‘Military Madness:’ US Deploys Nuclear-Capable B-52s to Australia

This escalation of U.S. hostility comes just days after the Biden administration released a Nuclear Posture Review that nonproliferation advocates said makes catastrophe more, rather than less, likely.

U.S. President Joe Biden at the Department of Defense. (DoD, Lisa Ferdinando)

By Kenny Stancil
Common Dreams

In what critics are calling a “dangerous escalation,” the United States is reportedly preparing to deploy up to six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to northern Australia, where they would be close enough to strike China.

“The ability to deploy U.S. Air Force bombers to Australia sends a strong message to adversaries about our ability to project lethal air power,” the U.S. Air Force told “Four Corners,” a television program of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), on Sunday.

Becca Wasser, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, told ABC that “having bombers that could range and potentially attack mainland China could be very important in sending a signal to China that any of its actions over Taiwan could also expand further.”

Investigative journalist and former ABC correspondent Peter Cronau, however, described the plan, which came with “no debate [or] discussion,” as “military madness [that] is fanning tensions with China.”

Cronau’s message was echoed by David Shoebridge, an Australian Greens senator for New South Wales.

“This is a dangerous escalation,” Shoebridge wrote on Twitter. “It makes Australia an even bigger part of the global nuclear weapons threat to humanity’s very existence — and by rising military tensions it further destabilizes our region.”

According to the ABC, “Washington is planning to build dedicated facilities” for the nuclear-capable B-52 bombers at Royal Australian Air Force Base Tindal, less than 200 miles south of Darwin, the capital of the country’s Northern Territory.

Nov. 17, 2011: President Barack Obama speaks about 60 years of the U.S.-Australian alliance in Darwin, Australia. (Pete Thibodeau/Wikimedia Commons)

The Pentagon’s plan represents the latest U.S. act of hostility toward China.

Relations between the two countries have only worsened since August, when U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and other members of Congress visited Taiwan (the Republic of China, or ROC) despite opposition from Beijing, which — along with most of the international community, including Washington since the 1970s — considers the breakaway province to be part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

In a departure from more than four decades of “One China” policy — in which the U.S. recognizes the PRC as the sole legal government of China and maintains informal relations with the ROC while adopting a position of “strategic ambiguity” to obscure how far it would go to protect Taiwan — U.S. President Joe Biden has repeatedly threatened to use military force in response to a Chinese invasion of the island.

Although Biden warned earlier this month that Russia’s assault on Ukraine has brought the world closer to “Armageddon” than at any point since the Cuban Missile Crisis, his move to station B-52 bombers in Australia further increases the global risk of nuclear war.

Biden’s Nuclear Posture Review

News of the impending deployment comes just days after the Biden administration released a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that nonproliferation advocates said makes catastrophe more, rather than less, likely.

“The formal statement of U.S. nuclear strategy pays lip service to the need to limit the spread and prevent the use of atomic weaponry and cancels an egregious Trump-era missile program,” Common Dreams reported last week, but “the document makes clear that the country will move ahead with dangerous and costly modernization plans — and leaves intact the option of a nuclear first strike.”

According to Stephen Young, senior Washington representative at the Union of Concerned Scientists, “The world is becoming a more dangerous place, but the only military threat to the survival of the United States is a nuclear war with Russia or China.”

“Rather than recognizing that threat and seeking to find ways to end it,” said Young, “the Biden NPR doubles down on nuclear deterrence and the status quo approach to security that says we all must be prepared to die in less than an hour.”

The move to park B-52 bombers at the Tindal air base also comes just over a year after the establishment of the so-called AUKUS alliance, a trilateral military partnership through which the U.S. and the United Kingdom plan to help Australia build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines — a long-term initiative widely seen as a challenge to China by Western powers determined to exert control over the Pacific region.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (the “fellow Down Under”) on video with U.S. President Joe Biden during Sept. 15, 2021, announcement of the AUKUS pact. (C-Span clip)

Some Australian critics expressed concerns that the planned deployment of U.S. military aircraft to the Northern Territory locks the country into joining Washington in the event an armed conflict with China erupts.

“It’s a great expansion of Australian commitment to the United States’ war plan with China,” said Richard Tanter, a senior research associate at the Nautilus Institute and longstanding anti-nuclear activist.

“It’s a sign to the Chinese that we are willing to be the tip of the spear,” said Tanter. “It’s very hard to think of a more open commitment that we could make. A more open signal to the Chinese that we are going along with American planning for a war with China.”

Beijing, for its part, accused Washington of destabilizing the entire Pacific region with its planned deployment of B-52s to the Tindal air base.

Asked about the U.S. positioning nuclear-capable bombers in Australia, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that military cooperation pacts between countries should “not target any third parties or harm the interests of third parties.”

“The relevant U.S. behaviors have increased regional tensions, seriously undermined regional peace and stability, and may trigger an arms race in the region,” Zhao told reporters at a regular briefing in Beijing.

“China urges the parties concerned to abandon the outdated Cold War and zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical thinking, and to do something conducive to regional peace and stability and enhancing mutual trust between the countries,” he added.

Kenny Stancil is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

22 comments for “‘Military Madness:’ US Deploys Nuclear-Capable B-52s to Australia

  1. Realist
    November 3, 2022 at 17:02

    More insane, outrageous American provocations against another country just attempting to live under the parameters that Washington itself had previously established. China is not making an existential threat against the US with nuclear weapons. It made business deals with America when our uber-capitalists and oligarchs decided it would be financially advantageous to move all of our manufacturing to Asia. China was allowed (nay, encouraged) to send most of its elite young minds to be educated in the best American universities where they learned cutting edge science and technology. Those people returned home and applied this knowledge to produce products in the international market place that were superior to the current American junk and outsold it all around the globe. They were rewarded with bans on their superior products in all Western markets, Huawei’s cutting edge 5G phones being the most notable example which was compounded by Canada incarcerating the CFO of the corporation for several years at the behest of Washington! Washington will play ball only as long as it is winning, once its deficiencies are revealed it turns to blatant gangsterism, with its sweeping economic sanctions and military provocations right in its chosen adversary’s front yard, the most notable instance here being all the pretentious “freedom of navigation” cruises throughout the South China Sea, from which China has excluded no one and only started to man some outposts on islands close to home specifically to prevent its own essential trade routes being blockaded by Western war mongers. Like Russia, China has been merely reactive against American provocations and never the aggressor.

    Washington was always crazy if it thought that it could turn China’s development on and off like a water tap, the current thinking being that “we got what we wanted from you, now you had better crawl back into your hole or we will be forced to nuke you primitives.” Taiwan is not an exception. The US signed a treaty recognising that the island is and has long been an integral part of Han China. Now they just want to renege on their promises because it is economically advantageous to block China from advancing in the semi-conductor computer chip industry at which Taiwan presently excels. Heaven forbid if the People’s Republic comes to excel in that technology, Washington will not stand for it. Next they’ll be sending China a check list of businesses and technologies that Washington will allow or prohibit, and what sales quotas and customer lists they are restricted to. That’s how ridiculous this is becoming. Sorry, Washington, you already spilt the milk when President Shrub the Not-So-Great gave China “most favored nation” status and China joined the WTO in 2001, this after formal diplomatic relations between the two countries was established in 1979, trade was initiated, and the “One China” policy was ratified under President Carter the Peaceful. Dearest Washington, you simply must start to look at international treaties you make as sacred and permanent, not simply one more bait and switch trick that you routinely employ. I understand that you rascals owe China one trillion dollars in debt. Do you plan on stealing that too, as you recently did to Russia? What do you think your credibility is, ladies and gentlemen in DC? How will that develop going forward? Try to think in real terms, not your usual fantasies.

