Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Friday, June 24, 2016

Creating a False Crisis in Order to Privatize the VA Health Care System


I went to the Veterans Administration (VA) health clinic at Togus, Maine earlier this week to meet with a doctor in preparation for an upcoming test.  I've been in the VA health care system for a couple years now and must say the treatment I have received has been excellent.

I've noted recently an avalanche of bad coverage for the VA in the mainstream media and have come to the conclusion that it is an orchestrated campaign in order to create the momentum to privatize the VA.

The corporate health insurance companies would love to get their hands on the money that is spent on the VA health care system each year.  The movement to privatize the VA is also linked to the corporate health insurance companies wanting to kill any program that smacks of government sponsored health care - what we call a single payer system or Medicare for all.  The privateers want to destroy all their competition.

The 2016 budget includes roughly $70 billion in discretionary funding for the VA, for a total budget of about $168 billion — the rest being made up of mandatory benefit programs such as pensions and disability payments for veterans.  That is a huge amount of money - even if only the $70 billion part of the VA budget got privatized you can see the impact that money would have in the hands of the already well endowed private insurance profiteers.

With all the U.S. wars during the past 30 years I'm sure the costs for veterans care is growing dramatically - the corporate insurance companies want those bucks.

In my view the VA health care system is a good model for the entire nation.  I've had nothing but positive and caring service at the Togus clinic here in Maine.  The private companies don't want to see a successful government run health care model thus they have been running their mainstream corporate media campaign to destroy the credibility of the VA system.

Every time I go to the VA clinic at Togus I say to myself - this is the kind of care and treatment that every citizen should get - at no direct cost.  If only a portion of the money we currently spend in the 'for profit' health care world could be put into a Medicare for all system we'd have much better care at a much lower cost.

Don't fall for the demonize and privatize the VA scam that is being run these days.  Keep the VA and expand the system into a real national health care program for everyone.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

No Reform Coming from Democrats.....



The Electronic Intifada reports:

Allies of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sparred at the Democratic platform drafting committee’s first round of hearings on 9 June over the issue of Palestinian freedom and Israel.

The clashes point to deeper struggles over Israel taking place within the party.

Sanders’ backers called for elevating Palestinian rights and acknowledging Israel’s military occupation in the party’s general election platform.

The video above shows highlights of the exchanges.

Those requests from Sanders allies were roundly rejected by Clinton supporters, who recycled platitudes about Israel’s security, apparently disputed the existence of Israeli military occupation and attacked the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

The 15-member drafting committee includes five members chosen by Sanders, among them grassroots activists and at least one BDS supporter.

The other ten, appointed by Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, mostly include lobbyists and establishment insiders.

“China will react if provoked again: you risk the war”


Interview with Andre Vltchek

By Alessandro Bianchi

Andre Vltchek has become renowned in Italy for being the co-author, along with Noam Chomsky, of the famous book “Western Terrorism” (Ponte alle Grazie).

 A documentary filmmaker, novelist, essayist, philosopher and intellectual, multi-faceted Vltchek is the cosmopolitan man par excellence, a “true revolutionary” as he likes to call himself. In recent years with his camera and his extraordinary commitment against injustice on this planet he has explored every corner of the Earth and taken over the length and breadth of Western terrorism, one that our media likes to censor and hide from our consciences.

 After the interviews with the great Australian journalist John Pilger and the famous American playwright John Steppling, we have the honor and privilege of speaking to our great friend of l’AntiDiplomatico, asking some questions on burning current international issues.



Q: I start from a brutal question: What has become of a country that it offering Donald Trump as its ‘best candidate’?

AV: It is not much different from the country that it used to be for decades, even centuries. Since the beginning, the US presidents (all of European stock, of course), had been promoting slavery, extermination campaigns against the native population of North America, barbaric wars of aggression against Mexico, and other Latin American countries, the Philippines, etc. Has anything changed now? I highly doubt it. Donald Trump is horrendous, but he is also honest. Both Presidents Clinton and Obama were great speakers, but unrepentant mass murderers.

Q: In a recent survey over 53% of Americans were against both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. How long will we continue to consider the United States a democracy? And why, in your opinion, is abstention the only form of “rebellion” by a population completely excluded from the decision-making stage?

