Maybe Paranoia Is The Point
Chinese balloons and hybrid war theory
As the rule goes, once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action. At least four different objects have been shot down in the last week after they entered Canadian or US airspace. Although such aircraft have operated over Taiwan and North America in recent years, the sudden flurry of spy balloons suggests deliberate timing.
New Russian offensives in the Donbas and Luhansk aim to overcome Ukrainian resistance in the east of the country before western weapons can arrive in great numbers. Another flurry of Russian long-range strikes against civil infrastructure inaugurated this preemptive campaign last week. It doesn’t seem to be going well, and there are suggestions it will fizzle, but they did try.
Threats to expand the war to western nations for supplying Ukraine may have sounded like bluster, and mostly they were. Strange objects in the sky might be a creative strategy on those lines, however. Just as Russia looked to Iran for help with shortages of weaponry, Moscow may have found a partner in Beijing for so-called “hybrid war” against North America. Tehran had just developed a new generation of weapons, including Shahid drones. So has China — with balloons.
“Chinese military scientists have been studying new materials and techniques to make balloons more durable, more steerable and harder to detect and track. People’s Liberation Army researchers have also been testing balloons as potential aerial platforms from which to fire weapons,” reads one recent article on the program.
“My sense is the People’s Liberation Army is pretty unrestrained these days,” said Mr. Gill, the executive director of the Asia Society Policy Institute’s Center for China Analysis. “Not in the ‘Wild West,’ corrupt sense of the past, but in the sense of how it experiments and pushes the envelope.”
Such boldness may explain the recent balloon flights in the United States and Taiwan, which did not go entirely unnoticed. In September 2021, residents of Taipei, the capital of the island, made anxious calls to weather officials to ask about a pale, tiny dot they were seeing high above them.
As I explained last week, high-resolution imagery and signals intelligence (SIGINT) in the 20-80 MHz band are the only two intelligence missions that a balloon does better than a sattelite. The United States isn’t doing any atomic tests to monitor, as the Soviets were when American spy balloons overflew the USSR in the early Cold War.
One balloon seemed to terrify and fascinate America. Four of them have made Americans crazy.
Reactions to this burst of ballooning activity are diverse — and instructive. They are all about what Americans do not know. Wherever there is a hole in our knowing, humans tend to fill the space with demons. We ask:
What is the American government hiding about this?
Why are they hiding it?
Are the balloons even real?
What is Joe Biden hiding?
Is this a trick to scare us?
Is this the Second Coming?
Is this a fake Second Coming?
Are the globalists planning a takeover?
Are aliens arriving?
I did not make any of those up. Someone else did, “out there.” For example, the reader can look up “Project Blue Beam,” a conspiracy theory in which global elites are supposed to be planning the public debut of a fake Jesus, complete with a holographic light show, to lead mankind into perdition. The paranoid style always agitates against the establishment, the center, the metropole.
Nor is this a defense of the Biden administration from political fallout. It is what it is. Rather, we must note that in North America, unresolved anxiety usually expresses as distrust in people and institutions regardless of who is in charge, and partisanship just pours fuel on those flames.
My country has a long tradition of this sort of behavior. Religious “end times” fervor played a decisive role in settling the continent and it remains a powerful cultural heuristic. By the time Americans watched Fox Mulder and Dana Scully chase aliens on The X-Files, this expectationalism had carried over into Aquarian forms, but distrust of the liberal world order characterized its every expression, left and right.
China has expended much time and many resources studying North Americans. Perhaps they have come to understand our alien mindset, and now they are using what they learned against us.
We say that ‘war is a lie,’ but humans consistently tell their biggest fibs after the fighting is done.
