FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

German ‘Bomb Sharing’ Confronted with Defiant ‘Instruments of Disarmment’

by JOHN LaFORGE

BUCHEL AIR FORCE BASE, Germany.

The first thing you notice at the peace camp being built here in west-central Germany is the beauty of the summer hay and the rich forests that crowd the country roads. The next thing is the roar of the jet bombers that thunder from the runway, screaming over nearby towns and this camp, which I joined August 4 – early enough to help raise tents and build infrastructure for up to 600 weekend demonstrators.

The Hiroshima and Nagasaki memorial camp, dubbed ‘Rhythm Beats Bombs’, will be as much hard work and as light-hearted as any anti-nuclear demonstration. This one is being especially energized by the musical group ‘Lebenslaute’ (life sounds) which combines music and social action. Its musicians perform classical pieces in public places unaccustomed to soothing tunes: military training grounds, inside airports (to prevent deportations), nulcear production sites and rocket depots.

I was glad to accept an invitation to join the orchestra and the peace camp crew, even with my amateurish trumpet skills. Our outrageously nonviolent performance of Mendelssohn, Bach and a few others will take place in the middle of the main gate and the extended program will continue throughout a 24 hour-long blockade.

Biggest air base uses biggest bombs

In 2009, long after German anti-war researchers first revealed that 20 U.S. nuclear weapons are deployed here at the country’s largest air force base, the government formally acknowledged its ‘nuclear sharing’ agreement with the Pentagon and NATO – sharing that’s gone on for decades. The chancellor also admitted then that the B-61 gravity bombs, which belong to the United States and carry a nuclear warhead with selectable explosive force of between 300 tons and 500,000 tons – are flown on German Tornado fighter bombers.

Loaded onto the heavy jets, the B-61s are prepared to be dropped by U.S. trained German pilots in the event of war. The deafening howl of the Tornados’ take offs attests to the fact that the exacting procedures needed to conduct mass destruction using radioactive firestorms are practiced regularly here at Buchel.

Theoreticaly, the U.S. president is in control of all the nuclear weaons in our arsenal, including these (as well as 90 in Italy, 90 in Turkey, 20 in Belgium and 20 in Holland). Any decision to detonate them against populations again is techically supposed to come from the prez. But air force accidents happen, and as the poet said, ‘Things fall apart. It’s scientific.’

 

jet-GermanTornado

German Tornado jet.

Pushing for withdrawl

None of the ‘nuclear sharing’ news would have been confirmed if not for the breadth and depth of the German anti-war and anti-nuclear movements. By 2008, a coalition of 49 organizations gathered 2,500 protesters here at Buchel. The demonstration successfully joined mainstream groups with advocates of nonviolent action for the first time and sent a sobering message to the governing parties: If you wan to to be reelected, get these H-bombs out of Germany. The weight of the protest’s news coverage raised public awareness of and opposition to the U.S. weapons and prompted the government’s 2009 admission.

Buchel is in South Eifel, in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz, just nort of the Mosel River valley, renouned for its magnificent vineyards. On the way here I saw these steep hills covered fantastically with grapes and was reminded again of how, wherever the threat of murder emanating from the Bomb happens to be located, it casts a pall over everyone’s beautiful hard work of making a living in the earth and bringing things to life. It’s why an overwhelming majority of Germans want the weapons sent away immediately.

The 20 B-61s maintained here are the very last of a Cold War arsenal that once held thousands of ‘short range’ nuclear weapons. Gone also are the unfathomably destructive, nine-megaton B-53s that weighed 8,900 pounds and could burn down 600 Hiroshimas. But in spite of public opinion, there remains the U.S. and German governments’ embrace of nuclear terrorism (deterrence), and they are digging in.

The 2009 admission of ‘nuclear sharing’ was followed the same year by an agreement among Germany’s coalition governing parties that they would pursue the withdrawal of the last 20 Bombs. This major victory and validation of the anti-nuke campaign moved thousands to join the call for the return of all 240 U.S. H-bombs from Europe. Even a group of former NATO foreign ministers signed a letter demanding it.

Protesting the Bomb and government backsliding

Germany’s current government has moved in stark contrast to the declared policy of 2009. In May 2012, it bowed to U.S. pressure for ‘modernization’ of the B-61s – turning today’s model No. 11 into ‘mod 12′ – at factories in the U.S. – then deploying them back in Germany! The absurdity of Germany spending 250 million Euros to maintain newer U.S. nuclear weapons couldn’ be clearer.

This week’s ‘Music for Disarming and Concert Blockade’ may turn out to be the last time the campaign has to set up camp here, where the Bomb may be finally turned away for good.

John LaForge works for Nukewatch a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin.

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail