While the balloon was, the Pentagon said, “traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic” and did “not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground”, its presence sparked outrage.
Former US President Donald Trump was among those calling for the US military to shoot it down.
On Friday, China finally acknowledged the balloon was its property, saying that it was a civilian airship used for meteorological research, which deviated from its route because of bad weather.
A statement from China’s Foreign Ministry said that it regretted the incident and would work with the US to resolve the issue.
However, the state department official said that while the US acknowledged China’s claim about the balloon’s purpose, it stood the assessment that it was being used for surveillance.
Another trip by Mr Blinken to China would be planned “at the earliest opportunity” the official said, adding that Washington planned to maintain “open lines of communication” about the incident.
Mr Blinken had been expected to visit China on 5 and 6 February.
A US official quoted by the Associated Press said that the decision to abruptly halt the trip was made by Mr Blinken and President Joe Biden.
Mr Biden did not take questions about the balloon following remarks about the US economy on Friday morning.
According to US officials, the balloon flew over Alaska and Canada before appearing in the US state of Montana, which is home to a number of sensitive military missile sites.
Although fighter planes were alerted, the US decided not to shoot the object down due to the dangers of falling debris, officials said.
Several Republican lawmakers – as well as former President Donald Trump – have criticised the decision and urged the US to down the balloon.
“Shoot down the balloon,” Mr Trump said in a short message on his Truth Social social media platform.
While US officials have not commented on the size and details of the suspected spy balloon, Chinese officials have previously publicly expressed interest in the potential military and intelligence-gathering potential of balloons.
“Technological advances have opened a new door for the use of balloons,” an article in the military-run Liberation Army Daily said last year.
In 2022, Taiwan’s defence ministry said it detected Chinese balloons over its territory.
TEHRAN, Dec. 31 (MNA) – On the anniversary of the martyrdom of anti-terror icons Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi Abumahdi al-Muhandis, the Iraqis have taken to social media to denounce the continuation of US troops’ presence in their country.
Supporters of the Iraqi Resistance groups and Iraqi social networking websites activists have launched a campaign against the continuation of US troops’ presence in their country describing it as an occupation.
They demanded the withdrawal of the occupying US troops on the anniversary of the assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), and their companions who were martyred in a US drone strike authorized by previous president Trump near Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.
Some of the Iraqi users have posted a picture of “Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah”, the Secretary General of the Lebanese Hezbollah Movement, who had said in a previous speech on the anniversary of the martyrdom of the Resistance commanders, the American occupying forces “came horizontally and will withdraw vertically.”
Other users also reposted videos of the criminal activities of the American troops at the Baghdad airport and wrote, “America killed the leaders of the field and the defenders of our homeland. This is an unforgivable action.”
The Southern U.S. in particular has a problem regarding human rights. Historically, this problem has existed for about two centuries, when looking at overt racism (or slavery) and systemic racism (still evident today despite social reforms). The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has not only documented these rights violations, it has provided documents to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
In a press release, the SPLC focused on the criminal legal system in the South, the information of which was submitted by the SPLC to CERD, which stated that “the widespread, disparate harms [results] from the arrests, harsh prison sentences, and incarceration on Black communities.” Additionally, there are “the devastating impacts of solitary confinement, prison labor, the school to prison pipeline, and incarceration of parents on Black families.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called a report put out by the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2015 “a scathing” condemnation with 348 recommendations to stop human rights violations in the U.S. But the latter has not taken its rights problem very seriously, instead putting off compliance of international treaties.
It’s like kicking the can down the road.
What U.S. leaders have done is preach to the rest of the world that their country is exceptional, that it is always the good guy supporting freedom and democracy. In reality, more often than not, the U.S. has been blatantly hypocritical in dealing with other countries, arrogantly lecturing them about what is right and what is wrong. Meanwhile, the U.S., as an empire, has done a lot of wrong.
Xinhuanet has published a list of rights violations committed by the U.S. Xinhuanet is a Chinese source and one may think that it only puts out propaganda and in the process discredits itself. Or, that the information it publicizes comes from a nefarious source. But Xinhuanet is still a source and it cannot be lying about everything.
There are inconvenient truths that are out there about the U.S., and foreign sources have the right to reveal these truths. Thus, a source like Xinhuanet has put out truths about U.S. foreign policy actions and the hypocrisy that accompanies those actions.
The list starts off with U.S. interference in other countries’ affairs and violating the sovereignty of other countries: “The principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs is an important principle of the UN Charter and the basic norm governing international relations.”
But the U.S. has repeatedly violated the Charter for decades to save “freedom” and “democracy.” Usually, that is not the case since it does this “under the guise of so-called democracy and human rights” while trying to turn other countries into market satellites. And China was an example of this.
