Donald Trump Jr., noted defense strategist, is suggesting that if President Biden isn’t going to engage the U.S. military to shoot down the Chinese surveillance balloon, then private citizens should just do it themselves.
Um, no, not that simple.
The balloon, which is the size of three transit buses, is flying at altitudes greater than 60,000 feet, well above what your average passenger airplane flies at.
The U.S. military, no doubt, has the capability to shoot down a balloon, considering the vast arsenals available to the U.S. Air Force, so the question isn’t, can it be done, but rather, what would happen afterward?
The balloon would deflate after being pierced, leaving to question where it would eventually crash to earth.
It’s not as easy as just assuming that the debris field wouldn’t hit a city or town, a residential area or a commercial district, or would impact the middle of nowhere.
It wouldn’t even be easy to predict where the debris would hit the ground.
So, there’s that.
Second thing is, assuming the balloon is a surveillance balloon, and that’s a safe assumption, it’s not like China would be getting anything more in the way of information than it can already get, much more effectively, from its military satellites orbiting the earth.
This, of course, is what is vexing about the why as to the balloon being sent by the Chinese into U.S. airspace.
It’s sloppy, to say the least, on the part of the Chinese, to do something this provocative, and this easily detectable.
A FoxNews.com columnist suggested that China could be using the balloon to “detect radio, cell phone and other electronic communications often called ‘signals intelligence.’”
This would make more sense than using a balloon to take photos, again, given what China could get – what any country could get – from satellites in orbit.
If that’s what they’re trying to do, they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, in maybe the most embarrassing way anybody can imagine.
One other idea for dealing with the balloon being floated out there is to try to steer it into U.S. custody, so that intelligence officials can get a look under the hood of what the Chinese did to outfit the balloon, to get a sense of what they’re trying to do.
That would seem to be a better idea than shooting it down.