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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Thursday, April 27, 2017

South Koreans Reject U.S. THAAD Deployment

Video from Seongju, South Korea showing US Army trucks driving through the protesting villagers (with 8,000 South Korean police deployed to keep the streets open) delivering the radars and interceptors for the THAAD 'missile defense' system to the new base.

Especially watch the last bit of the video so you can get a glimpse of the suffering the US is causing with this deployment.

One South Korean media source writes:

It happened like a sneak attack in the dead of night. All set procedures were utterly disregarded. With US Forces Korea and the Ministry of National Defense proceeding on Apr. 26 with the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, the question for many now is just who made the decision and when. Whoever it was - and whatever their intentions - is likely to face accusations of interfering in the May 9 presidential election, where the THAAD issue was certain to be a key point of contention.

It's clear that this deployment was timed to be done before the coming May 9 elections as it now appears that a progressive candidate is leading in the polls.  Unless the US interferes in the election, which is quite possible, then the newly elected president would have been likely to slow down this THAAD deployment.  Thus Washington was eager to get it done now at all cost.

The Seongju melon farming community is worried about the THAAD radar's electromagnetic waves impact on their health and their crops.  They should also be very concerned about toxic rocket fuel pollution because everywhere there is such a rocket fuel storage facility in the US there are countless stories about contamination of local water supplies.  See more on this here

The Seongju community was previously a rock-ribbed conservative area that voted overwhelmingly for the last right-wing government.  But the THAAD deployment in their community has changed all of that.  They've now not only joined the peace movement in South Korea - but in many respects they are leading the movement today.

Not giving up leaders from five different religions in South Korea today began an indefinite hunger strike in solidarity against THAAD. They declared the strike in front of the United States Embassy in Seoul.

The US claims that they are 'protecting' the people of South Korea and bringing stability to the Korean peninsula.  But that is all lies.  The truth is that the people want the US military to leave Korea and when that happens the world will see a serious reduction of tensions in the region.

It is the US military that is driving the Asia-Pacific arms race (something that the military industrial complex knows and loves) and it is the US military 'pivot' of 60% of Pentagon forces into the region that is now the real trigger for WW III.

"Is the US really a friend when it deploys THAAD like a thief in the night during a presidential election? Or is South Korea a US colony?” asked Kim Chung-hwan, the 57-year-old co-chair of the Seongju Committee.


NASA Crashes Cassini Plutonium Probe into Saturn

This video covers a news conference held in 1997 at the National Press Club in Washington opposing the launch of the Cassini space probe and was covered by CSPAN on cable TV. The news conference was organized by the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice where I worked for 15 years.  The Florida Coalition was one of the founding members of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.

NASA has just crashed Cassini with 72.3 pounds of plutonium-238 onto the surface of Saturn.

Journalist Karl Grossman has written a story about this latest incident.  You can find it here

Grossman quotes me saying:

“When I heard that NASA would be dive-bombing Cassini into Saturn with 72 pounds of deadly plutonium-238 on-board, I thought of the Army handing out smallpox laden blankets to Indians on the reservations,” comments Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, which has been in the lead in protesting NASA nuclear space missions. “NASA readily admits that ‘biotic or prebiotic’ life very possibly exists on Saturn—are they trying to kill it?”

The Cassini campaign lasted for three years and it became a rousing international effort.  Alan Kohn (one of the speakers in the news conference and former head of NASA's emergency preparedness operation) told us after the successful launch of Cassini that a friend of his working in the White House informed him that they received more communications opposing the Cassini launch than any other issue in the history of the White House.

Groups in England, Germany, Australia and from throughout the US sent cards, letters, emails and faxes to then President Clinton calling for the halt of plans to launch the deadly mission.  One of my favorite stories at the time was about citizens from Tasmania, Australia who set up a fax machine one Saturday in front of their capital building and sent 1,000 faxes to the White House opposing the launch.

Also speaking in the news conference is world renowned physicist Dr. Michio Kaku and Karl Grossman, one of the founding members of the Global Network.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Korean War History Lesson

On two trips to South Korea I met a survivor of this US Army slaughter and he took our group to this bridge.

The orders came down from Washington to the US Army commanders during the Korean War to "kill everything that moves."

US war planes bombed the long line of civilians running for safety and many ran inside of the bridge tunnel at No Gun Ri.  US Army units from the 7th Cavalry used small and heavy arms fire to shoot people inside the tunnels as they crawled out trying to find water.  It was a slaughter.

Few in America know these stories about the Korean War.