Before 1949, China was known as the “Sick Man of Asia,” being carved up by western powers and going through a brutal invasion by the imperial Japanese military during World War II. It was a typical “Third World” country that was exploited for its wealth, labor and resources; just like many “Third World” countries today.
The list states that “the United States has long disregarded the fundamental principle of international law that prohibits the unlawful use of force or threat to use force, and has brazenly launched wars against other sovereign states.” One example that immediately comes to mind is the 2003 Iraq War.
Under the façade of protecting democracy and to implement regime change to take down Saddam Hussein (who was a loathsome character), U.S. officials from the Bush Jr. regime fervently lied about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities. There was a rush to war, committing “shock and awe.” U.S. officials also lied about Hussein having an alliance with Osama bin Laden, another lie since they didn’t see eye-to-eye.
The result of the Iraq War caused the deaths of about 1 million Iraqis while displacing millions. “Shock and awe” could very well be called a terrorist action.
The list states that,
“The United States has been upgrading its nuclear arsenal, lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, using the so-called ‘trilateral negotiations’ as a pretext to evade its special responsibility for nuclear disarmament, and even entertain the thought of resuming nuclear tests.”
There has been preaching from U.S. officials, warning “rogue” countries not to develop a nuclear arsenal, even though the U.S. arsenal is the biggest threat in the world. U.S. military spending dwarfs the military spending of the next 10 nations combined.
Regarding biological weapons, “The United States has stood alone in opposing negotiations on a verification protocol of the Biological Weapons Convention and impeded international efforts to verify the biological activities in member countries and has thus become a ‘stumbling block’ to the process of biological arms control.” Additionally, “The United States has secretly set up biological laboratories around the world and engaged in biological militarization.”
Again, it gets back to the U.S. pointing the accusing finger at other nations it sees as “enemies” for supposedly endangering the world with biological weapons, yet has blocked a way to check on the presence of biological weapons in the U.S. itself. It makes it look like the U.S. is hiding something, like a stockpile of its own biological weapons.
And the U.S. is obsessed with imposing sanctions on other countries:
“According to data published by U.S. legal firm Gibson Dunn, under former President Donald Trump’s administration, the United States took more than 3,900 distinct sanctions actions, a record frequency of 3 a day.”
We are supposed to believe that the imposed sanctions are against “rogue” nations and “evil” leaders. This is, for example, indicated in U.S. media propaganda. While there may be a particular nation storing biological weapons, U.S. finger-pointing brings out U.S. hypocrisy.
The U.S. has threatened to withdraw, or has actually withdrawn, from international treaties and organizations:
“In June 2018, the United States announced its withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council, citing the council’s ‘bias’ against Israel and its inability to effectively protect human rights.”
The U.S. also continues to side with a nation violating basic rights – Israel with its apartheid system imposed on Palestinians.
“In 2020, despite objections from its allies, the United States announced that it initiated the procedure of exiting from the Skies Treaty from May 22.” Whatever the Skies Treaty is specifically, it sounds like the U.S. is shirking its responsibilities.
“In 2019, the United States announced its withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range NuclearForces Treaty for the sake of developing advanced weapons without constraints.” The U.S., as an empire, is unfortunately gearing up for more war. That’s the biggest threat to peace.
The blatant irresponsibility shown by U.S. leaders and officials is inexcusable in light of the danger and chaos in the world. Rather than exhibiting wisdom and empathy, the world’s lone superpower is displaying a superiority complex. Just the fact that the U.S. is prioritizing implements of war shows that it priorities are ass-backwards.
There is no longer a Cold War existing in the world. The only “danger” to the U.S. is the world becoming more multi-polar, and this threatens its hegemony. It thus provokes other countries like Russia and China into a new Cold War.
Where is the exportation of freedom and democracy? These things hardly exist within the U.S.’s imperial foreign policy, let alone within their own borders.
Sometimes freedom and democracy look as though it doesn’t exist within the U.S. (despite its degree of democracy). The SPLC took a major step in showing documents to CERD about racist violence in the United States. While this is very important, documentation is also crucial to show the racist violence and racist-sponsored violence by the U.S., as an empire, internationally. That and the U.S.’s hypocrisy in dealing with international law.
The U.S. Air Force unveiled the Northrop Grumman-made B-21 stealth bomber earlier this month, providing the public with its first look at what defense leaders have described as the “backbone” of its future bomber force.
“The B-21 will form the backbone of the future Air Force bomber force,” the Air Force said in a statement. “Designed to operate in tomorrow’s high-end threat environment, the B-21 will play a critical role in ensuring America’s enduring airpower capability.”
Once completed, the stealth bomber will be nuclear-capable and designed to accommodate manned and unmanned operations.
Austin, at the unveiling, said that the bomber represents “deterrence the American way,” and he spoke about the developments between the B-21 and its predecessor, the B-2 Spirit bomber, saying, “Fifty years of advances in low-observable technology have gone into this aircraft.”
