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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
January 19, 2017
Melvin Goodman
America’s Russian Problem
Dave Lindorff
Right a Terrible Wrong: Why Obama Should Reverse Himself and Pardon Leonard Peltier
Laura Carlsen
Bringing Mexico to Its Knees Will Not “Make America Great Again”
John W. Whitehead
Nothing is Real: When Reality TV Programming Masquerades as Politics
Yoav Litvin
Time to Diss Obey: the Failure of Identity Politics and Protest
Mike Whitney
The Trump Speech That No One Heard 
Conn Hallinan
Is Europe Heading for a “Lexit”?
Stephen Cooper
Truth or Twitter? Why Donald Trump Is No John Steinbeck
Binoy Kampmark
Scoundrels of Patriotism: The Freeing of Chelsea Manning
Ramzy Baroud
The Balancing Act is Over: What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel
Josh Hoxie
Why Health Care Repeal is a Stealth Tax Break for Millionaires
Kim C. Domenico
It’s High Time for a Politics of Desire
Shamus Cooke
Inauguration Day and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
More and More Lousy
David Swanson
Samantha Power Can See Russia from Her Padded Cell
Kevin Carson
Right to Work and the Apartheid State
Malaika H. Kambon
Resisting the Lynching of Haitian Liberty!
January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Ajamu Baraka
Celebrating Dr. King with the Departure of Barack Obama
David Underhill
Trumpology With a Twist
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump, It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail