Fred Fleitz, the National Security Council's former chief of staff under former President Donald Trump, believes the Biden administration committed a major error in allowing the Chinese balloon to sweep through Alaska, western Canada, and then the continental United States this week, before downing the balloon over the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday.
The Biden administration was "warned about this, and they decided to ignore it, because they didn't want to upset this effort to go to China," Fleitz told Newsmax Sunday morning, while appearing on "Wake Up America Weekend" with hosts Carl Higbie and Tom Basile.
Fleitz was referencing Secretary of State Antony Blinken's now-canceled trip to China, which would have included primary discussions about "climate change" — and not the fallout of the balloon incident, or China's relations with Taiwan, or its contribution to the fentanyl crisis in America.
"When you have an administration's that's unserious about foreign policy, and a president who will not act to defend our territory, I think we're really in trouble," said Fleitz.
The U.S. military may be similarly "unserious" about the White House, reasoned Fleitz, if President Joe Biden's claim of telling the Pentagon to take care of the balloon as early as Tuesday or Wednesday has legitimacy.
Of course, Fleitz isn't buying that public line completely.
"We don't know that Biden did that. Biden says a lot of things that turn out not to be true. ... The Biden administration didn't take action immediately, because they wanted Blinken to go to China," said Fleitz, while adding that the U.S. armed forces could have taken out the Chinese balloon over Alaska or Montana — "with very little risk."
In the coming weeks and months, Fleitz expects the Biden White House to reconvene surface talks with China about non-confrontational subjects. But in the eyes of the American people, they might view the balloon incident as a reminder of the botched Afghanistan pullout from 2021.
"This was a test. This was a test of our air defenses, a test of presidential leadership, and President Biden failed," said Fleitz.
"Now, we know the Biden administration knew about this balloon," as early as Tuesday, "but the public only found out because a reporter in Montana leaked news of it," continued Fleitz. "And the Biden administration allowed this to go across the entire continental United States, collecting information for China, flying it over sensitive military sites, and they shot it down after the balloon was done collecting" information.
"It's just bizarre," added Fleitz. "And I think it shows a lack of leadership in how this administration really underestimates the threat from China."
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