AV: “Democracy” means nothing else other than, “rule of the people”, in Greek. There is nothing democratic about the political concepts of the United States and Europe. And there is absolutely nothing democratic about the “global arrangement” through which the West has been ruling over the rest of the world for decades and centuries. The second part is, I’m convinced, much more important, much more devastating; in the West, people have been tolerating their insane political system, in exchange for the countless privileges they are getting from their countries’ plundering of the planet, and violating entire nations and continents. But in Africa, Asia and elsewhere, those “un-people” have no choice at all.

Q: Is Bernie Sanders really the change that many in Europe have described?

AV: Bernie Sanders is like those liberal members of the German National Socialist Party during the WWII, or of the Italian Fascist movement during Mussolini. They’d do much for their own workers and peasants, socially… as long as funds were flowing in from the countries plundered by their imperialism. Under Bernie Sanders, Western workers would definitely do much better, but the rest of the world, the “wretched of the Earth” would still have to pay the bill.

Q: What would happen to the world under a Hillary Clinton’s presidency?

AV: Nothing exceptional – things would stay the same: sponsorship of “Color” or “Umbrella” or whatever “revolutions”, some more coups, “regime changes”, direct invasions, bombing, propaganda warfare against China, Russia, Iran, South Africa and what is left of the Latin American revolutions. There would be plenty of torture in “secret centers”, but it would not be as advertised and glorified as it would be if Trump were elected. World War III would become a great possibility, but such a scenario is quite possible under any new US administration… To answer your question: business as usual.

Q: What did you feel when you recently saw Obama speaking in Hiroshima and not apologizing for what was done by his country, declaring almost sarcastically – as the head of the world’s first atomic power – hope for a world without nuclear weapons?

AV: I’m quite immune to such speeches, aren’t you? Although, yes… somehow Obama’s is much more disgusting than others, because he is smart and we all “know that he knows”. He is thoroughly dishonest and it is clear. It would be somehow more acceptable to see George W. puking over sushi. And Trump: he’d probably declare in Hiroshima that he’d nuke half of Asia if it would help the West to retain its control over the world. At least one would not harbor any false hopes.

Q: Will the growing US expansionism come to a breaking point and collision with China?

AV: Yes it will. I have no doubt about it. China is one of the greatest cultures on Earth, and it is one of those countries that suffered immensely from colonialist horrors and humiliation. Chinese people are indignant. Indignant! For decades, despite everything, they tried to make peace with the West. They are in fact the most peaceful big nation on Earth and what do they get in return? They get insults, provocations and intimidation.

The Western public should learn and remember one essential thing about China: no matter what European and North American propaganda barks about the People’s Republic, China is much more “democratic” than the West. It is democratic in its own way. For thousands of years, it developed its own political system. Its rulers, no matter who they are, are given a conditional right to govern by the people. In the past, but even now it is called a “Heavenly Mandate”. If the rulers fail to respect the will of the people, they get deposed. And the Communist Party of China is greatly respectful of the desires of the majority of the Chinese people. When they want liberal reforms, they are delivered. When they want more Communism and an epic fight against corruption, like now, China’s government immediately reacts. It is powerful and democratic, although a very specific and complex arrangement.

And now, the Chinese people are outraged and they are sending clear signals to Beijing: “do not succumb to the West.” “If you do, our nation will suffer immensely, and the rest of the world will turn to ashes.”

Do understand: Chinese people are brilliant; the West cannot fool them. And they are thoroughly sick of Western imperialism. This time, if confronted and provoked, the Chinese government would yield to the pressure from its people: it would be forced to give orders to fight – to defend its motherland!

Q: Although it is NATO that is bringing his installations more and more to the East, in Europe our information apparatus feeds the danger of an aggressive Russia. Who benefits from spreading these Russophobe feelings?

 
AV: Of course, the Empire! Of course, the Western supremacists!

With Russia, it is almost similar to China: people there have had it up to here with the West! The Russian people suffered immensely from Western imperialism. Throughout their history they fought countless invasions led by the French, Scandinavians, Brits, North Americans, Germans, Poles, Czechs and others. Tens of millions of Russian people died, fighting all sorts of Western expansionism. They defeated Nazism. They helped to liberate much of our world from colonialism. Of course the West never forgave Russia for fighting the epic battles against its expansionism and colonialism.

But it is not only European and North American propaganda that is responsible for the present state of things: it is also the people, quite ordinary people, living in the West.

