Protesters descend on Germany’s ‘Little America’ to denounce U.S.-led escalation in Ukraine

By: Rachel Marsden

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Protesters gathered on Sunday at this military base about 37 miles from the French border, and the focal point of the largest community of Americans (over 50,000) outside of the U.S. Nicknamed “Little America”, Ramstein Air Base has been home to U.S. forces since the end of the Second World War, but also serves as the central command for NATO’s air and space operations. More recently, it has become the meeting place for the Ukraine Defense Contact Group of western defense chiefs as they discuss and approve increasingly heavy Western weapons for use in Ukraine against Russia.

The irony isn’t lost on the protesters gathered here — and in cities all around Germany — that the country whose military was once tightly controlled and limited by Western allies in the wake of WWII is now being egged on by these very same allies to take a leading role in escalating what some Germans fear is shaping up to be yet another world war on European soil.

It’s a role that runs contrary to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s routinely expressed desire to avoid moving further away from a peaceful diplomatic resolution in Ukraine. “We are sticking to our balanced, decisive course in supporting Ukraine and preventing an escalation of the war beyond that between Russia and Ukraine. We will continue to do that," he said in an interview last September.

Fast-forward to the end of January in the wake of a meeting on this very base about Leopard tanks for Ukraine. Poland had already taken the position that it would send its own German tanks regardless of whether Berlin approved their re-export. The U.S. had pledged Abrams tanks. And Scholz suddenly changed his tune. “We have carefully weighed every arms shipment [to Ukraine], coordinated them closely with our allies, first and foremost with the United States,” he said after his government approved both original and re-exported Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine. What changed his mind. A ruse, by Washington, apparently.

Biden’s “reluctant” announcement to send the American tanks “unlocked a flow of heavy arms from Europe and inched the United States and its NATO allies closer to direct conflict with Russia,” the New York Times reported.

And while some German tanks have already arrived in Ukraine (specifically the hand-me-downs from Poland) Washington’s aren’t set to arrive in the country until at least next year.

Protesters here resent Washington’s role in pushing Germany and Europe into a largely symbolic weapons pledges — after all, what good is Germany’s 18 pledged Leopard tanks really going to achieve against Russia’s arsenal, they say. A similar rally the day before, in Berlin, amassed 10,000 demonstrators, including some of those who were also in Ramstein. There, also, they called for diplomacy over weapons deliveries. The press has largely gone out of its way to characterize the marchers as either far-left, or far-right, or both — which might be a useful exercise if over half the country didn’t find common cause with them.

German voters are split on the country’s participation in the conflict, and there’s certainly no outcry for an escalation — let alone a German-led one. On the contrary, a Forsa Institute poll in January found 80 percent in favor of negotiations even at Ukraine’s loss. A recent Ipsos poll shows a majority of Germans are now more concerned about their economic survival than with financially backing Ukraine.

Germany has become Europe’s economic and industrial engine largely as a result of historically directing far more investment in those sectors than in foreign wars — a position that many American voters wish their own leaders would adopt. There’s a sense here that Germany is now simply just going along to get along with the U.S. in the interests of showing off western “unity” — even if it’s at the expense of the country’s own.

America’s beef with Russia has already cost Germany its competitiveness. Much like the donation of Leopard tanks, Berlin was pressured by Washington into dropping its Russian gas supply via the Nord Stream pipeline network that fueled its industry — and which then mysteriously blew up in what investigative journalist Seymour Hersh attributes to a U.S.-led covert operation. The collapse of Germany’s energy lifeline from Russia has left its citizens paying sky high prices for American gas, and its industry susceptible to efforts by the Biden administration to seduce them into relocating across the pond in exchange for tax benefits and lower energy costs under the Inflation Reduction Act.

There’s a sense that the establishment isn’t listening to the average person and is catering instead to special interests. It’s a risky posture that will only serve to drive voters away from traditional establishment parties and figures as the situation worsens. And there’s a palpable fear of the conflict — and Germany’s involvement in it — spiraling out of control, with the Biden administration recklessly leading the charge.