Gas Week

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Official chatter points to Iran attack by B-2 stealth bomber from Guam

Posted by gasweek on 21 September, 2007

According to David Barnett, in The Canberra Times (6/9/2007, p.19) the B-2 Stealth Bomber was huge — with its wingspan of 52.4m longer than the first manned flight by the Wright Brothers, and it was just about invisible to radar. At $U1.2 billion ($A1.45 billion), it cost as much to build as a nuclear-attack submarine, or a guided-missile destroyer, but had a crew of two, against 130 for the submarine and 320 for the destroyer. When it was developed 30 years ago it was part of a successful Cold War strategy of making it too hard, and costly, for the Soviet empire to keep up. “It would be ideal for taking out Iran’s nuclear facilities”. Employed during NATO bombing of Kosovo in 1999: Kosovo came along in 1999 and, for good or ill, the United States decided to force Serbia out of their southern province. They found that in the B-2 the air force had an aircraft that would hit multiple targets with the super accuracy of a fighter jet, at minimal risk to pilots.

Magazine reporter visits B2 base in Guam: Robert Kaplan of The Atlantic Monthly was invited to Guam where the 393rd Bomb Squadron is under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Paul W. “Nuke” Tibbets IV. His nickname is in honour of his grandfather who had commanded the 393rd, during World War II, trained it, and had then flown the mission over Hiroshima that in 1945 ended the Pacific War with a single bomb. The Atlantic Monthly is a thoughtful journal, always worth a read. It has a long piece on why President George W. Bush’s principal political adviser Karl Rove should retire. By the time the magazine reached Australia, Rove had already gone. So you would have to say that The Atlantic Monthly can be close to the White House. Another article is a hatchet job on a presidential speechwriter for taking unwarranted credit for Bush’s best lines. Above all, though, it contains Kaplan’s long piece on an extraordinary aircraft, an aircraft which gives the US the option of fighting a limited war.

B-2, just right for bombing of Iran? That’s a war in which you strike at specific, vital targets, without your enemy being able to strike back. The B-2 is an ideal aircraft for striking strategic targets. It could dump a load of bombs on underground sites hardened against missile attack. It would be ideal for taking out Iran’s nuclear facilities. It is also a story, of the sort with which we have recently become familiar. It has had an extensive incubation. Kaplan toured Guam in June last year. That’s when he saw the B-2, had his meeting with Tibbets and his colleagues and was briefed on capabilities. Kaplan’s story has come along a year later, in the context of rapidly growing concern about Iran’s nuclear development program.

Bush has variety of choices for Iran war “pretext”: Bush is escalating his rhetoric about Iran. The conclusion is inescapable that at the very least, the Americans are thinking very hard about a strike against the country that in hindsight, we might say, should always have been a target. What pretext could there be for such action? That would be easy. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rails against the Great Satan, infidels, Crusaders and Jews all the time. Pick a speech, any speech, and choose to regard that as a declaration of war. Will such revelations be enough to give Ahmadinejad second thoughts? Would what appear to have worked for North Korea work for Iran? One would expect so. And if they did not, if Bush did order a strike, it would inevitably be successful in destroying known sites.

US strike, but then what? What would happen afterwards? What a study in futurology that would be. In the immediate future, a source of support for the Hezbollah in the Lebanon, and for terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and all around the world, would be brought to an end.

Bush, Howard Iran chat? Bush was in Australia for the APEC meeting. Prime Minister John Howard, now Bush’s closest ally, could expect a briefing. No other issue at the APEC meeting was of greater importance.

The Canberra Times, 6/9/2007, p. 19


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