For years now, the fake European ‘left’ is trying to portray European citizens as victims of the US imperialism. It is even trying to make the world feel sorry for those European workers who do not get a fair deal from their governments! It is thoroughly absurd. Overwhelming the majority of European citizens are unhappy with the social deal they get, yes; and that is why they are so angry with their governments. Because they want more, much more! They couldn’t care less that their benefits, salaries and other privileges, have been, for decades and centuries ‘subsidized’ by the plunder of other parts of the planet; that they are paid for by blood. There is absolutely no solidarity in the West towards its own victims, and the recent ‘refugee crises’ is direct proof of it. Fanon and Sartre had already determined more than 50 years ago, each and every European citizen is responsible for (and has been benefiting from) the countless genocides and unbridled theft. It has to be repeated again and again: you give Europeans once again ‘all benefits that they can eat’, you make them work shorter hours, and you give more money, and they’d be back in a self-congratulatory, self-righteous mode; damned be the rest of the world. The only reason so many are so pissed off at the US is because they see North America as promoting a ‘bad deal’ for its own masses, not because it is ruining the rest of the world!

So, back to Russia… Russia, despite its heavy flirtation with capitalism and some quite unsavory oligarchs, is still building its foreign policy on the Soviet ideals of internationalism, solidarity and logic. And even domestically, President Putin is slowly, step-by-step, restoring many important Soviet achievements that were torpedoed by a nitwit, and one gangster – Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Let’s not forget that one poll after another clearly demonstrates that well over 50% of Russian citizens still wants both socialism and the USSR back. And the Russian government is listening.

The West, both the elites (consciously) and ordinary people (sub-consciously), want Russia to go to hell; to disappear, drown, explode. It is because Russia is once again defending humanism all over the world. If it succeeds, the elites would lose their power over the planet, and the ‘ordinary citizens’ of the West would lose their privileges; the plunder would have to stop, and the life of one African or Asian person would suddenly gain the same value as that of a one European or North American. And that would be really ‘unacceptable’!

On top of it, Russia and China have become two great allies. They’d never be divided as they were during the Cold War Days. Russia and China together cannot be defeated: militarily, economically or morally. The West can only try to destroy them internally, through horrendous sets of tricks, propaganda and toxic lies. But now even such a scenario is unlikely. Russian people, like their Chinese comrades, are well aware of what is going on. And there are tens of millions of their martyrs who are reminding them what is to be expected from the West.

Encircled and provoked, Russia is once again turning into a mighty monolithic defense wall. Its people are ready! They want peace, above anything else. But if they’d have to fight for their own survival, and for the survival of the world, they will. And this time again, if there is a showdown, two enormous nations, Russia and China, standing side-by-side, will defeat fascism!

That is why Russia is hated. That is why China is hated. They are forming a tremendous, final defense line protecting humanity from the Western terror.

Q: Since the advent of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, which began with the famous Obama’s speech at the University of Cairo in 2009, the Eastern Mediterranean has become a powder keg. Was it an external plan – a planned destruction of the states hostile to rulers in Washington, like Libya and Syria in particular, or was it a real quest for democracy and freedom?

AV: Both. Some socialist movements in Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain, for instance, were genuine. I was making films about the so-called Arab Spring, and I’m well aware of how complex the situation really was. But it goes without saying is that the West immediately infiltrated and ‘derailed’ the revolutions, turning them into what you have described.

Remember, the West had absolutely no appetite for risking its dictatorial powers over the area. It had no desire to let democratic and revolutionary forces take control of their countries. Why? Just look, again, at the polls: the majority of Arab people see the United States and Israel (definitely not Iran or Syria) as the greatest danger to the world. Could you imagine what the Arab people would do if true democracy (rule of the people) were to be victorious? They’d side with Russia and China, not with the West. And they’d throw their ‘elites’ groomed in and by the West, straight out the window.

Q: Is it right today, to define Aleppo as the “Stalingrad of Syria” and “the cemetery of the dreams of fascist Erdogan” as stated by the Syrian President Assad?

AV: Yes, it is like that, or at least, it is somewhere along those lines. Aleppo, Homs… Yes. I wrote about it earlier, comparing Syria to Stalingrad.

Q: What do you think will be the final scenario for Syria? It risks crystallization like the Cold War-style situation between the two blocks – Damascus, Russia and regional allies, on the one hand, and Kurds with the United States on the other – and Raqqa, which would become a new Berlin?

AV: The Western planners are definitely trying to fragment the entire Middle East. They already have done, on several historical occasions. But this is a new chapter. They play with the Arab countries as if they were simply some milking cows. There is no regard for human lives, or local national interests. It is because the West, despite its hypocritical rhetoric (political correctness) does not really consider non-whites and non-Christians as human beings. You kill millions, so be it. You ruin 5 regional states; who cares?

