Also, rather than viewing this balloon incident as an “embarrassment” for China, one should perhaps view it as a strategic move on the part of Beijing in the sense that Beijing demonstrated its technological capabilities to the world while employing and revealing only a fraction of their true power to do so, whereas Americans and everyone else were caught flatfooted and unaware. Washington did not even come to know about this balloon incident until a civilian informed them. Nor could Washington hack the balloon’s motherboard and bring it down. Hence, the embarrassment is largely on the part of Washington, not Beijing, although we like to spin things in our media culture. And as one scholar wrote almost two decades ago:
“Perhaps we have been looking in the wrong direction – and it is America’s weaknesses that should and will preoccupy us. Indeed, it is conceivable that American global power will unravel far more quickly than anyone previously imagined and that within two decades its influence could be a pale shadow of what it is now. As a Chinese world order begins to take shape, the American world order is eroding with remarkable speed. Welcome to the future.”
It is also quite telling that Russia has dubbed this latest phase of the global hybrid war of the 21st century as “the war to end all wars.” Perhaps Russia has framed and perceived our situation in such a manner from a position of strength, given its close alliance with China. One would also want to know what the basic aim, goal, or objective is on the part of Russia and China in their global hybrid war. Certain folks have argued that the basic aim, goal, or objective of Russia and China is to completely change the global order which Washington created soon after World War II given their recent rise and in turn bring an end to American global dominance. As David Bosco wrote:
“Great-power diplomacy is becoming significantly more complex. As a global economic power, China now has interests in parts of the world it was often content to leave to others. The Chinese tradition of abstaining on many [UN] council resolutions it does not like may soon yield to a more assertive posture that suits a global player.”
“Meanwhile, Russia is seeking to revive its strategic profile by forging economic and military ties outside its region, including in America’s backyard. At times, Moscow and Beijing have linked arms in their effort to counter American ascendancy, and they share a rudimentary geopolitical ideology that emphasizes state sovereignty and nonintervention and downplays many Western concerns, including human rights, democratization, and nonproliferation.”
“Constant vigilance” is required in order to prevent the incompatibility of basic American goals – which are to maintain the status quo and maintain American global dominance – with basic Russian and Chinese goals of changing the status quo and bringing an end to American global dominance from translating into full-blown conflict and hot war between the two sides. And as mentioned before, Americans are currently fighting this global hybrid war in an asymmetrical manner. Americans are losing the cultural, informational, social, and technological aspects of the global hybrid war, even though Americans may have the conventional military and economic advantage in this war at the moment. As one journalist wrote: “The great political challenge of the twenty-first century will be to manage the process of Easternization in the common interests of humankind.” For now, we are abruptly and tumultuously absorbing such global phenomena as opposed to steering and shaping them.