How Drones in America’s Kitchen Show Joe Biden’s Weakness
Say that I were to send a drone over my neighbor’s backyard. I took photos of his children playing and filmed him mowing his lawn, talking with his wife, and reading in a hammock. Then, one day, I sent my drone through an open door into his house. It transmitted all kinds of interesting things about my neighbor’s family right onto my laptop screen. I learned how much money was in their bank account from the statement on his desk. I saw how much laundry had accumulated on top of their washer and how his wife liked to sing to herself while making dinner.
Suddenly, they realized the almost undetectable whirr in the background was actually my drone. They swatted it down and crushed it. Seeing my name on a label attached to one of the broken pieces, my neighbor stormed over to my house and demanded an explanation. I said it was all a misunderstanding and that my drone flew around by accident.
He was, understandably, upset but then simmers down. He doesn’t call the police, and although his wife is quite shaken, he tells her it’s not a big deal. He comes back over, says nobody got hurt, takes my word for it that I’ve destroyed all the video footage and photos I’d taken (when actually I hadn’t), and said we should be friends and go out for a burger. My neighbor chose to believe that my extensive invasion of his family’s privacy, with all the potential dangers it entailed, was really just a fluke.
Very few of us would respond this way. Yet the United States has acted pretty much like this toward China’s spying on sensitive military sites with the infamous white “weather balloon” that was finally shot down over the Atlantic — after crossing our country unmolested. According to a Biden administration official, the U.S. and China have “recognized that that unfortunate incident led to a bit of a pause in engagement. We’re seeking now to get beyond that, and reestablish some just standard, normal channel of communications.”
What a relief — the “unfortunate incident” that compromised America’s national security and vital interests was only a “bit of a pause” in “engagement” we can now “get beyond.” It’s back to “standard, normal communications.” Sort of like the guy in the story above who sent a drone into his neighbor’s living room. Really not a big deal, right?
Major nations spy on one another. We spy on China, Russia, North Korea, and many other countries. What’s remarkable about China and the “weather balloon” that wafted gently across American skies is the contempt Beijing showed for the United States in venturing to send a sophisticated data collection tool right over our homeland. China’s brazenness spoke to something that must not go unnoticed: Their disdain for President Biden.
A recent Gallup World Affairs poll shows that less than 40% of Americans believe Joe Biden is respected by his fellow world leaders. While this same survey shows that other presidents have also struggled with the perception of international respect by their fellow citizens, it is extraordinary that Biden, who prides himself on being a foreign policy mastermind, is recognized as weak by three-fifths of the American people.
The president has shown resolve in America’s commitment to Ukraine and in stating we would defend our longtime friends in Taiwan (comments which met with muffled backtracking by the White House). But our disastrous pull-out from Afghanistan and our failure to hold China accountable for its relentless efforts to undermine our economy, our international influence, and our very way of life cannot but trouble international leaders who long for a purposeful and militarily robust United States.
A couple of months ago, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) observed of President Biden, “When you project weakness, you invite aggression and war. When you project strength, like Reagan talked about, you invite peace … Iran [is] getting aggressive and now, Putin [has invaded] Ukraine ... China [is] threatening Taiwan and the Pacific. All these things are happening at the same time, and it is not by accident, it is by design — and it’s a weak foreign policy out of fear.”
No president gets foreign policy right all the time. But the current Commander-in-Chief seems especially adept at sending mixed messages and projecting an erratic direction to the nation’s foreign affairs. Weakness invites home invasion — and spy balloons over places like Missoula, Des Moines, and the suburb where you live. The safety of our country merits better. Much better.
Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Lecturer in Regent University's Honors College.