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, August 04, 2006

PENTAGON WANTS MORE STUFF

  Posted by PicasaThe Pentagon is complaining that they are running out of money. Congress has just agreed to give them $500 billion for 2007 but that is not enough. Because of the war in Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq, the military says they need another $52 billion to "reset forces to full readiness." Translation is they need to replace their broken and worn out stuff. Production lines must be ramped up to keep the military industrial complex wheels turning. (See the linked article by clicking on the headline above for more Pentagon poor-mouthing details.)

The news today out of the Middle East is not good. Pentagon brass, testifying before Congress yesterday, acknowledge that civil war in Iraq "may" be happening. I thought it had been going on for the past year or so but what do I know. I just see the bloody pictures on TV. My Congressman says if the U.S. withdraws from Iraq there will be a civil war. So it is good, he says, that we should stay and keep things peaceful.

Israel continues to rampage throughout Lebanon, now bombing Christian areas north of Beirut. Please help me out here. I thought Israel was going after Hizbullah targets.....why the Christians? Or is it possible to consider that Israel wants to destroy all of Lebanon. Why would Israel want to do that? Why would Israel want to make an enemy out of Christian Lebanese who have no love for Hizbullah? I am wondering if the American people are yet beginning to reevaluate our long-time financial and military support for Israel? Israel is way out of control. (Read the reports from Gush Shalom, the leaders of active anti-war opposition in Israel, to hear how they think Israel is on a suicidal course.)

The reports out of Lebanon now say that 530 people have been killed since Israel began their bombing campaign, with 454 of that number of dead being civilians. One million Lebanese are now refugees, one-quarter of the entire population. Collective punishment of civilian people is illegal under international law. Why does the U.N. remain so quiet? I sent a letter to Secretary General Kofi Annan a couple days ago asking him that very question.

What happens to the Lebanese people when you bomb their country back to the stone age? What happens when you create a massive refugee crisis and international aid organizations cannot bring them supplies because roads and bridges are destroyed?
Harbors are blockaded by Israel's navy so supplies cannot be brought in by sea. Would you call this genocide?

And just in case we have all forgotten Gaza, the other front in Israel's version of "shock and awe", there are now 175 dead people since Isreal's re-occupation of those Palestinian lands.

Back home in the USA the neo-cons are only thinking about one thing. How can they widen this war into Syria and Iran? Watch Fox News for the details.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

CONVERT THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!

  Posted by PicasaMaine’s Republican Senator Susan Collins has just sent around a news release proudly proclaiming that she has helped to bring big money to our state. She says the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved, for fiscal year 2007, $3.4 billion for DDX destroyer ships at Bath Iron Works and an additional $50 million for smaller military contracts sprinkled throughout the state.

This is the industrial policy of America today. Weapons production. It is our #1 industrial export product. And when weapons are your # 1 industrial export product, what is your global marketing strategy for that product line? That’s right, endless war.

Our Congress should be fighting to bring funding to our states to build rail systems, solar and windmills. At a time when we are told that we are now having the hottest summer in the recorded history of the U.S., does it not make sense that the taxpayers should be demanding that OUR TAX DOLLARS be used to expand the production of sustainable technologies? What does more military production do to alleviate global warming? How will we be able to get to work when gas hits $4, $5, $6, $7 a gallon if we don’t have public transit?

Think of the jobs created by building the industrial capacity to put a solar system on every house and business in the U.S.! Think of the jobs created if we built a world-class rail system connecting every corner of the country. Imagine how many people could be employed while building windmill farms all across the nation.

Why don’t the peace movement, the environmental movement, and the labor movements get together and create a unified demand to convert the military-industrial complex to peaceful production? Imagine the legs that could be put under the political demand for conversion if we did come together with such a coordinated national positive campaign?

What are we waiting for? We will never end war as long as making weapons for endless war employs growing numbers of people in the U.S. This is the direction that the corporate militarists are taking our nation as they now determine that “security export” will be our role in the New World Order. What does it do to the soul of our nation when we have to make weapons of destruction in order to employ people so they can feed their families?

Today the U.S. is feverishly resupplying Israel with new orders to replace the bombs, bullets, tanks shells and other weapons they are using to destroy Lebanon. All the while people work overtime at military production sites to keep up with the orders for more weapons. An endless cycle of death and destruction. Can military production workers be proud of their work? Hardly. But it’s a job.

The idea of moving the arms race into space, what the Pentagon says will be the largest industrial project in the history of the planet Earth, has the weapons industry drooling. Again, how will we ever end war as long as we allow a new arms race into the heavens happen?

The Congress is complicit in the disinvestment in American peacetime industry. We don’t make hardly anything in this country anymore. Look in any Wal-Mart store and see for yourself. But what we do make is weapons.

We must demand over and over again that we want OUR TAX DOLLARS to be used for peaceful and sustainable production. We can’t end global warming by building weapons so that we can grab the diminishing supplies of the world’s oil and natural gas. We must convert the military industrial complex.

Trains not tanks. Windmills not Star Wars. Solar power not fighter planes and new generations of naval destroyers.

We need life not death for our children and grandchildren.

Help us make this demand public.

Monday, July 31, 2006

U.S. AND ISRAEL PLAN WIDENING WAR & CHAOS


I was in Brattleboro, Vermont yesterday for a regional activist meeting. People came from New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Over 50 folks (nine of us were from Maine) gathered to discuss how we could coordinate and expand our regional efforts to call for impeachment of Bush/Cheney and end the occupation of Iraq, stop the war on Lebanon and prevent an expansion of the U.S./Israeli war into Syria and Iran.

Some of the ideas people came up with were to hold Teach-Ins in the fall at colleges and universities; bird dog Democrats as they run for office this fall asking them tough questions about cutting the funding for the war and their stand on impeachment; support for Camp Democracy in Washington DC; counter recruitment; expanding direct action; holding a regional demonstration (a committee was created to work on this); and organizing speaking tours for Iraqi peace activists.

Following the networking meeting a public demonstration was held in Brattleboro where more than 300 people were in attendance. Following some great music, speeches were heard from various representatives of those who had attended the meeting. I was invited to be one of the speakers.

After a four-hour ride home I discovered that while I had been gone Israel had massacred 57 innocent civilians, including 37 children, in Qana, Lebanon with bombs provided by the U.S. government. The bombing had been launched in the dead of night while the targeted victims were asleep.

Former high-ranking Israeli military officer, now turned peace activist, Uri Avnery says this about Israel’s war on Lebanon, “It is the old story about the losing gambler: he cannot stop. He continues to play, in order to win his losses back. He continues to lose and continues to gamble, until he has lost everything: his ranch, his wife, his shirt.”

Avnery continues, “Condoleezza Rice's stubborn struggle against any attempt to stop the war shows that this is indeed the aim of the United States. From the first day
of George Bush's presidency, the neo-conservatives have been calling for the elimination of Syria. The deeper Bush sinks into the Iraqi quagmire, the more he needs to divert attention with another adventure.”

The deeper the U.S. and Israel (and make no mistake, the world sees the Lebanon war as a joint U.S./Israel war) get into this quagmire the worse it is going to get. There is no victory possible here - only a widening of war and chaos. This is what the U.S. and Israel want. This is the way to Condi Rice’s “New Middle East.” The U.S./Israel strategy is to destroy Lebanon, Gaza, Syria, Iran and Iraq and start all over again. It is the strategy of insanity and it is being done in our name with our tax dollars. We must take responsibility for this madness and stop it now before it gets worse.