NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has the Defender-Europe 20 exercises will not be cancelled due to the flu-like disease which has now spread to every country in the European Union causing hundreds of deaths so far.
Over the next five months some 17 allied NATO members will in military maneuvers across seven European states: in Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. All of the host nations have reported infections from the COVID-19 virus. “Host” being an operative word when it comes to also talking about the relationship with the U.S.-led NATO alliance.
the biggest contingency since the end of the Cold War nearly three decades ago. The U.S. is sending 20,000 personnel. Most of those troops will return to bases located in at least 20 American states. Thus, the risk factor of spreading the disease across Europe and the U.S. is significantly increased by the NATO events.
The Defender-Europe 20 events underway come amid that the U.S. Commander in Europe, Lt. General Christoper Cavoli, may have been infected after attending a recent military conference in Wiesbaden, Germany.
The top health advisor to the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Brig. General Paul Friedrichs has also that
The seeming lack of cautionary measures by the U.S.-led NATO alliance is in contrast to growing public concerns for containing the disease. Italy – which has recorded the second highest worldwide after China – has placed a total lockdown on public travel for its 60 million population. Airlines across Europe have cancelled of flights as some carriers go out of business altogether.
Sporting events across Europe including major soccer matches are being or will be held without attendance by fans. The six-nations rugby tournament has been thrown into disarray from match fixtures being rescheduled; a big match between Ireland and France due this weekend is postponed until October.
In Britain there are calls for parliament to be suspended after health minister Nadine Dorries was to have been infected. Boris Johnson’s government has been accused of complacency in dealing with the virus.
U.S. President Donald Trump has also come under fire for not taking sufficient containment measures or providing adequate resources such as testing kits. The official number of U.S. cases of COVID-19 is relatively low so far, but that is thought to be due to limited testing.
How fitting that NATO should be so unresponsive to real need. This lumbering 29-nation military organization which consumes a combined annual budget of $1 trillion is a creature of habit and slavish ideology. Nearly 30 years after the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the world has moved on. But not, it seems, NATO. It continues to hold its war games supposedly defending Europe from “Russian invasion”.
The irony is that NATO’s obscene military largesse is crushing public finances that would otherwise be more usefully spent, such as building up healthcare infrastructure that would help mitigate crises like the coronavirus. Many other societal needs are chronically neglected because of exorbitant military budgets among NATO members. Donald Trump that he has cajoled European allies to fork out hundreds of billions more dollars on military budgets.
Even before the coronavirus problem emerged in China earlier this year, the NATO war games in Europe (and elsewhere) have been a cause for much criticism. The geopolitical tensions that this U.S.-led militarism is engendering towards Russia and China have been deplored. Moscow has the Defender-Europe 20 event as a “rehearsal for war” which is completely disconnected from reality. The inveterate Cold War ideology that drives NATO is imposing insecurity and risk of war on Europe in a way that makes a mockery of NATO claims about being dedicated to “security and defense”.