Ukraine Consultation in Ramstein: Demonstration of Power by an Occupying Power?

Activities - Comments

Wolfgang Effenberger

At the invitation of U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, representatives of 40 countries discussed the Ukraine war at U.S. Air Force Base Ramstein/Rhineland-Palatinate on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, one day after his departure from Kiev. Among them were countries that are not members of NATO. In the run-up, the U.S. Department of Defense had stressed that the meeting was not taking place under the umbrella of the alliance.

Why did the meeting not take place in Washington, why not in Brussels, but at the U.S. base in Ramstein? On a military airfield of the "United States Air Force", which is located on German territory but has immunity similar to an embassy and is thus exempt from German jurisdiction,(1) "Ramstein Air Base" also hosts the headquarters of the "United States Air Forces Europe", the "Air Forces Africa" and the "Allied Air Command Ramstein", a NATO command authority for the command of air forces. Furthermore, the base is home to the "US-603d Air and Space Operations Center"(2) which conducts the control of combat drone missions with targeted killings of terror suspects in Africa (Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan and formerly Afghanistan).(3) Potentially illegal US arms deliveries as well as prisoner transfers running through Ramstein are also off-limits to German law enforcement agencies. Most importantly, the U.S. base, always a hub of U.S. military operations, has been increasingly used for cargo and troop shipments to Rzeszów-Jasionka in southern Poland, near the Ukrainian border, for several months. On March 25, 2022 -U.S. President Joe Biden visited the U.S. garrison there and pointed out the importance of their deployment far beyond Ukraine. Should these U.S. soldiers be wounded, they would be transported to the "Landstuhl Regional Medical Center", the largest U.S. military hospital outside the United States, located just 13 kilometers from Ramstein Air Base.

Largely unnoticed by the public, the not only largest but also most modern American military clinic is now being built within walking distance of Ramstein: nine operating theaters, a total of more than 4,500 rooms (a large part of the costs are borne by the Federal Republic).(4) The best U.S. military surgeons and trauma specialists will be working here as late as 2022. So the U.S. is well prepared for a major war in Europe.

Departing Kiev on 4/25/2022, Austin emphasized that the Ukrainians could win "if they have the right equipment and the right support."(5) As a war goal, Austin stated, "We want Russia weakened to the point where it is no longer capable of something like invading Ukraine."(6) Pushing Russia even below the status of a regional power means, in plain English, conjuring up a nuclear war.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke of a "historic meeting" at the opening of the Ukraine consultations in Ramstein.
The Ukraine conflict, he said, is about a challenge to all free people around the world.
"We are all here because we admire Ukraine's courage and because we cannot bear to see your people suffer and civilians killed." And addressing the representatives of Ukraine, "Your country was invaded, your hospitals were bombed, your citizens were executed, your children were traumatized."(7) In conclusion, Austin praised the outstanding defense performance and predicted that the courage and capabilities of Ukrainians would go down in military history.
Austin promised Ukraine "our help" even after the war ended. "We're behind you." Yet a look at U.S. war history should sober Ukrainians. The U.S. paid five billion U.S. dollars for the coup it orchestrated in 2013/14 - there's a dividend coming.
With this emotionally charged pro-war welcome, there is unlikely to be room for peacemaking approaches in the "consultations." Thus, suffering is likely to continue on both sides and Ukraine will have to endure unimaginable destruction.
The longer the war lasts, the more difficult the necessary reconciliation will be later on.
And this war does not seem to be just about a proxy war: The U.S. is implementing the goals set out in its 2014 long-term strategy TRADOC 525-3-1: "Win in a Complex World 2020-2040." U.S. forces are primarily to reduce the threat posed by Russia and China: The only way to do that is through one or more wars.
Unfortunately, the geopolitical context of the conflict is largely ignored and the blame is placed solely on Russia, which is accused of pursuing a policy of unilateral conquest. Further motives for Russia's "special military operation" must not be asked.

