What China initially sent as a spy balloon became a "trial balloon" that was sent to test President Joe Biden's strength and resolve, and "unfortunately, the president failed that test," Sen. Tom Cotton said Sunday.
"That is dangerous for the American people," the Arkansas Republican said on "Fox News Sunday." "The president was paralyzed for a week by the balloon. We should have shot this balloon down over the [Aleutian] Islands and never allowed it to transit the entire continental United States."
The balloon was shot down Saturday off the coast of South Carolina after traveling across the United States, where, for periods, it hovered over sensitive areas such as the nuclear missile silos in Montana and U.S. military bases.
According to government officials, the balloon was not shot down until it was away from land because of fears of civilian injuries or property damage, but the American public must be better informed about why it wasn't taken out sooner, said Cotton.
But instead, "humiliation was inflicted by the Chinese communists on the president," he said. "The idea that we would let this go all across America, a spy balloon, complete its spy mission before we shot it down, I'm afraid is an embarrassment to the United States, not to the Chinese communists who are constantly pushing the envelope, constantly probing to see how far they can get away with maligned actions," the senator said. "I think they feel they probably got away with it here."
But Biden refused to take action, Cotton said, because of his "reluctance to take any provocative or confrontational action against communists.
He added that he thinks the administration wanted to salvage Secretary of State Antony Blinken's planned trip to China on Friday night.
"They got through Thursday afternoon, but eventually civilians in Montana and the Billings Gazette identified this balloon and blew the whistle, and the administration fessed up to the American people," said Cotton. "It took another 12 hours before the secretary of state canceled an already ill-advised trip."
Meanwhile, former Vice President Mike Pence, in a Twitter post, called for the balloon to be shot down and for Blinken to travel to China and "look them in the eye" and tell them it "better never happen again," and Cotton agreed that "might have been worth considering" if Biden had ordered the balloon to be shot down as soon as it entered U.S. airspace.
That didn't happen though, because Biden wanted to "continue his relationship" with Chinese President Xi Jinping, said Cotton.
Meanwhile, reports indicate that similar balloons have passed into U.S. airspace before now, but Cotton said he has spoken to officials who are not aware of anything happening during former President Donald Trump's administration.
"It is possible [it happened] during the Obama administration, and the military was told this is no big deal, and they shouldn't raise alarm bells on it," said Cotton.
However, he said he's worried that the military knew about the balloons in the past but didn't inform superiors during the Trump administration, or "worst of all" if nothing was known about balloons in the past until historical data was studied.
"These are open questions for which the American people deserve answers and we in Congress will get the answers," Cotton said.
China, he added, has "been waging a cold war against the United States for decades," but many leaders want to deny that.
"When a nation like China is waging a cold war the only choice is to win or lose," said Cotton. "This spy balloon, which vividly went across America is a high-profile reminder to Americans about what the Chinese communists have been up to. If viewers are worried about a spy balloon across middle America, let me tell them about the TikTok app on their phone and what it means for their security and that of their children, as well."
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.