While Donald Trump dominates the news daily in the U.S. with his racist diatribes, tweets, and rallies, the American public can’t be blamed if it fails to notice that on a world scale and here in Europe, in particular, the right wing is pushing for a level of militarization and war planning that goes beyond much of what we have seen before.
NATO, with the backing of Germany, the U.K., and the United States, is quietly arming to the teeth dangerous governments in Europe and Africa and readying itself for military strikes in the Middle East and against Russia. On a regular basis, thousands are camping out in protest against these plans at the Ramstein military base in southwestern Germany, the largest American military base outside the continental U.S. Peace activists from around the world have also descended upon another location in Germany where the U.S. has readied 20 nuclear missiles for use at any moment.
Developments this week here put Germany, the power behind the European Union, squarely in the camp of NATO’s war hawks with Ursula von der Leyen’ s narrow election to chairmanship of the European Commission, the 28-member “cabinet,” so to speak, of the European Union. Each of the member countries nominates a member of that commission whose chair is then elected by the 751-member European Parliament.
Despite having cultivated the reputation internationally as a “reasonable” leader, especially when compared to Trump, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been pushing for the elevation of von der Leyen, an extreme militarist, to that post. As the Christian Democratic German Defense Minister for the last five years, von der Leyen has led the biggest military expansion of Germany in three decades. While the racist and fascist forces in Germany use the Alternative for Germany party (AfD) to push their agenda, the military-industrial complex has been able to accomplish much of its agenda through the mainstream Christian Democratic Union party.
The center-left Social Democrats had said up until this week that Merkel never consulted them, her partners in the German coalition government, when she selected von der Leyen and, because of her extreme militarist positions, they said they might not vote for her in the EU elections. The balloting this week was secret, however, and von der Leyen could not have squeaked in by just nine votes in the 751-member European Parliament without some of the German Social Democratic parliamentarians voting for her.
Von der Leyen had campaigned in support of European Commission plans, announced in March, to strengthen and widen highways and rail lines that run west to east across Germany so that troops and tanks “can move quickly eastward from German bases and ports.” Her justification for “improved” east-west highways echoed Hitler’s justification for similar highway “improvements” across Germany in 1935. Von der Leyen has strongly advocated support for an EU military wing in addition to NATO and is now in the position to oversee its development.
Meanwhile, NATO has already integrated into its operation a group of German officers who command what NATO is calling a “high readiness task force” that, according to the U.S. NATO general in command at Ramstein, Mark August, “can be sent anywhere in three days.”
Echoing August, von der Leyen said, “Tensions and crisis requires quick, solid organization to move troops great distances, and it must be planned with speed and efficiency.”