There is no doubt that the Russian leadership disregarded the prohibition of the use of force under international law by invading Ukraine and united left and right, liberals and conservatives, nationalists and globalists in one front with this operation. In March 1999, at the start of the war against Yugoslavia/Kosovo, the United States permanently enshrined NATO's crisis intervention role with the new NATO Strategy MC 400/2. Since then, the alliance has reserved the right to intervene militarily even without an explicit mandate from the United Nations Security Council. Thus, Serbia was then bombed for 78 days and nights with appropriate enemy propaganda. In 2001, the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan followed. The only offense: The Taliban had not delivered asylum seeker Osama bin Laden fast enough.
Before the war against Iraq, U.S. President G.W. Bush had codified the Pre-Emptive Doctrine in a National Security Directive to legitimize a new type of war. Since an armed attack on the United States or a neighboring state of Iraq, which the U.S. could then have come to the aid of, was not imminent, the "pre-emptive war" was conjured out of the hat.(8) It is intended to nip "possible" dangers in the bud - similar to the murder of the children of Bethlehem after the birth of Christ. This concept also includes the "preventive military strike" (e.g. the strike against Iraqi nuclear research on June 7, 1981). Then, in 2003, the destruction of Iraq took place. Scanty evidence of (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction sufficed as a pretext. In 2011, the Libyan army was destroyed, plunging the country into continuing chaos. And a year later it was Syria's turn (after 9/11, seven Arab countries were put on a destruction list by the Pentagon that same month). Even today, military units of the NATO countries USA and Turkey are on Syrian soil in violation of international law, against the declared will of the internationally recognized government.
Since April 18, 2022, NATO member Turkey has been conducting an air and land military operation beyond its borders in northern Iraq in violation of international law - without any protests from the "Western community of values." Ankara argues that Turkey has the right to this cross-border military action according to the principle of so-called disadvantages.(9) This view is accepted by Washington, and so this war has been simmering on since 1984. Turkey is militarily superior, but cannot defeat the Kurdish Workers' Party, PKK, in northern Iraq.
For the self-proclaimed Western community of values, the law of the fist seems to apply, and not only since 1999.
On October 25, 1983, the superpower USA invaded the mini-Caribbean island of Grenada as part of its Operation Urgent Fury. U.S. President Reagan justified the invasion with a preceding violent coup d'état by "leftist murderers" on the island. It was necessary to "protect our own citizens (on the island) ... and to help rebuild democratic institutions in Grenada"(10). After four days, the unequal battle ended in absolute victory for the U.S.(11)
Most people in the world certainly do not want the law of the strongest to prevail. Rather, the strength of the law should prevail. This is always consensual when the value West wants to assert its interests. For example, Angela Merkel insisted on the primacy of the strength of the law vis-à-vis Russia on the occasion of the Crimea crisis, just as she did vis-à-vis her hosts on a trip to China in 2016. And in January 2022, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz admonished Russia with similar words.
That the United States has now rediscovered international law is more than welcome, if not necessarily credible.
In the run-up to the Ukraine consultation in Ramstein, the largest opposition faction in the Bundestag (CDU/CSU) clearly spoke out in favor of supplying heavy weapons to Ukraine, as did FDP defense politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann.(12) The Greens' willingness to do so is unbroken anyway.
And Ramstein will send a clear signal for extensive deliveries of war-critical material.
The U.S. wants to help Ukraine defeat Russia, supply it with armaments and support it with advisors, but prevent the U.S. or NATO from officially becoming a party to the war. This sounds like wash me, but don't get me wet. Such decisions should include input from the opposing belligerent's assessment of the facts. Before the heatedly discussed topic of arms deliveries, serious tones came from Moscow. On April 25, 2022, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, according to the Interfax news agency, that the Ukraine war could degenerate into a world war: "The danger is serious, it is real, it is not to be underestimated."(13) In this regard, Russia views the NATO arms deliveries as legitimate targets for attack by Russian forces. "When NATO enters into a de facto war with Russia through a proxy and arms that proxy, "Lavrov said, "you do in war what you have to do in war."(14)
The looming catastrophe could have been avoided. Once by consistent application of international law - even externally organized regime change is a crime - and recognition of the rights of others. In the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs, U.S. political scientist at the University of Chicago, John J. Mearsheimer wrote the seminal article "Why the West is to Blame for the Ukraine Crisis." Mearsheimer, who focuses primarily on International Relations, believes it is the height of folly to admit new members to NATO that others are unwilling to defend. Previous NATO expansions, he says, were made on the assumption that, according to the liberal worldview, the alliance would never have to honor its new security guarantees. But the recent Russian power play proved that Russia and the West would be on a collision course if Ukraine became a NATO member.
Continuing current policies would strain the West's relations with Moscow and bring Moscow and Beijing even closer together.
"The U.S. and its European allies face a choice on the Ukraine issue. They can continue their current policies, intensifying hostilities with Russia and wrecking Ukraine - a scenario from which all parties would emerge as losers. Or they can change course and aim for a prosperous but neutral Ukraine that poses no threat to Russia and allows the West to patch up its relations with Moscow. With such an approach, all sides would win."(15)

Mearsheimer can only be agreed with this. However, this honorable approach collides with the Anglo-Saxon competitive ideology of "the winner takes it all". At the time of publication of his article, Mearsheimer could not have known anything about the strategy paper TRADOC 525-3-1 "Win in a Complex World 2020-2040", which was also published in September 2014.
Fatally, the U.S. risks only the destruction of its allies in Europe with its aggressive policy, so one may well ask to what extent American and European interests are still in harmony. According to Klaus von Dohnanyi, former Federal Minister of Education and Science and First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg from 1981 to 1988, Germany and Europe today are anything but sovereign in matters of security and foreign policy. "It is the U.S. that sets the direction here in Europe."(16) Against this background, the choice of the U.S. airbase in Ramstein as a "place of consultation" in the Ukraine conflict has more than symbolic character. It is more likely to have been a matter of issuing orders to the dependent allies.


1)Wissenschaftliche Dienste „Der Bundestag“:
10)Grenada-Invasion: »Ronald Reagans größte Stunde«
11)19 Tote auf amerikanischer Seite und 70 tote Soldaten und 24 Zivilisten auf der anderen Seite
12)Bundestag diskutiert über Waffenlieferung,T42pojD
13)Lawrow sieht „reale Gefahr“ eines Weltkriegs - und nennt Nato-Waffenlieferungen legitime Angriffsziele
15)John J. Mearsheimer: Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin unter sis-is-the-wests-faul
16)Klaus von Dohnany: Nationale Interessen. Orientierung für deutsche und europäische Politik in Zeiten globaler Umbrüche. Siedlerverlag 2022, S. 10