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

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Understanding the Saudi Attack on Yemen

George W. Bush kissing up to Saudi leaders

Obama bowing to Saudi leaders

I'm starting to get a handle on the Yemen story.  Other than U.S. drone attacks in the country, that have killed many innocents, I had not paid alot of attention to politics in Yemen.  But now all that has changed.  I've turned down a couple of media interviews about Yemen because I felt I didn't know enough to make any comments.  So I've been reading many articles and watching some videos so I can get my head around the issue.

I have a world map on my office door which frequently helps understand what is going on.  When I look for Yemen and Saudi Arabia this is what I find.

Yemen (in brown lower center of map) borders Saudi Arabia.  Even though a common border was delineated by the Taif Treaty in 1934 Saudi Arabia and Yemen have had continued conflict over the issue. (The Saudis took a bunch of land from Yemen around that time.) The possible oil reserves, civil war, and Saudi interventions in Yemeni politics have driven the conflict for much of the last century. While many of the confrontations have been relatively sporadic, in the late 1990’s a number of building tensions came to a head, resulting in violent conflict.

Saudi Arabia is a rabid Sunni fiefdom and they fund many of the fundamentalist terrorist sects (Wahhabism) currently waging war throughout the Middle East and Central Asia.  In spite of that the US still kisses the Saudi monarchy's cheeks because they have oil.

Iran, a Shia nation is the arch enemy of the Saudi kingdom.  The division between Shia and Sunni dates back to the death of the Prophet Muhammad, and the question of who was to take over the leadership of the Muslim nation.To make it simple each side has their own influences with various countries in the region.  The Saudis biggest allies are the other monarchies like the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain. Israel and Egypt have also joined the Saudis in this current attack on Yemen.

In Yemen there has been a struggle between Sunni (backed by Saudi Arabia and the US) and Shia (backed by Iran).  With Iraq increasingly leaning toward Iran, and Iran's ally Syria holding on for life against terrorists backed by Saudi Arabia and the U.S.-NATO war machine, the Saudi monarchy fears for their life - thus they are in attack mode.

Inside Saudi Arabia are legions of poor people, many whom are Shia, that get no benefit from the oil fortune amassed by the head-choppin monarchy.  They are in revolt as are people struggling for freedom against the monarchy in Bahrain where the US Navy Fifth Fleet is based.  

The Obama war team is helping the Saudis and their 'coalition' with intelligence and surveillance during this current bombing raid on Yemen.  That means the US Space Command, and many of their military satellites orbiting the planet, are working overtime to identify and direct the attacks.  The Saudis don't have that kind of space capability.  So in a way you can say this is a proxy war - maybe the first round in attacks against Iran that might just eventually land on Tehran's doorstep.

On March 24 Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) made a speech on the Senate floor where he said, "Israelis will need to chart their own path of resistance. On the Iranian nuclear deal, they may have to go rogue."

We know Israel wants Iran taken down.  So does Saudi Arabia and their fellow Sunni monarchies.  The US does as well but has to pretend it has 'exhausted all diplomatic measures' to create peace.  It appears though that expanded war is now underway.

The take down list that included Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria is now being expanded to include Yemen, Iran, Ukraine, Russia, China, North Korea, Venezuela, and many African states.  Keep your eyes on the bouncing ball.

Yemen: It's a U.S. Operation



Amazingly the Obama administration still calls Yemen a "template" of success when it comes to its counterterrorism efforts. Closer to the truth is probably still another poorly thought out foreign policy adventure. And double standards abound – what is deemed legitimate for Yemen is denied in the case of Ukraine.

