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

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Windy day at Bath destroyer shipyard

 






There were 14 of us yesterday at Bath Iron Works shift change for the Lenten Vigil for disarmament and peace.  These vigils will continue every Saturday in April from 11:30 am for an hour.

Except on Saturday, April 27 BIW has announced the 'christening' of the third Zumwalt 'stealth' destroyer.  Folks will gather for our protest at 8:30 am on the north end of Washington St. across from the post office.

People coming for the blasphemous event will come on bus (to the south end) and walkers will enter into the shipyard on the north end. (How could the Prince of Peace bless such a killing machine?)

This destroyer will be named the 'LBJ' after the Vietnam War-era Democrat who escalated the killing and was driven from office by the growing national outrage.  Naming the ship after LBJ is an attempt to rewrite history.

Protesters are coming from around Maine on April 27 to declare opposition to this warship.  The three Zumwalts built at BIW cost a total $21 billion.  The original plan was to build more than 30 Zumwalt's but the Navy objected saying it would eat up too much of their ship building budget.  The standard Aegis destroyers built in Bath cost about $1.5 billion each.

Obama was pushing the Zumwalt's as a reward for General Dynamics Corp. which owns BIW.  The majority stock owners of General Dynamics are the Crown family in Chicago who helped Obama become president.  They helped Obama raise more money from the military industrial complex than his rival Sen. John McCain from Arizona did.

All in all it is a theft from the public.  As Eisenhower said in 1953, "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. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."

These words resonate today - probably even more than in 1953.  These days we must see a complete industrial conversion to sustainable living if we hope to provide our children and grandchildren with a future on Mother Earth.

The non-violent protest at BIW on April 27 will address all of these concerns.

In the end the US must give up its violent addiction to endless militarism if we hope to live on this beautiful spinning planet.  It's really that simple and clear.

Bruce

Sunday song




Saturday, March 23, 2019

U.S. Veterans jailed in Ireland after protesting Pentagon use of Shannon airport



U.S. War Machine out of Shannon Airport

Two US Veterans For Peace Refused Bail at Ennis District Court

Charged with Trespass and Causing Criminal Damage at Shannon airport in Ireland

A group of seven US Veterans for Peace took part in a protest against US Military Base at Shannon Airport on Sunday, March 17th.

WHY? Shannon used for refueling troop planes bound for Middle East wars in which up to one million [1,000,000] children have died since 1991.

Two US veterans were arrested at Shannon Airport on 17 March for entering the airfield to inspect and investigate an OMNI Air International plane on contract to the U.S. military.  The two, Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers, were refused bail at Ennis District Court.

The plane, tail number N351AX, arrived at Shannon Airport about 8.30 a.m. from Eielson US air force base in Faribanks Alaska, believed to be on its way to the Middle East with up to 300 armed US troops.

At about 10 am Mayers, a former Marine Corps Major and Kauff, a former Army paratrooper, both members of US Veterans For Peace, entered the airfield carrying a large banner that said:

U.S. Veterans say
Respect Irish Neutrality
U.S. War Machine out of Shannon Airport
Veterans For Peace

The two walked across the air field with the intent of inspecting the plane for weapons or munitions, but were apprehended by airport security and Gardai.  There were detained and interviewed at Shannon Garda station and held overnight for arraignment on charges of trespass and criminal damage.

At Ennis District Court this morning Mayers and Kauff were represented by solicitor Darragh Hassett. The prosecution outlined the charges against them and indicated that they were opposed to bail. Garda Sergeant Noel Carroll gave evidence of arrest on Taxiway 12 at Shannon airport. He also stated that there was a US military aircraft at the airport, most likely referring to OMNI Air N351AX. He also confirmed that the defendants were both veterans of the US military. The prosecutor, Inspector Thomas Kennedy, said there had been substantial damage to the airport perimeter fence.

When the bail issue was being discussed Solicitor Hassett initially stated that the defendants were prepared to agree to bail conditions that involved surrendering their passports, and remaining in Ireland for the duration of the legal processes. This was an unacceptable condition as it would mean that the defendants would have to remain in Ireland at their own expense for up to two years before the trial would occur, and this restriction amounts to punishment without trial.

