Western European News Digest
U.S. Has in Europe Twice the Nukes Analysts Thought
A report published in February by the Natural Resources Defense Council, written by nuclear arms specialist Hans Kristensen, and titled "Nuclear Weapons in Europe," said the United States is keeping some 480 nuclear weapons in air bases in Europetwice as many as analysts had previously stated. The report used declassified documents, commercial satellite imagery, and other documents to reach this conclusion.
The short-range nuclear bombs are stored under U.S. control and regulated by military agreements at eight bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Turkey.
U.S. officials pointed out that there is no plan to reduce this nuclear arsenal in Europe, and the issue has caused some strain within the NATO community.
Blair Tries To Please EU, Bush Simultaneously
On the one hand, the British Prime Minister is representing the European Union threesome (Britain, France, and Germany) in its diplomatic engagement with Iran, while at the same time, representing his alliance with the saber-rattling Bush. Speaking to a parliamentary committee Feb. 8, Blair called Iran a state sponsor of terrorism, and urged it to meet EU demands to renounce its suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons.
"It certainly does sponsor terrorism. There's no doubt about that at all," Blair said, echoing U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "I hope very much that if we can make progress in the Middle East, that Iran realizes that it's got an obligation to help that, not hinder it," he said, referring to Iran's support for Palestinian militant groups.
Blair said it was a "good sign" that the United States and Europe were "working together" to convince Iran to abandon what is feared to be its pursuit of nuclear weapons. He also called it a good sign that France and Germany, with Britain, are striving to reach a diplomatic solution with Tehran. "Iran has now been given a set of obligations that they've got to fulfill," he added. "I hope they fulfill it."
Blair May Join the United States Against Iran
Continuing his balancing act between alleged commitment to the European Union dialogue with Iran and threatened U.S. military action against Iran, Tony Blair on Feb. 8 refused to categorically rule out that he would support Bush in any military adventurism against Iran, but said that he believed the nuclear dispute could be pursued by diplomacy.
In a Parliamentary Q&A session, Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn asked Blair to make clear if his policy is to "seek engagement with Iran rather than joining in any American-led military attack or military threat towards Iran, either in the near future or distant future." Blair responded by saying that the pursuit of engagement with Iran was being conducted "with France, with Germany, (and) with the United States' full support."
But Blair told Corbyn, who opposed the Iraq war, that it is also important to make clear to the Iranian government "that they cannot breach the rule of the atomic energy authority, and cannot develop nuclear weapons capability."
U.S. Presses NATO To Junk Restrictions on Troop Deployments
An unnamed U.S. official warned that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld expected to press his NATO colleagues to eliminate restrictions on the participation of their NATO forces in alliance military operations, at a defense ministers' meeting that took place in France on Feb. 9-10. The restrictions are said to have hurt training programs in Iraq and Kosovo.
The official said five NATO member-states have refused to allow their officers working under the NATO flag to operate in Iraq, or in some cases even to participate in planning Iraq operations, such as the training of security forces.
While not naming the countries, NATO officials have said in the past, that Germany, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Greece have declined to participate.
Car Bomb in Madrid Wounds 43
A 30-kg bomb that exploded last week in Madrid, in front of the Congress of Deputiesthe first such incident in three yearsindicates that a new offensive is underway in Spain by ETA or ETA-related irregular war forces. The attack must be seen in the context of Spain's being one of the most outspoken governments against the Bush/Cheney war in Iraq.
On the other side, there is a domestic element: In the last three weeks, the Spanish Parliament held a major debate over autonomy for the Basque region, presented by the head of the Basque government, Ibarrtexe. He called for a referendum to be held in the context of elections which are to take place on April 17 in the Basque region. Ibarrtexe's plans were strongly rejected by Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero and the leader of the opposition party.
Germany: Trying To Pay Debt Is Part of Debt Trap
What has been the daily experience of developing-sector countries for some time, is now on the agenda for the German state of Thuringia. The government has constantly imposed budget cuts, over the past few fiscal years. The present debt is 14 billion eurosand will grow, in spite of budget cuts and debt repayments, to 17 billion by 2010.
Mike Mohring, budget expert of the state parliamentary group of the governing Christian Democrats, calculated when Thuringia will have finally paid its debt. He came to the shocking conclusion that it will take no less than 175 yearsif the tight-budget policy is kept during that entire period, and if interest rates stay approximately the same as today. Mohring's CDU is in fact committed to make sure that the debt-paying and budget-cutting is kept for the coming 175 years, which would mean that Thuringia and its citizens would be in the debt trap for almost 200 years, if one starts counting from German reunification in October 1990.
Netherlands' Prince of Orange Wants Cuts in Water Use
The Netherlands' Prince Willem-Alexander addressed the opening session of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization/Netherlands International Conference on Water for Food and Ecosystems on Jan. 31, insisting that worldwide water consumption must be cut to 2000 levels by 2015.
"Water consumption must be stabilized at 2000 levels, and at the same time, food production must be increased significantly," said the Malthusian oligarch. (Some 70-80% of water consumption goes to agricultural irrigation.)
"As the recent UN report, 'Investing in Development,' by Jeffrey Sachs shows, we can achieve those goals, and often with very modest resources." How? By creating "more crop per drop" and "more nutrient per drop," eliminating the remaining government subsidies for agriculture production, and converting much of present farmland into nature parks for recreation.
"This means that available development funds don't have to be applied to feed those disadvantaged by our subsidy system and can be used directly and effectively to reach the Millennium Development goals. I believe this is completely in line with the Sachs report," said the Prince.
"This means that water and nature now come with a price tag, which is good for the ecosystem and the reliability of water delivery. This approach also makes it easier to interest the private sector in participating financially in projects. And as we all know, the importance of public-private partnerships in our field of work cannot be overestimated."
The only thing it's not good for: People, who need food grown on agricultural land, and irrigation of that land, not just nature parks, to survive.
The Prince's grandfather, Prince Bernhard, died recently at 93, having been a member of the SA (Hitler's Stormtroopers) and, later, of the Nazi SS.
LaRouche Associates Intervene in Copenhagen, Paris
On Feb. 8, at a big left-wing anti-war demonstration in Christianshavn, in southern Copenhagen, a couple of thousand people showed up to watch politicians and a few other semi-famous Danes speak against Danish participation in Iraq, and encourage people to vote against the government in elections on Feb. 7.
LaRouche associates in Denmark intervened in the demonstration, holding up a big banner saying "The U.S. Senate declares war on the fool Bush. Join LaRouche's fight and continue the American Revolution." They sang Bach's "Jesu, meine Freude" and the Israeli peace song, "Shalom Haverim," which were well received by the crowd.
Meanwhile, in Paris, more than 200,000 people showed up Feb. 7 for a massive demonstration against the fiscal austerity proposed by the Raffarin government. Smaller demonstrations took place in 118 cities of France. Almost all the trade unions and workers from both the public and private sector were participated.
Thirteen LaRouche associates succeeded in reaching almost all the demonstrators. They unfurled a banner which read: "Financial Economic crisis, for a New Bretton Woods with LaRouche and Cheminade, for a new Eurasian Landbridge." LaRouche's associates distributed a leaflet denouncing the "Pinochet Model" of looting social security and the undermining the principle of the general welfare. At the same time, one organizer spoke over the bullhorn, and eight others distributed Presidential candidate Jacques Cheminade's leaflet against the Pinochet model. Meanwhile, our " Sharkozy" (a two-meter-high pair of shark-like movable scissors with the name of Nicolas Sarkozy, former Finance Minister, now head of Chirac's UMP party) was threatening to eat the banners of the different trade unions. People were very surprised and laughed, happy to take copies of Nouvelle Solidarité, the LaRouche co-thinker paper in France.