DANIEL VAUGHAN: Buck stops with Biden on Chinese Spy Balloon

 February 10, 2023

It's easy to despise what you can't get; that's the moral of Aesop's fable of the Fox and the Grapes. In that tale, a fox eyes some ripe, juicy grapes hanging from a tree and tries multiple times to get them. He fails and walks away scornfully, saying, "What a fool I am. Here I am wearing myself out to get a bunch of sour grapes that are not worth gaping for."

The only thing that made the grapes sour was his inability to get them. There's a similar reaction in politics: when politicians can't get the thing they want, they'll blast it as not worth having at all. Incidentally, this is where the English language gets its expression "sour grapes."

Joe Biden claimed "he'd take care of it," regarding the Chinese spy balloon. He wanted to appear strong and in command. But he decided to allow the balloon to traverse US airspace for eight days. And that's not even counting the Aleutian islands in Alaska or the airspace of our ally, Canada. It's hard to appear tough when you're the first President in the US to get notified of an enemy craft over the United States mainland and then do... nothing.

And so we now get the pivot - the sour grapes.

White House tries the blame game.

First, the Biden administration tried to shift the blame. White House officials said the Trump administration hadn't shot down three previous Chinese spy balloons. But what's most troubling - the US government didn't even learn about those spy balloons until Biden took office. The military never informed the Trump administration of a threat to shoot down.

In fairness to Biden, the problem is much more profound. China is floating these ballons over our airspace, spying and listening into US communications without our knowledge. As Jim Geraghty at National Review notes, there's been a deep exposure of US defenses.

Add it all up, and there are nine US military bases in Alaska, conducting missions from air defense and missile-launch detection, weapons testing, air patrols, and training. ... Chinese spycraft flying over Alaska — or any other US state, territory, or military base — are not something that can be hand-waved away. And apparently, President Biden wasn't notified about this balloon until January 31, when it crossed over from Canada into Montana.

Biden has shifted to trying to sound tough on China. In his State of the Union speech, he said, "But make no mistake: as we made clear last week, if China's threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did."

It's hard to take that seriously when the White House defenders in the press consider it a "silly balloon crisis." The New York Times is trying to warn its readers by writing stories about how this balloon is a severe challenge to US power at home and abroad.

China is a real threat.

But even with that, China doesn't perceive the Biden administration as assertive. China sent this balloon to the United States right before Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was supposed to travel and meet with Chinese officials. Biden's track record is a disastrous pullout of Afghanistan, where he abandoned Americans, a never-ending war in Ukraine with no plan, and now allowing our greatest adversary free access to US airspace.

China is responsible for the global pandemic with COVID-19. It's paid no price for that globally. Biden has helped protect a WHO and US health establishment that does little to make China answer. Biden's response to China is identical to his reaction to the opportunity to kill Osama bin Laden: inaction. He didn't believe we should kill the number one terrorist in the world, and he's not challenging an adversary now.

The US needs real leadership but isn't getting it.

What evidence does China look at for a Biden that responds? So far, he's engaged in sour grapes and passing the blame onto everyone else for not responding. Biden had the option to tell the military to shoot the balloon down as soon as they knew about it. F-22 jets were scrambled and in the air, ready to do just that.

Biden was the one who called them back. I'm willing to grant Biden he was dealt a lousy hand with an incompetent military. The US defense should focus on identifying all threats to our country. But the decision to not act, to not shoot down a clear threat to US integrity, was passed up. And only one person is making that choice.

It's the same person who didn't want to kill Osama bin Laden. That's the real Biden. He plays sour grapes because he never wants to pull the trigger when it matters. When American lives are at stake, he's impotent. He could have gotten the grapes, but he stormed off.

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Thomas Jefferson
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