U.S. Policy in Yemen Backs Saudi Monarchy Interests



Patrick Cockburn is an Irish journalist who has been a Middle East correspondent since 1979 for the Financial Times and, presently, The Independent. Among the most experienced commentators on Iraq, he has written four books on the country's recent history. Cockburn's latest book is The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Updates on Neocon War in Ukraine


  • John Rachel writes a good article called Obama’s Neocons and Other Hawkish Lunatics. He covers many of the key players.  Neocons ain't just a Republican thing.  They've successfully taken over both mainstream political parties in Washington.
- Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, wants confrontation with Russia, "preventive" war on North Korea
- Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, lied to Congress under oath, wants to arm Ukraine against its eastern citizens
- Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, is virulently anti-Russian and was instrumental in toppling Ukraine's elected president
- Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Breedlove, has made wild accusations of Russian troops in Ukraine without any evidence....even German intelligence rejected his claims
- Vice-President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry put a unique spin on the old GOOD COP/BAD COP routine. 

  • Last night I watched the new Russian film that gives their side of the Crimea story. We won't get this perspective from the corporate owned media.  The film is more than two hours long and called Crimea - The Way Back Home.  It's worth the time.  I learned quite alot about the dangerous period right after the US-NATO coup in Kiev as the neo-Nazi's were sent to take similar control of Crimea after their chaotic Maidan broke Ukraine in half.  I had not known that scores of local citizens did much to defend themselves from the vicious attacks by the nationalist death squads.  Amazingly the entire Russian operation, including Putin sending in the 'little green men', was done without anyone (as far as I know) being killed.  You can watch it here
  • Neo-Nazi's death squads have been given official status inside Kiev's military.  This means they will also get training from the US Army who are now in western Ukraine for that purpose.  Rada [Kiev's parliament] Deputy and Ukrainian nationalist leader Dmitriy Yarosh announced that a procedure for incorporating the 'Right Sector' into the Ukrainian Armed Forces as an subordinate organization had been agreed upon. See more on the story here
  • Neocon grandpa Zbigniew Brzezinski has warned that a Moscow-friendly Greece could paralyse NATO's ability to react to 'Russian aggression'. The Cold War-era hawk, who was Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser from 1977-1981, said Poland too 'could be a target' after Russia's annexation of Crimea last year, as well as former Soviet states such as Moldova, Georgia and oil-rich Azerbaijan.  The neocons are pumping up the Russia fears - reigniting the Cold War hysteria that proved so successful for the west following World War II.  See the whole story here

Build the Future in Bath


 Eisenhower Warned Us Of Power Of 
Military Industrial Complex

Times Record Op-Ed

By Bruce K. Gagnon

The Times Record recently reported that Meals on Wheels programs are being cut. Here in Maine education programs continue to be slashed and tuition continues to rise for already- beleaguered college students. The new Republican-controlled Senate wants to shut down the food stamp program. It’s as if the American people have become the enemy.

We are told that the Pentagon- NSA-CIA budgets (nearly $1 trillion a year once all added up) are for our ‘security’. But real security — job security, health security, food security, education security, environmental protection— are all crumbling around us.

Even BIW will see cutbacks as the Times Record reported on January 12. The Navy has determined that its shipbuilding budget is “unsustainable.” It can’t afford to cover the mounting costs of new aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and the Zumwalt destroyers being built at BIW. The latter costs more than double what the previous Aegis destroyer cost. The Navy’s solution for its budget crisis? Cut jobs, outsource to non-union workers, and, over time, likely move to get rid of the unions at shipyards like BIW.

What is the Plan B for Bath? Who ever thought the Navy base in Brunswick would close and that thousands of jobs would be lost? How can our nation afford the expensive high-tech weapons systems that are costing the taxpayers an arm and a leg? How can we effectively deal with the coming ravages of climate change unless we immediately begin a transformation of our industrial policy from endless war to building rail systems, wind turbines, a solar society, and tidal power – all of which would help us in some degree deal with climate change?

Where is our congressional delegation when we need it to advocate for a new sustainable technology direction? Collins, King, Pingree and Poliquin remain on bended knees begging for more Pentagon funding because military production is the only real federal jobs program left. They might talk a good game about environmental sustainability, but what are they doing to lead our state and the nation toward the kind of conversion that will be necessary if our children and grandchildren are to have any chance of decent lives? The Native Americans said that all decisions must be made based on how they impact the next seven generations. Sadly, our elected officials are thinking only about their next election!

Studies have long revealed that our tax dollars create fewer jobs in military spending than in other fields. Building commuter rail systems at BIW would, in fact, nearly double the jobs. In addition, rail would get us out of our polluting cars and offer future generations a chance of survival.

The corporate oligarchy that runs the show in Washington has plans for more war. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria are a royal mess after our interventions there. Next on the target list for war are Ukraine, Iran, Russia, China and Venezuela. Imagine the tax dollars that will be wasted in those future futile battles. Our American economy has become addicted to war spending. What does it say about the soul of our nation that we must have endless war in order to provide workers with jobs so that they can feed their families?

The American people are told that we are the exceptional nation — the exceptional people, but in fact people are really the same all over the world. They love their children, they love to laugh, and they love to share food with one another. By making us fear and hate one another, the corporations can persuade us to make war. In that way they can get control of natural resources and markets and make big money off the preparations for conflict.

Our only hope is to join hands across the nation and insist that these expensive, endless wars cease. We should listen carefully to the words of former President Dwight Eisenhower who warned as he left the White House: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed…. Beware of the power of the military industrial complex.”

- Bruce K. Gagnon is a member of PeaceWorks and lives in Bath, Maine

Democracy or Oligarchy?



Empire with Marwan Bishara examines the rise and role of the new oligarchs and the decline of democracy in the United States and beyond.

The House Ukraine Resolution Vote Tally


 
FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 131

(Republicans in roman; Democrats in italic; Independents underlined)

      H RES 162      2/3 YEA-AND-NAY      23-Mar-2015      7:08 PM
      QUESTION:  On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Agree
      BILL TITLE: Calling on the President to provide Ukraine with military assistance to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.


YeasNaysPRESNV
Republican21410 20
Democratic13438 16
Independent    
TOTALS34848 36


