Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 21, June 6, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Condemnation of British Government Warmongering

No Let Up in Exercises and Operations in Europe and the World During Coronavirus Pandemic

Throughout the spring and summer, numerous military exercises had been planned under the umbrella of US Defender Europe 2020. While on March 16 the US military scaled back the exercises with some elements cancelled in light of the pandemic, still many of the exercises have continued. While the rest of the world is still working to arrest the virus and stabilise the dangerous situation at hand, it is a provocation against all humanity that the US and British government, as well as other NATO members, continue to engage in aggressive military exercises in Europe as well as military operations interfering throughout the world in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and Asia.

Before the March announcement, one of NATO's aims in Defender Europe 2020 was an exercise in the logistics of waging a war in Europe against Russia, where in fact no threat exists. With such a warmongering aim it could justly be argued that this was a crime against peace under the agreements signed following WWII. [1] It was the largest deployment of US-based military forces to Europe in more than 25 years, with 20,000 soldiers deployed directly from the US to Europe right at the time the virus pandemic was spreading throughout the continent. Eight European countries, with 14 air and seaports, were used to stage incoming personnel and equipment. Another 13,000 pieces of equipment were to be drawn from the Army Prepositioned Stocks in north-west Europe and deployed across 18 countries for training. The exercises were said to be to test the capabilities of European infrastructure - roads, bridges, train routing etc., for war. The British army moved large numbers of troops and heavy equipment, such as the retooled US Abrams battle tanks and US Bradley fighting vehicles into Belgium and from West to East and into the Netherlands and across mainland Europe into Poland. Chinook and Apache attack helicopters were also serviced and transported right across Europe. This exercise demonstrated the apparent new role of the British army as one of facilitating a potential US invasion of Europe, transporting and servicing the US army and its equipment and soldiers across the continent.

Under this umbrella of US Defender Europe 2020, exercises have continued on land, in the air and at sea. On May 29, HMS Ramsey replaced HMS Grimsby, arriving in the Baltic Sea during the second phase of a nine-day exercise by NATO and was deployed with the ships of other NATO group countries in the Baltic Sea, a sea that borders with Russia and other non-NATO countries Finland and Sweden. The aim of the NATO group was claimed to be "dedicated to eliminating the threat of historic mines", dealing with "present-day mines", and promoting "the alliance and freedom of the seas". On May 19, it was also reported that Royal Air Force Typhoons deployed in Lithuania have carried out mock air attacks and have been there to "primarily conduct the NATO Air Policing mission". On June 2 they claimed to have "carried out their first intercept of the operation, on a Russian Military Aircraft off the Baltic coast" - this where Russia is operating its aircraft off its own coast line! Also, Britain continues to lead Operation CABRIT, the ongoing UK operational deployment of a rotational force of 900 army personnel on the border with Russia in Estonia, where British troops are leading a multinational battle-group as part of the "Enhanced Forward Presence" (EFP) with NATO troops stationed as "combat ready" to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, on a persistent, rotational basis since 2016.

In the Black Sea and Mediterranean there have been similar state to state incidents reported in the press at the same time NATO "exercises" are taking place. For example, on May 29 the Daily Mail reported that the US military had claimed that Russian jets intercepted American strategic bombers as they flew over the "neutral waters" of the Black Sea, whilst the Russian Defence Ministry explained that after the Russian aircraft approached the American planes, the US planes "changed the direction of flight from the state border of the Russian Federation".

The British government have also currently deployed the army in over 80 countries around the world varying in strength from "military advisors" to "full operational deployments". The Ministry of Defence (MoD) UK Defence in Numbers 2019 [2] shows that Britain is "by far the largest NATO defence spender in Europe in absolute terms" with its military budget reaching £41.5 billion by 2020/21. The Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, pointed out in his Foreword to the publication that it "shows that the sector directly supports more than 100,000 jobs across the four nations of the United Kingdom and many more in the supply chain. It is expert in everything from shipbuilding and armoured vehicles to missiles and aerospace. And that it is the 2nd largest defence exporter in the world." He also boasted that the "NATO contribution is at 2.1 per cent of GDP" - cementing Britain's position as "Europe's leading Alliance member". And with an "extra £2.2bn to spend this year and next we'll be bringing in Type 31 Global Combat Ships, anti-submarine frigates and a new national cyber force".

During this period of the pandemic the people involved in anti-war movements all over the world have been very active in condemning this continued militarisation of economies and these warmongering "exercises" and operations. In Britain currently, the Stop the War Coalition is organising a series of large online webinar meetings against this warmongering in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, with thousands of people taking part in London, Manchester and many other cities. Through its work, Stop the War calls attention to "the obscene financial cost of war which is starkly apparent", with the "increased spending that is taking place at a time when it has become clear that the NHS lacks a range of basic equipment and staff to test and treat Covid-19 cases". Stop the War gives the call that "there has never been a better time to campaign against foreign intervention and military deployment overseas".

It is unconscionable that, while the whole of humanity is united in continuing to face the pandemic together and to find solutions to the vital health problems, these governments, who have systematically brought about under-investment and privatisation of health and social care systems, cannot now mobilise human and material resources to protect the people in their hour of need. This, when these same governments in the US, Britain and their NATO allies continue to spend billions of pounds on military exercises and operations in Europe and all over the world. Enlightened humanity on the other hand demands that we put an end to the militarisation of the economy and to participating in global warmongering, and bring about an Anti-War Government that ends Britain's participation in aggressive military alliances such as NATO.


[1] Crime Against Peace

"To initiate a war of aggression," the Nuremberg Tribunal said, "is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime," for "it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." The four victorious nations whose judges issued the Final Judgment containing those words - the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and France - had established the Tribunal to put top Nazi leaders on trial for three broad types of crimes: war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace. "Crimes against peace," according to the London Agreement in which the four nations established the Tribunal, meant the "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances."

[2] Ministry of Defence: UK Defence in Numbers 2019


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