decolonization / militat / politiku

“We Can’t Say No” to the U.S.: Germany or Guam?

Well, you know, there was an event I spoke at in Berlin recently where there was a representative of the German Foreign Office there and it was a debate with an excellent heroic human rights lawyer, Wolfgang Kaleck, who’s a friend and also one of the great lawyers who has pursued Donald Rumsfeld in an attempt to hold him criminally responsible for torture and other abuses. But the Foreign Office had agreed to do this if he was not directly asked by the panelist about the role of Ramstein air force base or Germany in the so-called War on Terror, but I wasn’t bound by that agreement, so I got up in the audience, just watching like everyone else, my panel had finished, and I went to town on this guy and he basically said, and you can find this, it’s online, that the reason that we are allowing the U.S. to use facilities within Germany is because the U.S. is a powerful country and we can’t say No to them.

That’s an astonishing admission and really raises questions about how the German foreign office views the sovereignty of its own country on these matters. But Germany is not just sort of like a passive victim here, that ‘Oh, the big bad United States is sneaking around using our backyard’, no, Germany knows damn well what goes on at Ramstein air force base, they know that it’s where the key uplinks are that are used for the overwhelming majority of drone strikes in the world, and they’re fine with it. They’re absolutely fine with it. If they weren’t they would do something about it. German courts, German political figures, are all complicit in almost every drone strike, including those that have killed children, civilians, potentially German citizens. Germany is fully complicit in this.

The other thing is that at Stuttgart you have a U.S. Africa command which is actively plotting assassinations and has carried out assassinations throughout East Africa using Germany as a place where they are plotting, planning, orchestrating, and coordinating lethal operations. We also know that the German government is being sued because it appears as though Germany has on a number of occasions provided intelligence to the United States on German citizens or German residents so that the U.S. can kill them in drone strikes. I think those are extremely important cases and Germany is trying to essentially escape its own culpability in this, even on a good day where they’ll say ‘Oh, we can’t really control what the Americans do’ – bullshit. Germany is its own country; if it wanted to it could shut this down, it won’t do it, and the question is: Why? And the best answer I’ve heard is ‘Because America is powerful and we do what they tell [us]’. Well, that’s really pathetic, German government . . .

Jeremy Scahill, bestselling author, investigative reporter and co-founder of The Intercept

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