---- YEAS    348 ---

Abraham
Adams
Aderholt
Aguilar
Allen
Amodei
Ashford
Babin
Barletta
Barr
Barton
Bass
Beatty
Becerra
Benishek
Bera
Bilirakis
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (MI)
Black
Blackburn
Blum
Bost
Boustany
Brady (PA)
Brady (TX)
Brat
Bridenstine
Brooks (AL)
Brooks (IN)
Brownley (CA)
Buck
Bucshon
Burgess
Bustos
Butterfield
Byrne
Calvert
Capps
Cárdenas
Carney
Carson (IN)
Carter (GA)
Carter (TX)
Cartwright
Castor (FL)
Castro (TX)
Chabot
Cicilline
Clay
Cleaver
Clyburn
Coffman
Cole
Collins (GA)
Collins (NY)
Comstock
Conaway
Connolly
Cook
Cooper
Costa
Costello (PA)
Courtney
Cramer
Crawford
Crenshaw
Crowley
Cuellar
Culberson
Cummings
Curbelo (FL)
Davis (CA)
Davis, Rodney
DeFazio
DeGette
Delaney
DeLauro
DelBene
Denham
Dent
DeSantis
DeSaulnier
Deutch
Diaz-Balart
Dingell
Doggett
Dold
Duckworth
Duffy
Ellmers (NC)
Emmer (MN)
Engel
Eshoo
Esty
Farenthold
Fattah
Fincher
Fitzpatrick
Fleischmann
Fleming
Flores
Forbes
Fortenberry
Foster
Foxx
Franks (AZ)
Frelinghuysen
Gabbard
Gallego
Garrett
Gibbs
Gibson
Gohmert
Goodlatte
Gosar
Gowdy
Graham
Graves (GA)
Graves (LA)
Grayson
Green, Al
Green, Gene
Griffith
Grothman
Guinta
Guthrie
Hanna
Hardy
Harper
Harris
Hartzler
Hastings
Heck (NV)
Heck (WA)
Hensarling
Herrera Beutler
Hice, Jody B.
Higgins
Hill
Himes
Holding
Hoyer
Hudson
Huizenga (MI)
Hunter
Hurd (TX)
Hurt (VA)
Israel
Issa
Jackson Lee
Jeffries
Jenkins (KS)
Jenkins (WV)
Johnson (OH)
Johnson, Sam
Jolly
Jordan
Joyce
Kaptur
Katko
Keating
Kelly (IL)
Kelly (PA)
Kennedy
Kildee
Kilmer
Kind
King (NY)
Kinzinger (IL)
Kirkpatrick
Kline
Kuster
LaMalfa
Lamborn
Lance
Langevin
Larsen (WA)
Larson (CT)
Latta
Levin
Lieu, Ted
LoBiondo
Lofgren
Long
Loudermilk
Lowey
Lucas
Luetkemeyer
Lujan Grisham (NM)
Luján, Ben Ray (NM)
Lummis
Lynch
MacArthur
Maloney, Carolyn
Maloney, Sean
Marchant
Marino
Matsui
McCarthy
McCaul
McCollum
McDermott
McHenry
McKinley
McMorris Rodgers
McNerney
McSally
Meadows
Meehan
Meng
Messer
Mica
Miller (FL)
Miller (MI)
Moolenaar
Mooney (WV)
Moulton
Mullin
Murphy (FL)
Murphy (PA)
Napolitano
Neal
Neugebauer
Newhouse
Noem
Norcross
Nugent
Nunes
Olson
Palazzo
Pallone
Palmer
Pascrell
Paulsen
Pearce
Pelosi
Perlmutter
Perry
Peters
Peterson
Pingree
Pittenger
Pitts
Poe (TX)
Poliquin
Polis
Price (NC)
Price, Tom
Quigley
Rangel
Ratcliffe
Reed
Reichert
Renacci
Ribble
Rice (NY)
Rice (SC)
Rigell
Roby
Rogers (KY)
Rokita
Rooney (FL)
Ros-Lehtinen
Ross
Rothfus
Rouzer
Roybal-Allard
Royce
Ruppersberger
Russell
Ryan (WI)
Salmon
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sanchez, Loretta
Sanford
Sarbanes
Scalise
Schiff
Schock
Schweikert
Scott (VA)
Scott, Austin
Scott, David
Sensenbrenner
Serrano
Sessions
Sewell (AL)
Sherman
Shimkus
Shuster
Simpson
Sinema
Sires
Slaughter
Smith (MO)
Smith (NE)
Smith (NJ)
Smith (TX)
Stefanik
Stivers
Stutzman
Swalwell (CA)
Takai
Thompson (CA)
Thompson (MS)
Thompson (PA)
Thornberry
Tiberi
Tipton
Titus
Tonko
Torres
Trott
Turner
Upton
Valadao
Van Hollen
Vargas
Veasey
Vela
Velázquez
Visclosky
Wagner
Walden
Walker
Walters, Mimi
Walz
Wasserman Schultz
Weber (TX)
Webster (FL)
Wenstrup
Westerman
Westmoreland
Whitfield
Williams
Wilson (FL)
Wittman
Womack
Woodall
Yarmuth
Yoder
Yoho
Young (AK)
Young (IA)
Young (IN)
Zeldin
Zinke

---- NAYS    48 ---

Amash
Beyer
Bonamici
Capuano
Chu, Judy
Clark (MA)
Clarke (NY)
Clawson (FL)
Conyers
DesJarlais
Duncan (TN)
Edwards
Ellison
Farr
Frankel (FL)
Fudge
Grijalva
Hahn
Honda
Huelskamp
Huffman
Johnson (GA)
Johnson, E. B.
Jones
Lawrence
Lee
Lewis
Loebsack
Lowenthal
Massie
McGovern
Meeks
Moore
Mulvaney
Nadler
Nolan
O'Rourke
Pocan
Posey
Rohrabacher
Schakowsky
Schrader
Speier
Takano
Tsongas
Waters, Maxine
Watson Coleman
Welch