  2. George Philby
    November 2, 2022 at 22:06

    Now Albanese brings Australia pain.
    It’s “All the way with LBJ” again.
    The US puppet’s choosin’
    To bring B-52s in
    To Oz, with nukes, to kill Chinese-INSANE!

  3. Vera Gottlieb
    November 2, 2022 at 06:19

    Putting it mildly…I am so sick and tired of the Americans’ hypocrisy, their never-ending double-speak, their arrogance. The Yanx aren’t exceptional – what they are is exceptionable. Not quite the same. America: the Earth’s cancer.

    • Eric Arthur Blair
      November 2, 2022 at 15:55

      The US is not exceptional, it is execrable. Stationing obsolete, ancient B52s in Oz is mere posturing, it is strategically pointless in this age of hypersonic missiles. It merely makes Australia a nuclear target. How does that serve Australia’s interests?

  4. WillD
    November 2, 2022 at 00:36

    Both Russia and China are responding to existential threats, whereas the US/NATO isn’t. Neither country poses a real threat to the US or Europe, despite what the warmongers and nasty necons would have us believe.

    In effect, Russia and China are fighting for their lives against a bully that isn’t forced to do it, but just chooses to do it to maintain the illusion of global hegemony. The US is doing its best to provoke both countries into nuclear escalation, believing wrongly that it could win a nuclear exchange and rid itself of both ‘threats’ and thus ensure its Thousand Year Reich!

    And it doesn’t care how many millions or billions of people suffer and die in the process. Evil Empire is far too mild a term to describe such madness and horror.

    • Vera Gottlieb
      November 2, 2022 at 06:21

      An American general at the Pentagon is supposed to have once stated: “if we don’t have an enemy, we invent one”.

  5. Kiers
    November 1, 2022 at 16:31

    WHat happens to war mongers that are the majority of the deep state in the US, turn inwards after a defeat or stalemate abroad? They can’t be macho man globally forever. what happens then? The same vindictive nasty guys of government will make for a nasty nasty local governance! You’re already seeing it in Trump. Nasty nasty people.

  6. Stierlitz
    November 1, 2022 at 14:42

    Behind the US military posturing is money – as usual. The US is for all purposes bankrupt, living off printing dollars and extending debt. The emergence of a rival pole based on reality scares them to death. So all these new NATO members (still not in yet) The AUKUS alliance whose submarine purchases managed to enrage EU/NATO member France, without real protest from Monsieur vapid, Macron. But what happenes if the Russians win? What happens if Zelensky is overthrown or captured and sent to Siberia to mine lead? The real disconnect with “the perople” will be so manifest that I wonder if a revolution might tear the US apart.

  7. Drew Hunkins
    November 1, 2022 at 14:40

    “…Becca Wasser, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, told ABC that “having bombers that could range and potentially attack mainland China could be very important in sending a signal to China that any of its actions over Taiwan could also expand further.”…”

    See, this is how one become a “senior fellow”: prattle on with dangerous and ludicrous assertions that serve the masters of war in Washington. Hey, if I get this down pat perhaps I’ll be able to pay off my massive student loan debt!

  8. Charles E. Carroll
    November 1, 2022 at 13:54

    Maybe we do need “a whiff of grapeshot” in Washington.

  9. Em
    November 1, 2022 at 10:25

    Because 3 mainstream stenographers (L.A. Times) transcribe a story with a headline: Shocking new details blow up conspiracy theories about Paul Pelosi attack; does not automatically translate into the truth.
    Can we, the people, not see by now that The ‘Department of Justice’ merely filing federal charges against someone does not prove or disprove anything. It can, and is, nowadays used as a political ploy: “a tactic intended to embarrass or frustrate an opponent” such as the ‘Military Madness’ of the US unilaterally Deploying Nuclear-Capable B-52s to Australia.
    The federal charges filed against Julian Assange are nothing more than a fabricated political conspiracy to hide ‘government’ crimes against humanity, and have nothing to do with righteous morality, justice or law.
    The same chickens keep coming home to roost.
    “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” — Søren Kierkegaard (1813 – 1855)
    How many more years are required to figure out what is actually true and what is not actually true, before it is too late?
    How many unipolar, hegemonic wars will suffice as proof?