Q: What role, in your opinion, do the human rights NGOs play in the current international context?

 
AV: Even that term, ‘human rights’, makes me ill. You have to really go back to Fanon and Sartre… They said it all. Human rights are only for ‘humans’, therefore for the West. And for the rest of the Planet: there, the ‘human rights’ are used to discredit uncomfortable, even ‘hostile’ governments through countless implants like NGOs. Who talks about the real human rights violations, those committed by the West? Europeans and North Americans have already butchered hundreds of millions of people, or close to one billion, to be precise. They have been looting, torturing and raping. Even now, they are killing millions directly and tens of millions indirectly. But it does not count; because their victims are not white, therefore not human, and as a result, they don’t really have any rights.

Q: 14 years ago, the coup in Venezuela against the democratically elected President Hugo Chavez failed and began the US exit from Latin America. Shortly after, the US invaded Iraq. Today the hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean wobbles, and Washington uses all the weapons at its disposal to return to Latin America. Is, in your opinion, President Rafael Correa right when he says that we are facing a new Plan Condor in the region?

AV: Definitely! Comrade Correa gets it right, most of the time. This is new, ‘final’ offensive of the Empire in Latin America. I have just returned from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay; it is absolutely horrible what is going on there. The Empire is trying to finish both BRICS and all the Latin American revolutions.

Q: If that is the case, considering what has also happened in Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia, which techniques are being used today?

AV: The same as ‘before’, the same techniques, which have been used against, for instance President Allende and ‘Unidad Popular’ in Chile, before the 9-11-1973 US-orchestrated coup.

The West is supporting, even financing the right-wing media, it is financing ‘the opposition’, encourages capital flight of billions of dollars, works closely with the local ‘elites’ to create ‘deficits’, ‘uncertainty’ and despair. It creates corruption scandals, and it even supports fake ‘left’ anti-government movements. And of course it is training and corrupting some key military cadres.

Q: The future of the world offers at the moment two possible paths: a US unilateralism, particularly in the event of Clinton’s presidency, made up of areas of “free” trade treaties around the world on the NAFTA model (such as the TTIP in Europe), with millions as the desperately poor products of them, profits only for multinationals, and the planned destruction of all countries who rebel against this vision (Libya and Syria style); or, the second possibility: a period of multilateralism, respect for sovereignty, self-determination and peace. If the alternative project to the ‘Washington Consensus’ were to prevail, it would be that of the BRICS and regional integration in Latin America, designed and built by Chavez, Lula and Kirchner. And which of the two views will prevail in your opinion?

 
AV: There will be great battles fought for the future of the world! The coming years will be very tough. In order for the second scenario to win, the world would have to return where the struggle for independence and against Western colonialism and imperialism was lost or abandoned more than 50 years ago. Let’s face it: the world was never really completely de-colonized. It would be total hypocrisy to claim otherwise.

One of the popular views in the liberal circles of the West is that we are actually ‘all victims of capitalism’. I disagree. This savage global capitalism is only one of the most terrible bi-products of the dominant Western culture of racism, greed, brutality and unbridled desire to control the world. The world is still being battered by the Western/white/Christian supremacy dogmas and practices, by the most primitive and fundamentalist ‘principles’.

The truth has to be unveiled. If the West insists, if it keeps pushing, the battles have to be fought. And they will be fought. And the forces of internationalism, humanism and solidarity will have to be victorious, or soon there will be nothing left of the human race.

~ Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

History Again....?



If Washington was willing to kill so many Native Americans in order to take control of this continent -  just how many people is the U.S. bankster-led government willing to kill today in order to take control of the whole planet?

The corporate masters want to put most of us on the reservation now - the Native elders tried to warn us.  The shit is hitting the fan.

U.S. & NATO Trying to Use Finland as War Base Against Russia


By Kerstin Tuomala, Finland

Thank you for this very moving video [BIW protest] and for that you care! Greetings to all the protesters.

The USA has this year for the first time since World War II exercised on Finnish territory. We have a right-wing government who says “yes” when USA invites itself. They maybe believe USA is interested in Finland because we are so “good”, but the real reason is that we have a 1,300 km long border with Russia – the longest that a single country in whole Europe has. Until now we have followed a paraxis we had during the Cold War through the pact of friendship, support and cooperation we had with the USSR. The most important idea was that Finland committed not to threaten, nor let any third party threaten nor attack, the Soviet Union through our territory.

