Defender Europe 2021: The Pentagon Practices the Art of War

May 15th, 2021 - by Manlio Dinucci / Il Manifesto & Nicolas J S Davies and Medea Benjamin / The Progressive

The Art of War: Europe Is a War-games Ground for US / NATO

Manlio Dinucci / Il Manifesto

(May 11, 2021) — In 2020, people’s land mobility in the European Union was paralyzed by lockdowns, mainly following the tourism blockade. The same happened in air mobility. [A]ccording to a study by the European Parliament (March 2021), [air travel] suffered a net loss of 56 billion Euros and 191,000 direct jobs, plus over a million in related industries.

In 2021, the recovery is promising to be very problematic. Only one sector has greatly increased its mobility against the ongoing-trend — the military sector.

At the moment, about 28,000 soldiers are passing from one country to another in Europe with tanks and airplanes: they are engaged in Defender-Europe 21, the US Army (not NATO) great exercise in Europe involving 25 European Allies and Partners. Italy participates in it not only with its armed forces but as a host country.

At the same time, the NATO Steadfast Defender exercise is about to begin, mobilizing over 9,000 US and European soldiers, including Italian soldiers. It constitutes the first large-scale test of the two new NATO commands: The Joint Force Command, with its headquarters in Norfolk (USA), and the Joint Support Command with its headquarters in Ulm (Germany).

The mission of the Norfolk Command is “to protect the Atlantic routes between North America and Europe”, which according to NATO would be threatened by Russian submarines; the mission of the Ulm Command is “to ensure troops mobility across the European borders to allow a rapid strengthening of the Alliance on the Eastern front“, which would be threatened by Russian forces according to NATO.

Defender Europe 2020

For this second mission the European Union plays an important role, as the US Army requested the establishment of “a military Schengen Area“. The Action Plan on military mobility, presented by the European Commission in 2018, envisaged modifying “infrastructures (bridges, railways, and roads) that are not suitable for the weight or size of heavy military vehicles“.

For example, if a bridge cannot carry the weight of a 70-ton tank column, it must be strengthened or rebuilt. After having earmarked an initial allocation of around 2 billion euros for this purpose, public money subtracted from social expenses, the EU Ministers of Defense (Lorenzo Guerini for Italy) decided on May 8 to involve the United States, Canada, and Norway on the EU military mobility plan. NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg, who was present at the meeting, stressed that “Non-EU Allies play an essential role in protecting and defending Europe”.

In this way, NATO (21 over 27 EU countries are NATO members), after having instructed the EU to carry out and pay for the restructuring of European infrastructures for military purposes, actually takes over the management of the “Military Schengen Area“. 

In the European region transformed in a parade ground, the infrastructure adaptation to the US / NATO forces mobility is tested in war trials, which include “the deployment of land and naval forces from North America to the Black Sea region“. They serve – quoting Stoltenberg’s words – to “demonstrate that NATO has the ability and the will to protect all allies from any threat“.

The kind of “threat” was also declared by the G7 Foreign Ministers (United States, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Japan), who met on May 5 in London. The seven Ministers (Luigi Di Maio for Italy), overturning the facts, accused Russia of “irresponsible and destabilizing behavior, illegal annexation of Crimea, massing military forces on the Ukraine border, use of chemical weapons to poison opponents, malicious activities to undermine the democratic system of other countries, threaten the rules-based international order”.

The fact that the G7 formulated these accusations with the same words used by the Pentagon and repeated by NATO, confirms the existence of the same matrix in the strategy of tension that pushes Europe into an increasingly dangerous situation.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.


Nicolas J. Davis – It is chilling to see NATO communiques that refer to the “Eastern Front.” NATO seems to finally be fully embracing its role as the successor of the Wehrmacht, the Luftwaffe and the SS. Never again! And this is absolutely not what people in Europe want — as Medea and I explained in this article in February 2021.

