U.S. Military Prepares for European Maneuver

US military officials now say Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania have emerged as the prime candidates in Europe for new US military bases as the Pentagon prepares to undertake its most massive repositioning of US forces in Europe since World War II. In North Africa, Algeria and Morocco are also being considered as serious contenders for new US bases.

Closing some US bases in Germany and building new ones in former communist countries to the east and south is just one part of an overall restructuring of the US military to better meet the demands of the war on terrorism. With the bulk of US forces in Europe still based in Germany, far away from perceived national security threats in Africa, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East, military officials say it makes strategic sense to station troops closer to where they are most likely to be deployed.... The idea was officially made public in March when General James Jones, commander of United States European Command, briefed reporters on his vision for restructuring the US military in Europe. ... And although Jones would not name specific countries or bases where US forces will move, military officials cited Poland as being attractive for its good training facilities and friendly political environment.Bulgaria and Romania are also desirable because of their southern European location close to potential deployments.

Policy Polls

Some 84 percent of Americans say they believe war can be necessary to achieve justice, compared with 48 percent of Europeans. Big majorities on both sides of the Atlantic say Americans and Europeans have different values. Germans in particular have responded to the Iraq war by rejecting strong US leadership, with 50 percent describing it as undesirable, compared with 27 percent a year earlier. The number of Germans who said the US should remain the world's only superpower dropped to 8 percent from 22 percent last year, while the number who want to turn the EU into a superpower rose to 70 percent from 48 percent.

School Integration

In contrast to recent years, schools in Bosnia-Herzegovina will now be part of a single unified system. Education officials of the Croat-Muslim federation, the Republika Srpska, the cantonal governments, and the Brcko region signed an OSCE-sponsored agreement in Sarajevo to replace the three ethnically-based education systems with a unified one. Until now, in some mixed Muslim and Croat areas, separate, parallel systems existed in one and the same school building, with pupils of different ethnic groups using the same computer facilities or other specialized equipment at different times of the day. Now 52 mixed Croat and Muslim schools will share administrations and facilities.

Baghdad's Dangerous levels of radiation

Soldiers and civilians in Iraq face a health timebomb after dangerously high levels of radiation were measured around Baghdad.

Levels between 1,000 and 1,900 times higher than normal were recorded at four sites around the Iraqi capital where depleted uranium (DU) munitions have been used. Experts estimate that Britain and the US used 1,100 to 2,200 tons of armor-piercing shells made of DU during attacks on Iraqi forces. That figure eclipses the 375 tons used in the 1991 Gulf War. Unlike that largely desert-based conflict, most of the rounds fired in March and April were in heavily residential areas. DU rounds are highly combustible and tiny particles of the radioactive material are left on the battleground. If inhaled the material can attack the body causing cancers, chronic illness, long-term disabilities and genetic birth defects - none of which will be apparent for at least five years.

Veterans of the first Gulf War believe that DU exposure has played a role in leaving more than 5,000 of them chronically ill and almost 600 dead. The Royal Society, Britain's leading scientific body, described US failure to confirm how much or where they used DU rounds as an "appalling situation."

IAEA conference to discuss Israeli nukes

The International Atomic Energy Agency has decided to discuss Israeli nuclear capabilities in its next major conference, for the first time in decades. The conference has, however, discussed Iran's nuclear program and U.S. charges that Teheran is developing nuclear weapons. Iran and Arab states have criticized the agency for failing to address Israel's nuclear stockpile of up to 300 bombs, plus its purported capacity to build hydrogen bombs.

- World Tribune

Peace Magazine Oct-Dec 2003

Peace Magazine Oct-Dec 2003, page 31. Some rights reserved.

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