One key aspect of the new bomber is that it’s “highly adaptable” and will be able to handle weapons not yet created, the secretary added.
“The Raider was built with open-system architecture, which makes it highly adaptable,” Austin said. “As the United States continues to innovate, this bomber will be able to defend our country with new weapons that haven’t even been invented yet. And the B-21 is multi-functional. It can handle anything from gathering intel, to battle management, to integrating with our allies and partners. And it will work seamlessly across domains, and theaters, and across the joint force.”
The Air Force has announced its intention to acquire 100 B-21 Raiders, though only six are in various stages of final assembly, and the first flight is tentatively set for 2023.
In the backdrop of the Pentagon’s unveiling of the B-21 is the Chinese military’s continued growth and aggression and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
A recent report from the department released in late November revealed that China’s operational nuclear warheads stockpile has likely surpassed 400 already and that it could exceed 1,500 by 2035 on their current pace.
Austin, a week after the B-21 unveiling, warned that the U.S. is on the verge of a dangerous new phase while the country goes up against two nuclear powers in China and Russia as both are “expanding and modernizing” their nuclear arsenals.
“Today, STRATCOM faces new challenges,” he said. “The United States is on the verge of a new phase, one where for the first time, we face two major nuclear powers as strategic competitors. The People’s Republic of China is expanding and modernizing and diversifying its nuclear forces, and Russia is also modernizing and expanding its nuclear arsenal. And as the Kremlin continues its cruel and unprovoked war of choice against Ukraine, the whole world has seen Putin engage in deeply-irresponsible nuclear saber-rattling.”
The Department of Defense has commonly referred to China as its “pacing challenge” and Russia as an “acute threat,” though it views China as the only power that has the intent and capability to reshape the international order in its favor.
China’s state-run Global Times quoted a Chinese military expert, Zhang Xuefeng, who said the upgrades from previous bombers to the B-21 “will significantly enhance the bomber’s stealth capability” and will “receive a stronger capability in defense penetration.”
The USS Annapolis (SSN-760) launches a Tomahawk missile in 2018.
(U.S. NAVY/ RONALD GUTRIDGE)
The Navy Needs a Low-Yield Nuclear Weapon
By Brandon M. Patterson
The end of the Cold War bred an illusion of permanence. Events have forced optimists to shed their pretenses about the end of power politics. The so-called rules-based international order is coming apart. Norms are voluntary; principles considered sacrosanct since 1945—such as sovereignty and nonintervention in the internal affairs of other states—have proven to be conditional. History’s underlying reality is that peace requires equilibrium. But managing the balance of power is in part psychological: a perceived equality of power will not be challenged. It is not only the possession of power that contributes to stability, but also the will to bring it to bear. The renewed danger of nuclear war will turn U.S. inhibitions about it into a weapon in the hands of those determined to challenge global equilibrium.
The United States insists on aggression becoming unambiguous before it merits resistance—as if the means of aggression are more important than the ends it serves.1 Even when aggression is unambiguous, U.S. leaders sometimes redefine “red lines” in terms that are unlikely to be met. Adversaries have reintroduced low-yield nuclear weapons into their arsenals, which contributes to this irresolution. Effective U.S. resistance to aggression therefore may turn on its establishment of a low-yield nuclear deterrent, and the Navy will be integral to making such a deterrent survivable and credible.
Massive Retaliation and its Discontents
Under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the United States introduced the doctrine of “massive retaliation,” which stated that the United States would react to any aggressive Soviet move with a nuclear attack on Soviet territory. The doctrine was based on a U.S. nuclear monopoly; when the Soviets balanced the nuclear equation, it placed the United States in an untenable position. Any time the Soviet Union committed an act of aggression, a U.S. president would face choices between risking U.S. cities to defend distant allies or capitulating. No president would be willing to sacrifice American cities over a limited objective, so submission would be the only option. This produced the risk that Russia—whose historic proclivity was incremental expansion—would commit acts of aggression short of those that would cause a nuclear war, but the accumulation of which would lead to Soviet hegemony over Eurasia. U.S. nuclear inhibitions were fodder for an enemy whose favorite tactic was nuclear blackmail.
This placed the onus on conventional forces, in which the United States and NATO were numerically inferior. Now the balance of power operated on two levels: in the traditional, geopolitical sense; and in the mutual effort to deter a nuclear first strike. A common solution was found in “limited” nuclear war, exemplified by rapidly deployable expeditionary forces armed with low-yield, “battlefield” nuclear weapons.6 Such weapons allowed U.S. leaders to respond to a threat at the level at which it arose and would help offset the disparity in conventional forces between NATO and the Soviets.
