US returning nukes to UK base reveals desperation behind NATO’s standoff strategy reveals retired US Air Force Lt. Col

US returning nukes to UK base reveals desperation behind NATO's standoff strategy
US returning nukes to UK base reveals desperation behind NATO’s standoff strategy

The US deployment of F-35s and nuclear weapons to the UK is being cast as a response to tensions with Russia, but is in fact a consequence of long-established US plans to revive a Cold War-era strategy of nuclear standoff as a way to assert US power, a former Pentagon analyst and US Air Force commander told Sputnik.

A US newspaper has revealed the Pentagon’s plans to return US-owned nuclear bombs to the United Kingdom after a 15-year absence, with $50 million set aside for new support facilities at RAF Lakenheath north of London. The switch will parallel the replacement of aging F-16 Falcon aircraft with newer F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, stealthy jets cleared to carry B61-12 variable-yield nuclear bombs.

According to a Congressional budget request for next year, the funds will help build a 144-bed dormitory that will “house the increase in enlisted personnel as the result of the potential surety mission” – a Pentagon jargon term for the handling of nuclear weapons, according to experts.

During the Cold War, the US secured British permission to station nuclear weapons at the base for potential use against forces of the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet-led analogue to the NATO alliance that included most of the socialist states in Eastern Europe. The US also kept nuclear weapons at bases in the Netherlands, Belgium, West Germany, Italy, and Turkiye, with various agreements for local air forces to carry and deploy US-owned nuclear gravity bombs as well. At its height, the US kept 480 nuclear bombs in Europe, 110 of which were at Lakenheath.

US nuclear weapons were withdrawn from RAF Lakenheath in 2008 as part of a larger drawdown that included pulling nukes from Greece and Germany.

Retired US Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, a former analyst for the US Department of Defense, told Sputnik on Thursday that the move wasn’t necessarily a reaction to the ongoing Ukrainian conflict, but was part of a long-planned “upgrade” of NATO weapons in the UK that is part of a larger ramping-up of NATO’s offensive posture over the last decade, of which the Ukrainian conflict is just one consequence.

“I see this deployment as a long planned bureaucratic ‘upgrade’ for the Brits and NATO and not designed to contribute to the Ukraine situation, except rhetorically,” she said.

“I think this is the long-planned rollout of the F-35 as the latest replacement multi-role fighter, a US system that many NATO countries have invested in and purchased. The timeline for these deliveries is set in advance and usually delayed several times. The first four of the F-35s were delivered a few years ago,” Kwiatkowski explained.

“The UK actually began increasing the number of nuclear warheads on its soil, available for sea and air launch, in 2021. This was done quietly, and the strategy could be seen as one of defense in an unstable world, in part because the US-Russia nuclear treaties have slowly been abandoned, and this signals the NATO members that they are allowed to bring in more, and more modern, nuclear weapons,” the former Pentagon analyst noted. “I see this as less strategic and more opportunistic, from the perspective of UK and US defense bureaucrats and arms producers.”

“The stated NATO strategy on nuclear weapons is really dependent on the US. Former US President Donald Trump from 2016-2020 asked for performance accountability and some attention to the vast US nuclear stockpile, and was willing to replace outdated and unreliable older nuclear weapons publicly. The existing nuclear limitation treaties needed to be revamped and updated, and were no longer sincere,” she said, adding that “unfortunately the renewal and re-energizing of nuclear treaties is not something Biden or the military industrial establishment in the US seems interested in at this time.”

Kwiatkowski said the UK and rest of NATO are a “captive market for the US military-industrial complex,” leading to the widespread adoption of sub-par weapons like the F-35 and reliance on outdated strategies, including Cold War-era nuclear confrontations.

“I don’t see a major pushback in Britain regarding the F-35 or even more nuclear weapons, unless it is to begin to change their parliament. The leadership of the UK seems very comfortable with fighting Russia indirectly, and until this false idea of winning a nuclear fight is more widely rejected among parliament – and those MPs less dependent and politically allied with the US agenda – the domestic reaction will be muted, and the consequences are that insecurity and vulnerability of Britain will continue to increase,” she said.

“I would say this even without the Ukraine situation and the NATO proxy war – US weapons systems are no longer the best, and the F-35 is a prime example of a expensive and unreliable product, riding on the US past reputation for excellent weapons production and design, a reputation that is itself at the end of its lifecycle. A main reason for NATO is to serve as a captive market for the US military industrial complex, which is served daily by the Congress and most presidents.”

The former Pentagon analyst recalled the adage that “history doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes,” noting that Cold War-era rhetoric is being revived by neoconservative politicians in the US and Europe who are increasingly distant from both the era they are harkening back to, as well as the attitudes of their own populations.

“Americans as a population don’t share the neocon philosophy, and a large number of them remember Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, decades of war for those same Cold War reasons – with nothing but destruction and damage and waste to show for it. Younger people pay little attention to either history or government messaging, and while they don’t know history, they do have a sense that the world is accessible and understandable, and a significant minority see themselves as global citizens, rather than us and them,” she explained.

“On top of that, Americans are facing a time of shared and growing anger at their own government, and have become sensitized to its active manipulation of the population,” she added.

“Having said that, it is dangerous when simple, exclusionary evil-enemy versus saintly-homeland language dominates. Peace becomes impossible to negotiate, as we have seen so far with the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Truth is so consistently denied, and the investment of time and energy on lies means that when the truth eventually wins out, as it always does, political leadership and parties invested in those lies lose everything.”

Kwiatkowski said the messaging around the F-35 deployment to the UK was likely designed to “raise the stakes in Ukraine” and to send a message to “Russia – and the BRICS as well – that the US is serious and capable.” However, the choice of the deeply troubled F-35 platform showed the US is, in fact, neither.

“There is a kind of desperation revealed here, and this is the message that is unintentionally being sent. It is that desperation on the US/NATO organizational and leadership side that worries me. WWI occurred due to misjudgements of non-elected bureaucrats and the 19th century ambitions of fading royalty in a changing world they did not understand or welcome. I’m concerned that the same thing is happening today, this time centered in Washington, DC.” [Sputnik]

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1 Comment

  1. That’s it Biden, keep poking the Russian Bear and it will eventually piss the bear off and when it charges it will be all teeth and claws. Our State Department needs to dial it back by trying to convince the NeoCons that Nuclear War today will set humanity back 100 years, as the new generations dig themselves out of what is left of their war-torn countries.

    If Russia doesn’t bomb us back into the stone age, you can be assured that civil war will commence, because America fought our Revolutionary War with only one purpose which was to get their colonies out from under tyranny. In the 2nd paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, it states that it is not only our RIGHT to take out such tyranny it our DUTY to do so just as our ForeFathers did.

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