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....

My Photo
Name:
Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Friday, September 01, 2006

KODIAK STAR WARS LAUNCH SITE

  Posted by PicasaI traveled to Kodiak Island in Alaska a couple years ago at the invitation of local activists who were opposing the development of a launch site on their pristine island. On the couple hour drive to the launch site, on a far-flung part of the island that was known for the best beach, my hosts showed me large nests of bald eagles and salmon swelled rivers. They told me about the Kodiak bear and the native Alaskan villages that would be within range of any rocket that went haywire after any aborted launch.

While there I spoke at the local high school one evening to about 60 people who turned out, including the mayor of Kodiak. They had been promised that the launch facility would have nothing to do with the military. All launches from Kodiak would be innocent civilian launches of friendly satellites to help us get better cable TV and the like. Is this true they asked me? Would the government lie to us?

As it turns out there has yet to be a civilian launch from Kodiak. All launches so far have been tests for the Pentagon's Star Wars system. The very first launch had to be aborted as it went bad right after lift-off and plunged into the clean waters of the ocean - where some of the very best salmon fishing in the world is located.

Yesterday there was supposed to be another "missile defense" launch at Kodiak. The $85 million test would be practicing having one missile intercept another in space. The launch was scrubbed because of bad weather. The military will try again today or on Saturday.

New launch centers are now being built in New Mexico and recently I heard from activists in Nova Scotia who said one is being contemplated there. The taxpayers in those places are being asked to pay to construct the pads and they are promised that the launch facilities will only be used for civilian purposes. Activists in those places ask me, do you think it's true? Do you think this launch site will have anything to do with the military? Do you think they would lie to us?

My answer is always the same. Ask the Indians if our government would lie.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

FAST TO BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW

  Posted by PicasaOn September 11-21 our local peace group in my town of Brunswick will undertake a Fast to Bring the Troops Home Now. I will try to fast for the entire 10 days.

The goal of the fast is to bring the issue of the war, and the hideous cost of the war, before the public in a deeper and sustained way. Our Maine Congressional Delegation has voted six times to enable Bush in his war and occupation of Iraq to the tune of $304 billion. The fast will also say No to a war on Iran and will remind us that until there is justice for everyone around the world there will be no peace for anyone.

We plan to go out each day to our town green and hold signs and pass out literature about the fast. We will do this from noon to 1:00 pm. We will also purchase a 1/2 page advertisement in our local paper explaining why we are fasting. Today I had three of the folks who are going to fast on my cable TV show called This Issue that now plays in six Maine communities.

I will try to give reports on this blog during the fast. It should be a great experience for all of us.

One more thing about the Bush protest last weekend here in Maine. In Tuesday's Portland Press Herald newspaper they had an article about three mountain bikers that were asked to take George W. for a nature ride while he was here. They told the newspaper that they had been warned by the Secret Service not to bring up any political subjects during the ride. They did say though that at one point Bush mentioned the anti-war protest being planned last Saturday in Kennebunkport and his concern that his presence might disrupt people's vacations and his cousin's wedding.

Just goes to show that Bush does pay attention, maybe more than we think. I bet he even went on-line to view the photos of the protest taken by the Associated Press. In case he missed the one above we thought we'd share it here. Next time instead of worrying that his presence might disrupt vacations and weddings we'd like to suggest that he be put in jail for disrupting the lives of 2,636 dead American GI's and 20,000 severely wounded soldiers. And on top of that, don't forget the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people who are now dead as a result of his illegal and immoral war.

Click the link in the headline above for a blistering anti-Bush speech by the Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah - normally a very conservative place.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

PENTAGON PRESSES ON WITH HIGH-TECH SPACE WEAPONS

  Posted by PicasaI was working late last night trying to get caught up with my e-mails. Having taken the past week to help organize the Kennebunkport protest against Bush set me back a bit. I had to stay up late anyway as I did my third interview on Air America radio in the past week last night. When the harvest comes it seems to be bountiful.

