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, October 27, 2006

BLAME THE TROOPS?


I have been volunteering for a Maine congressional candidate on my free time lately. His name is Dexter Kamilewicz. His son was in Iraq for 11 months and was nearly killed 4 times from IED explosions. He is home now with a messed up back and yet to be determined mental state after suffering several concussions.

Dexter is calling for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq, a cut in funding for the war and impeachment of Bush-Cheney.

On Wednesday night Dexter had a scheduling conflict and I was asked to go speak for him at a candidates forum out in western Maine in a tiny rural town called Harrison. The local VFW hall sponsored the event. It was to be an event mostly attended by local candidates with substitutes for the heavy hitters.

Once there in walked our incumbent congressman Tom Allen, the Democrat. Allen went first and did a mind numbing 4-minutes on the intricacies of Medicaid and then his small business health plan. He made no mention of the war.

When it was my turn I talked about Dexter's bio, about his son Ben's experience in Iraq, mentioned how a group of veterans had asked Dexter to run, and then talked about Allen's record on voting for war funding. (He has voted yes to fund the war 7 times to the tune of $354 billion.) Then I talked about how under corporate globalization the Pentagon says America's role will be "security export" which means endless war. I said Dexter wanted to cut the military budget to fund education, health care, and jobs by building rail and solar.

During the Q & A period Allen got asked by a woman in the audience to respond to what I said on the war. He went into his morality rant about having an obligation to take care of the troops and ended with a fierce cry that "we aren't going to let happen again what they did during the Vietnam war by blaming the troops" giving the impression that those wanting to cut funding were somehow blaming the troops. A new version of redbaiting if you will.

I asked to answer his nonsense and said that Allen was being disingenuous that in fact no one was blaming the troops. I said that Bush has promised to stay in Iraq during the rest of his tenure in office and that in spite of Allen saying he and the Dems have a plan to bring the troops home in 2007, how is he going to get Bush to do that unless you cut the funds? He gave no response to this question.

I've been around a while and know when a politician is trying to "redirect" as they say in the legal profession. His rant was intended to move the eyes and mind of the voters away from his votes on the war to the peace movement’s call to cut funding. He was trying to play the blame game as George W. Bush would say. For him to call himself against the war, and then try this ridiculously absurd tactic, just reveals to me what kind of a character Allen is. He is a career politician who will do virtually anything to stay in power.

My job is to be a peace activist and to tell the truth as I best see it from my own experience. I am noticing that many liberals who support Allen are having a hard time facing the truth these days about how their candidate says he is against the war but keeps voting to fund it.

Party loyalty trumps truth for many people. It is amazing to see smart “liberals” just click off their brains when confronted with the facts.

Some people take the peace movement for granted. They figure we are so desperate to “win” that we will spend our lives working for peace but then in an election like this we will put our conscience aside and vote against our best interests. I’ve got some news for you. Forget it, won’t happen with me. I am holding onto the truth and voting only for people who are real. People like Dexter.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

NEW STRATEGY SAME AS OLD STRATEGY


Bush announced yesterday a new strategy that will likely send more troops to Iraq. Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said that any U.S. troop withdrawal would now be pushed back into 2008.

As Casey and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad held their press conference in the well-guarded green zone in Baghdad the electricity went out on the U.S. compound.

The politicians are always saying, "We are almost there, just a little bit longer." This builds hope and forces patience on an increasingly restive American population. In the meantime Congress keeps spending $8.5 billion a month on the war. GI's get killed guarding convoys delivering cheesecake to chow halls on the permanent bases built and operated by Bechtel and Halliburton. They have no incentive to allow the U.S. to leave. So we stay.

In fact the more chaos and violence in Iraq the better as far as these big corporations see it. So can anyone doubt that they have helped to perpetuate the escalating level of violence in Iraq?

The peace movement has to get out of bed with the Democrats. The Dems are now saying give it another year, we should withdraw by the end of 2007. In another year how many more, on all sides, will be dead?

There have been 3,038 coalition deaths, 2,803 Americans, two Australians, 119 Britons, 13 Bulgarians, six Danes, two Dutch, two Estonians, one Fijian, one Hungarian, 32 Italians, one Kazakh, one Latvian, 17 Poles, two Romanians, two Salvadoran, three Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and 18 Ukrainians in the war in Iraq as of October 24, 2006, according to a CNN count.

At least 21,077 U.S. troops have been wounded in action, says the Pentagon.

Bring the troops home now!

Monday, October 23, 2006

655,000 DEAD IN IRAQ FOR WHAT?


On our way back from India we read in the British newspaper, the Daily Mail, that 655,000 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the war and occupation since March 2003. The study was done by Johns Hopkins University and was first published by The Lancet, the influential medical journal.

The figure means that about 2.5% of the Iraqi population has died since the war began.

Now tell me why the American people are sitting on their asses day in and day out and letting this happen? Tell me why the politicians in the Democratic Party are not screaming at the top of their lungs and calling for an immediate cut in funding for the war and withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq yesterday!

I'll tell you why. These sorry excuses for political leaders, backed up by the corporate dominated media, are doing the bidding of the corporations that are profiting from the war. The weapons corporations, the oil corporations, and the corporations like Halliburton and Bechtel are making huge money off the deaths of Iraqi civilians and American GI's. They own these politicians. Lock, stock, and barrel.

I'm sick to my soul with the "I'm almost there" talk by Democratic politicians. I'm tired of them saying, "Maybe we'll call for withdrawal in 90 days, or 6 months, after we retake the House of Representatives next month." It's all bullshit and you and I both know it. Then why aren't you standing on street corners in the pouring ran holding a sign calling these people liars and thieves?

I'm getting fed up. And I'm also getting fed up with the freaking liberals who say they are against the war and then turn around and vote for these politicians that are enabling the Bush war. Put up or shut up. Don't make your moralistic statements that you are against the war and then vote for the people who are funding it. Don't stand there and tell me the Democrats are going to change it all if they just take control of the House. It's a lie.

The Iraqi people are facing genocide. Even if the shooting stops today the people will continue to die due to the fact that they don't have clean water, food, adequate health care, and because they are massively exposed to depleted uranium. The U.S. wants them to die so that it will be easier to maintain control of their oil down the road. Can't you see this reality staring you in the face?

So quit telling me that the Democrats care and that they are going to end this occupation. They have funded these permanent bases for a reason. The U.S. intends to keep its troops in Iraq. Period. And three years from now, five years from now we will probably be having this same conversation.

It goes like this. The Democrats believe in empire. They support empire. They always have and they always will.

Figure it out. Now!