My poor bald pate

I don’t know which is sadder – the US government and the entire media industry peddling tales of a Chinese spy balloon, or the fact, from comments under the news stories, that many people believe it.

Garland Nixon’s dismemberment of the story is hilarious. But only in a seriously deranged world could you convince the public that a balloon from China – indeed, a precision balloon in that it goes exactly where the random winds take it – would be a useful spying platform for a nation with a fleet of satellites that can’t be seen by the whole population, and can be taken out with a machine-gun bullet.

Balloons cannot be steered, folks – I’ve had a ride in one. And when cautious commenters say their ability to be directed is “limited,” what that really means is “non-existent.” You saw the photos – what technology did you see enabling the CPC to send it from China to top-secret targets? In fact it drifted across the continent with the wind, as weather balloons do.

Only in a seriously deranged world would you not ask how the US knew this was a kind of weapon not seen since the First World War (when balloons were tethered anyway), and then gave dire warnings about the dangers of shooting it down over Montana. The paranoid suggested it might have a dirty bomb on board, forgetting apparently that we are not at war with China and that, indeed, most of our manufactured goods come from there.

Only in seriously deranged world would you not wonder why another balloon was drifting over South America, which is also not at war with China.

The only plausible explanation for this officially fostered mass-stupidity is that, whilst China gives no signs of wanting a war with the West, the US Neocons show every sign of wanting one with China, if only to distract the world from their imminent loss of the one they fomented with Russia in Ukraine.

The process is pretty similar. Spend a few years spreading absurd stories about the malice and shiftiness of Russia – Russiagate, non-existent Russian bots swaying elections, the Skripal farce, all to the background of Putin the mad dictator, and most of the punters have absorbed the xenophobia unconsciously. Even Nigel Farage, preferring Russia’s denial to Boris Johnson’s claims about being threatened with a missile by Putin, prefaced his remarks with the agreement that Russia “tells lies on an industrial scale.” But can you actually name one of any significance, from Putin, Lavrov, the Defence Ministry or any other Russian Government source?

The warmongers have the advantage with China in that it is more distant, more inscrutable, actually Communist (as opposed to the Cold War rhetoric about Russia) and already has a stack of rumours about genocide of Uighurs, Social Credit surveillance (from balloons?), and originating SARS-CoV-2 (rather than the shifty US virologists already discovered).

So the story sounds like a farce – but then so do tales of the stupid Boche bayonetting babies, and still millions enlist when the time comes.

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About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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