The Strategic Consequences of Reputation

At this point, everyone is aware of the fact that we just allowed a Chinese spy balloon to fly over our entire country before shooting it down. This is incredibly embarrassing as a nation, and the Biden administration would have you believe that the risk to people on the ground outweighed the security risks of letting it accomplish its mission, which is ludicrous. They’re now saying that we were jamming it the entire time and it never sent anything back to China, which is only believable if you know nothing about how jamming actually works.

But let’s assume that, somehow, through some DARPA wizardry, we DID stop it from transmitting. It changes very little and is besides the point. It matters little what payload the balloon carried or what it did/didn’t send home. What matters most is the damage done to our international reputation from our decision not to shoot it down.

Perception is reality in global politics. And right now, the perception is that we are weak and unwilling to come to the aid of our allies. This started with the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, which China was quick to exploit with easy propaganda wins aimed at Taiwan and Japan. “Look”, they said, “The United States abandoned their friends in Afghanistan, and they will abandon you too.”

And now this. The perception of how we handled the balloon is that we lack the resolve to protect our own nation. Our allies are right to question our resolve to protect them.

I’ve seen the results of the CSIS wargames of a PLA invasion of Taiwan. The conclusion was that we would win a pyrrhic victory, but ONLY if Taiwan held out long enough for us to arrive. Everything hinges on their willingness to fight, which hinges on their confidence in our coming to save them.

Polls show that only 40% of Taiwanese people believe that the US would come to their aid. That figure is no doubt lower after this latest embarrassment. This does not bode well when we are counting on their resolve and morale to hold the line long enough for us to take action.

I am not in the habit of making predictions, but today I make an exception. China will attack Taiwan, I don’t know when but they will. When they do, I believe that Taiwan will fold immediately because they have no faith that we will come to their aid, and won’t be willing to die in a hopeless battle. When that happens, all of our military strength, our DARPA wunderwaffen, etc. will be useless, because the battle will have already been lost before we have a chance to intervene. That is the strategic price of losing face with our allies.

If our “leaders” in DC wanted to preserve our reputation, they would have immediately announced the jamming and assured the world that everything was under control. But they didn’t do that, they announced it afterwards, which stinks of a cover-up. They either don’t care about our reputation or are actively seeking to undermine it. In either case, this does not bode well for us, the citizenry.

In closing, this whole incident was handled poorly, regardless of what you believe we did or didn’t do to jam the balloon. It made me take a closer look at my current state of preparedness, just in case something big was about to happen. You should do the same. This wasn’t a wayward weather balloon, it was doing something to facilitate intelligence preparation of the battlespace. I believe that something bigger is in the works. Get your house in order now.

Published by vonsteubentraining

Mike is the owner and chief instructor of Von Steuben Training & Consulting (VSTAC). A self-described “Tactical Scholar,” he spent 6 years in the Marine Corps as a radio operator and small-unit tactics instructor. He has dedicated his life to honing the tactical prowess of himself and his fellow patriots, guided by the wisdom of his commanding officer, Jesus Christ. He can be contacted via email at

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