Vital for taking your money
Published November 22, 2004

Finally, we’ve figured out why the Bush administration does such a lousy job fighting the war on terror: they really are stuck in a Cold War mentality. Or, just maybe, they’re lying right to our faces. Either way, despite how often they claim that the whole world changed after September 11th, 2001, they don’t really think it did. Just like everyone always says, we’re fighting the last war, only this time it’s literally the same war. So, instead of actually launching an attack on terror and its architects, they attacked Iraq and took out Saddam Hussein. Anyone who honestly believes this makes the U.S. any safer has been deluded by the President and a complicit media.

I saw a political ad on the internet on October 29th, just four days before the election; I thought it was a joke, or a particularly funny instance of sarcasm on the part of the Kerry campaign, but it was actually an ad from the Bush camp. In a moment of truly monumental idiocy, the ad claimed that the $1 billion-plus B2 Stealth Bomber was “vital” for the war on terror. So, they said, was the F-15 Eagle fighter. Both, apparently, were voted against by Senator Kerry at some point in his career.

Let’s take a moment to think about this. First, the F-15 has been in service since July of 1972; the most recent major variant on the design was introduced in 1983, one year before John Kerry entered the Senate. There are nearly 400 F-15 Eagles in the Air Force arsenal. Perhaps the Bush ad was referring to the F-15E Strike Eagle, first delivered in 1988; I’m not sure. We have merely 217 of these planes. These, along with the nearly 1200 F-16s of various types, represent the bulk of the Air Force’s fighter wing.

But, there are also 55 F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighters; 213 A-10 Thunderbolt ground attack fighters (planes that might actually be useful in the war on terror!); 85 active duty B-52H strategic bombers; 60 B-1B supersonic strategic bombers; and a mere 21 B-2 Spirit stealth bombers. Let us not, however, forget that the Air Force just ordered more than 200 F-22 Raptor air superiority fighters for a cost of well over $70 billion dollars.

The B-1B bomber, deployed in 1985, is described by the Air Force as the “backbone of America’s long-rang bomber force. It can rapidly deliver massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons against any adversary, anywhere in the world, at any time.” So, tell me again why the B-2 stealth bomber is necessary in the war on terror? If Kerry voted against this outdated piece of Cold War boondoggle, more power to him! More Senators should have joined him.

Even during its development, the B-2 was unnecessary. Had we ever gone to war with the Soviet Union, we would have been lucky enough to prevent a nuclear exchange; any important bombing runs could have been carried out by B-52s and B-1Bs. We have that massive fighter force (nearly 2000, without even counting the Navy) to establish air superiority. That is the stated war aim of any major air conflict. Once we establish this status, our bombers can fly where they want, when they want, without fear of reprisal.

When was the last time you heard about a bomber being shot down? It hasn’t happened in these two Gulf Wars, because our strategic bomber forces are designed to fly above normal intercept altitudes. Yes, the Stealth flew missions, but 40 percent of the total munitions in the first Gulf War were dropped by B-52s. In fact, Iraqi soldiers were terrified of our thirty-year-old bombers, which they could see flying through the clear, desert sky. They could see them, but they couldn’t touch them. All they could do was hope the bombs didn’t fall on them.

But all those Cold War arguments are in the past, aren’t they? We’re in a new and terrifying conflict, an era of fear. Why is terrorism so scary? Because it can strike anywhere at any time. Because, even now, there are probably terrorist agents inside the United States, waiting for their opportunity. What I’d like to know is how the stealth bomber is going to stop these terrorists. How is the F-15 Eagle going to stop these terrorists?

The answer: none of these technologies is going to stop terrorism. We can bomb any country to oblivion, topple any government, and terrorism will continue. Bush spoke about fighting the terrorists over there, not on our home soil, but that is just willful ignorance or outright lies. It might be wise to remember that the deadliest terrorist attack on our soil before September 11th was the Oklahoma City bombing, carried out by two terrorists born and raised in the good old US of A. Maybe we can use the stealth bomber to attack Michigan.

The war on terrorism is not a war of nations; it is not fought with tanks and fighters and billion dollar boondoggles. It is a conflict of law enforcement, of careful intelligence gathering, of pinpoint military strikes carried out by special forces troops and guided munitions like cruise missiles and Predator drones. Maybe this reality is a tougher sell for those who like their President to land a jet on an aircraft carrier, but it is reality.

The B-2 is vital? Only to the military contractors who get paid to build it.