Deterrence in a New Nuclear Age
The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review expressed U.S. anxieties at the perceived low-yield gap left by increased Russian production of tactical nuclear weapons. Russian doctrine does not enumerate the purported principle of “escalate to deescalate” or how it might be implemented. Yet the notion is enough to cause handwringing as to how the United States would respond to the first use of low-yield nuclear weapons during a conventional conflict. Such fears could result in paralysis in the face of aggression.
The Western response of military aid and economic sanctions has shrouded this problem. NATO’s explicit rejection of any possibility of direct intervention likely provided Russia with a safety net for aggression. It also marked a clear limit to U.S. support for Ukraine’s survival. It is not a great logical leap to assume that the same fears will emerge in the event of an attack on Poland, the Baltics, or Taiwan. If any confrontation with Russia—or China—over any issue perforce risks nuclear annihilation, it begs the question of what, if anything, the United States deems worth risking nuclear war to defend.
The inability of the United States to react proportionately to the use of low-yield nuclear weapons incentivizes nuclear blackmail as a means of isolating an opponent from its ally and undermining the basis of deterrence. The worst action the United States could take would be to accept small-scale use of low-yield weapons, which would only provide incentives to bad actors to threaten the use of such weapons to gain the upper hand in international relations.
The theoretical dividing line between tactical and strategic weapons no longer holds, if it ever did. Nevertheless, the ability to escalate within a theater of conflict is imperative, and the United States must again develop some notion of limited nuclear war for its proclamations to remain credible. Others have expressed the need to credibly convince Russia that the United States is willing to “trade Vilnius for New York” to defend NATO.The ability to respond to low-yield use with low-yield use might avoid testing that conviction.
Credibility means that one’s word can be trusted by allies and opponents alike. This historically means following through on one’s threats; for nuclear weapons, credibility requires doctrine. How does one employ these weapons, and how does one keep such a war limited? This is not purely a military problem. Diplomacy and power are not discrete but mark the endpoints of a spectrum. Power without diplomacy is aimless; diplomacy without power is sterile. What is now referred to as “limited war” is often misunderstood. “Limited” traditionally refers to objectives, not means. Strategy is the quest to define a correspondence between power and one’s will to apply it; war is an attempt to make resistance more painful than capitulation. Nuclear weapons upset these relationships, as their all-out use deprives victory of its historic meaning. One cannot exact any further penalties from a society that has been destroyed.
Throughout any war over a limited objective, the opponent must be presented with a settlement that appears preferable to continuing the conflict. This keeps means and ends in rough proportion and incentivizes the losing side to make peace rapidly to prevent further losses. So long as mutual assured destruction remains plausible, both sides in a nuclear war over limited objectives will seek to keep that use of nuclear weapons proportionate unless one side believes its survival is under immediate threat. The task of diplomacy in this context therefore is to communicate that the opponent’s survival is not under threat.
Merging diplomacy and force thus makes limited nuclear war theoretically feasible, which is the foundation of doctrine. Communicating limited aims does not guarantee that escalation is impossible. But the U.S. refusal to consider how it would wage a limited nuclear war only increases the probability that aggressors will make nuclear threats to create a protective umbrella against conventional attacks. The best means of preventing such a scenario from arising is to negate the advantage an aggressor thinks it derives from wielding such threats.
Implementation: The Need for a Maritime Low-Yield Option
Much has changed politically since the Cold War, but the United States’ task remains the same: preventing the peripheral regions of Eurasia from coming under the domination of a single power. Given existing nuclear agreements within NATO, there is a natural inclination to forward deploy existing weapons such as the B-61 gravity bomb to deter a Russian first use of low-yield weapons. This is the least controversial means of augmenting U.S. low-yield nuclear forces. Germany, Turkey, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands are all potential locations for such increased deployments.
In Asia, the problem is as much geographic as it is political. Deploying B-61s to U.S. possessions as well as forming arrangements for forward deployments in Japan, the Philippines, and Australia merits exploration as a way of mitigating the distances involved. Apart from Japan, however, these deployments would necessitate strategic bombers given the limited range of tactical U.S. aircraft, and forward-deployed aircraft are vulnerable to a first strike, nuclear or otherwise. Deterrence in Asia requires greater flexibility and survivability.
In the post–Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty world, one possible solution would be to deploy medium-range nuclear weapons to Poland or elsewhere in Eastern Europe. But the experience of placing Pershing IIs in Germany in the 1980s ought to drive home the political costs associated with forward deploying land-based missiles. Even if it were feasible, the narrow geographic distribution of this deterrent threatens its survivability. For similar reasons, it is also unlikely that any land-based missile could be deployed in Asia.