Why NATO Needs to Go

After Three-quarters of a Century, It’s Clear the Alliance Has Done More arm than Good

Nicolas J S Davies and Medea Benjamin / The Progressive

 (February 24, 2021) — The February 17-18 meeting of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Defense Ministers, the first since US President Joe Biden took power, revealed an antiquated, seventy-five-year-old alliance that, despite its military failures in Afghanistan and Libya, is now turning its military madness toward two more formidable, nuclear-armed enemies: Russia and China. 

This theme was emphasized by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in a Washington Post op-ed in advance of the NATO meeting, in which he insisted that “aggressive and coercive behaviors from emboldened strategic competitors such as China and Russia reinforce our belief in collective security.” 

Using Russia and China to justify more Western military build-up is a key element in the alliance’s new “Strategic Concept,” called NATO 2030: United For a New Era, which is intended to define NATO’s role in the world for the next ten years.

NATO was founded in 1949 by the United States and eleven other Western nations to confront the Soviet Union and the rise of communism in Europe. Since the end of the Cold War, it has grown to thirty countries, expanding to include most of Eastern Europe; it now has a long and persistent history of illegal war-making, civilian bombings, and other war crimes. 

In 1999, NATO launched a war without United Nations approval to separate Kosovo from Serbia. Its illegal airstrikes during the Kosovo War killed hundreds of civilians, and its close ally, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, is now on trial for shocking war crimes committed under cover of the NATO bombing campaign. 

Far from the North Atlantic, NATO has fought alongside the United States in Afghanistan since 2001, and attacked Libya in 2011, leaving behind a failed stateand triggering a massive refugee crisis.

The first phase of NATO’s new Strategic Concept review is called the NATO 2030 Reflection Group report. That sounds encouraging, since NATO obviously and urgently needs to reflect on its bloody history. Why does an organization nominally dedicated to deterring war and preserving peace keep starting wars, killing thousands of people, and leaving countries around the world mired in violence, chaos, and poverty?

But unfortunately, this kind of introspection is not what NATO means by “reflection.” The Reflection Group instead applauds NATO as “history’s most successful military alliance,” and seems to have taken a leaf from the Obama playbook by only “looking forward,” as it charges into a new decade of military confrontation with its blinders firmly in place. 

The ‘New’ Cold War

NATO’s role in the “new” Cold War is really a reversion to its old role in the original Cold War. This is instructive, as it unearths the ugly reasons why the United States decided to create NATO in the first place, and exposes them for a new generation of Americans and Europeans to examine in the context of today’s world.

Any US war with the Soviet Union or Russia was always going to put Europeans directly on the front lines as both combatants and mass-casualty victims. The primary function of NATO is to ensure that the people of Europe continue to play these assigned roles in America’s war plans. 

As Michael Klare explains in a NATO Watch report on NATO 2030, every step the United States is taking with NATO is “intended to integrate it into US plans to fight and defeat China and Russia in all-out warfare.”

The US Army’s plan for an invasion of Russia, euphemistically called “The US Army in Multi-Domain Operations,” begins with missile and artillery bombardments of Russian command centers and defensive forces, followed by an invasion by armored forces to occupy key areas and sites until Russia surrenders. 

Unsurprisingly, Russia’s defense strategy in the face of such an existential threat would not be to surrender, but to retaliate against the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons.

US war plans for an assault on China are similar, involving missiles fired from ships and bases in the Pacific. China has not been as public about its defense plans, but if its existence and independence were threatened, it too would probably use nuclear weapons, as indeed the United States would if the positions were reversed. But they’re not — since no other country has the offensive war machine it would need to invade the United States.

Michael Klare concludes that NATO 2030 “commits all alliance members to a costly, all-consuming military competition with Russia and China that will expose them to an ever-increasing risk of nuclear war.”

So how do the European people feel about their role in America’s war plans? The European Council on Foreign Relations recently conducted an in-depth poll of 15,000 people in ten NATO countries and Sweden, and published the results in a report titled “The Crisis of American Power: How Europeans See Biden’s America.” 

