[A-List] US imperialism: eastward bound

Michael Keaney michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Tue Feb 11 06:34:01 MST 2003


What might these developments imply for the future of EU expansion? If "new
Europe" is really where the centre of gravity lies, as in Donald Rumsfeld's
interesting worldview, then why would "old Europe" wish to welcome into the
EU a financial and administrative liability guaranteed to obstruct further
progress on the integration front?


Washington to cut bases in Germany as its forces head east

Ian Traynor in Zagreb
Tuesday February 11, 2003
The Guardian

Washington is planning to cut and downgrade its network of military bases in
Germany and to transfer some its European military assets to the new
pro-American Nato allies of eastern Europe, according to diplomats and
officials on both sides of the Atlantic.

Although no final decision has been taken, the plan to scale down the
military presence in Germany, the mainstay of US forces in Europe since the
second world war, marks a major strategic shift which is being welcomed by
the insecure post-communist countries of central Europe.

While such a decision is seen as too important to have been provoked by the
worsening dispute between Washington and Berlin over Iraq, the momentum for
moving out of Germany is also being increased by the US-German estrangement.

A senior Czech official, who attended the weekend security conference in
Munich at which the Americans and the Germans engaged in an unprecedented
public slanging match, said that senior US officials were talking about the
bases in Germany "right into the middle of the night".

"It's a very difficult situation," he added. "But if it leads to the
Americans withdrawing from Germany, we and the Poles will welcome them. We
need Nato."

The Pentagon ordered all non-essential investment in the sprawling US bases
in Germany frozen last month, funds amounting to tens of millions of pounds,
according to a German MP who said he saw the secret instructions from
Washington to US military commanders in Germany.

"All avoidable US investments in Germany have been stopped on the orders of
the Pentagon," the Christian Democrat MP, Michael Billen, told the newspaper
Welt am Sonntag. His Rhineland-Palatinate constituency in south-west Germany
includes major US air bases, venues that have grown into American
communities over the past half century.

Mr Billen said that US officials had told him that the US defence secretary,
Donald Rumsfeld, wanted the spending frozen since it was not clear whether
the US forces' strength of around 100,000 would remain on that scale.

Polish newspapers reported recently from Washington that the US was to shift
bases from Germany to Poland, the biggest, most important and most
pro-American of the new Nato members, and a key country in Mr Rumsfeld's
"new Europe". The Polish reports were denied in Washington, but when he was
asked about the issue in Rome last week, Mr Rumsfeld said: "We are reviewing
our bases ... the centre of gravity is shifting in the [Nato] alliance. The
interest and the enthusiasm that the countries that had lived under
repressive regimes previously [have for Nato] is a good thing for Nato."

The new commander of Nato forces in Europe, US Marines General James Jones,
told senior US congressmen and senators in Brussels last Friday that the
large US garrisons in Germany could be radically transformed by the need for
more flexible and mobile rapid response structures that may halve the number
of US troops in Germany and see new bases opened from Poland to Romania,
according to US press reports yesterday.

"German officials are right to worry that US forces now headed from Germany
to the Persian Gulf may not, after the war and occupation, return to their
old bases," the influential conservative commentator William Safire wrote in
the New York Times yesterday.

The US bases in Germany are under German military and police guard because
of their vulnerability to terrorist attacks. They are also becoming targets
for the protests and demonstrations of the German anti-war movement.

In contrast to western Europe, the governments of eastern Europe are
queueing up to offer military assets, resources, and staff for the US war
effort against Iraq. Romania and Bulgaria are the latest to make bases
available to the US air force. The first US aircraft are expected in
Bulgaria today.







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