A low-yield submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM-N) might be a better solution. It is diplomatically the least fraught of possible delivery systems, and it ensures the deterrent’s survivability. Cruise missiles also promise a margin of safety over ballistic missiles because they reduce the risk of early warning systems interpreting their launch as the opening move in a total nuclear war. With modified visitation arrangements among allies such as “nuclear-free” New Zealand and Japan, rotational deployments of fast-attack submarines armed with SLCM-Ns would help mitigate the geographic difficulties posed by the Indo-Pacific.4
Indeed, U.S. Strategic Command’s Admiral Charles Richard expressed the need for a wider menu of low-yield options before the Senate Armed Services Committee in May 2022: “What you want to be able to do is offer the President any number of ways at which he might be able to create an effect that will change the opponent’s decision calculus and get them to refrain or otherwise seek negotiation vice continued hostility.” He explicitly advocated for an SLCM-N to address the gap: “[A] low-yield, non-ballistic capability to deter and respond without visible generation is necessary to provide a persistent, survivable, regional capability to deter adversaries, assure allies, provide flexible options, as well as complement existing capabilities.”5 The Navy’s role in this new dispensation, therefore, is to ensure a survivable deterrent, to multiply a U.S. president’s options, and to shore up a willingness to wage war against a nuclear-armed opponent. But only if the fate of the SLCM-N program is reconsidered in this context.
If the United States is unwilling to accept the reality of this new nuclear age, it will be unable to play its role in contributing to global equilibrium. U.S. policymakers and service chiefs alike must ask themselves what they fear more: the dangers they face, or the measures needed to redress them. The material, bureaucratic, and opportunity costs of reintroducing low-yield weapons to the U.S. submarine force—which are significant—must be weighed against the consequences of vulnerability. The Navy is indispensable to confronting these dangers, and the need for a survivable low-yield deterrent will only grow more evident with time.
“This isn’t just another airplane,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. “It’s the embodiment of America’s determination to defend the republic that we all love.”
Embodiment means that something is a perfect example of a quality or idea.
The bomber is part of the U.S. efforts to modernize its nuclear abilities, which also include silo-launched nuclear ballistic missiles and submarine-launched missiles.
The efforts come at a time of fast Chinese military modernization.
China could have 1,500 nuclear weapons by 2035. And the U.S. defense department said recently in its yearly China report that China’s gains in cyber warfare, space capabilities and other areas present the most serious “challenge to U.S. national security and the free and open international system.”
Kathy Warden is the chief executive of Northrop Grumman, which is building the Raider. She said the Raider looks like the B-2, but once you get inside, the similarities stop.
“The way it operates” is very complex “compared to the B-2, because the technology has evolved so much in terms of the computing capability ….” Warden said. Other changes include the use of advanced materials to make the bomber harder to detect.
“Even the most sophisticated air defense systems will struggle to detect a B-21 in the sky,” Warden added. “You’ll hear it, but you really won’t see it.”
Both the U.S. Air Force and Northrop also point to the Raider’s relatively quick development. The bomber went from contract award to public appearance in seven years. Other new fighter and ship programs have taken over 10 or 20 years.
“We will soon fly this aircraft, test it, and then move it into production. And we will build the bomber force in numbers suited to the strategic environment ahead,” Austin said.
The Raider will not make its first flight until 2023. However, using advanced computing, Warden said, Northrop Grumman has been testing the Raider’s performance using a digital copy of the one that was shown to the public.
Dan Grazier is an expert at the Project on Government Oversight. He warned, “It’s easy to say that the B-21 is still on schedule before it actually flies. Because it’s only when one of these programs goes into the actual testing phase when real problems are discovered.”
I’m John Russell.
Tara Copp reported on this story for the Associated Press. John Russell adapted it for VOA Learning English.
The B-21 Raider is expected to start flying next year.
The Raider is also “multi-functional,” Austin said. “It can handle anything from intel gathering to battle management to integrating with our allies and partners.”
The B-21 has been designed with an “open architecture,” allowing the Air Force to swap out older systems more easily for new technologies. This approach was adopted to help prevent the bomber, which was initially designed almost a decade ago, from becoming obsolete amid rapid technological advances.
“So as the United States continues to innovate, this bomber will be able to defend our country with new weapons that haven’t even been created yet,” Austin said.
Unlike many recent military aircraft programs, most famously the controversial F-35 fighter jet, the new bomber has stayed on cost and on schedule. The Air Force has set a $500 million ceiling for the unit cost in 2010 dollars; in 2019, Northrop said the Air Force’s target cost would be just over $600 million, accounting for inflation.
Over the next few months, the B-21 will undergo additional testing to make sure it is ready for its first flight, which Northrop has said will likely occur in 2023.
The Raider is named for the Doolittle Raiders, known for their surprise attack on Japan during World War II. To pick the name, then-Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and then-Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein put out a call for submissions and chose from a list of thousands of options that ranged from the ridiculous — “Sneaky McBombFace” — to the ominous — “Black Death.”