The report reveals that a large majority of Europeans want no part in a US war with Russia or China and want to remain neutral. Only 22 percent would support taking the US side in a war with China, 23 percent in a war with Russia. So European public opinion is squarely at odds with NATO’s role in America’s war plans.

On transatlantic relations in general, majorities in most European countries see the US political system as broken and their own countries’ politics as in healthier shape. Fifty-nine percent of Europeans believe that China will be more powerful than the United States within a decade, and most see Germany as a more important partner and international leader than the United States. 

Only 17 percent of Europeans want closer economic ties with the United States, while even fewer, 10 percent of French and Germans, think their countries need the United States’ help with their national defense. 

The report also found that Biden’s election has not changed Europeans’ views much from a previous survey in 2019, because they see Trumpism as a symptom of more deeply rooted and long-standing problems in American society. As the writers conclude, “A majority of Europeans doubt that Biden can put Humpty Dumpty back together again.”

European Resistance to NATO Is Growing

Among Europeans, there is strong pushback against NATO’s demand that members should spend 2 percent of their gross domestic products on defense, an arbitrary goal that only ten of the thirty members have met. Ironically, some states will reach the NATO target without raising their military spending because COVID-19 has shrunk their GDPs, but NATO members struggling economically are unlikely to prioritize military spending.

The schism between NATO’s hostility and Europe’s economic interests runs deeper than just military spending. While the United States and NATO see Russia and China primarily as threats, European businesses view them as key partners. In 2020, China supplanted the United States as the European Union’s number one trading partner and at the close of 2020, the EU concluded a comprehensive investment agreement with China, despite US concerns.

European countries also have their own economic relations with Russia. Germany remains committed to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a 746-mile natural gas artery that runs from northern Russia to Germany—even as the Biden Administration calls it a “bad deal” and claims that it makes Europe vulnerable to Russian “treachery.”

NATO seems oblivious to the changing dynamics of today’s world, as if it’s living on a different planet. Its one-sided Reflection Group report cites Russia’s violation of international law in Crimea as a principal cause of deteriorating relations with the West, and insists that Russia must “return to full compliance with international law.” But it ignores the United States and NATO’s far more numerous violations of international law and leading roles in the tensions fueling the renewed Cold War, which include: 

•   Illegal invasions of Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq; 
•   The broken agreement over NATO expansion into Eastern Europe;
•   US withdrawals from important arms control treatiea;
•   More than 300,000 bombs and missiles dropped on other countries by the United States and its allies since 2001; 
•   US proxy wars in Libya and Syria, which plunged both countries into chaos, revived Al Qaeda and spawned the Islamic State; 
•   US management of the 2014 coup in Ukraine, which led to economic collapse, Russian annexation of Crimea, and civil war in Eastern Ukraine; and
•   The stark reality of the United States’ record as a serial aggressor whose offensive war machine dwarfs Russia’s defense spending by eleven to one and China’s by 2.8 to one, even without counting other NATO countries’ military spending.

NATO’s failure to seriously examine its own role in what it euphemistically calls “uncertain times” should therefore be more alarming to Americans and Europeans than its one-sided criticisms of Russia and China, whose contributions to the uncertainty of our times pale by comparison. 

The short-sighted preservation and expansion of NATO for a whole generation after the dissolution of the USS.R and the end of the Cold War has tragically set the stage for the renewal of those hostilities —or maybe even made their revival inevitable.    

NATO’s Reflection Group justifies and promotes the United States’ and NATO’s renewed Cold War by filling its report with dangerously one-sided threat analysis. A more honest and balanced review of the dangers facing the world and NATO’s role in them would lead to a much simpler plan for NATO’s future: that it should be dissolved and dismantled as quickly as possible.  

Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He is a researcher for CODEPINK: Women for Peace, and a freelance writer.

Medea Benjamin is co-director of the peace group CODEPINK. Her latest book is Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.