[Cross-posted from EuroTrib today]
German domestic television still spends much of its broadcast time on WWII documentaries produced in the US. Today was about the development of ICBMs, missile and satellite systems. Interesting was the part about Lockheed’s U-2 development and the SR-71 Blackbird. Both developed by F-104 designer Kelly Johnson.
The very first flights of the U-2 spy plane gave most secrets of the Soviet military power … mostly bluster and propaganda. The number of boasted missiles and bombers was greatly overstated. Krushchev was quite pissed by these intrusions during the second term of president Eisenhower. It didn’t take too long to develop military methods to intercept and take the U-2 spy plane down on May 1, 1960. A great success and boost for Soviet Communist propaganda across the globe.
In the same year the Eisenhower administration was confronted with the Hungarian uprising and bloodshed, and the Franco-British-Israeli pact and the Suez Crisis. [A great read LSE thesis of 478 pages – Oui]
The excerpts below are taken from articles in the CIA Library and National Security Archives.
○ Khrushchev’s 1956 speech denouncing Stalin
Early U-2 Flights . . .
During the ten days beginning on 4 July 1956, the U-2 detachment from Wiesbaden made five deep incursions into Soviet airspace at an altitude of approximately 20 kilometers (about 66,000 feet). The U-2s obtained high-quality photography of such targets as airfields near Moscow where bombers were based and a shipyard near Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) where submarines were being built. Soviet radar detected and tracked the U-2s (albeit with some gaps in coverage). Moscow repeatedly protested the incursions to the US Embassy.
Gary Powers fatal flight into Soviet territory …
The U-2 then entered the engagement zone of a SAM battalion near Sverdlovsk. The unit’s officer in charge issued the order: “Destroy target.” At 0853 hours, the battalion’s first missile exploded behind the U-2, and its fragments pierced the tail section and the wings without touching the cockpit. Those of us who were at the command post in Moscow remember reports about the missile firing and a statement that the target “began to blink,” either in employing jamming or in breaking up. The latter, it turned out, was the case.
Powers, realizing that he had lost control over the aircraft and had to abandon ship, jettisoned the canopy and crawled from the cockpit with difficulty. He was unable to eject because the explosion had shoved his seat forward and his legs were caught beneath the instrument panel. After he abandoned the aircraft and was parachuting to the ground, the U-2 was hit directly by another missile. The fuselage, engine, wings, and cockpit ended up scattered on the ground over an area of several square kilometers.
Soviet and US Maneuvering Over Downed Pilot
The investigative commission compiled a report on the U-2’s performance characteristics, equipment, and missions accomplished. Based on recovered parts and equipment, the investigators quickly ascertained some key details about the U-2 camera system and its capabilities.
[Image 1 – Krushchev views U-2 salvaged parts]
Washington, meanwhile, issued a cover story on 3 May to the effect that the US Government had been using U-2s in a program for studying meteorological conditions in the upper layers of the atmosphere, and that one such aircraft had disappeared while in Turkish airspace on 1 May. This “report” said the aircraft may have crashed in Lake Van (in eastern Turkey) after the pilot had reported an oxygen equipment malfunction.
[Image 2 – NY Times]
At a Supreme Soviet session on 5 May, Khrushchev made public some of the details of the U-2 incident, but he did not reveal that the pilot was alive and that recovered aircraft parts and equipment were already starting to allow conclusions to be drawn about the nature of U-2 missions over the USSR. On the same day, US authorities made further attempts to camouflage Powers’ mission. State Department and NASA spokesmen made statements reiterating and embellishing the story issued on 3 May.
At a diplomatic reception on the evening of 5 May, the US Ambassador to the USSR, Llewellyn Thompson, overheard Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Yakov Malik tell the Swedish ambassador that “we are still questioning the pilot” of the downed U-2. Two days later Khrushchev announced that the pilot was alive and in the USSR; US government agencies then admitted that the aircraft had deliberately flown into Soviet air space. President Eisenhower confirmed at a press conference on 11 May that US reconnaissance flights over the USSR were part of the American effort to collect information on the Soviet Union and had been occurring regularly for a number of years. Eisenhower declared that he had “issued orders to use any possible methods to collect information necessary for defending the United States and the free world against surprise attack and to give them an opportunity to prepare effectively for defense.” He added that spy methods were necessary because “secrecy and secrets had become a fetish in the Soviet Union.”