The first new B-21s will be based out of Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, and formal training will be conducted there as well. Maintenance and sustainment will be handled at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, while testing and evaluation is being performed at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Other prime contractors include Pratt & Whitney, which provides the engine; BAE Systems, which is most likely building the electronic warfare system; GKN Aerospace; Janicki Industries; Orbital ATK, which was acquired by Northrop; Rockwell Collins; and Spirit AeroSystems, according to Byron Callan, an analyst with Capital Alpha Partners.
WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s newest nuclear stealth bomber is making its public debut after years of secret development and as part of the Pentagon’s answer to rising concerns over a future conflict with China.
The bomber is part of the Pentagon’s efforts to modernize all three legs of its nuclear triad, which includes silo-launched nuclear ballistic missiles and submarine-launched warheads, as it shifts from the counterterrorism campaigns of recent decades to meet China’s rapid military modernization.
China is on track to have 1,500 nuclear weapons by 2035, and its gains in hypersonics, cyber warfare, space capabilities and other areas present “the most consequential and systemic challenge to U.S. national security and the free and open international system,” the Pentagon said this week in its annual China report.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other invited guests will be on hand Friday to witness the bomber’s public unveiling.
”We needed a new bomber for the 21st Century that would allow us to take on much more complicated threats, like the threats that we fear we would one day face from China, Russia, ” said Deborah Lee James, the Air Force secretary when the Raider contract was announced in 2015. “The B-21 is more survivable and can take on these much more difficult threats.”
While the Raider may resemble the B-2, once you get inside, the similarities stop, said Kathy Warden, chief executive of Northrop Grumman Corp., which is building the Raider.
“The way it operates internally is extremely advanced compared to the B-2, because the technology has evolved so much in terms of the computing capability that we can now embed in the software of the B-21,” Warden said.
Other changes likely include advanced materials used in coatings to make the bomber harder to detect, new ways to control electronic emissions, so the bomber could spoof adversary radars and disguise itself as another object, and use of new propulsion technologies, several defense analysts said.
In a fact sheet, Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia, said it is using “new manufacturing techniques and materials to ensure the B-21 will defeat the anti-access, area-denial systems it will face.”
Warden could not discuss specifics of those technologies but said the bomber will be more stealthy.
“When we talk about low observability, it is incredibly low observability,” Warden said. “You’ll hear it, but you really won’t see it.”
Six B-21 Raiders are in production; The Air Force plans to build 100 that can deploy either nuclear weapons or conventional bombs and can be used with or without a human crew. Both the Air Force and Northrop also point to the Raider’s relatively quick development: The bomber went from contract award to debut in seven years. Other new fighter and ship programs have taken decades.
The cost of the bombers is unknown. The Air Force previously put the price for a buy of 100 aircraft at an average cost of $550 million each in 2010 dollars — roughly $753 million today — but it’s unclear how much the Air Force is actually spending.
The fact that the price is not public troubles government watchdogs.
“It might be a big challenge for us to do our normal analysis of a major program like this,” said Dan Grazier, a senior defense policy fellow at the Project on Government Oversight. “It’s easy to say that the B-21 is still on schedule before it actually flies. Because it’s only when one of these programs goes into the actual testing phase when real problems are discovered. And so that’s the point when schedules really start to slip and costs really start to rise.”
The Raider will not make its first flight until 2023. However, using advanced computing, Warden said, Northrop Grumman has been testing the Raider’s performance using a digital twin, a virtual replica of the one being unveiled.
The B-2 was also envisioned to be a fleet of more than 100 aircraft, but the Air Force ultimately built only 21 of them, due to cost overruns and a changed security environment after the Soviet Union fell.
Fewer than that are ready to fly on any given day due to the significant maintenance needs of the aging bomber, said Todd Harrison, an aerospace specialist and managing director at Metrea Strategic Insights.
The B-21 Raider, which takes its name from the 1942 Doolittle Raid over Tokyo, will be slightly smaller than the B-2 to increase its range, Warden said.
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the formal appeal to the U.N.General Assembly of the then U.S.President, George W. Bush to support invasion of Iraq – which fell on September 12 – it makes sense to review its justification:Iraq is still suffering from the U.S. invasion of 2003, and American occupation till 2011. Every community is worse off than what it was before Americans entered the region. There have been no weapons of mass destruction found, no democracy established, no end to tyranny, and certainly no end to terrorist involvement in the nation.
ON September 12, 2002, then U.S. President George W. Bush, while addressing the United Nations (‘UN’) General Assembly, said, “Twelve years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait without provocation. And the regime’s forces were poised to continue their march to seize other countries and their resources. Had Saddam Hussein been appeased instead of stopped, he would have endangered the peace and stability of the world. Yet this aggression was stopped — by the might of coalition forces and the will of the United Nations. To suspend hostilities, to spare himself, Iraq’s dictator accepted a series of commitments. The terms were clear, to him and to all. And he agreed to prove he is complying with every one of those obligations. He has proven instead only his contempt for the United Nations, and for all his pledges. By breaking every pledge — by his deceptions, and by his cruelties — Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself.”
