A War Waged From German Soil: US Ramstein Base Key in Drone Attacks

Published on Spiegel Online International, by staff *, April 22, 2015 (Photo & Chart Gallery).

The US Air Force base in Ramstein is a central and indispensible element in Barack Obama’s controversial use of drones in the war against terror. New documents are creating pressure for both Washington and the German government.  

Knowledge is power. Ignorance often means impotence. But sometimes ignorance can be comfortable, if it protects from entanglements, conflicts and trouble. This even applies to the German chancellor.

In the heart of Germany’s Palatinate region — just a few kilometers from the city of Kaiserslautern — the United States maintains its largest military base on foreign soil. The base is best known as a hub for American troops making their way to the Middle East … //

… From Ramstein into Space: … //
… The First German Drone Victim: … //
… Legal Action against US Soldiers?: … //
… Will Berlin Act or Sit Things Out?: … //

… Obama Expands Drone Arsenal:

Berlin has long since gotten over Washington’s refusal to answer in detail its questions about the Ramstein issue. Angela Merkel is also pleased that German-American relations have moved beyond the worst stage.

During the past 12 months, the crises in the Middle East and in Ukraine have drawn the two countries closer together again. The radical Islamic State and the open confrontation with Russia have also served to largely divert public attention away from US espionage in Germany and the drone war that is taking place via Ramstein. Internally, those in the German government who continually point out how dependent German authorities are on the Americans in defending the country against terrorism have prevailed.

The chancellor also feels flattered that Obama places his trust in her leadership in the Ukraine crisis. This new sense of closeness led to an unofficial deal the last time Merkel visited Washington in February: If the chancellor were able to achieve a halfway suitable cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, the US president would resist all demands for US weapons deliveries to Kiev. Merkel fulfilled her end of the bargain with the second Minsk agreement. Obama has also held to his pledge. The NSA scandal and the controversial drone war haven’t been forgotten, but, as Berlin government sources say: “There are more important issues.”

Nevertheless, the trans-Atlantic tensions haven’t simply disappeared. Obama even admitted as much during Merkel’s visit. He described the US as having been “consistently your strong partners,” adding, “Occasionally, I would like the German people to give us the benefit of the doubt, given our history, as opposed to assuming the worst.”

There appears to be little chance of swaying Obama to make concessions in the drone war. Shortly after entering office in January 2009, the US president made the decision to rapidly end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to bring the American troops back home. His main aim was to limit American losses, but he also didn’t want to allow the terrorists to win. Nor could pressure on al-Qaida be allowed to slip. Unmanned aircraft seemed to be just the thing. Ultimately, the drone program experienced a dramatic boom, with the number of drone attacks under Obama increasing tenfold relative to the Bush era.
It’s indisputable that drone attacks massively decimated al-Qaida’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But the number of civilian victims has also been high. Obama has warned that for all drone attacks “there must be near certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.” But abandoning the technology is out of the question for him. In its draft defense budget for 2016, the Pentagon has requested €2.9 billion for the procurement of further unmanned aircraft.

Whether or not all of these drones will actually be guided through Ramstein is also uncertain. Three years ago, the US government began researching alternatives, which led them to a US base in Sigonella in southern Italy. A facility similar to the one in Ramstein is now in place there — a “Back-up system to the Ramstein site” that, in the worst-case scenario, prevents “single point of failure.”

(full long text).

* By Matthias Bartsch, Maik Baumgärtner, Nikolaus Blome, Thomas Darnstädt, Matthias Gebauer, Hubert Gude, Marcel Rosenbach, Jeremy Scahill, Jörg Schindler, Fidelius Schmidt, Holger Stark and Alfred Weinzierl.


Umfrage zu Uni-Abschlüssen, Wirtschaft klagt über Bachelor-Absolventen, im Spiegel Online, 23. April 2015: Drei Jahre Uni – und fertig ist der Abschluss. Aber was taugt der Bachelor fürs Berufsleben? Laut einer Umfrage sind deutsche Unternehmen mit den Absolventen immer unzufriedener;

#EarthDay: Saving planet brings world together (PHOTOS), on Russia Today RT, April 23, 2015;

Eduardo Galeano, 1940-2015, A Voice, Not An Echo, on ZNet, by Michael K. Smith, April 22, 2015;

Alone, With Nowhere To Go, on The Con, by blog owner, April 22, 2015;

China’s Stealth Gold Reserves To Quadruple, on and by Outsider Club, April 22, 2015;

The Struggle for Another Much-Needed World, on teleSUR, by Boaventura de sousa Santos, April 19, 2015: The WSF has clearly shown that another world is urgently needed …;

im Nachtcafé: Die neuen Alten, für immer jung? 88.10 min, von ARD am 6. April 2014 hochgeladen: Früher fühlte man sich mit 60 mitten im Herbst des Lebens, heute beginnt in diesem Alter der zweite Frühling. Statt abends ihre Dritten in der Prothesenbox abzulegen, geben sie nochmal richtig Vollgas -| die neuen Alten! Sie pflegen einen Lebensstil, der Altwerden völlig neu definiert. Eine neue von Wohlstand und medizinischem Fortschritt verwöhnte Generation lebensfroher, manchmal auch aufmüpfiger Falten- und Brillenträger genießt ihr Leben …;

Why you will fail to have a great career – Larry Smith, 14.59 min, uploaded by TEDx Talks, Jan 8, 2012.

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