- ○ BBC Documentary: U-2 Spy Plane Down over Soviet Union
○ Soviet Master Spy ‘M’ Dies Age 91 – swapped for Gary Powers
In the aftermath of the defeat of Germany and Japan, the United States soon found itself faced with a former ally turned adversary. That the Soviet Union had suffered massive devastation during the war did not eliminate it as a potential threat, given its size and the weakness of any collection of European nations. Thus, by the late 1940s, the U.S. was employing modified bombers to try to penetrate the veil of secrecy that had been established by the Soviet government around activities, particularly military activities, in the Soviet interior. Most missions involved peripheral flights near Soviet borders. Oblique photography allowed aircraft to bring back photos of facilities inside, but not too far inside, Soviet borders. Electronic reconnaissance missions brought back signals, which provided data on the existence of Soviet radars at particular locations, as well as their technical characteristics (including pulse duration, pulse repetition, and frequency) that could be used in electronic warfare operations.
In addition to peripheral missions there were a number of actual intrusions into Soviet territory – in some cases to photograph targets that could not be imaged from the periphery, in other cases to induce the Soviets to turn on radar systems about which the U.S. was eager to collect intelligence. In July 1956, the ability of the U.S. to penetrate Soviet territory in the pursuit of intelligence, particularly photographic intelligence, took a big step forward when the CIA’s U-2 successfully completed its first missions over the Soviet territory. The U-2 was not a modified bomber, but had been designed for its role in overflying Soviet territory. Its virtues included the ability to fly at over 70,000 feet, which, for several years, kept it out of harm’s way from MiGs and anti-aircraft missiles.
Less than two years before its first flight over Soviet territory (there had been reconnaissance missions over Eastern Europe in the spring), a November 1954 letter from James Killian and Edwin Land, scientific advisers to President Eisenhower, had urged Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles to pursue the development of the exotic spy plane being proposed by Kelly Johnson of Lockheed. Given Eisenhower’s strong support of the project Dulles established the AQUATONE program to develop such a plane, and delegated the responsibility for managing the program to the CIA’s Richard Bissell. Bissell’s assistant would be an Air Force general, Osmond Ritland, and the Air Force would play a major role in the program. It would soon acquire its own fleet of U-2s for peripheral reconnaissance and nuclear sampling missions, and, in 1974, assume control of the CIA U-2s.
Dwight D. Eisenhower brought a “New Look” to U.S. national security policy in 1953. The main elements of the New Look were: (1) maintaining the vitality of the U.S. economy while still building sufficient strength to prosecute the Cold War; (2) relying on nuclear weapons to deter Communist aggression or, if necessary, to fight a war; (3) using the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to carry out secret or covert actions against governments or leaders “directly or indirectly responsive to Soviet control”; and (4) strengthening allies and winning the friendship of nonaligned governments.
Eisenhower’s defense policies, which aimed at providing “more bang for the buck,” cut spending on conventional forces while increasing the budget for the Air Force and for nuclear weapons. Even though national security spending remained high–it never fell below 50 percent of the budget during Eisenhower’s presidency–Eisenhower did balance three of the eight federal budgets while he was in the White House.
Nuclear weapons played a controversial role in some of Eisenhower’s diplomatic initiatives, including the President’s effort to end the Korean War. As promised, Eisenhower went to Korea after he was elected but before he was inaugurated. The trip provided him with no clear solution for ending the war. But during the spring of 1953, U.S. officials attempted to send indirect hints to the Chinese government that Eisenhower might expand the war into China or even use nuclear weapons.
Nationalist China – Taiwan
One of the legacies of the Korean War was that U.S.-Chinese relations remained hostile and tense. Like Truman, Eisenhower refused to recognize the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Instead, he continued to support Jiang Jieshi’s (Chiang Kai-shek’s) Nationalist Chinese government in Taiwan. After PRC guns began shelling the Nationalist Chinese islands of Jinmen (Quemoy) and Mazu (Matsu) in September 1954, Congress granted Eisenhower the authority to use U.S. military power in the Taiwan Strait. The President knew that these specks of territory had no real strategic value but that they had symbolic importance, as both the PRC and the Nationalists claimed to be the only legitimate ruler of all of China. The crisis escalated when Eisenhower declared at a news conference that in the event of war in East Asia, he would authorize the use of tactical nuclear weapons against military targets “exactly as you would use a bullet.”