This was Bush’s first formal appeal to the international community to support an invasion of Iraq. It was on this day the building up to the war, which commenced on March 2003, began. As we recently crossed the 20-year mark to this address, it is an excellent time to assess the decision of the Bush administration through the prism of justice, because the current U.S. President does like to claim that Washington, D.C. stands for a rules-based order.
In what conditions is a war just? Did the Iraq invasion satisfy those conditions?
The idea that a war can ever be just is a debate that has gone on for centuries. However, there is a consensus on what makes a war just, popularly summed up with two phrases: jus ad bellum (conditions in which a State may resort to war) and jus in bello (the rules of war). These philosophies I have had provide the constraints to judge the validity and fairness of any war.
These parameters can largely be cast along three axes: were the reasons valid (cause and intention); were the aggressors willing to be accountable (authority and responsibility); were all other paths exhausted (last resort)?
1. Right cause and intention: War can in some circumstances be justified. India made a powerful case for invading the then East Pakistan in 1971, by pointing out the Pakistani military’s atrocities and the refugee crisis that India was facing as a product of it.
For the cause of war and the intention of the aggressor to be right, it needs to satisfy two conditions: is injustice being addressed and is it an act of self-defence/stopping aggression? The problems India faced from Pakistan’s acts in its eastern territory did satisfy both conditions. What the Pakistani army was doing could be called a mass atrocity, particularly operations like Searchlight, and north-eastern India, an already sensitive region, was being detrimentally affected due to the massive refugee influx.
If Iraq was authoritative, then so was, as is, China; if Hussein was a dictator, then how different were the monarchs of Saudi Arabia and the military regimes of North Africa? If this invasion was indeed a crusade for democracy, then why was Iraq specifically being targeted? And if the Bush administration was so keen on specifically ending the reign of Hussein, was it willing to stick around in occupation of Iraq for the next eight years?
Washington rested its case on two pillars, one of which addressed security concerns by claiming Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was involved in the 9/11 attack (the 21st anniversary of which was only earlier this week), and the second being the replacement of the dictatorial rule of then President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein with democracy.
A preliminary investigation of Iraq, by the International Atomic Energy Agency after the UN Security Council Resolution 1441, declared that“There is no indication of resumed nuclear activities in those buildings that were identified through the use of satellite imagery as being reconstructed or newly erected since 1998, nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any inspected sites. There is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import uranium since 1990.”
As far as the attacks of September 11 are concerned, the 19 men who committed the act hailed from four different countries: 15 of them were citizens of Saudi Arabia, two were from the United Arab Emirates, one was from Lebanon, and one was from Egypt. The mastermind was the terrorist Osama Bin Laden, a Saudi national who was allegedly hiding in Afghanistan at the time of the attacks. If some reports are to be believed, Iraq wasn’t even mentioned as one of the culprits for the terror act early on.
Coming to the regime that Hussein was running, the hypocrisy of Americans opposing the system is that they had, and continue to have, no problem maintaining cordial relations with similarly run countries. If Iraq was authoritative, then so was, as is, China; if Hussein was a dictator, then how different were the monarchs of Saudi Arabia and the military regimes of North Africa? If this invasion was indeed a crusade for democracy, then why was Iraq specifically being targeted? And if the Bush administration was so keen on specifically ending the reign of Hussein, was it willing to stick around in occupation of Iraq for the next eight years?
2. Taking authority and claiming responsibility: The answer to all the questions raised earlier can be found in American conduct during the occupation. After the Second World War, American troops occupied most of Western Europe and the territories of Japan. In both the regions, apart from defeating occupying forces, the Americans ensured that appropriate development worktakes place, and that the region was up and running again. When a nation takes the decision of annihilating another entity, it has to take the responsibility of ensuring the region is back on its feet.
The success of this parameter can be gauged based on whether any defined targets were achieved, and if the region ended up in the status quo?
Another supposed American goal was rooting out terrorism, but post-invasion, Iraq became the bastion of the militant Islamist group, the Islamic State.
The Bush administration had big plans when they entered Baghdad, mainly of ostensibly turning the nation into a functioning, open democracy. Instead, immediately after the U.S.’s arrival, a civil war broke out and even today the region is ranked as an authoritarian State.
Another supposed American goal was rooting out terrorism, but post-invasion, Iraq became the bastion of the militant Islamist group, the Islamic State. Twenty years later, it still hasn’t seen any stability. The new Iraqi government after Hussein’s exit immediately went after the Sunni population and almost made it State policy to persecute them. Moreover, the government wasn’t accommodative of the region’s diversity and became an equally oppressive regime, albeit it didn’t have the same grip, resulting in no actual change in terms of rights but conversely unleashing a tyrannical majority.
