Steve Gowans has been cited before on this site, in respect of Syria and in my review of Israel: a Beachhead in the Middle East. Two days ago, on a different but related topic, he wrote:
US bombers, says a B-52 pilot at 8:20 of this video, “are what you send over there to change people’s minds when you want to get things done.” He doesn’t say what people’s minds are to be changed to, but there are plenty of indications that “getting things done” means making people ‘over there’ more accommodating to the demands of US investors and corporations. When minds need to be changed [for] unimpeded access to foreign markets by US businesses, protection of US intellectual property, and the opening of strategic industries to US investment, the bomber is a US instrument of choice.
“Basic U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific,” observes Chas Freeman, a retired US diplomat, “remain simple and straightforward: “Unimpeded access to the region’s markets, products, services, financial resources, and scientific and technological innovations.”
Jacob J. Lew, a former US Treasury Secretary, and Richard Nephew, a researcher at the Brookings Institution, identify fundamental U.S. foreign policy interests as promoting free trade and creating foreign markets for U.S. goods and services.
Which is to say, US foreign policy, backed by B-52 mind-changers, is guided by the goal of securing profit-making opportunities around the world for US investors and corporations. If “people over there” resist, well, the United States has plenty of B-52s to change minds and get things done.
The Pentagon, the Wall Street Journal informs us, plans to rely on B-52s “to prepare for the wars of the future.” This suggests that US planners have already queued up a series of foreign aggressions, calling to mind the future wars once planned in Berlin (against a string of European countries) and Tokyo (against China, as well as the East Asian and Pacific colonial possessions of the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands.) Imagine the outcry, entirely warranted, were China’s Global Times to run a story under the headline, For Wars of the Future, PLA Looks to Hypersonic Missiles. Were China openly planning wars of the future, as the United States is, and crowing about them in its newspapers, it would be marked, quite justifiably, as a menace to humanity. The logic applies no less strongly to the United States …
Full text (with references) here.
The days of the B-52 are coming to an end, however. In the words of the relevant Wikipedia article, they arena effective only “in the absence of sophisticated air defenses”. In an era where AA rocket systems are more and more widespread and available to medium sized powers such as Iran, North Korea, Turkey etc. they are as much a liability as anything else.
The same is true of the US generally. Trump has delivered a body-blow to US credibility, and China, Russia and even Iran (maybe even the EU, given enough time) are no longer prepared to put up with illegal US wars. Apart from Grenada, the US has never had a successful war since 1945, and they will be limited in future to remotely directed insurgencies like Ukraine. If they try to fight China over Taiwan I predict they will be humiliated.
Additionally, although Biden is just as war inclined as all his predecessors, he also has to deal with defunct US infrastructure and a very divided nation which would keep any normal leader in work for a decade. Not that that will stop him from all meddling, I imagine.
Not being a regular reader of Jane’s Aircraft, I was surprised by Mr Gowans’ talk of B-52s. For my generation this bomber gained global notoriety in the skies over Vietnam. And even more infamously over Cambodia, its carpet bombing induced hysteria crucial, argued a young John Pilger, in creating optimal conditions for a tiny sect to seize power, evacuate all population centres at gun point and – amid ludicrous claims that this was somehow “Marxist” – implement, with all the attendant horrors, a cashless economy. Not that the former French colony – thanks to LBJ, his B-52s, a Congress blindsided and a Ho Chi Minh Trail whose westward snakings had dragged Cambodia into the morass in the first place – was exactly spoilt for options.
But I’d assumed the B-52 a relic of history, like the bubble cars and Ford Prefects once seen daily on our roads. I felt nerdily inclined to look them up. Sure enough, in updated forms they’re still around, just; though as symbols of US Might they’ve been overtaken by those other death star/imperial centre icons: stealth bombers, cruise, tornado and the drone missiles whose potential was recently underscored in Nagorno-Karabakh.
(On that last, see the second of my December reads, in which former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter casts a military historian’s eye on that short but futuristic conflict.)
We have to avoid reductivism, methinks, in attributing causes to America’s record as by a long chalk the planet’s primary aggressor nation, even in the face of stiff competition from France, Britain, Canada et al (who in any case usually join it as junior partners). But one driver is a transfer of some $800bn per year, from America’s many to America’ few, effected by its military-industrial complex. This does not negate Steve Gowans’ main point, of America’s thirst for Full Spectrum Dominance being its primary means of advancing its economic interests. Rather, it should be considered alongside it. Which raises the question: does the Pentagon even have to “win” all of its wars? Those wars needn’t even – like a ghastly caricature of the Buddhist precept of path and goal being one – pay for themselves.
But they do have to be fought. How else is that $800bn a year transfer to be justified?
Of course, that the world is now so dangerous is down not only to the rise of Eurasia as powerful economies, some with the nuclear capability to make even Washington, Wall St and junior partners think twice. It is also due to growing signs of a China-led challenge to petrodollars and hence what Valery Giscard d’Estaing called America’s exorbitant privilege.
Meantime, as per another Scott Ritter piece recently discussed by you and me, Europe is getting antsy.