The defendants then requested an adjournment to discuss matters with their solicitor.

After the court resumed, Hassett emphasized that the defendants needed to return home to the USA and would sign a sworn undertaking to return for trial. The prosecution opposed this and continued to oppose the granting of any bail.

Judge Maire Keane then ruled that she was denying bail to the accused and remanded them in custody to Limerick Prison, where they are to appear for a further court mention hearing by video from the prison on Wednesday 20 March.

Further discussions were then held with Solicitor Hassett. He raised the option of appealing the bail refusal to the High Court in Dublin and he was told to lodge such an appeal. He indicated that it would likely be Thursday 28 March before this High Court appeal would be heard.

Ed Horgan, coordinator of Irish Veterans For Peace, said, “This process is a clear attempt to punish the two VFP activists before any trial takes place. We are calling on all peace and human rights activists in Ireland and internationally to campaign not only on behalf of Ken Mayers and Tarak Kauff, but, more important, on behalf of all the innocent people being killed and injured by US illegal wars.”

Major Ken Mayers served 12 years in the US Marine Corps. He is a former National Board member of Veterans For Peace and participate in veterans peace team delegations to Palestine, Okinawa, Jeju Island, South Korea, and Standing Rock.

Tarak Kauff was a paratrooper in the US Army during the early sixties. He was a member of the VFP National Board of Directors for six years. He has organized veterans delegations to Palestine, Okinawa, South Korea and Standing Rock. He is currently the managing editor of Peace In Our Times, VFP’s quarterly 24-page newspaper.

Contact details:

Ellen Davidson Veterans For Peace USA, Phone +353863539911. USA: 845-297-8076
Ellen.davidson@verizon.net

Edward Horgan, Veterans For Peace Ireland, Phone +353858519623 aedwardhorgan45@gmail.com

Take Action:  Contact the Embassy of Ireland in your country and demand their release.  The Irish Embassy in the US (Washington DC) can be reached at 202-462-3939.

No Air base on Jeju Island!



 "This is the forest we love. Don't cut the trees!"

A woman activist stopped a chainsaw and she and her friends cried together.

March 23rd, Tree-cut in the Bijarim-ro cedar forest, a road which would be connected to the planned area for the 2nd Jeju airport (air force base) in Seongsan, South Korea.

Video by Lee Ki-cheol

Now that the US successfully forced the construction of the Navy base in Gangjeong village on Jeju they next want an air base nearby.

The air base would allow the high ranking Navy brass to be able to fly in and out at a location near the Gangjeong base.  And the Navy will want fighter jets near the Navy base to fly 'close air support' to protect the base in a war with China and Russia.

Jeju's regular airport is located on the opposite side of the island - about an hour drive away from the Navy base in Gangjeong village.

Who are the liars?

Beale AFB near Wheatland, California.  I lived on Beale from 1969-71 and graduated from Wheatland High School.  I love the regular creative protests at Beale by a dedicated bunch of northern California activists.

The Dems lie
and the Repubs lie too
they are all infested
with fleas

The Dems have been bought
Wall Street and Hollywood money
paid to protect the status quo
and to keep the 'liberal' base
in check
which they do
very effectively

The whole nation
built on lies from the start
talked equality, freedom,
justice, liberty
while they massacred
the Native Americans
and enslaved Africans
women could not vote
only white male
property owners
allowed

America was never great

America always aspired
to be an empire

The 'founding fathers'
learned how to be brutal
from their former
English masters

the nut didn't fall
far from the tree

Washington now
is desperate
watching the empire
collapse
while everything back home
falls apart

We're told to wait
for the next prez election,
get excited about the many choices
like so many brands
of sausage at the grocery,
while Congress goes after
Social Security, Medicare,
Medicaid
and what little is left of
the 'social safety net'

The safety net
is like the nation itself
tattered, worn, full of
holes and contradictions

Yes indeed
Jefferson was right
when he suggested
“a little rebellion now and then is a good thing"

and warned, "I hope we shall crush in its birth
the aristocracy of our monied corporations...."

Jefferson's democratic dream is gone
and 'we the people'
lost as well

Now is the time
to reclaim life
and liberty
if we can

Bruce

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Cold War Ides of March



US Cold Warriors escalate toward actual war with Russia.

