NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg contrived to have himself photographed aboard the newly-launched British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, now the flagship of the Royal Navy, on May 27. The occasion chosen was the participation of the carrier and its strike group – ultimately en route to points near the Russian and Chinese coasts – in this year’s iteration of Steadfast Defender war games currently being held off the coast of Portugal. The 40-day exercises subsumed under the above code name include inaugurating two new NATO commands, Joint Force Command Norfolk and Joint Support and Enabling Command, which are based in Norfolk, Virginia and in Ulm, Germany, respectively.
The mission of the two new commands in the current exercise is, as described by the U.S. Navy, to “test NATO’s capability to secure the strategic and sea lines of communication and move large numbers of troops, equipment and supplies across the Atlantic and Europe in response to the exercise scenario.” And to further elaborate: “The prompt deployment of forces from North America, their movement across the European Continent, and the integration of multinational troops will strengthen the readiness and deterrence posture of Allied Command Operations.” Norfolk also hosts NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (NATO’s Warfare Development Command) and U.S. Navy’s Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world.
The purpose of the second phase is to expedite the rapid movement of military forces across national borders in Europe. In an eastward direction, needless to say.
That is, to move troops and equipment across the Atlantic to Western Europe (to nations like Portugal), and then eastward toward the Russian border for potential, one is tempted to say inevitable, conflict with that nation.
Steadfast Defender 2021, one of 95 scheduled military exercises conducted and supported by NATO this year, highlights Britain’s new aircraft carrier, which is capable of carrying sixty aircraft and is described as being the first carrier specifically designed primarily if not solely to accommodate fifth-generation warplanes.
The U.S. Second Fleet, which is assigned to the East Coast of the U.S. and the North Atlantic Ocean (the rest of the world’s oceans are divided between the Third-to-Seventh Fleets), attempts to deflect attention from its mission in the ongoing war games – moving men and matériel to the Russian border – by claiming the Atlantic component of Steadfast Defender 2021 is concerned with protecting transatlantic cables against the nefarious designs of malign forces (more or less a paraphrase). Norfolk commander U.S. Navy Vice-Admiral Andrew Lewis is quoted as saying: “There are nations are out there mapping those cables. They may be doing something else bad. We have to be aware of that and answer that.” He identified Russia as the main mapping malefactor. Of course.
The NATO forces deployed to “protect cables” include submarines, twenty warships and sixty warplanes. HMS Queen Elizabeth joined the current exercise after engaging in its maiden drills as part of Britain’s biannual Joint Warrior exercise in the Irish Sea this year subsumed under another exercise, Strike Warrior 21, specifically designed for the carrier.
When NATO’s Stoltenberg grandstanded on the deck of the Queen Elizabeth (named after her of the sinking of the Spanish Armada and not the current queen) last week he was accompanied by NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Tod Wolters (also commander of U.S. European Command), the head of NATO’s Military Committee, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach (who recently visited Ukraine and Georgia), Britain’s First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin and Portuguese Defence Minister João Gomes Cravinho. The four appeared less than heroic with their faces covered by paper masks rather than by the visored helmets or crested casques of a more heroic epoch. Hardly a case of Lives of all great men remind us.
The upshot of his comments were:
“The first aircraft carrier in the world designed to operate fifth generation combat aircraft – from these decks, the Queen Elizabeth projects power to keep us all safe. She carries US Marines. She is protected by a Dutch frigate and she is on her way to the Pacific. So this is a perfect example of Europe and North America working together in NATO for our collective security.”
Deploying the world’s newest and in ways most advanced aircraft carrier and its strike group to the Pacific Ocean is the quintessential example of European and North American member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization working in unison for the defense of “our collective security.”
The exercise will shift from its first, transatlantic, phase to the Black Sea with the deployment of NATO’s 4,000-troop Very High Readiness Joint Task Force to Romania and “the simulated rapid movement of allied forces and equipment across Europe.”
From the world’s largest naval station to Russia’s Black Sea coast. An unparalleled rapid deployment that in Stoltenberg’s words “reflects NATO’s resolve to deter and defend across the Euro-Atlantic area.” And into the Pacific Ocean near China’s coast. Curious notion of geography to be sure.
Rick Rozoff is a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. He has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. He is the manager of Stop NATO. This originally appeared at Anti-Bellum.
15 thoughts on “Iconic Photography and Ironic Geography: NATO Chief Launches First Fifth-Generation Aircraft Carrier”
Fools rush in. The China-Russia.Double Helix with Iran now the Third partner are licking their chops like a Lion ready to it’s prey.
Aircraft carriers have one primary purpose: to beat up small countries.
They are useless against any large adversary with a significant air force
and with anti-ship missiles.
This is what puzzles me too. Why are these very very expensive sitting ducks still built?
Well, whether they’re “sitting ducks” or not is an as yet unanswered question. The last time a US carrier was sunk was 76 years ago (the USS Bismarck Sea, off of Iwo Jima).