U.S. Missile Madness Hypocrisy

Today the Pentagon
will test fire
a nuclear missile
from Vandenberg AFB
in California
into the Pacific
landing at their
often radiated target
Kwajalein Atoll

Just yesterday
the Pentagon
tried to sneak
'missile defense'
in the dark
of night
into the new
base in Seongju,
South Korea
but protesters
were there
along with
a zillion police
pushing them back

is preparing
for war with
North Korea
they dare to test
and develop nukes

Testing missiles is
not illegal
under international law
the US
and its
double standard
nuclear allies
do it all the time
but North Korea
is not
in the club
thus they are
called rogue

Which nation
is the greater threat?
North Korea
with their pip-squeak
missile and nuclear
or the mighty

The hypocrisy
is chilling
nerve wracking
heart stopping

The 'exceptional'
the world

Today in Washington
meets with
all 100 US Senators
about Korea
selling war
like he
wheels and deals
one of his
tall towers,
shrines to
arrogance and

Let us hear
your squeaky
we still
can utter
of protest
life giving

don't wait
for the flash
and bang
and resulting


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Korean War: The Unknown U.S. Slaughter

The Long, Dirty History of U.S. Warmongering against North Korea

By Christine Hong

As the latest North Korea crisis unfolded, and Donald Trump swapped campaign plowshares for post-inauguration swords, Americans took to the streets demanding that the President release his tax returns and then marched for science. There were no mass protests for peace.

Although the substance of Trump’s foreign policy remains opaque, he had campaigned on an “America First” critique of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s liberal interventionism in Libya and, to his own party’s mortification, blasted George W. Bush’s neoconservative adventurism in Iraq.

Once in the White House, though, Trump announced he would boost the U.S. military budget by a staggering $54 billion, cut back on diplomacy, and push the United States to the brink of active conflict with North Korea. None of this provoked a major backlash. To the contrary, Trump’s surprise bombing of Syria, which, his administration declared, doubled as a warning for North Korea, garnered him across-the-aisle praise from hawks in both parties and his highest approval ratings so far.

The American public’s quietism with regard to the prospect of renewed U.S. aggression against North Korea is remarkable. It stands in stark contrast to the broad anti-war galvanization in the post-9/11 lead-up to the U.S. war in Iraq and the widespread protests against the Vietnam War in an earlier era.

To some degree, it recalls the muted mid-twentieth century political terrain that led to the Korean War—a brutal, dirty, and unresolved conflict that set the model for subsequent U.S. intervention. One of the few voices of opposition, Paul Robeson, in a critique that resonates to this day, lambasted his fellow citizens’ “meek conformity with the policies of the war-minded, the racists, and the rich.”

That “the maw of warmakers [was] insatiable” in Korea, as Robeson remarked in 1950, could be seen in the massive devastation of human life. It was an asymmetrical conflict in which the United States monopolized the skies, raining down ruin. Four million Koreans—the vast majority of them civilians—were killed. Chinese statistics indicate that North Korea lost thirty percent of its population. In North Korea where few families were left unscathed by the terroristic violence of the Korean War, anti-Americanism cannot be dismissed as state ideology alone.

More than almost anyone in the world, North Koreans know intimately what it means to be in the crosshairs of the American war machine. In May 1951, writer and activist Monica Felton observed that in the course of her travels through North Korea as part of an international fact-finding delegation, “the same scenes of destruction repeated themselves over and over again . . . . The destruction, in fact, is so overwhelming that if the war is allowed to continue—even for another few months—there will be nothing left of Korea. Nothing at all.” It is no coincidence that the phoenix serves as one of North Korea’s national emblems.

Then, as now, Korea rested in the hazy recesses of American consciousness, mostly out of sight, mostly out of mind. When recently asked to comment on the catastrophe that would ensue were Trump to authorize a preemptive strike against North Korea, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, responded with chilling candor:

"Yes, it would be terrible, but the war would be over there. It wouldn’t be here. It would be bad for the Korean peninsula, it would be bad for China, it would be bad for Japan, it would be bad for South Korea, it would be the end of North Korea but what it would not do is hit America."

Although famously at odds with Trump on numerous other matters, Graham here captured the pyrrhic spirit of the President’s “America First” foreign policy, a self-privileging worldview that allows for untold ruin and suffering so long as they remain far from our shores.

Graham’s statement is in keeping with the time-honored American tradition of envisioning apocalypse for North Korea—a tradition that survived the Cold War’s end and serves as through-line across successive U.S. presidencies. In recent days, we have been told that the United States must entertain all possible scenarios against North Korea as an interloper in the nuclear club, including a preemptive nuclear strike.