By Stephen F. Cohen

Heedless of the consequences, or perhaps welcoming them, America’s Cold Warriors and their media platforms have recently escalated their rhetoric against Russia, especially in March. Anyone who has lived through or studied the preceding 40-year Cold War will recognize the ominous echoes of its most dangerous periods, when actual war was on the horizon or a policy option. Here are only a few random but representative examples:

  • In a March 8 Washington Post opinion article, two American professors, neither with any apparent substantive knowledge of Russia or Cold War history, warned that the Kremlin is trying “to undermine our trust in the institutions that sustain a strong nation and a strong democracy. The media, science, academia and the electoral process are all regular targets.” Decades ago, J. Edgar Hoover, the policeman of that Cold War, said the same, indeed made it an operational doctrine.

  • Nor is the purported threat to America only. According to (retired) Gen. David Petraeus and sitting Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, also in the Post on the following day, the “world is once again polarized between two competing visions for how to organize society.” For Putin’s Kremlin, “the existence of the United States’ rule-of-law world is intrinsically threatening.” This is an “intensifying worldwide struggle.” So much for those who dismissed post–Soviet Russia as merely a “regional” power, including former President Barack Obama, and for the myopic notion that a new Cold War was not possible.

  • But the preceding Cold War was driven by an intense ideological conflict between Soviet Communism and Western capitalism. Where is the ideological threat today, considering that post–Soviet Russia is also a capitalist country? In a perhaps unprecedented nearly 10,000-word manifesto from March 14 in the front news pages of (again) the Post, Robert Kagan provided the answer: “Today, authoritarianism has emerged as the great challenge facing the liberal democratic world—a profound ideological, as well as strategic, challenge.” That is, “authoritarianism” has replaced Soviet Communism in our times, with Russia again in the forefront.

The substance of Kagan’s “authoritarianism” as “an ideological force” is thin, barely enough for a short opinion article, often inconsistent and rarely empirical. It amounts to a batch of “strongman” leaders (prominently Putin, of course), despite their very different kinds of societies, political cultures, states, and histories, and despite their different nationalisms and ruling styles. Still, credit Kagan’s ambition to be the undisputed ideologist of the new American Cold War, though less the Post for taking the voluminous result so seriously.

The 40-year Cold War often flirted with hot war, and that, too, seems to be on the agenda. Words, as Russians say, are also deeds. They have consequences, especially when uttered by people of standing in influential outlets. Again, consider a few examples that might reasonably be considered warmongering:

  • The journal Foreign Policy found space for disgraced former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili to declare: “It is not a question of whether [Putin] will attack, but where.” (Saakashvili may be the most discredited “democratic” leader of recent times, having brought the West close to war with Russia in 2008 and since having had to flee his own country and then decamp even from US-backed Ukraine.)

  • NBC News, a reliable source of Cold War frenzy, reported, based on Estonian “intelligence,” an equally persistent source of the same mania, that “Russia is most likely to attack the Baltic States first, but a conflict between Russia and NATO would involve attacks on Western Europe.”

  • Also in March, in The Economist, another retired general, Ben Hodges, onetime commander of the US army in Europe, echoes that apocalyptic perspective: “This is not just about NATO’s eastern front.” (Readers may wish to note that “eastern front” is the designation given by Nazi Germany to its 1941 invasion of Soviet Russia. Russians certainly remember.)

  • Plenty of influential American Cold War zealots seem eager to respond to the bugle charge, among them John E. Herbst, a stalwart at the Atlantic Council (NATO’s agitprop “think tank” in Washington), and the Post’s deputy editorial-page editor, Jackson Diehl. Both want amply armed US and NATO warships sent to what Russians sometimes call their bordering “lakes,” the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. To do so would likely mean the “war” NBC envisages.

Lest readers think all this is merely the “chattering” of opinion-makers, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once termed it, consider a summary of legislation being prepared by a bipartisan US Senate committee, pointedly titled and with a fearsome acronym, DASKA (the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2019). Again, Russia is ritualistically accused of “malign influence” and “aggression” around the world, the quality of the committee’s thinking succinctly expressed by one of the Republican senators: “Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the US-led liberal global order.” There is no evidence for these allegations—Russian policy-makers are constantly citing international law, and the US “liberal global order,” if it ever existed, has done a fine job of undoing itself—but with “an outlaw regime,” there can be no diplomacy, nor do the senators propose any, only war.

