Chinese Spy Balloon Calls Back to Cold War U-2 Episode

However, the reverberation from the episode serves as a reminder that powerful nations frequently spy on each other, which often becomes a problem when it is made public or leads to misunderstanding or tragedy.

In 1983, a Soviet fighter jet shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 after it entered Russian airspace at night, killing 269 passengers and crew members, including a congressman. American doctor. Moscow said the plane was mistaken for a spy plane. In 2001, a Chinese fighter was too close to a US EP-3E Aries II reconnaissance aircraft gathering intelligence over the South China Sea, forcing it to make an emergency landing at a Chinese base.

Michael Beschloss, author of Mayday: Eisenhower, Khrushchev, and the U-2 Affair, published in 1986, said: “The United States and its allies have been sending spy balloons over the Soviet Union since the end of the years. 1940. to detect any threat of an impending Soviet surprise attack and to assess the size of the Soviet military complex so that Truman and Eisenhower could assess how much they needed to spend. for national defense.”

Eisenhower “believes that such intelligence gathering serves peace by preventing an unnecessary arms race that could lead to war,” he added. Beginning in 1956, Eisenhower authorized the CIA to secretly send U-2 planes over Soviet territory, betting that their 70,000 feet would keep them undetected. At the same time, Eisenhower understood that the flights could be considered an act of war and insisted on personally approving each flight.

In fact, the flights were detected. Khrushchev knew about them and was furious at the Soviet incursion of airspace, but he did not protest publicly because he did not want to reveal his military’s inability to stop them until a more sophisticated missile. developed.

When the Paris meeting took place in 1960, Eisenhower wanted to avoid any chance of disrupting the meeting and had ordered U-2 flights to be halted earlier. But after bad weather caused a pre-meeting mission to be postponed, Richard Bissell, the father of the CIA program, convinced the president to authorize the last flight on May 1, just two weeks ago. The meeting is scheduled for May 16.

“Even in the less conspiratorial era of the 1960s, some Americans wondered if belligerent figures in our Pentagon had purposely sent flights to destroy the conference,” Mr. Beschloss said. summit or not. “Such questions will now be asked of the Chinese military.”


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