B-52 Flexing Nuclear Muscles

Top news of the moment goes on fly-by.

One Senator called this “deeply disturbing.”

And the senior advisor on nuclear weapons at the Center for Defense Information just can’t understand how such a thing could happen.”

The Center for Defense Information: is it possible that we need an organization to tell us what it is the DoD is doing? Or. . .to tell the DoD what it is doing?

What do we have to fear? Absolutely nothing, according to Steve Fetter. Why? Because even if there were a crash, during which the high explosives would ignite, the warhead would not detonate.

How much money have we been asked to pay into DoD coffers for nuclear protection only to get a nuclear warhead that, mounted on a high explosives missile whose explosive ignition is supposed to set off the nuclear warhead, won’t explode? We should be thankful, though, that, if this happened, there’d only be a “leak of plutonium.” How many burns or cancers or deaths would a “leak of plutonium” promulgate?

People, there were six of these warheads. Six plutonium explosive devices. Six possible “leaks.” Katrina only took out New Orleans; six leaks might take out Louisiana. . .which might be a good idea, for then everyone would forget FEMA’s inability to deal with a natural disaster.

How do you stop a plutonium leak? Why didn’t we think about this for a 1960’s Polack joke! Racist jokes are supposed to show how stupid the other race is. This joke, this B-52 joke, would be a kind of blowback racist joke. Hey!–how many Americans does it take to plug a plutonium leak? About 600,000,000. Har-har-har.

But we’re safe: Lt. Col. Thomas, Air Force Spokesperson, tells us the transfer went without a hitch, that is, safely, because they were in the good hands of the US Air Force. . . who created the glitch. Let me see if i get this right: I should feel safe because the fuck up by the Air Force was handled safely by the Air Force. . .

Maybe what was being tested was the new and improved non-glitchness of the US Air Force (see below). Maybe what was being tested was the total uninterestedness of the American public (see below). Or maybe it was something else (see below).

How does plutonium “leak”?

One Air Force guy, though, even said, “This has never happened before.” He must be younger than 39 and not much of a reader, even of USAF history.

Let’s see. . .six nuclear armed B-52’s crashed between 1959 and 1968, the crash in 1968 dropping three warheads onto Greenland and one into the ocean. Thank goodness all that money we’ve been pouring into our protection didn’t go up in smoke. That is, our explosive devices that should have set off the nuclear reaction didn’t work. Gosh and golly, folks, our billion dollar ineptitude saved New Foundland jokes for the Canadians.

Thank goodness no international unclear treaties were violated, not that the US gives a damn about international treaties. Nor, does it appear, does it give a damn about its own people. Just how safe do you feel now, North Dakota? Nebraska? Kansas? Louisiana?

How frightening is this? Is this a horror movie I’ve seen before? Is Orson Welles alive and wallowing in the press for take two of War of the Worlds? How frightening is it that Americans aren’t frightened or even asking why or how?

This news–real news!–has been all over the world but. . .there’s been no follow-up. Today, as I write this, is Friday 7 September–just three months before 7 December and remembrance of a day of infamy–and there are no other news reports, at least in the US. I guess that’s because reporters are too busy with Iraq and “the clown meets Hu” in Beijing (I refer, here, to the picture of George shaking Hu’s hand that made the front pages).

How do I know this was not an error? Because of the stupidity of Hans Kristensen (Andersen?) of the Nuclear Information Project from the Federation of American Scientists telling the press that a host of security checks, warning signs, etc., had to be “passed over or completely ignored”–and these things are tracked by computer, so we know. . .nothing could have gone wrong. But it did. And it had to have been known. Any mechanic or Air Force grease monkey responsible for such a faux pas would have been, truly, nailed with the fury of a Miami Policeman for terrorist acts and the Air Force and George Bush for being traitors; however, they were simply declassified. That means, folks, these dolts–paid to be dolts–are still on duty, still on active pay. That’s right, you are paying idiots’ salaries.

Only. . .I don’t think these guys are idiots. Not at all. Like all good soldiers, they were just following orders.

Were these orders given by Ubu Roi?

And are the US citizens entities in a Durrentmatt or Ionesco play? They are saying nothing. They are not even upset, much less impressed. “Wow! Look what we did? And we did it safely. Cool! Hey–turn on ‘Real People.'”

Does anyone else see only authorities from within the system that created this absurdity, being quoted in excusing it or damning it. . .or reprimanding it?

But this is all beside the point. What is more important is Barksdale AFB. What kind of air base is it?

Well, it’s home to the SAC 2nd Bomb Wing, the B-47/B-52 Bomb Wing, the 91st Bomb Wing, the 392nd Bomb Group, the 301st Bomb Wing, the 376th Bomb Wing and the 4238th Strategic Wing and trains all B-52 combat crew–it is one of the major bomber bases in the country. It is one of the major bomber bases in the country. It is one of the major bomber bases in the country.

Barksdale AFB is home of the mighty 8th Air Force, the only bomber war fighting headquarters. Go to their website and see them train for a real world air strike. The 8th Air Force carried out daily bombing raids in Europe during WWII; that is, they were responsible for the morally upright fire bombing of Dresden. To name one humanitarian exercise. On 13 August, Exercise Valiant Shield 2007, “the largest exercise of its kind in the Pacific,” ended eight days of “flying operations.” This is the air base that supplies air power over Afghanistan and Iraq. And, on 21 August, they repeated 12 May 1938 history by advancing “air power’s lethality” by intercepting a ship 1,000 miles off the east coast to showcase “the military’s ability to deter, dissuade or destroy maritime threats before they can harm U.S. citizens in the public eye.” Who attacks anybody by sea these days?What is 1,000 miles out in the Atlantic (only about 3,000 miles to Britain)?

I do, however, feel much safer reading General Robert J. Elder’s words (Commander of the 8th AF): “Global expeditionary air,space and cyberspace forces provide vigilance that is persistent, focused and predictive; reach that is reliable, rapid and agile; and power that is precise, stealthy and decisive.” It bothers me, though, that SAC B-52’s can fly in cyperspace. But, “It gives terrorists or whoever is trying to harm us another thing to think about,” he further said.

Interstate 8 ends eight miles before the base. Talk about a protective bubble!

So. . .why was the B-52 flying to Barksdale with nuclear bombs? Dare we hazard a guess? Does anyone care?

JAMES L. SECOR is a writer/dramatist, Ph.D. presently teaching in China. He staged an all-female Lysistrata at Sun Yat-sen University in June, a prestigious top 10 university’s first dramatic production He can be reached at znzfqlxskj@gmail.com