Imperialism vs. the brazen balloon

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called it a “brazen incursion.” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre called it “a clear violation of our sovereignty.” Not to be outdone, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted that “China’s brazen disregard for U.S. sovereignty is a destabilizing action that must be addressed, and President Biden cannot be silent.”

You would think the United States had been invaded by air, land and sea. Or at least one of the three.

But what did this allegedly “brazen” act consist of? A balloon! Granted, it was a very big balloon, reportedly about the size of three buses. But it was one single unarmed balloon without a pilot or weapons. That was it.

Cartoon: Murphy

Beijing insists it was a civilian weather research balloon blown astray by high winds and has rightly accused the U.S. of overreacting. Nevertheless, Washington and the media, without proof, have repeatedly referred to the “Chinese spy balloon.” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a planned diplomatic trip to meet with Chinese officials after the balloon sighting was reported over Montana.

On Feb. 4, just after the balloon was blown past land but was within the 12 miles of the Atlantic Ocean the U.S. claims, a missile fired from a U.S. Air Force plane brought it down. Demonstrating that he is tough on China, President Joe Biden bragged that he ordered it shot down. But House Republicans plan to vote for a nonbinding resolution condemning the White House for not acting swiftly enough against the balloon.

All this tough talk, followed by tougher talk, might be laughable if it were not so dangerous. It coincides with predictions Jan. 27 — which other Pentagon brass tried to walk back — by four-star Air Force General Mike Minihan that the U.S. will be at war with China by 2025. Minihan instructed all personnel in the Air Mobility Command, which he oversees, to “fire a clip into a 7-meter target with the full understanding that unrepentant lethality matters most. Aim for the head.” (ABC News, Jan. 27)

The belligerent messaging over the balloon incident follows the recently announced expansion of U.S. military presence in the Philippines. According to NPR on Feb. 2, “analysts say this bigger footprint could help deter China both from taking action on self-governed Taiwan, as well as contain Beijing’s presence in the South China Sea.” This is despite the fact that even the U.S. recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the legitimate Chinese government and acknowledges that Taiwan is part of China.

In reality it is U.S. imperialism that threatens China’s sovereignty, and not the other way around.

This latest incident exposes for the umpteenth time the blatant hypocrisy of the most powerful, most imperialistic state in human history. The U.S. has invaded more countries than any other government in the world, with no regard for those countries’ sovereignty. 

The danger in these latest war moves is palpable. Minihan has practically ordered U.S. service people under his command to be ready to put their lives at risk. But the real danger is to the Chinese people and the people of the world, who would be caught in a new imperialist war, carried out in tandem with the war in Ukraine.

Antiwar activists in the U.S. have a duty to oppose all of Washington’s war moves and to pledge to defend People’s China against imperialist aggression. 

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