- - Sunday, January 10, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

There have been a rash of B-52 flights near threatening regimes lately, as obviously someone on the Obama administration national security staff has decided that the sight of a 60-year-old bomber will scare the boots off our adversaries. Today, in the latest example, a B-52 flew low level near Osan Air Base in South Korea, which is approximately 40 miles from the North Korean border.

“This was a demonstration of the ironclad U.S. commitment to our allies in South Korea, in Japan, and to the defense of the American homeland,” Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander U.S. Pacific Command, said in the statement released Sunday.

In another incident on Dec. 10th of 2015, two B-52s flew over Chinese man-made islands in the South China Sea. The Pentagon said the flight was “accidental” and the pilots had gotten lost due to bad weather. Fox News reported Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright said that the Dec. 10 mission was not a “freedom of navigation” operation and there was “no intention of flying within 12 nautical miles of any feature,” and the mission may have strayed off course.

Just for the record, in the age of GPS, nothing is accidental.

The B-52 is so named because the first iteration of the aircraft’s design took its maiden flight in 1952. There are grandfathers around who flew the B-52 whose grandsons are now flying the same tail numbers. Yes, the Stratofortress is a formidable nuclear and conventional weapons platform. However, it is now, in the age of sophisticated air defense, a stand-off weapon system. It can launch nuclear tipped cruise missiles but that is about it as far as threatening North Korea or China goes. It cannot penetrate enemy airspace until air superiority has been obtained.



I’m sure Adm. Harris believes what he says about the B-52 flight over Osan. However, I’m sure he also knows that real deterrence comes from having a strong, unmatchable military that can, if used, devastate any enemy. Real deterrence comes from a president saying what he means and meaning what he says. Evaporating red lines simply invite aggression.

The United States has let its military power atrophy. Our adversaries know this. Our fiscal weakness is inviting military weakness. Machiavelli had it right, “It is better to be feared than loved.” I fear the United States is neither under this administration’s leadership. A B-52 fly-by is not going to change the trajectory of the Obama administration’s foreign policy fecklessness. In fact, it puts U.S. Air Force aircrews in danger.

But I’m sure Slim Pickens from Dr. Strangelove fame is laughing from on high.

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