Defender 2020: War games on EU soil denounced as sabre-rattling

'Defender 2020' on EU soil denounced as sabre-rattling

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Britain may have just left the European Union but the country’s Navy was the first to arrive for US-led war games over the next six months across Europe.

The Royal Navy was busy on Monday offloading heavy military vehicles in the Belgian port of Antwerp.

The vehicles will be involved in the Defender-Europe 2020 exercises, which will see the biggest deployment of US troops – some 20,000 personnel – to Europe in the last 25 years.

In all, around 37,000 soldiers from 18 countries, not all of whom are members of the Nato military alliance, will be taking part.

Jeremy Corbyn warned of ‘European empire’ and said EU treaty would create ‘a military Frankenstein’

He condemned the “militarisation of Europe” and described the impact of Nato as “malevolent”.

Speaking at a rally before the 2009 Irish referendum on whether to approve the Lisbon Treaty, which paved the way for more EU integration, Mr Corbyn, then a backbench MP, said: “Under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, Europe will become subservient to the wishes of Nato and the aims of Nato….What it does is create this military machine, this military Frankenstein, which will be so damaging to all of us.”

said Nato was “a global military force with no democratic control, no accountability whatsoever” and added: “We are creating for ourselves here one massive great Frankenstein which will damage all of us in the long run.”

Continuing his condemnation of Nato, he said: “Nato’s influence has been malevolent, to say the least, on every economy of every country that’s been part of it: it’s increased vastly military expenditure, it’s poured a vast amount of money into the hands of arms manufacturers and aircraft manufacturers and developed for itself this huge power which was far greater than the influence of any one military in any one country. It is also largely unaccountable.”

Mr Corbyn said a vote in Ireland against the Lisbon Treaty would be “such a boost to people like us” who “do not want to live in a European empire of the 21st century.”

Munich Security Conference: German foreign minister calls for European defence union within next 10 years

The German foreign minister has called for greater defence efforts out of Europe. NATO allies will likely butt heads at the annual security conference as France pushes for more independence from the US.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, speaking before a panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference on Friday, called on his country and all of Europe to take on a greater international security role in light of evolving relations with the United States.

World leaders have gathered in southern Germany on Friday for the 56th iteration of the annual conference on international security policy.

“For too long, we Europeans have shut our eyes to the uncomfortable reality of what a withdrawal of the US from military engagement and from international treaties means for us,” Maas said, opening a discussion on the changing nature of the international order.

Mass called for the “construction of a European security and defense union as a strong, European pillar of NATO.”

Responding to an offer made earlier this week by French President Emmanuel Macron, he also said that Germany is prepared to discuss a European strategy related to France’s nuclear weapon arsenal.

Macron will speak at the conference on Saturday.

Steinmeier warns of a ‘destructive dynamic’

Striking a similar tone earlier in the day as he opened the conference, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier criticized the US for neglecting its international duties and warned of an “increasingly destructive dynamic in world politics.”

“Year by year, we are distancing ourselves from the goal of international cooperation to create a more peaceful world,” Steinmeier said in his opening address. He criticized world powers Russia and China before adding that “our closest ally, the United States, under the current administration itself rejects the idea of an international community.”

NATO tensions

NATO allies will likely find themselves in conflict during the meeting, with Macron pushing for Europe to become more independent from the United States.

US General Tod Wolters told reporters at the conference that NATO will resume its training mission in Iraq in the coming days or weeks, after activities were suspended following a US drone strike on Baghdad. Wolters said the 500-strong mission had received assurances from the Iraqi government.

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer earlier on Friday met with fellow defense ministers from the coalition against the “Islamic State,” including US Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Esper and Kramp-Karrenbauer reaffirmed the need to continue the fight against Islamic State, with the German defense minister saying that the group was “not yet defeated.”

Russia and Turkey to meet

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was due to meet with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on the sidelines of the conference, the Interfax news agency reported.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry earlier criticized Ankara, after it said would use force against rebel groups violating a ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib.

US-Afghanistan deal

Pompeo said the US was making headway with negotiations with the Taliban, on his way to the conference.

The US said it had secured a seven-day reduction in violence in Afghanistan, while US President Donald Trump said a peace accord was “very close.”

Middle East peace

The US peace plan for Palestine will likely lead to conflicts at this year’s MSC. European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell criticized the Israel-friendly plan, and called on EU foreign ministers to table their own ideas to promote peace.

Borrell said he was concerned that the current US plan could lead to the annexation of the Jordan Valley and other parts of the West Bank. He warned the EU would be forced act against such serious violations of international law. 

However, he acknowledged, that EU lacked unity on the Middle East peace process. 

Planed protest, Police deployed

Thousands of police have been deployed to the streets of Munich for the conference with support from several other German states. Several protests are expected, including one expected to attract 4,000 people on Saturday.

MEP Özlem DEMIREL of the European United Left writes…

As NATO exercise ‘Defender 2020’ get under way – with EU support under the ‘Military Mobility’ programme – German MEP Özlem Alev Demirel, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Security and Defence (SEDE) has described Europe’s largest military exercise in 25 years as unjustified and a waste of money.

Speaking from Ankara, she said:

“’Defender 2020’ will not only test the war readiness of the European road infrastructure, the German and Dutch governments will also remedy any ‘deficits’ along the way for the rapid deployment of troops and material to Eastern Europe. This comes under the EU’s ‘Military Mobility’ programme – one of the pillars of NATO-EU cooperation – by involving a heavy militarisation of the civil transport infrastructure, and which runs against public interest. In other words, instead of buses and trains, infrastructural priorities will be given to  tanks and other military equipment.”

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Soldiers carry out a ceremony to honour the EU flag

“Unfortunately, the EU is prepared to spend considerable sums on military infrastructure, with the Commission proposing to earmark no less than 6.5 billion euros for ‘Military Mobility’ in the next EU budget 2021 to 2027 (the MFF). Meanwhile, the budget for civil infrastructure will remain virtually unchanged and will actually represent a drop after adjustment for inflation.”

“The exercise will continue until May 2020, during which 20,000 American soldiers will be deployed across Europe towards the Russian border. Many other NATO manoeuvres will also be taking place at the same time with at least 37,000 soldiers involved.”

64202e34 georgian soldiers are part of
Georgian soldiers wear the EU insignia

“‘Defender 2020’ is one of the largest military exercises in post-war history on European soil. It costs billions and is intended as a rehearsal for a real conflict. This immediately raises many questions about the prospects for peace in the future. Given the many political, financial and economic reasons to oppose these military exercises, many protests are currently being planned across Germany.”

“We implore the US, EU and NATO to stop the sabre rattling and focus more on diplomacy and disarmament. We, as citizens, must defend peace and stop any conflicts from happening,” Demirel concluded.

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Article by Özlem DEMIREL
European United Left – Nordic Green Left Member
Germany – DIE LINKE.
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