I’ve written about how the United States is embarking on a whole new chapter in its history of waging perpetual war –this time in Africa. So I wasn’t surprised to be reminded about some of the African countries that have seen U.S. drone use (Somalia, Libya, Mali, Sudan) at the drones conference this past weekend.
What I was surprised by is the central role of Germany in all this.
At the conference, filmmaker and journalist Elsa Rassbach from Drohnen-Kampagne: Keine Kampfrohnen (Drone Campaign Germany: NO COMBAT DRONES) brought us up to speed on key facts, including the following:
(1) Africa HQ Role – Germany is the headquarters for US Command for Africa (AFRICOM) as well as being the European center for the CIA. At the AFRICOM Command Center in Stuttgart, 1,000 experts work on targetting.
(2) Ramstein – 1500 computers – Ramstein AFB is identified as the command center for drones.
(3) Massive US Presence in Germany – All of this needs to be seen in the context of the massive US presence in Germany – 43,000 personnel, 40 bases.
The full scope of all of this has been laid out in recent months by investigative journalism in Germany. See the Süddeutsche Zeitung series — see, for instance, US-Streitkräfte steuern Drohnen von Deutschland aus.
Several other details from Elsa’s report:
* there are stories of asylum seekers who come to Germany being plied for information that is then fed into the US drone program
* in general, Germany is trying to keep the presence of the drone command function quiet – after all, 18 different African countries already refused to host it
The good news is that the campaign against drones is taking off in Germany . . . as part of a larger questioning of the role of U.S. militarism in Germany . . . and there are political alignments in Germany that may be able to make progress in significantly resisting U.S. militarism and extricating Germany from involvement with what the U.S. is doing.
To those of us who have worked hard to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, it is flabbergasting to see reports that U.S. officials see a “need” for someplace else to send troops and material: apparently, there’s no such thing as demobilization, only re-deployment.
The U.S. has a modus operandi for conducting military strikes while slipping past any genuine public accountability. It’s worth a look at the Tuesday, October 29, 2013, New York Times account of a drone strike in Somalia the previous day: “Pentagon Says Shabab Bomb Specialist Is Killed in Missile Strike in Somalia.” It’s a case study in what’s wrong with the U.S. drone wars.
Five big realizations I’m taking away from the 2013 CODEPINK Drone Summit “Drones Around the Globe: Proliferation and Resistance” in Washington, DC.
(See The 2013 DC Drones