But as to the question of why they’re still built, if you have to ask why, the answer is almost always “money.”
For the Gerald R. Ford, the price tag is (so far) $13.5 billion. And that’s just construction, not maintenance, operations, the cost of the aircraft it carries, etc.
That’s a lot of cheddar, and the various companies raking it in are very good at lobbying, bribing, etc. to keep it coming.
The cost of dry docking, servicing one of those things has to be in the millions. Millions that could be spent on…infrastructure.
Yup, one thing those carriers are impervious to, are budgetary restraints.
And nuclear subs…………….
If this doesnt wake em’ up, nothing will…
This song is from 1877-Yea, people protested then too!
The ‘Dogs of war’ are loose and the rugged Russian Bear
Full bent on blood and robbery, has crawled out of his lair
It seems a thrashing now and then, will never help to tame
That brute, and so he’s bent upon the ‘same old game’
The Lion did his best to find him some excuse
To crawl back to his den again, all efforts were no use
He hungered for his victim; he’s pleased when blood is shed
But let us hope his crimes may all recoil on his own head.
We don’t want to fight but by Jingo if we do
We’ve got the ships, we’ve got the men’ we’ve got the money too
We’ve fought the bear before, and while we’re Britons true
The Russians shall not have Constantinople.
The Turk has got his faults; of crime he bears the taint
The Russians like sly Reynard, pretends to be a saint
‘Tis all for Christianity the heathen Turk he’ll fight
Although’ when told, and pretty plain, two wrongs don’t make a right
As peacemaker Old England her very utmost tried
The Russians said they wanted peace, but then the Russians lied
Of carnage and of trickery they’ll have sufficient feast
Ere they dare to think of coming near our Road unto the East.
The misdeeds of the Turks have been ‘spouted thro’ all the lands
But how about the Russians, can they show spotless hands?
They slaughtered well at Khitva, in Siberia icy cold
How many subjects done to death will ne’er perhaps be told
They butchered the Circassians, man, woman, yes and child
With cruelties their Generals their murderous hours beguiled
And poor unhappy Poland their cruel yoke must bear
Whilst prey’s for Freedom and Revenge go up into the air.
May he who ‘gan the quarrel soon have to bite the dust
The Turk should be thrice armed for he hath his quarrel just
‘Tis said that countless thousands should die thro’ cruel war
But let us hope most fervently ere long it will be o’er
Let them be warned, Old England is brave old England still
We’ve proved our might; we’ve claimed our right and ever will
Should we have to draw our sword our way to victory we’ll forge
With the battle cry of Britons, ‘Old England and Saint Geor
Remarkable lyrics. Maybe this would fit (with suitable modification for present day) for the lies spouted to justify the “War on Terror” (sic) or other such fraudulent attacks on small defenseless countries and civilian populations, e.g. Iraq, libya, syria.
In other words, the business of america is war.
Two hundred years. And counting.
This was a song written by GW Hunt and first sung by MacDermott to great acclaim in 1877. Russia had declared war on Turkey, and Disraeli’s Conservatives were backing the Turkish and threatening to launch a war against Russia.
The Tories, staunch defenders of the British Empire, backed the Turks hoping to block Russian attempts at imperial expansion. The Liberal Party and most of the organised left, opposed any military action, and tended to be anti-Turkish as a result of “the Bulgarian atrocities of 1876” in which thousands of Bulgarian Christians were massacred by Turkish troops.
This was the context in which The Jingo Song was hugely successful – it was one of a number of patriotic, pro Empire songs that featured heavily in Music Hall repertoire from the 1870s on and off until the First World War (to get a flavour of pro-war songs in the lead up to 1914, take a look at the film Oh What a Lovely War!).
“Jingoism” became a by-word for extreme nationalism – William Morris and others who opposed the war were attacked on the streets by right-wingers who were described by people from both sides of the argument as “jingoists”.
Of all days this day is the day to say no to MILITARY SERVICE
I sure hope that the people who were in charge of NORAD ON 11th of Sept in 01 and couldn’t stop a plane going 400mph in 45 minutes won’t be in charge if there is in fact a war with Russia. How would they do with a Russian hypersonic ICBM @ MAC 6 in the ten or 20 minutes they will get to do it. When in fact we have no reliable intercept system that has even a 50% kill rate in tests at speeds of 1/4 what could be expected. Before the bright lights who think a war with Russia would be a walk in the park, better they seriously up their game, or watch a lot of their stuff and buddies get vaporized. Please find some other, less capable country to screw around with for all our sakes.
It took 45 minutes after it was realized that the aircraft had been taken over to launch the first jet interceptors. I believe the flight that went down in Pennsylvania was taken out by one of the interceptors. A couple of the fighter interceptors were seen in the air in that area.
Projections of power
everyone does it
who has the biggest dick
Ever see an ape
beat his chest
in front of the cameras and flags?
throw feces at each other?
we do all the time
and we’re civilized
pumping our fists
we use bullets and bombs
Now it seems to me
we have devolution going on here
the loop of insanity
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