One e-mail in my neglected stack was from my friend Kev who is a great researcher and sends me, and others, lots of important stuff he finds on the Internet. In this case it was the transcript from Democracy Now when they featured a documentary by an Italian filmmaker about new laser weapons the U.S. is using (testing) on the people of Iraq. I went to the July 25 program at the Democracy Now website and watched the full interview and was blown away by it. There is ample evidence that these new laser and directed energy weapons are creating wounds never seen before by doctors during wartime. The film included a clip of Rumsfeld and the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff answering questions about these weapons during a news conference and they very reluctantly admitted the weapons were not only under development but they might be "field tested" at some point.

My friend Bob Anderson, with the group Stop the War Machine in Albuquerque, is on top of this because Kirtland AFB in his community is doing the leading research and development work on lasers. Kirtland is also doing directed energy work there on systems like the "active denial" technology that fires a beam of wave energy at humans. The Pentagon claims it will be used for crowd control.

Also in my e-mail stack is some good news. It appears that Poland and the Czech Republic, because of citizen opposition, are backing away from volunteering to host a U.S. "missile defense" base in their countries. The U.S. wants to put underground silos in Eastern Europe to intercept ballistic missiles. I think they would be used to help surround Russia as the signs are now revealing the U.S. intention to re-create the Cold War containment of Russia. Where then would the U.S. deploy such weapons if turned down by Poland and the Czech Republic you ask? Well, the old standby appears to be jolly old England. Once again America's favorite lap dog, Tony Blair, might come to the rescue. The only problem though is that Blair is nearly ready to be thrown out on his arse by his own Labour Party and this might just be the last straw.

The other emerging U.S. lap dog is Japan in the Asian Pacific. They are now hosting U.S. Navy Aegis ships that are being used to militarily surround China as the Pentagon moves to "contain" them as well. "Missile defense" systems will be deployed throughout Japan and the news reports from Tokyo suggest they are now debating a new first-strike policy against North Korea. Japan is the country that started World War II in the Pacific with its military invasions and occupations of China and Korea and is now being encouraged by the U.S. to pursue such aggressive policies again.

The U.S., always on the side of the angels.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

PROTEST CALLS FOR CUT IN WAR FUNDING

  Posted by PicasaIt was a great day yesterday in Kennebunkport as 700 folks turned out to protest Bush's visit to Maine. The crowd was focused and determined as we walked 4 1/2 miles through the Republican dominated vacation community. As we marched through the heart of downtown scores of people came out to the street to watch us pass and hear us chant "Cut the funding for the war, bring the troops home now." We made the point over and over again that the Congress is complicit in this war by agreeing to every Bush-funding request that has now come to over $304 billion.

One of my favorite moments during the day was seeing a leather clad expensive car pass by and the aging wealthy couple in the car, husband giving us thumbs down and the pearl-laden wife giving us the peace sign. At one point mid-way through the march a good-looking young man rode up to me on his bike. He told me he was a Republican politician from New Hampshire who was in town for the Bush family wedding and had come to the rally before the march began and appreciated my speech where I said the Repubs and Dems were equally to blame for the war. He said he was too against the war. (See the article linked in the headline above for the full story.)

As we approached the Bush family compound at Walkers Point the place was crawling with national and international media. We stopped at the check point and I lead the crowd in again chanting "Cut the funding for the war, bring the troops home now."

I was very intentionally trying to focus on that message. Bush will not be running for election again. At this point if we want to stop the war the action is with the Congress. Bush is not going to change his mind. He said again this past week that he would never bring the troops home during his time in office. I take him at his word on that point.

If we want to stop the war then we must focus our organizing on Congress. With the Congressional mid-term elections coming up in November the peace movement must increase pressure on Congress to cut the funding. The Dems, who many in the peace movement support, must be strongly challenged to stop voting to fund the war.

The peace movement must be able to be publicly critical of both the Repubs and Dems for their role in the war. Unless we do this across the nation, in a coordinated and sustained way, the war and occupation of Iraq will never end. As Hillary Clinton said last year on CBS's Sunday TV program, ‘Faze the Nation’, "The American people need to relax. We are going to be in Iraq for a long time. We've been in Korea for 50 years."

As your peace group meets in coming months to discuss strategy for the fall, please bring this question into your deliberations. How can we best mount pressure on the Congress to immediately end the occupation of Iraq? Not in 2007 and certainly not in 50 more years. We must leave Iraq now!