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Who's Provoking Who? America's B52 Bombers Bring War Clouds Over North Korea

A look behind the rhetorical war games between Washington and Pyongyang.
 
 
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A B-52H bomber.
Photo Credit: USAF/Wikimedia Commons

 
 
 
 

Based on the ear-splitting levels of hysteria deployed by American networks, mighty superpower Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is about to bomb the poor, undefended United States of America into the Stone Age.  

Oops, sorry, that was the mighty superpower itself shocking and awing Baghdad 10 years ago. 

And still, with the DPRK holding eight nuclear warheads against Iran's zero, I repeat, zero; and with the DPRK even threatening to nuke the US (which they can't) as opposed to no such threats from Iran, the usual Washington armchair warriors have their chattering ballistic missiles all pointed towards… Iran. 

Those poor defensive bombers 

Let's try to inject a little bit of sanity into such voluminous nonsense. 

Essentially we just need this Wall Street Journal  piece (paywall), where the proverbial, unnamed White House "officials" leaked to a Rupert Murdoch-owned operation that this whole thing was about provoking Pyongyang.

Anybody with minimal reading skills and an IQ not relevant to sub-zoology had already figured that out at least two weeks ago. 

Just take a look at this abridged timeline. This is South Korea already telegraphing its own provocations, way back on March 6.

This, on March 19, is South Korea and the US in their  joint naval drills, parading a nuclear attack submarine right at the DPRK's door - your typical "mine is bigger than yours".  

This, on March 20, is the Pacific Command flying  B-52 bombers out of Guam to show off its "continuous bomber presence". 

This, on March 26, is a  leak about the Unified Quest war game at the Army War College; it was all based on a collapsing North Korea where the leadership "lost control over their nukes". This is as appalling as a script as Hollywood's ghastly Olympus Has Fallen. 

And this, on March 28, is the clincher: two " Batman" nuclear-capable stealth B-2 bombers were flown from Missouri to show off in the skies very close to the DPRK, simulating bombing raids on North Korean targets as part of a "defensive" mission - prompting worldwide chatter about a new "Bombers for Peace" programme. 

Each B-2 costs a whopping $3bn. Flying them costs at least $135,000 an hour. They must be worthier than paying a decent salary for legions of American teachers. By the way, any teacher worth his/her salary would laugh the notion of the US using B-2 bombers as "deterrence" in Asia out of the classroom. 

Oh they do love the smell of napalm 

The so-called Obama administration "playbook" to deal with North Korea leaked to the Wall Street Journaldid work to perfection; the DPRK's leadership predictably went ballistic. 

When I was in North Korea three years ago the consensus was overwhelming; the scars of vicious American bombing of their cities during the Korean War have never healed. US B-29 bombers dropped more napalm in Korean cities than in Vietnam; the North was virtually flattened. The Korean War: A History, by Bruce Cumings (Modern Library, 2010), has all the tragic, gruesome details. 

Without understanding this, it is impossible for the rest of the world to contextualise the North's paranoia. When the DPRK's leadership sees nuclear B-2 bombers - capable of dropping 30,000 pound, bunker-busting MOABs (Mother of All Bombs) - simulating raids right at their doorstep, they do take it very seriously; they do fear it could happen all over again. 

And then Pentagon head Chuck Hagel has the gall to urge the DPRK to "tone down its rhetoric", offering a "path to peace" - via the "Bombers for Peace" programme, for sure. Just in case, Hagel also called the South Koreans to reassure them "all options remain on the table", as in nuclear umbrella, conventional strike capabilities and missile defence.

 
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