Live from Music Row, Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Washington Times reporter and national security expert Bill Gertz to the newsmaker line to comment on the Chinese spy balloon and the intentions of current U.S. leadership.
Leahy: On the newsmaker line, our very good friend, the great national security correspondent with The Washington Times, Bill Gertz. Good morning, Bill.
Gertz: Good morning.
Leahy: I’m reminded of this Babylon Bee headline. I don’t know if you saw this. Chinese spy balloon shot down after it’s completed all the spying. You’ve written just recently that balloons serve multiple roles in Chinese warfare. Chinese military confirms snub of U.S. Defense Secretary Austin’s call over balloon. What do you make of this Chinese spy balloon?
Gertz: It’s really a sputnik moment going back to the days of the space race. I think it was a real wake-up call for most Americans to see that China is not some far-away threat, that it’s a here-and-now threat to the United States, albeit an intelligence threat. But let’s not forget that the Pentagon has identified electromagnetic pulse weapons as a threat.
And so they could have flown a nuclear warhead on a balloon and dropped it and detonated it over one of the large cities which would have blacked out all of the electronics over there. So I think the key takeaway from this whole incident is that China can reach out and touch us. And I think that’s really an important wake-up call for most Americans.
Leahy: To me, it seems ingenious that they use balloons for this purpose not just to gather intelligence, but they could use it for military purposes. Our leadership, from Joe Biden to Joint Chief of Staff Chair Milley to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, I’m going to use a word, they seem feckless to me. Your thoughts?
Gertz: I kind of agree with you. Clearly, the mishandling of this was evident in the fact that the Biden administration is launching what I would call a neo-appeasement approach. That means they’re getting ready to revert to the older policies where we look the other way for Chinese human rights abuses and nuclear arms proliferation in order to somehow avoid a future conflict with China.
It’s the opposite of the policy of Ronald Reagan, which was peace through strength. Instead, they’ve adopted what I call a war avoidance policy. And this is really dangerous. I think that we really need to stand up to the Chinese. They’ve made it clear that they want to dominate the world, and the main obstacle to dominating the world is the United States.
So they’re working very covertly through things like fentanyl shipments and undermining our system here and promoting communist ideology to try and undermine and ultimately destroy the U.S.
Carmichael: Bill, this is Crom Carmichael. My question is there are lots of folks in the media who are supportive, in fact, most people in the media are supportive of the Biden administration and his worldview. What would it take to wake them up, or is it even possible for them to be awakened? Are they kind of part of the communist plot?
Gertz: A lot of the mainstream liberal media just signed on to the Democratic Party. And the Democratic Party has kind of been taken over by a lot of radical leftists and I think that’s really the main issue. So you have this reflection in the mainstream media that, oh, China is not really a threat.
In fact, I think the far-left in the U.S. looks at China as the ideological future. This is a communist system that they think works. Unlike the Soviet Union, which collapsed back in 1991, the Chinese have tried to find ways of forcing their economy to work.
Although right now, their economy is in trouble, which is one reason they’re trying to revert back to some of the more COVID policies of pretending to be a capitalist system, when in fact, they’re really a nuclear-armed communist dictatorship.
Leahy: Yes. And I look at this, and I think of what former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said about Joe Biden. They asked him, has Joe Biden ever been right on any foreign policy issue? And Secretary Gates said I can’t think of one time he’s been right. He’s been wrong; it seems to me. And he’s brought in dunderheads underneath him, Mark Milley and Lloyd Austin, who make the wrong decisions to advance the cause of our enemy; it seems to me almost as if they are covertly cooperating. Now that’s a little bit out there, but what are your thoughts when I say something like that?
Gertz: First, Lloyd Austin reached out to his counterpart in China immediately after we shot down the balloon last week, and the Chinese said no thanks. And yet the Pentagon issued a statement saying, well, we think it’s so important to talk with the Chinese. The Pentagon has had this military-to-military exchange program with China for decades, and the whole point is to try and “build trust.”
And they misunderstand the nature of the Chinese military. It’s not a national army like our U.S. Army. It’s a party army. His main job is to defend the Communist Party of China. On General Milley, we had the case where back during the Trump administration, he actually called his Chinese military counterpart and said, oh, we think you’ve misunderstood us, we think you’re going to attack us, and we’re going to attack you.
But we’re not. And if we do, I would warn you in advance. A lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill thought that was treasonous, but he defended it, saying there was some kind of intelligence. Yet I spoke with top officials of the Trump administration, and they said there was never any intelligence that China thought the U.S. was going to attack them. So these are the two top defense leaders that have really shown themselves to be woefully inadequate.
Leahy: I think you’re kind to just call them woefully inadequate. I look at their actions, Bill, and I got to tell you, and I don’t want to get you in trouble on this, right, but I look at it, and I think their actions are treasonous. Both of them. Both Milley and Lloyd Austin. And I think that a patriotic American president would fire them immediately. Your thoughts?
Gertz: Republicans have recently just taken over the House of Representatives, and they have formed a special commission on China. So, hopefully, I think these two issues, the actions of Lloyd Austin and General Milley should be part of that investigation.
They should do a thorough investigation, bring them before this committee, and have them testify on explaining what they’re doing and whether or not what they’re doing is wrong.
Leahy: Is that the special committee headed up by Mike Gallagher, the congressman from Wisconsin?
Gertz: Yes. I have great hopes.
Leahy: He’s a very sharp guy. I have confidence in him.
Leahy: You’ve been doing this at a high level of excellence for, what, three decades now? Maybe more than that.
Gertz: It’s been a good run. (Chuckles)
Leahy: You’re a great American and a great reporter, and we are honored to have you on The Tennessee Star Report. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Gertz: Thank you for having me on.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Bill Gertz” by Bill Gertz. Background Photo “U.S. Capitol” by Wendy Maxwell.