In American politics, they like to use the word “very cautious”.
It translates to a week of Top Gun America taking off and wiping out objects in the air, which, frankly, could be anything.
The US doesn’t know – but what they say they do know has sparked a week of national security flogging, with the first object being a Chinese spy balloon.
Spy balloons and US-China tensions – join us for a live Q&A
At a news conference Sunday night, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) spoke of a state of high alert.
It said it has been scrutinizing U.S. airspace more carefully and has adjusted radar filters to identify smaller objects in the sky.
US jet shoots down fourth flying object
US shoots down ‘Chinese spy balloon’
What is a spy balloon?
We were told that the closest object would not pose a military threat, and that the Department of Defense acknowledged that companies and organizations were manipulating objects at high altitudes for research purposes.
So how long can this “shoot first” policy last?
Obviously this will depend on debris collection and analysis.
A day will come when the US knows what it is dealing with and takes a considered view – and in the meantime, it will not stand a chance.
Its president certainly isn’t taking chances — at least not politically.
Joe Biden started the week with criticism for delaying ordering the downing of a Chinese spy balloon.
Finally, he tweeted tough words about China — “We will act to protect our country” — and U.S. troops were scrambling to take back whatever they shot down on Lake Huron.
No matter where you get the podcast, subscribe to Sky News Daily with one click
With his presidential bid expected to be announced soon, accusations of being “soft on China” are not something he can let go.
In wrapping up Sunday’s briefing, senior defense officials opened the door for headline writers and others.
Asked at that briefing whether the aerial object could be aliens, U.S. Air Force Gen. Glenn Van Heck replied, “I’m not ruling anything out.”
The truth is out there, even if it hasn’t emerged yet.