Thursday, January 12, 2017

Germany Counts Cost of Biggest US Military Shipment to Europe Since Cold War
18:25 12.01.2017)

The US army's recent deployment to Eastern Europe via the north German port of Bremerhaven, the largest shipment of military equipment from the US to Europe since the Cold War, is a financial, legal and political burden on Germany, retired German Army Lieutenant Colonel Jochen Scholz told Sputnik.

Last week the US army began the deployment of 4,000 troops and 87 tanks and other military equipment to Eastern Europe as part of its Atlantic Resolve operation, launched in April 2014 in the aftermath of the US-backed Maidan coup d'etat in Ukraine.

Jochen Scholz, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the German Bundeswehr who has also worked within NATO and the German Defense Ministry, told Sputnik Deutschland that while such a small contingent of troops is not enough to start a war, the soldiers' presence in Germany is problematic for other reasons.

"It depends what you want to do. This is a brigade, a third of a division, it can't lead to war. The decisive point from a German perspective is that the whole thing is not within the framework of NATO. It is a bilateral agreement between Poland and the United States. There are already questions about the legal basis of the logistical help that Germany is giving here. The entire Bundeswehr army base which is responsible for logistics was involved. That all has to be paid for and you can imagine who is bearing the costs."

American tanks and other military equipment were shipped to the German port of Bremenhaven, before they was transported by rail to Poland to be distributed across the Baltic states, Bulgaria and Romania.

Altogether around 2,500 military vehicles arrived in Bremenhaven on three freight ships.

They were greeted by anti-war protesters holding placards with slogans such as "Army go home," Germany's NDR news reported. Protests against the arrival of the US weaponry were "local to Bremerhaven," Scholz said.

"This is a story that the rest of Germany knows relatively little about. Relatively little has been reported in the national media."

Scholz said that the US deployment to Europe is reminiscent of the situation during the Cold War, when the US viewed Germany as a potential hub for a US attack or defensive war with the Soviet Union.

"That was the situation during the Cold War. The plan was that in the event of war up to 900,000 soldiers could be deployed to Europe via Frankfurt Airport. The US bases in Europe could be used as a springboard if there was a bigger conflict. Here, too, a question arises about the legal basis on which the United States operates bases in Europe. The NATO Treaty serves as the legal basis for the deployment of these forces. But everything that goes beyond that, such as the projection of US power from here to other parts of the world is not consistent with the deployment contracts."

The US troops on the Atlantic Resolve mission are deployed on a nine-month rotation, which means that soldiers and equipment may arrive in the north German port quite frequently.

"If you assume that Germany is willing to offer its services as a hub, then you can see that coming.

(However,) a legitimate question is, 'why isn't the whole thing being sorted out in Gdansk?'"

Scholz said that the outgoing Obama administration wanted to achieve several political objectives when they ordered what is the largest transfer of military equipment from the US to Europe since the end of the Cold War.

"I see this whole action from several points of view. Firstly, the Obama administration and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter are trying to put another stumbling block in the way of the incoming President. Secondly, the German and European public are to be shown how dangerous Russia is and how it is a threat to neighboring countries such as the Baltic states. The third point is that such actions are used to convince the public to spend more on the military."

"And depending on how Russia responds to this deployment, maybe there will be a fourth argument, which says, 'you see, we are only defending the Baltics, but the Russians have immediately reacted and are building offensive forces here,'" Scholz said.

"They know very well that Russia is not planning that (an invasion of the Baltics). This is part of the game. You imagine a threat that does not exist in order to justify more military presence and defense spending."

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US-NATO 'Buildup on Russian Border Could Lead to Nuclear War' - Nobel Laureate

21:41 12.01.2017)

US political leaders have falsely accused Moscow of threatening NATO member states while the alliance aggressively builds up military forces on Russia’s border, Nobel Peace Prize winner and global peace activist Helen Caldicott told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Thursday, US Secretary of Defense nominee James Mattis told a Senate committee in confirmation hearings that NATO must build capacity in eastern Europe to deter Russia’s alleged aggression.

This came a day after Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson testified that the United States would defend NATO member states if Russia invaded.

"There is little or no evidence that Russia is being aggressive towards the NATO countries," Caldicott, co-winner of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, told Sputnik.

“That is a lie that the United States insists on maintaining." Caldicott pointed out, however, that it was the United States and NATO, not Russia, that was building up its armed forces to unprecedented levels in central and eastern Europe and exacerbating tensions in the region.

"The severely provocative buildup of military forces, ABM [anti-ballistic missile] systems and equipment on the Russian border is at the least unnecessary and at the most could lead to a nuclear war with Russia," Caldicott warned.

Far from threatening nuclear war, the Russian government and media were warning their people about the dangers of the NATO military buildup, Caldicott claimed.

"Indeed, the Russian press and leading politicians in the Duma are now postulating that this could well be a future reality, and they are encouraging the Russian population to practice drills to shelter themselves from nuclear war," she said.

The American public and US policymakers also need to take the threat of nuclear war and the nightmarish consequences that would flow from it far more seriously, Caldicott explained.

In the event of any thermonuclear conflict breaking out between Russia and the United States and NATO "we are all doomed to die a dreadful death of vaporization, severe burns, acute radiation sickness, or freezing and starving to death in the nuclear winter that will ensue," Caldicott admonished.

Although US Vice President Joe Biden praised the record of outgoing President Barack Obama on reducing the threat of nuclear war during his eight years in office, Caldicott said Obama’s anti-Russian policies had made the danger far worse.

"What on earth Obama, the once-peace-maker, and [US Secretary of Defense] Ashton Carter think they are doing, God only knows unless they are obeying the dictates of their military industrial masters, who need war or the risk of such to survive economically," Caldicott added.

Caldicott expressed the hope that President-elect Donald Trump would reverse the US force build-up in Eastern Europe after he took office on January 20.

"Once Trump is inaugurated one hopes that his close relationship with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will lead to rapid withdrawal of these forces and a refashioning of the relationship between Russia and the United States which may ensure our survival," she said.

Caldicott is the author of many books, including "The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s Military Industrial Complex" and "War in Heaven: The Arms Race in Outer Space."

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