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
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
stclair
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andrew Tillett-Saks
Labor’s Political Stockholm Syndrome: Why Unions Must Stop Supporting Democrats Like Clinton
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
Jeffrey St. Clair
Night of the Hollow Men: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Renee Parsons
Blame It on the Russians
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is it the Cops or the Cameras? Putting Police Brutality in Historical Context
Russell Mokhiber
Dems Dropping the N Word: When in Trouble, Blame Ralph
Howard Lisnoff
The Elephant in the Living Room
Pepe Escobar
The Real Secret of the South China Sea
Ramzy Baroud
Farewell to Yarmouk: A Palestinian Refugee’s Journey from Izmir to Greece
John Laforge
Wild Turkey with H-Bombs: Failed Coup Raise Calls for Denuclearization
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail