Eye in the Sky. Pakistan and Cold War Aerial Reconnaissance

From Dr Hamid Hussain. 

In my recent book review, I mentioned about one of my old piece about U-2 surveillance flights from Pakistan; published in September 2010 issue of Defence Journal.  Many asked for the piece and I‘m sending to my list.  Some of you may have already seen it.  It was written almost ten years ago.  It is quite long as I covered many areas.   Read it if you have interest in that chapter of cold war and lot of free time on hand.

Regards,

Hamid Hussain

[email protected]

Eye in the Sky – United States, Pakistan and Reconnaissance during Cold War

Hamid Hussain

Being a friend of the United States is like living on the banks of a great river.  The soil is wonderfully fertile, but every four or eight years the river changes course, and you may find yourself alone in a desert’.  Pakistan’s army chief and President General Muhammad Zia ul Haq to CIA director William Casey, 1983 (1)

 United States and Soviet Union were engaged in a worldwide competition for dominance after the Second World War.  Intelligence gathering was an important part of this power struggle between the two super powers.  In the pre-satellite era, high altitude reconnaissance by special aircraft and signal interception were key components of intelligence gathering.  In 1950s and 60s, these operations were conducted from United States as well as from bases all around the globe.

A variety of equipment was used to gather intelligence including static electronic monitoring facilities on the borders of Soviet Union, high altitude reconnaissance aircraft such as U-2 and RB-57 to collect electronic (ELINT), signals (SIGINT), photos (PHOTOINT), telemetry (TELEINT) and air sampling for detection of radiation emanating from nuclear test sites.  Several agencies including Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Strategic Air Command (SAC) of United States Air Force (USAF), United States Air Force Security Service (USAFSS), United States Army Special Security (USASS) and National Security Agency (NSA) were involved in these wide ranging intelligence activities.

Main focus of these operations was monitoring of missile and nuclear test sites, location of bombers, missile sites and radars and eavesdropping on Soviet communication system.  The general agreement between United States and Pakistan was that in return for Pakistan’s cooperation in such activities, United States would modernize Pakistani armed forces.  Pakistani part of the deal included provision of facilities for U.S. intelligence gathering operations as well as cooperation in some aspects of the operation.  Both parties entered into these agreements looking at their own interests.  United States saw Pakistan as a window through which to peep into Soviet Union’s backyard and Pakistan saw this cooperation as a shortest possible way of modernizing its armed forces. Continue reading Eye in the Sky. Pakistan and Cold War Aerial Reconnaissance

What has brown done for you?


I’v bemoaned the hard-Left shift of Indian Americans in political organization and consulting (Bong-commies at every turn!). But there are still neolib centrists around! Tech Veteran’s Fundraising Team Rakes In Cash for Pete Buttigieg Campaign:

Three years ago, Swati Mylavarapu had never worked for a political campaign and attended just a single campaign fundraiser.

Now, the 36-year-old Silicon Valley investor is a financial force behind one of the best fundraisers in the Democratic presidential primary, serving as national investment chairwoman for Pete Buttigieg, a fellow Harvard graduate and Rhodes Scholar whom she has known for half her life.

Indian Americans are 1% of America’s population. And in the older generation of 1.5 and 2nd generation far less (“Generation X”). But they sure are punching above their weight!

Please read Who We Are and How We Got Here

Many questions on this weblog would be answered if the individuals just read Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past. Not all questions would be answered. The book is dated in some ways, and there are certain lacunae. There are also things we still don’t know to any great satisfaction (e.g., Eastern Eurasia is under-understood). But to a first approximation, this book answers most big questions, at least from a scientific perspective.

Though American price on Kindle is $4.99, this may not be feasible for some readers. There are free preprints of almost all of the Reich lab’s publications on the lab’s website.

This post seems relevant since new readers may not be aware of the resources out there.

Genetic odds & ends

At my other weblog I report on evidence that a sample from Cambodia dated to 100 to 300 AD seems to have considerable Indian ancestry. This is not a result in isolation. Lots of evidence points to non-trivial Indian gene flow. The devil is now in the details of when/who.

Second, there is lots of talk about “person X looks like population Y, so perhaps they have ancestry from population Y.” This is almost certainly wrong in most cases.

Looking at Indian populations there tends to be far more variation in physical appearance within a population than the variation of total ancestry. In other words, some Tamil Brahmins look like South Indian Tribal people and other Tamil Brahmins look like West Asians. But in terms of total ancestral components, there’s no difference.

The theoretical explanation for what’s going on is that the genetic loci which control “physical appearance” are much smaller in number than the whole genome (on the order of dozens of loci). As such, the sample variance is rather large (the N denominator is small).

South Asian populations differ across each other, but there is usually a quite large within-population variation on genetic variants implicated in physical characteristics. This means that there are a large range and quite a bit of variation.

Though a lot of the discussion involves Muslims, I have heard from multiple non-Muslim people of Northwest Indian stock (e.g., Pandits) that they must have “Persian ancestry” because they look so Persian. The genetics refutes this rather strongly. Rather, modern Persians and many Northwest Indians share deep ancestry which diverged after the Last Glacial Maximum 20,000 years ago.

A Tale of Oil and Fire: The Saudi-Iran Conflict

With things popping off in the Middle East (esp with Iran), I thought it would be good to provide a big pic overview over the main driving conflict in the region – Saudi Arabia vs Iran,

I’ve done a comprehensive 4 part series called A Tale of Oil and Fire: The Saudi-Iran Conflict that I will link in parts below for easier reading (posting the whole thing here is gigantic/too much):

  1. Genesis
  2. Revolutions & Revelations
  3. A Furious Crescendo
  4. Meditations

What are you guys’ predictions on the upcoming turbulence (if there even is any)? With 2020 US elections, an infuriated Iran, weary Gulf, and a quiet Turkish shadow in the backdrop – we may be set for an interesting scenario in the tinderbox of the world.

PS: Latest development in Iran; apparently a pretty culturally/theologically significant event –

Intra-subcontinental insults are…

One of the weirdest emails I’ve ever received.

Click to enlarge

The insults directed to me by people who are Pakistani or by people who are Hindus are peculiar, because they presuppose a sense of communal identity which I mostly lack. Insults toward Bengalis and Muslims just leave me scratching my head. Also, now that I am no longer 15 I don’t think that the measure of a man is how much “pussy” they bag….

To know one must know

I was having a discussion with a young person of subcontinental origin who is completing a STEM Ph.D. An open-minded and curious person and they asked me to exposit to them why a post-colonial paradigm that reduces all non-Western/white peoples to being objects in a narrative driven by Western/white agents is built on false premises. My candid opinion is that this is not something that one can explain in a single conversation, or in a single article. The reason is simple: if you don’t know much you are ultimately relying on someone else’s credibility.

I think I’m a credible person, but obviously I would think that. Unfortunately, history is messy, complex, and filled with shades and textures that can only be appreciated through direct consumption, not description. You need to read the history yourself and reflect upon it deeply in a first-person sense.

The reality is that there are plainly mendacious actors out there who launder their credentials to promote lies. This behavior knows no ideology but is quite common and pervasive. Often these “public historians” do not lie or spread falsehood directly, but they obfuscate and redirect attention in such a manner so that their audience draws particular ‘natural’ conclusions which are at variance with reality as we understand it.

I particularly recommend history written about the time before 1800, because the foundations of the present often run quite deep, an assertion which directly undercuts the logic of post-colonialism, where the recent overwhelms the past.

Economic history, in particular, is often useful because it deals in concrete variables, where human judgment is less opaque. For example, Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium.

On occasion, readers will question why it is so important to know broadly and deeply to understand the particular. That is due to the reality that the particular is simply the terminal node in a tree of decisions which fans out into the past and across continents.