After the First World War, both Britain and France had failed to empathise with the losing side, thus fuelling resentment, which became a factor in causing the Second World War. America’s similar failure highlighted that it didn’t have a plan regarding what to do after overthrowing Hussein, and thus left the people in anarchy. This raises the question: if the U.S. never had a plan to fix Iraq and establish a stable order before leaving, was this avoidable? Was the war necessary?
3. Last resort: If war is avoidable it must be avoided, as agreed even by hawks like American politician, diplomat, and geopolitical consultant Henry Kissingerhttps://andrewtheprophet.com. So were alternatives explored before the ultimate military intervention?
Before further engaging with this point, some facts about U.S. foreign policy must be acknowledged. Back in 1998, the 105th U.S. Congress adopted the Iraq Liberation Act which stated: “it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government.” Iraq clearly had been a long-standing grievance of Washington, and the latter was looking for an excuse to install a friendly government in the former.
Given most of the reasons stated by the American administration to invade Iraq didn’t really have much merit, it is important to view the removal of Hussein as a primary objective: did even that require an invasion?
Was an invasion necessary? Would violently overthrowing Hussein’s regime solve any problem? Could a more non-confrontational way of empowering the Shia majority not have been used to instead dispose of the brutal dictatorial regime? The last-resort nature of war means there is no alternative, and the situation calls for immediate action. No American argument, either short or long-term, can possibly explain why the conflict simply had to take place.
Thus, it is clear that the invasion was unethical. But unethical things may not necessarily be unjust. The war seals itself as an act of grave injustice based on the way it was carried out, and the aftermath of American capture.
What made the Iraq war an act of injustice?
The unjust nature of the war can be understood in terms of the method adopted to win it, and the consequences of the actions taken. It’s here where U.S. intervention crosses the realm of unethical to outright illegal, and makes its case redundant to the point that their former president D.J. Trump accepted that the world was a better place with Hussein in charge of Iraq.
This was followed by battle after battle to capture individual cities, and a counter-terror operation in which the conduct of the American troops was outrageous. There was the infamous Mahmudiyah rape and killings, where a fourteen-year-old Iraqi girl was raped and murdered, along with her family, by five American soldiers. The worst, however, were Abu Ghraib and Nisour Square.
In the case of the Nisour Square massacre, employees of Blackwater Security Consulting, a private military contractor company, shot at Iraqi civilians, killing 17 and injuring 20 while escorting a U.S. embassy convoy. In this case, again the five people who were convicted were later pardoned by President Trump.
Its conduct during the war and occupation brought forth the lack of empathy, crudeness, vile hatred and absolute incompetence on America’s end.
On top of this, throughout the occupation, the U.S. administration was extremely corrupt, with billions of dollars of American money spent on the supposed reconstruction of Iraq without any commensurate gains. It was best summed up by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that “$55 billion could have brought a great change in Iraq.” The sheer scale of corruption is hard to state. This conduct brought forth the lack of empathy, crudeness, vile hatred and absolute incompetence on America’s end.
2. Aftermath: Analysis so far makes it clear that Americans had no plan apart from throwing Hussein out. With no vision, Iraq immediately fell into chaos. America’s massive artillery strikes had sabotaged everyday life and that meant everything had to be rebuilt. But because of excessive corruption and the failure to create a working State, that rebuilding never took place, which in turn caused a refugee crisis.
The U.S. government also immediately handed over power to the Shia majority, which decided to use the limited State machinery to indiscriminately persecute Sunnis; this drove a rift in Iraqi society, becoming one of the key reasons for the coming civil war.
The biggest failure of the U.S. was to disband the massive military that Hussein had built and kill the main source of livelihood in the country, the army. This resented class, which was now facing State persecution, decided to organise itself under the banner of the Islamic State, which became a fascist force that threatened the entire region. Such was the terror of the organisation that America was forced to lead another coalition into the country, this time to defeat the Caliphate.
The sheer loss of life that took place after the fall of Hussein’s regime falls on the head of Washington’s mismanagement of the entire invasion.
Today, the invasion has become an anecdote that gets a laugh from the American audience – a gaffe that people are supposed to move on from. The reality is that the region is still suffering. Every community is worse off than what it was before Americans entered the region. There have been no weapons of mass destruction found, no democracy established, no end to tyranny, and certainly no end to terrorist involvement in the nation.
Last month Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian signed a contract for the construction of the 2nd and 3rd phases of the power plant during a visit to Russia.
The United States has exempted some of Iran’s nuclear activities, including those at the Bushehr Power Plant from sanctions. However, following the reduction of Iran’s commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal with the West, many members of the U.S. Congress have called for sanctions against all of Iran’s nuclear activities