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That Chinese Balloon Looks Different from Tehran


Remember Iran’s shootdowns of US spy drones under Obama and Trump?

Using a spotty Iranian internet connection, I have been casting a few bemused cyber-glances homeward as Americans panic over a Chinese spy balloon. Republicans call Biden weak because he let the balloon meander over America for a couple of days before terminating it off the coast of South Carolina. Democrats say Biden did well to down it into the ocean, capture its spy tech payload, and avoid endangering civilians.

Here in Tehran, people are, as usual, simultaneously amused and appalled at America’s unique proprietary blend of arrogance and stupidity. How can the US feign outrage over China’s violation of its airspace with spy equipment, when the world’s worst violator of other nations’ sovereignty in general, and their airspace in particular, is that very same United States of America?

And since when is a balloon a national security threat? Spy satellites have been reading license plates since the 1960s—and peering through roofs, examining insect anatomy, and zooming in to people’s pores and other orifices since the 1980s. Yet it seems that Bubba and Mrs. Bubba have only now discovered that somebody overhead is watching them guzzle beer in the back yard.




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