Since the end of the Soviet Union our politicians supported, by a very strong opinion of the people, has continued the interaction in a peaceful way with Russia. Now they try to turn the opinion in all ways.

Still we are many who understand to appreciate a good life in peace. It is still very frightening that not our foreign minister nor our defence minister nor the government as such, seems to care about this, but want us to go closer to the bilateral war exercises with the USA and also with NATO.

Part of the very big Baltops NATO exercise this year in the Baltic Sea was taking place on the Finnish coast exercising invasion - although the main exercise was in other part of the Baltics in June. In May the USA soldiers exercised together with Finnish soldiers a land war in southwest of Finland. There were more than 100 USA soldiers and USA tanks for two weeks and the same amount of time 6 – 8 F15 planes exercising together with the Finnish Air Force near the border of Russia and in fact all over Finland, also here in the North.

We protested in Kemi, and other groups protested near the main bases for these exercises and some of these protests were also seen in the news on television. We are trying to build a stronger opinion against these “war games” which are too dangerous.


I believe the strongest fight is the fight of the minds and this has also the pro-NATO side realised. They have the main media – we have each other.

Still there are also small flashes of hope – at times persons with a good competence and a genuine will for peace  get their voices heard in the TV media and the newspapers still print also the writings of us who stand for peace.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Mexican Teachers Feeling the Corporate Global Crackdown



In the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, a deadly police crackdown against teachers has left nine people dead and more than 100 wounded. On Sunday, police descended on teachers in the community of Nochixtlán, where they had set up blockades to protest against neoliberal education reform and the arrests of two teachers’ union leaders last week on what protesters say are trumped-up charges.

"As soon as they arrived, they began to attack. And we were few, very few," said a Oaxacan teacher. "Then we started running. But they began to attack right away, instantly. At no time did they give warning to clear the area."

Democracy Now goes to Oaxaca to speak with Gustavo Esteva, founder of the Universidad de la Tierra in Oaxaca and author of many books, including "New Forms of Revolution."

New Stone Film


Up Next in Midcoast Maine


Monday, June 20, 2016

Putin: NATO Needs an External Threat



The annual St Petersburg International Economic Forum excels at inviting key figures of Western corporate media to quiz the Russian President on current affairs. On the one hand, this is done in an attempt to build bridges between the two countries, on the other hand, it is a way to draw a comparison to the US President who has never debated foreign policy decision-making with foreign journalists.

In this outtake, Putin outs the West in supporting Chechen separatism in Russia during the 1990s and early 2000s. Having weakened the country, the US withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, assuming that Russia would never again pose a nuclear threat to US hegemonic power. The US continued to build up its nuclear capability, and today inches closer to Russia's borders with so-called 'missile defense' systems that are key components of Pentagon first-strike attack planning.

In the absence of an exterior threat, Putin went on to say that the Washington-orchestrated coup in the Ukraine was done to justify the existence of an ever-expanding NATO bloc, under the pretext of the mythical "Russian aggression."

And a 2nd video with Putin commenting on Donald Trump, U.S. 'elections', sanctions on Russia and more.



Former Naval Academy Graduate Speech at Destroyer 'Christening' Protest

Dud Hendrick (center) made the following speech at the BIW rally before getting arrested at the shipyard


By Dud Hendrick
Reposted from Common Dreams

(Editor's note: The following remarks were delivered on Saturday, June 18, 2016 outside Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine during a protest against the christening of the U.S. Navy's new Zumwalt-class destroyer. The author, along with eleven other people, was subsequently arrested during an act of peaceful civil disobedience outside the shipyard's gates.)

I am a proud member of Veterans for Peace.  As a young man, really a boy, I received a Congressional nomination to attend the U.S. Naval Academy.  Totally a product, as we are all, of the era and environment in which I had spent the first 18 years of my life, I proudly went off to Annapolis; just as, seven years later, I proudly went off to Vietnam, having volunteered to serve there.  Among my Naval Academy classmates was Bill Fitzgerald.  He, too, proudly served in Vietnam.  In 1967, Bill died heroically when his base was overrun by Viet Cong.  The USS William Fitzgerald, an Arleigh Burke destroyer, was launched in January 1994.  I was here on that occasion as well, only across the street.