It has been drilled into our heads that North Korea poses a clear and chronic danger, a threat not just to the United States and its allies in Asia and the Pacific, but also to all of humanity. Yet as Donald MacIntyre, Seoul bureau chief for Time magazine during the George W. Bush era, has observed, when it comes to North Korea, Western media has faithfully adhered to a “demonization script” and in so doing has helped to “lay the groundwork for war.” Conditioned by jingoistic portraits of the North Korean enemy—“axis of evil,” “outpost of tyranny,” “rogue state”—and complacent in our displacement of risk onto them, not us, we consent to North Korea’s extinction in advance.

Instability in Korea has, for several decades, lined the pockets of those who profit from the business of war. Indeed, the Korean War rehabilitated a U.S. economy geared, as a result of World War II, toward total war. Seized as opportunity, the war enabled the Truman Administration to triple U.S. defense spending and furnished a rationale for the bilateral linking of Asian client states to the United States. General James Van Fleet, the commanding officer of UN forces in Korea, described the war as “a blessing” and remarked, “There had to be a Korea either here or some place in the world.”

As Cumings writes:

"[I]t was the Korean War, not Greece or Turkey or the Marshall Plan or Vietnam, that inaugurated big defense budgets and the national security state, that transformed a limited containment doctrine into a global crusade, that ignited McCarthyism just as it seemed to fizzle, and thereby gave the Cold War its long run."

Fast-forward to the present: the portrait of an unpredictable nuclear-armed North Korea greases the cogs of the U.S. war machine and fuels the military-industrial complex. Within Asia and the Pacific, this jingoistic portrait has justified the accelerated deployment of missile-defense systems in Guam and South Korea, the strategic positioning of nuclear aircraft carriers, the sales of military weapons, war exercises between the United States and its regional allies, and a forward-deployed U.S. military posture. Even as China is without question the main economic rival of the United States, an armed and dangerous North Korea furnishes the pretext for a heavily militarized U.S. presence in the region.

Unsurprisingly, few media outlets have reported on North Korea’s overtures to the United States, even as these, if pursued, might result in meaningful de-escalation on both sides. To be clear: peaceful alternatives are at hand. Far from being an intractable foe, North Korea has repeatedly asked the United States to sign a peace treaty that would bring the unresolved Korean War to a long-overdue end.

It has also proposed that the United States cease its annual war games with South Korea—games, we must recognize, that involve the simulated invasion and occupation of North Korea, the “decapitation” of its leadership, and rehearsals of a preemptive nuclear strike. In return, North Korea will cap its nuclear weapons testing. China has reiterated this proposal. The United States maintains that its joint war games with South Korea are simply business as usual and has not seen fit to respond.

With the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism rearing their heads in our current moment, we have cause to be gravely concerned. During his recent anti-North Korea tour of Asia and the Pacific, Vice President Mike Pence grimly stated, “The sword stands ready,” with no sense that plowshares might be in the offing. The implication in the Trump administration’s words (“all options are on the table,” “rogue state,” “behaving very badly”) and deeds (the U.S. bombings of Syria and Afghanistan) is that force is the only lingua franca available, and that with North Korea, we must learn war over and over again.

Almost seventy years ago, we entered into a war with North Korea that has never ended. At the time, only a handful of Americans raised their voices in opposition. Let’s not let the historical record reflect our silence now.

~ Christine Hong is an associate professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an executive board member of the Korea Policy Institute. She has spent time in North Korea, including as part of a North American peace delegation.  

Beggers be Damned

Monday, April 24, 2017

No THAAD Update

Won Buddhists block military vehicles as they try to enter the US THAAD 'missile defense' deployment site now under construction near Seongju, South Korea.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

'We Are in Big Trouble'

Sitting Bull was a Hunkpapa Lakota holy man from South Dakota and was brought onto the reservation by the US Army in 1881.

He toured the east coast of the US as a performer with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show for some time and a story is told that while he was in New York City he sat on a door stoop and all the local homeless street kids came up to him begging for money which he gave them.

When Sitting Bull returned home to South Dakota he told his people, "We are in big trouble - you should see how the White Man treats his children."

The capitalist system is heartless and evil.


Sobering Interview from Former Pentagon Insider

Former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, tells Paul Jay that the Syrian government may not be responsible for the chemical attack and that Trump's response was a violation of international law.

He also warns of the dangers of the US following the insane advice of the neo-cons who appear to have pushed their way back into power within the Trump administration.

Sunday Song