observed by civilian Americans on the ground, it technically became a UFO, they didn’t know what to do, and eventually acted in a way that could be explained, albeit weakly,” she said.

"The Chinese response may have been to chuckle, or it helped inform the Chinese government as to the air defense capabilities of the US, or both. Obviously, if it is determined that [the US] belatedly shot down a weather balloon with a 5th generation fighter jet with a standoff air-to-air Sidewinder missile, it feeds into the global narrative of the US military as an offensively-oriented warmonger, and kind of silly," Kwiatkowski stressed.
A Chinese high-altitude balloon was shot down off the coast of North Carolina on February 4, 2023 - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.02.2023
US Shoots Down Alleged Chinese Spy Balloon
Either way, Washington’s overreaction (or untimely underreaction, as the case may be) will be sure to inform Beijing’s perceptions of US air defense capabilities, as well as perceptions of the US leadership in general, according to the retired officer.
“From a Chinese perspective, the whole event was handled weakly, and I think reveals leadership vacuums and US confusion, and these conditions will inform Chinese relations with the US, and their long-term strategy in dealing with Washington. I don’t see how DC can be treated seriously by the Chinese government, notwithstanding the large, offensive-oriented US military and the US policy for nuclear first strike, Kwiatkowski said.
Conceding that “any airborne object can and probably does collect data,” and that “all countries do this, whether they admit it or not,” Kwiatkowski believes that the longer the Pentagon waits to produce evidence of the balloon’s malicious nature, the more likely it will be that it really was just a harmless weather balloon, as the Chinese say it was. However “if the surveillance equipment on this balloon is found to be interesting, we can be sure this will be used to whip up Chinese war narratives,” she said.

PR Stunt?

Kwiatkowski emphasized that as a critic of the Biden administration, she would actually be “gratified” to learn that the spy balloon drama was just a PR stunt on the part of the White House, since this would at least “indicate some strategic unity and a well-defined set of military and diplomatic objectives vis-à-vis China in the coming years.”
Instead, she said, this administration has so far only demonstrated its propensity to bicker, and faces a massive trust deficit with the public due to difficulty communicating “honestly and clearly” with the American people.
“Officials in the Biden administration are not only bickering amongst themselves over the Ukraine tar-baby, they are not trusted by anyone, and will not be until Blinken and Victoria Nuland and others are removed from their posts,” Kwiatkowski stressed.
A screenshot depicting an unidentified balloon over US skies. - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.02.2023
Republicans Call for Probe, Biden's Resignation Amid 'Chinese Spy Balloon' Blunder

Ominous Omen

There is also a more ominous aspect of the balloon story, related to the growing push by Washington to prepare Americans for a possible direct conflict with China, according to the observer.

“The US government-controlled media has hyped [the spy balloon story] because it feeds into an overall fear narrative that the government wishes to stoke, given a loss of popular interest in continuing to subsidize and extend the war in Ukraine, and to help feed anti-Chinese hysteria among the people. Just last week, [US General Mike] Minihan…publicly proclaimed that the US would be in a hot war with China by 202[5]. The story [about the balloon] fits with that kind of propagandizing. More than a military war with China is really the impending economic and government problems with the rest of the world’s oil consumers and producers moving decisively off the petrodollar system. If US government debt cannot be supported on the back of its formerly dominant dollar, that government must collapse or go completely autocratic to survive. Meanwhile, global gold and energy and actual productive capabilities are entirely outside of US control or influence, or will soon be. When empires collapse, they seek war, and they propagandize and threaten war,” Kwiatkowski explained.

War Happy General - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.02.2023
The Memo-Monger

Did Someone Forget What Century They’re In?

Commenting on the balloon incident and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin’s remarks about the Chinese dirigible being used to monitor American military facilities, Russian military observer Oleg Glazunov told Sputnik that it seemed like Washington had forgotten what century they're in as far as intelligence-collecting methods go.
“When was the last time you heard of reconnaissance by balloon? This was over 50-60 years ago. Moreover, there is a Chinese diaspora in the United States of over 2 million people, with their position so strong in some cities that the FBI can’t do anything. What balloon are we talking about?” he said.
For his part, former CIA station chief Philip Giraldi, executive director of the Council for the National Interest, a US-based non-partisan non-profit, pointed out that “there is no established law regarding satellites or other flying objects passing through someone’s airspace as a violation of sovereignty or international agreements if that object is well beyond the atmosphere, as this balloon was. Satellites cross most nations in the world at a high altitude and many of them are, in fact, spying, but Washington has not begun shooting down those that transit the United States.”
Giraldi echoed Kwiatkowski’s sentiments that the balloon hysteria supports the Biden administration’s push to portray China as a future "adversary" or even "enemy" of the United States. However, he doesn’t expect China to react to the “provocation” through escalation, “as its leadership is more sensible than what we are forced to suffer with here in the United States.”
“I believe that the relationship between Beijing and Washington will continue to be difficult, with most of the problems coming from the political posturing engaged in by a clueless White House,” the observer concluded.
Rendering of Meridian satellite. - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.01.2023
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