Just weeks after Eisenhower became President, Stalin’s death brought what appeared to be significant changes in Soviet international policy. Stalin’s successors began calling for negotiations to settle East-West differences and to rein in the arms race. Nikita Khrushchev, who established himself as the main leader in the Kremlin in 1955, called his policy “peaceful coexistence,” yet Eisenhower remained skeptical of Soviet rhetoric.
… Eisenhower then agreed to a summit of Soviet and Western leaders in Geneva, Switzerland, in July 1955, the first such meeting since the Potsdam Conference in 1945.
The “Spirit of Geneva” eased tensions between the Soviets and the United States, even though the conference failed to produce agreements on arms control or other major international issues. Khrushchev rejected Eisenhower’s proposal for an “Open Skies” program that would have allowed both sides to use aerial air surveillance to gather information about each other’s military capabilities.
So now as started under the Obama administration with pressure from the Pentagon and Intelligence agencies, the United States once again reverted to an antagonistic anti-Russian Cold War policy. I sincerely hope the voice of America in global dimension has diminished enough for other leaders to search for détente and a world without nuclear weapons. A peaceful world through diplomacy.
The United States has abandoned the art of diplomacy in the drive for global hegemony in the 21st century. The world watched Washington D.C. after the 9/11 attacks, the reaction of the virulent George Bush administration, the war of choice and the destruction of Iraq which changed the balance of Sunni-Shia power in the Middle East. New alliances are being formed in strange configurations: Israel and Saudi Arabia and more recently the rapprochement between Israel and India, a succesfull meeting of Bibi Netanyahu and Narendra Modi. Somewhere in the middle Pakistan is left behind and getting full heat and pressure from the bully diplomacy of the Trump administration.
China has benefited from the US role in fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, has committed itself in an alliance with Pakistan and Iran. Setting the stage for a new showdown for global dominance in Asia’s backdoor region.
On the other hand, Avis Bohlen, a career diplomat at the U.S. State Department, sees the unmantling of diplomacy under Tex Tillerson leaving many voids. A Big, BIG mistake that will leave diplomacy at the mercy of the Generals at the Pentagon, NSC, NSA and the CIA. Trump is just not interested, doesn’t have the span for concentation beyond 30 minutes.
- The family spent the war in Washington, where Charles E. Bohlen‘s rare, firsthand knowledge of Soviet affairs brought him into the inner councils of presidents Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. After the war, Bohlen was appointed minister counselor in the American Embassy in Paris. Mrs. Bohlen accompained him.
When Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy (R-Wis.) was building his political career and bringing the country to the edge of hysteria in its suspicion and fear of all things communist, Bohlen came under attack from him for having been present at the Yalta Conference in 1945. This was the meeting that defined Soviet and western spheres of influence in Europe. Sen. Robert A. Taft of Ohio, the doyen of the Republican Party, forced McCarthy to desist. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and President Dwight D. Eisenhower then appointed Bohlen ambassador to Moscow.
[Source: Avis Bohlen, Widow of Ex-Ambassador to Russia, Dies | WaPo |
○ John Bolton engineered unlawful ouster of OPCW head Bustani with Iraq in mind [Avis Bohlen retired in June 2002]
○ To Ousted Boss, Arms Watchdog Was Seen as an Obstacle in Iraq | NY Times – Oct. 2013 |
○ Forging a 21st-Century Diplomatic Service for the the United States through Professional Education and Training
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates captured the problem succinctly in his remarks at Kansas State University in 2007:
- Funding for non-military foreign-affairs programs has increased since 2001, but it remains disproportionately small relative to what we spend on the military, and to the importance of such capabilities. Consider that this year’s budget for the Department of Defense — not counting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan — is nearly half a trillion dollars. The total foreign affairs budget request for the State Department is $36 billion…. What is clear to me is that there is a need for a dramatic increase in spending on the civilian instruments of national security — diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action, and economic reconstruction and development.