U.S. and NATO to stage unprecedented air war provocation over Europe
A U.S.-supplied F-16 military fighter jet sporting Romanian Air Force markings participates in a NATO air operation in Lithuanian airspace, May 22, 2023. Next week, the skies over Europe will be filled with hundreds of NATO warplanes. | Mindaugas Kulbis / AP

Germany has invited the U.S. and its other NATO allies to start the biggest war provocation in history in its airspace next week. The simulated air war will start there and, like nightmares of the past, spread over much of Europe. The unprecedented war games will involve 10,000 armed participants from 25 countries, with the United States alone sending 2,000 Air National Guard members and more than 100 of the 250 jet fighters and bombers that will participate.

The warmakers of the Western world will also send ships to close in on European coastlines in their massive simulation of what they say NATO would have to do if it were necessary to defend against an attack from—or mount an attack on—Russia, China, or anyone else.

It almost defies belief that the U.S. would be leading these unprecedented war games at a time when some world leaders are looking for a way to cool tensions due to the war in Ukraine which was, in major part, itself fueled by NATO expansionism.

“This is an exercise that would be absolutely impressive to anybody who’s watching, and we don’t make anybody watch it,” U.S. Ambassador to Germany Amy Gutmann said.

She made no secret, however, that the massive provocation is aimed at Russia. The irony seemed lost on her, however, that the massive show of force was occurring at precisely the time when the U.S. also says it is committed to reducing the danger of nuclear war.

“We will show beyond a shadow of a doubt the ability and the swiftness of our allied force in NATO as a first responder,” she told reporters in Berlin. “I would be pretty surprised if any world leader was not taking note of what this shows in terms of the spirit of this alliance, which means the strength of this alliance. And that includes Mr. Putin,” she said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

United States Ambassador to Germany Amy Gutmann, center, German air force chief Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, left, and U.S. Air National Guard Director Lieutenant General Michael A. Loh, right, arrive for a news conference on the Air Defender military exercise in Berlin, Germany, June 7, 2023. | Markus Schreiber / AP

The ambassador made no statement about how the planned war games would or could contribute to peace in Ukraine.

Minutes after the war provocation was announced, U.S. Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said on television that it’s “clear to the world already that the U.S. military is the fiercest and most powerful in the world with a capability of dealing lethal blows that is greater than anyone else’s lethality.”

She also did not bother to make any guesses about how all this military prowess might result in peace any time soon. Instead, she bragged openly about how it is U.S. weaponry supplied to Ukraine that has allowed the war there to continue as long as it has. She expressed no concern at all about the continuing death toll among either Ukrainians or Russians.

It is also apparently not enough that NATO, in violation of U.S. assurances at the end of the Cold War, has expanded eastward right up to the borders of Russia and has swallowed up countries that were part of the Soviet Union itself.

Indicative of their intent now to back up U.S. war provocations in Asia and the Pacific region, NATO has invited Japan to participate in the war games in Europe next week. The U.S. sees Japan as important for confronting China in the Indo-Pacific region and views Germany, of course, as an instrument to contain Russia in Europe.

The U.S. is urging both Japan and Germany to disavow their postwar pacifism and step up their military spending. It is not lost on the sensibilities of many that both countries—which were led by fascists during World War II and attacked the Soviet Union—will participate in war games aimed at Russia next week.

Not to be left out of the braggadocio regarding military prowess, the German military, too, has joined the chorus. “We are showing that NATO territory is our red line, that we are prepared to defend every centimeter of this territory,” said Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz of the German air force.

One of the major concerns and most dangerous pieces in the war games and provocations scheduled for next week is that the warplanes could end up flying over part of Russia itself. The city of Kaliningrad is a small piece of Russian Federation territory wedged between Lithuania and Poland. Warplanes from both of those countries will fly between them, unavoidably coming close to if not actually into Russian airspace over Kaliningrad. The city is a Russian enclave located on the Baltic Sea and a strategically important piece of Russian territory that some observers say NATO would like to claim for itself.

To make matters worse, the U.S. is not even pretending that the provocative war maneuvers are simply about defense. Lt. Gen. Michael A. Loh, director of the U.S. Air National Guard, said the exercise “goes beyond deterrence.” He declared that the war simulation is “about the readiness of our force. It’s about coordination, not just within NATO, but with our other allies and partners outside of NATO.”

The unanswered question, of course, is what the Lt. General means by “readiness,” which he says is more than just “deterrence.” Then what is the “readiness” for?

Loh said the exercise would be “an opportunity for younger U.S. airmen, many of whom have mainly gotten experience serving in the Middle East, to build relationships with allies in Europe and prepare for a different military scenario. So, this is about now establishing what it means to go against a great power, in a great power competition,” he said.

So, U.S. imperialist intervention in the Middle East, we are to presume, was just “small stuff” compared to the coming “great power competition” for which next week’s war games will prepare. One would think the U.S. is already waging war against a big power, at least a proxy war against the second-biggest nuclear power in the world.

Is Loh saying we have to get “ready” for waging a direct war that would involve our young servicemen who don’t yet have the experience fighting a “great power?” Hearing top military brass talk in this way should ring alarm bells for everyone.

Marines from the German naval ship ‘Erfurt’ stand on the ship as they leave the Wilhelmshaven naval base to join a NATO flotilla, Feb. 26, 2022. Following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the German Navy sent the ship to the Baltic Sea. Ships like this and others will be taking part in the NATO war games next week. | Mohssen Assanimoghaddam / dpa via AP

A million dead in the Middle East due to imperialist intervention, are we to presume, was just small stuff? We should shudder to think what Loh and his colleagues see as necessary in the “great power competition” for which next week’s war games will allegedly prepare our young people. Many see the U.S. role in Ukraine as the first step in the strategy Loh is talking about, preparing to fight a war with a major power or powers.

NATO, however, has assured the people of Europe that there is no reason to get too excited or worried about any of this. Hundreds of warplanes soaring overhead, crashing through the sound barriers and racing through the skies of their cities, are no cause for concern. If they live on the coast, they don’t need to pay any attention to the warships firing in their direction. The only bother civilians should encounter, according to NATO, will be disruptions in civilian air flights.

None of us, apparently, have to even give thought to the possibility that our children may not have a planet on which to live. We have the assurances of the people who say they run the most lethal military in the world that everything will be just fine.

As with all op-eds published by People’s World, this article reflects the opinions of its author.

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John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.