Cold War déja vu in NATO mega-maneuvers

NATO is just winding up its biggest military exercise since the end of the Cold War—Operation Trident Juncture, involving 36,000 troops and more than 140 aircraft and 60 ships from over 30 countries over a month-long span. The maneuvers were centered around Sardinia, where hundreds of local residents attempted to block the troops and craft in a civil disobedience action. They were angered by rising cancers, leukemia and birth defect rates on the island, where the soil and groundwater are contaminated with heavy metals, jet fuel and depleted uranium from decades of military operations and weapons testing there. Maneuvers were also held in Spain, Portugal, Norway and the Atlantic. (Gizmodo, Nov. 10; Revolution News, Nov. 3; ANSA, Oct. 21; NATO, July 15)

Simultaneously, similar things were afoot in the Pacific. On the night of Nov. 7, a myserteroius light in the sky sparked panic among thousands of West Coasters, with some crying alien invasion. The US Navy and Strategic Command both released a photo of the actual culprit—a Trident II D-5 ballistic missile that was secretly launched from the  USS Kentucky nuclear submarine. (Gizmodo) When the "secret" Navy exercises were underway last week, flights at Los Angeles International Airport were diverted inland—presumably by Pentagon order, although LAX administrators were tight-lipped, according to KABC on Nov. 6.

The obvious context for all this is the US going head-to-toe with Russia in Syria. The news that the US and Russian air forces held an "air space cooperation exercise" in Syria, reported in Reuters Nov. 3, just indicates how serious the situation there is.

Ominously, this case of Cold War nostalgia emerges just as the New York Times notes newly revealed evidence that a similar exercise in the Reagan era prompted the Soviets to go to on a "hair-trigger" nuclear alert: "In 1983, according to recently declassified documents, the Russians apparently became convinced that a NATO nuclear training exercise code named Able Archer 83 was a cover for an actual nuclear strike against the Warsaw Pact nations."

And thus, as Albert Einstein said, we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.