In the bunker of my thoughts
By Owei Lakemfa
GERMANY is the powerhouse of Europe; its largest economy accounting in 2017 for 28 per cent of the euro economy and has the fourth-largest GDP in the universe.
It is also a showcase of Western democracy with its most prominent politician since World War II, Angela Dorothea Merkel, serving as Chancellor from 2005 for 16 years. Yet, in practice, the United States, US, does not think Germany is mature enough to exercise its right to self-determination; hence, today, 77 years after its military marched into Germany as conquerors or liberators, they have refused to leave.
Things were so bad that until the early 1990s, American troops in the name of its right to maintain military bases occupied hundreds of German towns and villages. Today, the Americans have reduced their occupation to 40 major military bases having shut down over 220 others; but they still maintain a minimum of 35,000 American troops on German soil. Additionally, Germany is made to subsidise the American soldiers on its soil. In 2018 it spent $118 million to subsidise the foreign troops. This subsidy prompted Mr Dagdelen, a member of The Left party to issue a statement declaring: “It is high time to stop this massive waste of taxpayers’ money … it’s time for the U.S. soldiers to go home.”
In fact, since World War II ended in 1945, Germany remained, officially, a vassal state until it was granted a sovereign status on March 15, 1991. Despite this sovereignty, it can only have a military (German Heer) for self-defence and is not allowed to have biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons. So when the Germans appeared hesitant to join the US in its claims of Ukraine having the sovereign right to do whatever it pleases as a country, it was not just about gas supply. The fact is that Germany is not allowed as many sovereign rights as Ukrainians who have unrestricted military or Pakistan, India and Israel who could develop nuclear weapons.
It is not that the Germans have not been protesting the continued occupation of their lands by the Americans. One of the largest in the early 1980s occurred in the port city of Bremerhaven, when about 15,000 Germans marched to the main gate of the Carl Schurz Barracks, an airbase the Americans had seized since May 1945 and the Bremerhaven Harbor, also occupied by America. Some of these protests were against the US stationing of medium-range nuclear missiles in Germany.
However, I need to point out that the US grants the Germans more autonomy than the Japanese who, until today, is officially not allowed to have a military or exercise fully their right to self-determination. When in 1945 the Japanese were on retreat on all fronts, the American establishment decided to show the Japanese how powerful and ruthless they can be. First, on August 6, it dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, and three days later, on Nagasaki. Some 200,000 Japanese were massacred in the twin explosions after which the Americans, riding on the pulverised Japanese, decided to dictate to them until this day.
One of the basic rules the Americans gave the Japanese was ‘Thou shall have no military’. To ensure this, the occupying American military under General Douglas Mac Arthur wrote and imposed on the Japanese, its May 3, 1947 constitution which subsists. Written by two American soldiers, Milo Rowell and Courtney Whitney, Article 9 of the Japanese constitution states: “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” This in practice, denies the Japanese, the right to have a military.
So, the Japanese do not have the right to establish an army as Nigeria or Sao Tome can. To enforce its will, American troops that invaded and occupied Japan, are still in that country. Today, 77 years later, there are 53,700 American troops still occupying Japan. As part of the punishment, Japan now pays an annual $1.9 billion to maintain the American army of occupation. Although Japan can spend one per cent of its GDP on defence, it has to be for ‘non-defence’ purposes.
There was a civil war amongst Koreans from June 25, 1950- to July 27, 1953, and several countries sent troops to fight on either side. America fought on the side of South Korea and has since kept its troops in that country. Today there are 28,500 American troops in that country and South Korea now pays the Americans $1.03 billion annually to maintain the troops.
Grenada is supposed to be a sovereign country in the Caribbean Sea. In October 1983, its radical leader, Maurice Bishop, was killed in a palace coup led by his Deputy, Bernard Coard.
The US under the guise of protecting the American students at the St George’s Medical School in Grenada invaded the tiny country with a coalition of eight neighbouring countries. The world, including Britain, a close ally of the US, condemned the invasion as senseless. The Americans disbanded the Grenadian military, and until today, 39 years later, the Americans do not allow that country to have a military. The only force the Americans allow is the Royal Grenada Police Force.
Guantanamo Bay on the eastern tip of Cuba is a 116 square kilometre Cuban land. When Cuba was a Spanish colony in 1898, America during the Spanish-American War, captured Guantanamo Bay and today, 124 years later, has refused to relinquish it despite repeated Cuban demands. Rather, the US uses the whole bay as a military base and mass detention centre for its enemies. The American detainees in the bay are denied fundamental human rights, including that to a fair trial or visitation.
The US alone has over 80,000 combat troops armed with nuclear missiles stationed in Europe and has made a steady eastward advance towards Russia, including into neighbouring Poland; yet, some beautiful people say Russia need not react so long as the troops and weapons are not on its soil. So any reaction by Russia is ‘unprovoked’. How much more can a country be provoked?
So, those of us who campaign that what is necessary for the war in Ukraine is an immediate ceasefire and negotiated settlement is seen as a sellout, while the US that denies many countries their sovereignty, is projected as the champions of freedom.
In the past few weeks, whenever I write or make reference to the war in Ukraine, the missiles come flying both from the left and the right. Let me take shelter in the bunker of my thoughts before the new missiles attracted by this piece come flying.