  10. Rudy Haugeneder
    November 1, 2022 at 10:15

    Thanks to technology, one very talented hacker can set it off. And it is getting worse as tech abilities expand to more and more and, daily, tens of thousands of newly skilled techies develop increasingly sophisticated skills to pull it off, whether nuclear, chemical, or biologic: it only takes one to break into and release the dread — whether out of a laboratory or a missile silo or weapons site; just one or perhaps a small, small group of like-minded crazies. And the number of crazies is growing hourly around the world.

  11. susan
    November 1, 2022 at 08:59

    There won’t be a war you morons – just complete annihilation of the Planet and all her living creatures including dumb-ass humans…

  12. peter mcloughlin
    November 1, 2022 at 06:56

    Every action and reaction globally is bringing humanity closer to world war. Few see the consequences of wars until afterwards. We don’t have that luxury with WWIII. There is a delusion that precedes major conflicts. Those who can see it can’t stop it: those who can stop it can’t see it.
    A free ebook: The Pattern Of History and Fate of Humanity

  13. Henry Smith
    November 1, 2022 at 06:16

    This sends a strong message to adversaries about the USAs total inability to use diplomacy. We are certainly not dealing with adults here !

  14. Moi
    November 1, 2022 at 02:45

    The thing I hate most is that once the US establishes a military footprint in another nation they are virtually impossible to get rid of again.

    Won’t be long before six B52’s becomes sixty.

  15. lester
    November 1, 2022 at 00:51

    As bad as Trump was, he was not trying to start nuclear wars with China and Russia.

    What next, a phony attack on Taiwan? Like another Gulf of Tonkin Incident?

  16. Cynic
    November 1, 2022 at 00:06

    The USA is always trying to stir trouble everywhere and sadly the vassal countries comply with it, risking the lives and economy of their own people just to please the US.

  17. Scared Person
    October 31, 2022 at 23:00

    Whether the Liberal Party or the Labor Party is in office in Australia, the US gets whatever it wants.
    Australia is a vassal state, subordinate to the US Empire.

    The last Aus government to resist US interests (withdrawal from the Vietnam horrorshow, among other things) was headed by Whitlam, and in 1975 he was regime-changed.

    If an Australian government decides to even mildly resist US foreign policy interests, they know they will come under attack like before.
    Australia is an occupied country, much like Japan or Germany.
    “Yankee go home” was a famous phrase for a while, with variations shouted by people in lots of countries.

    • Andrew Nichols
      November 1, 2022 at 17:11

      Albanese, Keir Starmer and Biden all commit their parties to a policy vacuum where their only commutment is “I’m not Morrison, Sunak or Trump.”

  18. mgr
    October 31, 2022 at 22:10

    But it’s never the US that provokes these endless conflicts. No, only the “bad guys” do that. The longer Ukraine goes on, the more desperate Washington becomes and the more the mask slips. I would say that Russia’s position now is, “Yes, you’ve got us, right where we want you,” stuck in the tar-baby and bleeding out.

    Apparently, the hope of Pelosi’s provocation was that China would lose its mind and attack Taiwan because of course, this is what Washington would have done; shock and awe and all that. Psychological projection is a real phenomena and those running the show are not sharpest knives in the drawer in any case. Then Biden would have had his pretext to let loose with the full war package. But China is not cooperating so the pretext now is simply that China exists. Is America so fearful, so unable to compete in terms of culture and economy that it can only war? Pathetic or pathology, take your pick. In any case, it is becoming ever more clear that the only words, or concepts, that are not in Washington’s vocabulary are cooperation and mutual benefit. And for that reason alone, the American empire is rotting from its core.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      November 1, 2022 at 14:39

      Hear, hear. Excellent comment.

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