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

Saturday, June 04, 2005

BUSH SEEKS MILITARY CONTROL OF SPACE

The Bush administration is expected to soon announce a new national space policy that will give the Pentagon the green light to move toward deployment of offensive weapons in space.

The new directive could allow deployment of lasers in space; attack planes that descend on targets from space; anti-satellite weapons, which would disrupt or destroy other nation's satellites; and tungsten rods fired from space platforms that would gather speeds of over 7,000 mph and be able to penetrate underground targets.

In the Air Force Space Command’s Strategic Master Plan, FY06 and Beyond, the military said, “Our vision calls for prompt global strike space systems with the capability to apply force from or through space against terrestrial targets. International treaties and laws do not prohibit the use or presence of conventional weapons in space.”

There was a treaty that limited the research, development, testing and deployment of such offensive space systems. It was the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia. Once in office, George W. Bush withdrew the U.S. from the treaty and moved forward with expanded research and development on offensive space weapons.

The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq was largely coordinated from space. Over 70% of the weapons used in the war were guided to their targets by military satellites. Thus the Pentagon maintains that the U.S. must “deny” other nations the use of space in order to maintain “full spectrum dominance.”

In order to sell this space warfare program to the American people, the Pentagon has labeled it “missile defense.” But in reality the program is all about offensive engagement and was first spelled out in the 1997 Space Command plan, Vision for 2020, that called for U.S. “control and domination” of space.

The Pentagon and its aerospace corporation allies understand that they cannot come to the American people and ask for hundreds of billions of dollars for offensive weapons in space. Thus the claim of “missile defense.” The U.S. has to date spent well over $130 billion on Star Wars research and development. The budget for military-related space activity in 2003 was $18 billion and is expected to top $25 billion a year by 2010.

With growing budget deficits in the U.S., Congress will have to drastically cut needed programs like Medicare, Medicaid, education, public transit, and environmental clean-up in order to pay the growing cost of space weapons technology.

The world has become reliant on satellites for cell phones, cable TV, ATM bank machines and the like. Space debris is already a problem as space shuttles have had windshields cracked by bits of paint orbiting the Earth at enormous speeds. Imagine what would happen if the U.S. began destroying satellites in space, creating massive amounts of orbiting space junk, that made access to space virtually impossible for everyone.

For the last several years the Space Command, headquartered in Colorado Springs, held a computer simulation space war game set in the year 2017. The game pitted the “Blues” (U.S.) against the “Reds” (China). In the war game the U.S. launched a preemptive first strike attack against China using the military space plane (called Global Strike). Armed with a half-ton of precision-guided munitions the space plane would fly down from orbit and strike anywhere in the world in 45 minutes.

It is easy to see why Canada, Russia, and China have repeatedly gone to the United Nations asking the U.S. to join them in negotiating a new global ban on weapons in space. Why not close the door to the barn before the horse gets out? So far the U.S., during both the Clinton and Bush administrations, refuses to even discuss the idea of a new space treaty.

Gen. Lance Lord, head of the Air Force Space Command, recently told Congress, “Space superiority is not our birthright, but it is our destiny.” The idea that the U.S. is destined to rule the Earth and space militarily needs to be seriously debated by the citizens of our nation. Not only is this a provocative and immoral notion, it is also one that will lead to a massive waste of our hard-earned tax dollars and create a dangerous new arms race. Do we really want war in the heavens?

Friday, June 03, 2005

BOOK UNDERWAY - COME TOGETHER RIGHT NOW

I took my book to my production and lay-out person yesterday. She told me it would take about 6 weeks to get it printed. I handed over the last of the artwork that will be going into it and had earlier sent her the final edited copy. Had three volunteers do the editing on the book and my long-time friend W.B. Park in Florida has kindly agreed to allow me to include about 25 of his illustrations in the book. He has illustrated my organizing work for the last 20 years -- doing the cartoons and drawings for posters, leaflets, and newsletters. I think it will add much to the book.

After consulting with many people I settled on the title Come Together Right Now: Organizing Stories from a Fading Empire. The use of the word fading illustrates for me the disinvestment that our corporate-dominated government is doing in America. As corporations move overseas to maximize profits, they don't care about country anymore. So we see cuts in education, health care, the infrastructure of the country (roads, bridges, rail systems crumbling), the psychological health of the people declining (40% of American's are taking drugs for depression) and the like. We've become a military empire but the well is running dry.

So my prescription for our survival as people is that we have to come together right now and fight back to hang onto some degree of dignity. If we don't watch out, pretty soon the only jobs in the U.S. will be working at Wal-Mart for substandard wages that have no benefits. (Many workers at Wal-Mart have to apply for welfare and food stamps in order to get by. Thus the taxpayers ends up subsidizing Wal-Mart. Call it what it is -- corporate welfare or socialism for the rich!)

Tuesday, May 31, 2005


I was proud of our Maine Veterans for Peace memorial day parade effort. The public is in denial on the war.


The tail end of our Veterans for Peace memorial day parade entry

Monday, May 30, 2005

MEMORIAL DAY PARADE - VETS & BEAUTY QUEENS

Our Maine Veterans for Peace chapter was in the Brunswick memorial day parade this morning. It is said the parade was the largest in the state. Some of our group of thirty pushed a float with 800 crosses, the number of GI's killed in Iraq at this time last year. On the front of the float was a large sign saying the number was now over 1,600 GI's killed in Iraq. Behind the float was a large banner listing the number of GI's killed in Korea (Korean war was the theme for the parade today). The banner also listed the number of innocent civilians killed during the Korean war. Then behind that was a banner that took up both lanes of the road as we marched through the neighboring town of Topsham, over the bridge, into Brunswick. This banner listed all the military and civilian war dead from WW I until 2004. And then finishing up our group I helped carry a large banner that said "Abolish War" on it.

The response was interesting. A bit of applause now and then as we walked along, but many who clapped were timid as they did it, almost like it was an illegal act to do so. Then there were others who didn't clap but who would flash us a look with their eyes to say they agreed. Still others made a slow easy nod of the head, very discreet. I saw two men turn their backs on us as we went by and I heard one man yell out something about the Taliban while another called us "hippies".

Mostly the crowd was in stunned silence by our Veterans for Peace display. I at times felt like I was marching through the Confederate south during the early 1860's with a banner that said "Abolish Slavery." The concept is just far from people's comprehension, they have been well trained to see war as a noble endeavor. Obviously, that is what this parade is for.

Behind us in the parade were a small group of young girls doing cheerleading exercises with blaring music coming from their lead car. And behind them were the lovely young women contestants in the Miss Maine pageant -- all dressed in sexy clothes with fancy spring hats while sitting on the back seat of convertible cars. They waved to the crowds on the street and you could see people's relief when they came along. Here was something that many folks could understand on this memorial day. Cheerleading and beauty queens. Now that is more like America than these veterans reminding people about the atrocities of war.

I felt such pride in our Veterans for Peace chapter. Time after time here in Maine we keep finding a way to place ourselves in these parades and other settings that promote war. World War II, Korean war, Vietnam vets, and our new member who served in Afghanistan. It is truly a great bunch of men and women.