A recurring theme of my recently published book War with Russia? is that the new Cold War is more dangerous, more fraught with hot war, than the one we survived. All of the above amply confirms that thesis, but there is more. Histories of the 40-year US-Soviet Cold War tell us that both sides came to understand their mutual responsibility for the conflict, a recognition that created political space for the constant peace-keeping negotiations, including nuclear arms control agreements, often known as détente. But as I also chronicle in the book, today’s American Cold Warriors blame only Russia, specifically “Putin’s Russia,” leaving no room or incentive for rethinking any US policy toward post-Soviet Russia since 1991. (See, for example, Nataliya Bugayova’s recent piece for the Institute for the Study of War.)

Still more, as I have also long pointed out, Moscow closely follows what is said and written in the United States about US-Russian relations. Here too words have consequences. On March 14, Russia’s National Security Council, headed by President Putin, officially raised its perception of American intentions toward Russia from “military dangers” (opasnosti) to direct “military threats” (ugrozy). In short, the Kremlin is preparing for war, however defensive its intention.

Finally, there continues to be no effective, organized American opposition to the new Cold War. This too is a major theme of my book and another reason why this Cold War is more dangerous than was its predecessor. In the 1970s and 1980s, advocates of détente were well-organized, well-funded, and well-represented, from grassroots politics and universities to think tanks, mainstream media, Congress, the State Department, and even the White House. Today there is no such opposition anywhere.

A major factor is, of course, “Russiagate.” As evidenced in the sources I cite above, much of the extreme American Cold War advocacy we witness today is a mindless response to President Trump’s pledge to find ways to “cooperate with Russia” and to the still-unproven allegations generated by it. Certainly, the Democratic Party is not an opposition party in regard to the new Cold War. Nancy Pelosi, the leader of its old guard, needlessly initiated an address to Congress by NATO’s secretary general, in April, which will be viewed in Moscow as a provocation. She also decried as “appalling” Trump’s diplomacy with Russian President Putin, whom she dismissed as a “thug.” Such is the state of statesmanship today in the Democratic Party.

Its shining new pennies seem little different. Beto O’Rourke, now a declared candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, promises to lead our “indispensable country,” an elite conceit that has inspired many US wars and cold wars. Another fledgling would-be Democratic leader, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, seems to have bought into Russiagate’s iconic promotion of US intelligence agencies, tweeting on January 12, “The FBI had to open inquiry on whether the most powerful person in the United States is actually working for Russia.” Evidently, neither she nor O’Rourke understand that growing Cold War is incompatible with progressive policies at home, in America or in Russia.

Among Democrats, there is one exception, Representative Tulsi Gabbard, who is also a declared candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Not surprisingly, for lamenting Russiagate’s contribution to the worsening new Cold War and calling for new approaches to Russia itself, Gabbard was shrilly and misleadingly slurred by NBC News. (For a defense of Gabbard, see Glenn Greenwald in The Intercept.) Herself a veteran of the US military forces, Representative Gabbard soldiers on, the only would-be Democratic president calling for an end to this most dangerous new Cold War.

This commentary is based on Stephen F. Cohen’s most recent weekly discussion with the host of The John Batchelor Show. Now in their fifth year, previous installments are at TheNation.com.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Troops for endle$$ war$



With the possible U.S. military withdrawal from Syria in the news on a daily basis, the mainstream media has been quick to parrot the DOD’s claim that 2,000 troops, mostly special operations forces, are to be withdrawn from the country. Although the total number of U.S. special operators deployed to Syria may have approached as many as 5,000, the current headlines have not mentioned that the United States has special operations units deployed not just in Syria, but in a majority of the nations of the world.

Over the past seventeen years, the forces at the disposal of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) have grown exponentially, more than doubling in size in numbers, with a budget that has also expanded four fold in that same period of time.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Don't thank me for my service....



End the war on Yemen


What's happening in Yemen right now should make everyone in this world stop, notice and speak out.