As evening dark fell over western New York on the evening of Valentine’s Day, 1915, a group of boys celebrating the War of 1812 launched wax paper balloons into the sky. The scene would have looked like this, just without the commercial message:
But on the other side of the St. Lawrence, Canada was in the grip of war fever. Canadians were fighting in the trenches of France, working in factories that made war material, and watching out for German saboteurs. Rumors of German invasion, hoaxes, and other false alarms had made the residents of maritime and Great Lakes Canada especially paranoid. Just twelve days before, an embittered German-American expatriate named Werner Horn had bombed the Canadian Pacific Railroad bridge on the American side of the St. Croix River.
It was a Sunday. So as residents of Brockville, Ontario left late church services that evening, they saw “at least three” lights apparently flying overhead in a sky full of low clouds and rain. One of the lights apparently fell to earth in a streak of flame — likely a candle melting free of its wire post — inspiring witnesses to compare the event with reports of pilots in France using flares to navigate at night.
Three constables confirmed the sighting, so the mayor of Brockville telephoned the Prime Minister of Canada at about 10:30 to report that mysterious objects were dropping “fireballs or light balls” and shining a spotlight on the town. Worse, the wind was blowing the wax paper balloons in the direction of Ottawa, the Canadian capital, sixty miles away. As result, Parliament Hill and the Royal Mint were blacked out. Lights went out at the Governor-General’s home, and then other buildings. Then the street lights went out, then it spread to neighborhoods. By midnight, most of Ottawa was dark.
Headlines the next day projected a delightful kind of terror, a sublime release of expectation and tension: Ottawa feels first thrill of war. Ottawa in darkness awaits airplane raid. A city alderman established a lookout in the tower of City Hall. The news was wired to London and read on the floor of Commons; during the afternoon a momentary electrical failure inspired William Crooks, Labour MP for Woolwich, to joke: “Hello, they’re here!,” making the House roar with laughter.
But back in Canada, Brockville police found the balloons. The boys admitted their prank. Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden, already the victim of a hoax letter describing a German army gathering in secret in the still-neutral United States, refused at first to accept the explanation of a prank. When expectations seem fulfilled, but then the fulfillment is denied, humans actively work to undermine reality.
Bearing on that observation, during the 1960s a flying saucer crank alleged that the entire affair in 1915 had been an alien visitation. After all, Brockville, Ontario is such a nice town that advanced beings would surely want to cross time and space to visit there. It has been part of UFO folklore ever since.
More recent history is also suggestive. After decades of federal agencies ignoring UFO reports, the political climate in Washington has warmed to the topic. Politicians of both parties now call for disclosure. As intelligence analyst John Schindler says, “the Pentagon has been inching towards such reveals for several years now” as a new generation of objects in the sky required a “whole of government” approach to confront. But this does not point towards aliens:
Based on known drone technology, it seems safe to assume that some (perhaps most) of the reports proffered by military personnel, such as sightings of swarms of UAP around DoD aircraft and ships, can be pinned on foreign technology, not space aliens.
Five years ago, the Department of Defense acknowledged that they have been studying “unexplained aerial phenomena.” According to Politico, “There was also interest among some analysts at the DIA who were concerned that the Russians or Chinese might have developed some more advanced systems” rather than extrasolar aliens visiting earth. The late Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, who championed the research program, reportedly felt it was a “national security issue.”
Last June, the US intelligence community released an unclassified assessment that “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” (UAPs) “may pose a challenge to U.S. national security.” The next month, FOIA requests by The Black Vault website produced records from STRATCOM, the US Strategic Command, showing that “Unidentified Aerial Phenomenology” has become a security concern for the same missile silos that the Chinese balloon was reportedly suveilling last week.
Then, in a return to Cold War habits, the US Navy stopped releasing UAP video during September, citing threats to national security. As Schindler noted in December, most of the intelligence on UAPs comes through SIGINT, the most secretive branch of the secret arts. This implies the “aliens” are using radio emissions rather than futuristic subspace tachyon communicators — a rather poor way to send messages over light years of distance, but pretty good for getting the word back to China.
Now that Beijing has seen the effect that a handful of balloons can have on North Americans, what is to stop them from sending more, just to see how crazy we get?
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