My politics have changed since the 1960’s. I credit truth-tellers like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn mostly.  But, our country’s heinous and bloody history in the intervening years has validated my change of heart.  Think of it—this history.  Low-lights might include:

  • In September of 1968, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, became Commander of Naval Forces in Vietnam. During this period he ordered the spraying of Agent Orange over the Vietnam countryside.
  • Later we bombed Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi not once, three times—each a war crime.
  • At war’s end we had killed 2-3 million Vietnamese. Unbelievably, a like number of Laotians and Cambodians were also killed. Today some 2-3 million Vietnamese exist (you can hardly call it living) in institutions, unable to take care of themselves, the second and third generations of Agent Orange exposure. A gift that keeps on giving.
  • The scholar William Blum reports we’ve bombed 28 countries since the Vietnam War.
  • Andrew Bacevich, the author and West Point graduate says we’ve bombed 14 Islamic countries in this century.
  • Over 250,000 Iraqis have been killed since 2003. A couple of million made refugees.
  • More recently, we bombed the Kunduz Hospital in Afghanistan—again a war crime. Human beings! These were all human beings!
These are only a few pieces of a history that has earned the U.S. the distinction of being that country deemed to be the greatest threat to world peace according to an international poll.  The U.S. garnered 24% of the votes, well ahead of Pakistan, a distant second with only 8% of the votes.

No doubt we can attribute this unwanted eminence, in part, to this history I’ve cited as well as to Guantanamo, to Abu Ghraib, to Bagram Detention Facility and to the continuing policy of torture in such places as well as to our targeted assassination program—extra-judicial state-sanctioned murder by drones.  According to a recent report 90% of the victims of drone attacks in Afghanistan have been innocents.  Pakistan is the site of more U.S. drone strikes than any other country. The Obama administration has carried out more than 370 drone attacks there, killing as many as 1,000 civilians, including up to 200 children, according to data collected by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
All this is well-known history around our digitally connected world.

What does all this have to do with why we are here to protest the launching of the Zumwalt destroyer?  Well, because this destroyer, the Monsoor, is another piece, another symbol, albeit a small, but expensive one, of how misguided our leaders are.   How wed to imperialism and world domination they are. The price tag on this destroyer is $4 billion and rising.  Alternatively, we could enable 40,000 students to attend four years of college debt free.  Whether we call it socialism or not, that would seem to make more sense than building one more warship to better arm a country that already spends more than the next seven biggest spending countries and already has the world’s most powerful navy by far.

At the beginning of my remarks I mentioned Admiral Zumwalt, after whom this new class of warship is named.  He who authorized the Agent Orange spraying of Vietnam ensuring the agonies of millions of Vietnamese and of the descendents of those American troops similarly exposed for generations to come.   It is an extreme irony isn’t it, that Admiral Zumwalt’s son, a young lieutenant who himself served in the Mekong Delta during the spraying, who died young, and his son, the admiral’s grandson, born with congenital anomalies, were evidently among the victims of the poisoning?  They, too, were human beings.  Something about reaping what one sows.

Our Congress, voting again and again for increased military expenditures, is like a pack of drunken sailors, totally out of control, but comparing them with military men would be unfair—given they are almost all millionaires or better and that their pockets and campaign war chests are lined with coin from those who benefit directly from our war-making---the wealthy elite who run the behemoth corporations of the defense and security industries.

I’d like to quote President Obama.  During his recent visit to Hiroshima he said, “We must change our mindset about war itself to prevent conflict through diplomacy and strive to end conflicts after they’ve begun. We must see our growing interdependence as a cause for peaceful cooperation and not violent competition. We must define our nations not by our capacity to destroy, but by what we build. And perhaps above all, we must re-imagine our connection to one another as members of one human race.”

Wow.  Did he really say this?  Better that he really “be” this!

It is past time that we the people make certain that our leaders don’t simply utter platitudes, but that we insist they deliver leadership worthy of the people we believe we are and represent values that reflect a respect for our planet and for all people.  Human beings!  All human beings!  Fellow human beings!

In closing, let us consider the people of Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, Korea.

Over the past nine years the villagers, joined by thousands of other Korean and international activists, to include several of us here today, have worked to prevent the construction of a naval base on this once tranquil coast.  The war ships built here at Bath Iron Works will be harbored at Jeju further escalating tensions in the Asia Pacific.  We stand in solidarity with our fellow human beings, our brothers and sisters of Gangjeong village.
~ Dud Hendrick is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and was all-American lacrosse player at the academy. He is a Vietnam war veteran and member of Veterans For Peace .  He has traveled widely to meet with and to speak about the victims of U.S. foreign policy.  He resides on Deer Isle, Maine.

Zumwalt Destroyer Protest at BIW



Video by Eric Herter