The Guardian • Issue #2057

US-NATO air war provocation

NATO’s air policing mission over Poland, March 2023.

NATO’s air policing mission over Poland, March 2023. Photo: NATO – (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Germany has invited the US and its other NATO allies to start the biggest war provocation in history in its airspace this week. The simulated air war will start there and, like nightmares of the past, spread over much of Europe. The unprecedented war games will involve 10,000 armed participants from 25 countries, with the United States alone sending 2000 Air National Guard members and more than 100 of the 250 jet fighters and bombers that will participate.

The war makers of the Western world will also send ships to close in on European coastlines in their massive simulation of what they say NATO would have to do if it were necessary to defend against an attack from – or mount an attack on – Russia, China, or anyone else.

It almost defies belief that the US would be leading these unprecedented war games at a time when some world leaders are looking for a way to cool tensions due to the war in Ukraine which was, in major part, itself fuelled by NATO expansionism.

“This is an exercise that would be absolutely impressive to anybody who’s watching, and we don’t make anybody watch it,” US Ambassador to Germany Amy Gutmann said.

She made no secret, however, that the massive provocation is aimed at Russia. The irony seemed lost on her, however, that the massive show of force was occurring at precisely the time when the US also says it is committed to reducing the danger of nuclear war.

“We will show beyond a shadow of a doubt the ability and the swiftness of our allied force in NATO as a first responder,” she told reporters in Berlin. “I would be pretty surprised if any world leader was not taking note of what this shows in terms of the spirit of this alliance, which means the strength of this alliance. And that includes Mr Putin,” she said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The ambassador made no statement about how the planned war games would or could contribute to peace in Ukraine.

Minutes after the war provocation was announced, US Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said on television that it’s “clear to the world already that the US military is the fiercest and most powerful in the world with a capability of dealing lethal blows that is greater than anyone else’s lethality.”

She also did not bother to make any guesses about how all this military prowess might result in peace any time soon. Instead, she bragged openly about how it is US weaponry supplied to Ukraine that has allowed the war there to continue as long as it has. She expressed no concern at all about the continuing death toll among either Ukrainians or Russians.

It is also apparently not enough that NATO, in violation of US assurances at the end of the Cold War, has expanded eastward right up to the borders of Russia and has swallowed up countries that were part of the Soviet Union itself.

Indicative of their intent now to back up US war provocations in Asia and the Pacific region, NATO has invited Japan to participate in the war games in Europe next week. The US sees Japan as important for confronting China in the Indo-Pacific region and views Germany, of course, as an instrument to contain Russia in Europe.

The US is urging both Japan and Germany to disavow their post-war pacifism and step up their military spending. It is not lost on the sensibilities of many that both countries – which were led by fascists during World War II and attacked the Soviet Union – will participate in war games aimed at Russia.

Not to be left out of the braggadocio regarding military prowess, the German military, too, has joined the chorus. “We are showing that NATO territory is our red line, that we are prepared to defend every centimetre of this territory,” said Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz of the German air force.

One of the major concerns and most dangerous pieces in the war games and provocations scheduled for next week is that the warplanes could end up flying over part of Russia itself. The city of Kaliningrad is a small piece of Russian Federation territory wedged between Lithuania and Poland. Warplanes from both of those countries will fly between them, unavoidably coming close to if not actually into Russian airspace over Kaliningrad. The city is a Russian enclave located on the Baltic Sea and a strategically important piece of Russian territory that some observers say NATO would like to claim for itself.

To make matters worse, the US is not even pretending that the provocative war manoeuvres are simply about defence. Lieutenant General Michael A Loh, director of the US Air National Guard, said the exercise “goes beyond deterrence.” He declared that the war simulation is “about the readiness of our force. It’s about coordination, not just within NATO, but with our other allies and partners outside of NATO.”

The unanswered question, of course, is what the General means by “readiness,” which he says is more than just “deterrence.” Then what is the “readiness” for?

Loh said the exercise would be “an opportunity for younger US airmen, many of whom have mainly gotten experience serving in the Middle East, to build relationships with allies in Europe and prepare for a different military scenario. So, this is about now establishing what it means to go against a great power, in a great power competition,” he said.

So, US imperialist intervention in the Middle East, we are to presume, was just “small stuff” compared to the coming “great power competition” for which next week’s war games will prepare. One would think the US is already waging war against a big power, at least a proxy war against the second-biggest nuclear power in the world.

Is Loh saying we have to get “ready” for waging a direct war that would involve our young servicemen who don’t yet have the experience fighting a “great power?” Hearing top military brass talk in this way should ring alarm bells for everyone.

A million dead in the Middle East due to imperialist intervention, are we to presume, was just small stuff? We should shudder to think what Loh and his colleagues see as necessary in the “great power competition” for which next week’s war games will allegedly prepare our young people. Many see the US role in Ukraine as the first step in the strategy Loh is talking about, preparing to fight a war with a major power or powers.

NATO, however, has assured the people of Europe that there is no reason to get too excited or worried about any of this. Hundreds of warplanes soaring overhead, crashing through the sound barriers and racing through the skies of their cities, are no cause for concern. If they live on the coast, they don’t need to pay any attention to the warships firing in their direction. The only bother civilians should encounter, according to NATO, will be disruptions in civilian air flights.

None of us, apparently, have to even give thought to the possibility that our children may not have a planet on which to live. We have the assurances of the people who say they run the most lethal military in the world that everything will be just fine.

People’s World

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