---- NOT VOTING    36 ---

Bishop (UT)
Blumenauer
Boyle, Brendan F.
Brown (FL)
Buchanan
Chaffetz
Cohen
Davis, Danny
Doyle, Michael F.
Duncan (SC)
Garamendi
Granger
Graves (MO)
Gutiérrez
Hinojosa
Hultgren
King (IA)
Knight
Labrador
Lipinski
Love
McClintock
Payne
Pompeo
Richmond
Roe (TN)
Rogers (AL)
Roskam
Ruiz
Rush
Ryan (OH)
Smith (WA)
Stewart
Walberg
Walorski
Wilson (SC)


Take Action:  If you'd like to sign a petition opposing sending weapons to Ukraine go here

Monday, March 30, 2015

Gardening in Eastern Ukraine



A special video about a woman in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine who is gardening to prepare for spring planting.  In the midst of continued shelling by the US-NATO puppet regime in Kiev Zina keeps gardening because she wants to create something beautiful for her beloved community.

BIW Lenten Vigils - Last Call

George & Maureen from the Smilin' Trees Disarmament Farm in Hope, Maine keep these vigils at BIW going

The regulars in the snow on a cold day last Saturday
The Navy's new 'stealth' Zumwalt destroyer peeking out from Bath Iron Works.  Reports are that the ship launching will be delayed due to major problems with the complicated and expensive technology on-board.  This warship is costing more than twice as much as past destroyers at the shipyard.

Suzanne and Mary Beth waiting for BIW workers to leave at noon last Saturday.  The message of conversion of the shipyard to building rail, solar, wind and tidal power systems is a regular theme at our vigils.  Sadly our elected officials from Maine, both Democrat and Republican, remain on their bended knees begging for more $$$$ for warships. They talk a good game about sustainability but are doing little to move us from endless war to actually having the ability to deal with climate change by dramatically changing our fossil fuel dependent way of life.  These vigils serve as the conscience of the future generations.



It was cold with blowing snow last Saturday as we again gathered at Bath Iron Works (BIW) for our series of Lenten peace vigils.  Next Saturday will be the final Lenten vigil.  We'll meet from 11:30 am - 12:30.

We must give special thanks to George & Maureen from the Smilin' Trees Disarmament Farm in Hope, Maine.  For many years they have kept these BIW vigils going through Advent, Lent, Keep Space for Peace Week, and other special occasions including 'christenings'.

I think our conversion of the shipyard message is seeping into the workforce and the community at large.  At our larger than usual vigil two weeks ago at BIW we had one current and one previous shipyard worker in attendance.  Another worker recently took a flyer from Maureen at one of the vigils and said to her, "You need to update this thing."  So yes, some of the workers are paying attention and want even more information about our concerns and proposed solutions.

These vigils are special times for me.  Some folks like to talk to one another during such a vigil but I prefer to stand apart and try to establish eye contact with the people going by.  I want to see where their heads are at.  I want to see their reaction to my sign.... I tend to switch my sign regularly because I want to transmit many different thoughts.

You really get a sense of the core of the nation when you stand outside a military production facility. You hear some nasty comments from some aggressive workers who want to defend their job.  It's understandable, everyone wants to feel great pride in their work.  But we also see some very thoughtful and kind workers who are pleasant, friendly, and appear to appreciate that we are outside the shipyard gates helping to foster a public discussion about what kind of product should be made inside the facility.

How can we ever hope and dream about conversion of the military industrial complex unless and until the peace movement helps create a consistent, lively and dynamic discussion about such a concept?  We've got to make some sparks fly.

Photos by Roger Leisner

US: Master of Space



During the taped interview I also talked about some things that were left on the cutting room floor.  One of them was the growing problem of space debris.  There are now more than 25,000 tiny bits of junk whirling through space at 15,000 mph and this problem would be accelerated if any country was to attack another with an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon.

