From Sky Lantern To Spy Balloon

Zhuge Liang was trapped. One of the great men in Chinese history, Zhuge Liang, affectionately known as Kong Ming, was fighting his rivals from the neighboring Province. Soldier, statesman, and scholar Zhuge would go on to provide legal and economic reform for an emerging China.

It was the second century of the common ear, and Zhuge was in a pitched battle for his life and the life of his men. Surrounded by the enemy, things were looking bleak. If only Zhuge could get word to his friends and allies in another neighboring province, they could rescue him.

In a moment of pure genius, Zhuge grabbed some rice paper, formed a crude envelope, and under it suspended a candle. He created the very first hot air balloon. Gracefully it floated over the opposing army and right to his allies. Who saved the Zhuge and his army.

To this day, these popular Sky Lanterns are known as Kong
Ming lanterns in honor of their inventor. On special holidays and New Year's, you can see the Kong Ming Sky Lanterns floating over cities and towns in celebration. Each delivers a message of happiness and cheer. But sometimes, so many of the Kongming Lanterns are launched that authorities have had to limit the sheer numbers as all those candles can be a hazard.

Last week another object, also from China, floated over the United States. Although this object used the same lighter-than-air principle to glide over our country, it was not in celebration of some holiday. In fact, to most Americans, Spy Balloon's purpose seemed sinister.

The Kongming lanterns are usually flown at night. Its candle provides a point of light against the dark sky. And its message is one of hope and a future rescue from difficult times. Like other Chinese inventions, such as the kite, the Kongming lantern represents pure joy. Their nighttime launch presents the simple and dramatic play of light and dark, especially when dozens of lanterns go skyward together.

However, the events surrounding last week's Chinese balloon could not have been a more stark contrast. Without seeking permission, the Chinese authorities set their balloon aloft to cross a maximum amount of American territory. These areas contained numerous strategic facilities, including Army and Air Force bases and missile sites. The flight was not haphazard. Reports show that the balloon had a guidance system allowing it to steer toward objects it wanted to survey closely.

Sent aloft to follow the prevailing winds, the balloon first entered American airspace by flying over the Aleutian Islands, where the United States has some of the most sophisticated radar arrays in the world. Although it wouldn't take radar to see this object floating along with the clouds, it was visible to the naked eye.

So, by all accounts, a massive balloon with an unknown payload suspended underneath was allowed to transect the Continental United States without interdiction. Only when the balloon exited the Continental US was action taken to bring it down.

In World War I, balloons were used to drop bombs and gas canisters on the enemy below. Thus the question arises: just what was in that payload? And was it potentially harmful to those Americans under its flight path?

Further, there is no report of any Air Force escort accompanying the balloon as it flew along. A fighter jet escort could provide an instant response should the balloon exhibit hostile action. But there is no indication that the US Military provided any such surveillance.

And finally, there is ongoing speculation that the balloon might have carried an EMP Weapon, such as a low-grade nuclear device. It could knock out electricity to much of the Continent.

We could speculate on and on. We could guess the content of the balloon's payload. It would not be idle speculation. It is instructive to learn the potential risk of allowing such a balloon to traverse the county. Many in our country's establishment either did not appreciate or were not concerned about this risk.

It is not surprising to see the Chinese provoke a challenge to US sovereignty in this manner, and It's something that we should expect. The world is dangerous and aggressive, with bad actors ready to take advantage of a sleeping America.

If you own a bank, you aren't surprised there are bank robbers. However, you should be livid if the guards you hired to protect your bank let the robber walk out with all the bank's money.

And by analogy, that's what just happened to America. The biggest bank robber in the world, metaphorically speaking, just strolled through our bank, looked around, and planned who knows what? The information they collected was invaluable, an excellent guide in finding our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Most incredible in this entire event was the effort by American leadership to ignore that an alien craft was allowed to float free across the country. If not for a local newspaper article, the American people might never have known that China Spy Balloon drifted just over our heads.

It's the behavior of the American authorities that is upsetting. It was gross negligence from the top down, from the President to all the secretaries, military brass, and on-duty stations. And their current behavior has the unmistakable whiff of a "cover-up."

There is an old Chinese proverb that says:

"He who hides his faults plans to make more."