By Roger C. Kostmayer

Spying, it is humorously claimed, is the second oldest profession.  It is an essential part of international relations and national security.  Everyone does it and the US has some 17 separate organizations involved in “intelligence”.  Like football, there is an offense and a defense, called “counter-intelligence”.  We have come a long way since an American president said “Gentlemen don’t read other people’s mail” some 100 years ago.

The facts aren’t clear yet, but the American people need to understand that a president can’t reveal or discuss many aspects because that would allow China and others to know what intelligence capacities we have and don’t have.   Since we have sophisticated jamming capacities it’s unlikely that the balloon was very successful from an intelligence perspective.  What is clear is China violated US sovereignty and committed a dangerous and provocative act that could make America more aggressive vis a vis China on issues like it’s support of Russia and North Korea, its threat to Taiwan, and China’s aggressive military expansion in the South China Sea. This balloon incident could be a big win for the US, and a big embarrassment for China and its leader.

One unanswered question is: If the balloon was really weather related, China was obligated to inform us in advance and request cooperation.  And China knew that we would know what they were doing.  So what were they thinking, what was their objective, and who was making the decisions?

The world does not need the two biggest and most powerful economies and militaries to increase serious conflict.  Both countries must avoid escalation.

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