The International Space Station (ISS), which cost taxpayers $100 billion, has to frequently be moved to avoid space debris that is passing dangerously close.  Some scientists have predicted that someday the ISS will be destroyed by flying space debris making the problem even worse.  Any war in space would create so much space junk that no nation would ever be able to get a rocket off the planet again - space would become so polluted with debris that it would become an orbiting minefield.

Thus the urgency to create a new treaty at the United Nations to ban all weapons in, and through, space.  But sadly the US and Israel continue to block any progress on such a treaty essentially because the US wants to be the Master of Space.

The US, China and Russia have all tested ASAT weapons in the past.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Why U.S. Claims Venezuela is a 'Security Threat'


Israel's Brutality Against Palestinian Children



Palestinian children on the radar - as video emerges showing masked Israeli soldiers raiding West Bank homes at night and interrogating young boys.

Interview with Jeju Island Activists



The latest edition of This Issue features Paco Michelson and Hee Eun Park (Silver) from the Jeju Island International Solidarity Team.  They visited Maine for a couple days near the start of their national tour to share the story about the Navy base struggle in Gangjeong village where US warships will be ported as part of the US ‘pivot’ to surround China.  The 500-year old fishing and farming community on Jeju Island is now being destroyed to build the base.
See www.SaveJejuNow.org  for more information.

Protest in Prague: Tanks-No-Thanks


Pressenza reports:

In Prague’s Wenceslas Square some 1,500 people demonstrated yesterday, Saturday 29th March, against Operation “Dragoon Ride” in which US army personnel and equipment are crossing Czech Republic territory starting today on the way to their German base. Speeches were given by several anti-war organisations, including the Communist Party and World without Wars and Violence all of which spoke highly critically of the government for the way that the decision to allow this procession has been made without going through parliament and knowing that 70% of the population is against the presence of foreign troops.

What concerns the demonstrators apart from being an unnecessary show of strength is that this troop build-up looks like a step towards a war that implicates the whole of Europe.

Demonstrators did not allow themselves to be provoked by dozens of counter-protesters with American, Ukrainian and NATO flags who came to threaten the speakers.

Most organisations present agreed that the only way towards peace is to exit NATO which they consider to be an instrument of the USA to justify aggressive foreign policy. Dana Feminova, speaking for World without Wars and Violence said, “Although I don’t share the opinions of Putin in many areas, I have to agree with the analysis of our former President Klaus who said that Russia has no responsibility for the Ukrainian crisis.”

The atmosphere among protesters is one of great concern. Some have compared what is happening now to the invasion by Nazi Germany in 1938 after the Conference of Munich in which the then Czechoslovakia was handed over to Hitler by France and the UK.

It is certainly true that the last time tanks entered Prague, they were Soviet ones coming to crush moves to democracy and before that they were Hitler’s tanks so the presence of foreign military vehicles on the streets, far from reassuring people is making them nervous. 

USA: Protector of Monarchies



They are back
those Bush-era
neo-cons
have returned
with a vengeance
they lied
us into
shock & awe
and are now
deceiving
to set up
the next tragic
bombing run

The NY Times
and Washington Post
just carried
Op-Eds
from the likes
of war criminal
John Bolton
calling on the
US-Israel
unholy alliance
to unleash
their reign of terror
against Iran

The Obama
team
is also infested
with neo-con
vermin
the man
who ran
on the peace message
won the Nobel prize
now
mixing it up
with the worst characters
that Amerika
has to offer

The other US ally
in this suicidal
rush into war
with Iran
is the head-choppin
oil-rich monarchy
in Saudi Arabia
they fund
Sunni extremists
throughout
the region
we supply their weapons
and give them cover
by having our
presidents kiss
them on the cheeks

the USA
long ago
in revolt
against a royal family
has fallen
fallen
fallen
far from its once
mighty
claim
of democracy
and freedom
from despotism

we now carry water
for the greedy
desert kings

Washington
is lost
in the darkness
all for the toxic
black gold 

Sunday Song