A protest held yesterday outside the gates of Ramstein Air Force Base in Ramstein, Germany was to protest the presence of U.S. military and the use of Predator drones in the Middle East, according to official releases by German authorities and military police. This is the second protest since the beginning of summer, where a similar protest was held in June. Both times, protesters were completely peaceful and destroyed absolutely no property. Instead, they attempted to form a human chain around the base (though unsuccessful both times) and were led by citizen protest-movement leaders and (according to some unconfirmed sources) local politicians.
As a military spouse living in the area, I can tell you that Germans have not always been happy about our presence in their country. And it’s not difficult to see why. Think about it: what if a foreign power was allowed to indefinitely be allowed to run military operations on American soil? I don’t know a single American who would be in favor of that.
Germans are not violent towards Americans. In fact, they aren’t even hostile. Many German businesses in the area I live (not Ramstein, but another base) thrive off of Americans and the money they provide. We buy VAT forms that allow us to not pay German taxes, but we buy them so German businesses can reap the benefits from their government. And there are plenty of American ex-pats that live in the area.
But Germans are quietly upset about our presence. Many are anti-war, and the sentiment is growing. They see us, America, as the war-mongers, and that has only increased in the recent years. And it show sometimes in their behaviors: long glares when you drive an obvious-American car through a German town, a discomfort at having to switch to English to communicate. And, again, it is somewhat understandable, even if I don’t agree.
It remains to be seen if the anti-war, anti-American sentiment grows into the government, as elections are about to occur here. Though I doubt the American military is going anywhere anytime soon, it may change in its role and footing here in Europe.