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, November 18, 2006

IRAQ OCCUPATION COST KILLING AMERICA

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The Bush administration is preparing to submit a request to Congress for up to $160 billion to fund the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan for fiscal year 2007. This will be on top of $70 billion that Congress has already approved for 2007.

Since 2001, Congress has approved $502 billion for the war on “terror,” roughly two-thirds for Iraq.

The cost of the entire Vietnam War, in today’s dollars, was $536 billion.

The UK’s Guardian recently reported that Bush told senior advisers that the U.S. must make “a last big push” to win in Iraq and may increase U.S. military forces by as many as 20,000 soldiers.

In our recent national election, the people voted for a change in policy in Iraq. The message seems to have reached Washington and their answer to the public appears to be “Ok, we will change our policy. We will dramatically increase the amount of money we are spending on the war and we will send even more troops.”

Not quite what the 62% of Americans who oppose the war had in mind.

The net result of this new policy will likely be more violence in Iraq, more hostility toward U.S. troops, more casualties on all sides, and a deepening quagmire.

Another important result will be that the Democrats, who so far have been most willing to support ALL Bush’s funding requests for the occupation of Iraq, get locked in to the “new policy.”

Bush has long said that in his remaining time in office he will not bring the troops home. Thus the only way to end the costly and outrageous Iraq fiasco is to cut the funding for the occupation. This is ultimately how the Congress had to end the war in Vietnam.

Soldiers are now coming home from Iraq and not getting adequate treatment from the VA because of lack of funding. Cutbacks in social programs are now becoming the norm in the U.S. as we spend 50% of every tax dollar on the Pentagon budget.

Our nation’s number one industrial export product today is weapons. In 2006 the U.S. exported over $21 billion in weapons – up from $10.6 billion the previous year.

Studies have long shown that military spending is capital intensive. In other words, each million dollars spent on military production creates far fewer jobs than if the money were invested in any other kind of job creation effort, including building trains, solar panels or windmills.

America is now hemorrhaging jobs and our debt is over $8.6 trillion and growing by $2 billion a day. We’d better wake up quick and tell the Democrats that they must stop funding this war. It’s killing our country.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

THE SLIDE BEGINS - AND SO SOON TOO
















And so it now begins.

This morning I got a mass email from Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) who is in line to chair the House Judiciary Committee. He is the one who has been leading the fight for years to investigate Bush/Cheney for impeachable offenses.

But a couple months ago, before the election, Nancy Pelosi began sending messages to the public. One of her declarations was that if the Dems took power that she might not honor the senority system to award committee chairmanships. Anyone who was paying attention knew that she was talking about Conyers.

Then she got even bolder, when just shortly before voting day, she said that impeachment was off the table. Ipso facto. No more discussion. The declaration was made. Forget all the obvious lies and constitutional violations of the Bush administration. The Democrats were pledging to go soft even before they took power.

In today's email Conyers acknowledges that he has fallen into line. Obviously, he got the message and if he wants to sit as chairman of the Judiciary Committee then he understands he has to play the game. Remember, the constitution is just a piece of paper anyway.

In his message Conyers says, "As many of you also know, I have agreed with Speaker-to-be Pelosi that impeachment is off the table. Instead, we agree that oversight, accountability and checks and balances – which have been sorely lacking for the last six years – must occur. I have nothing but respect for those who might disagree, but that is where I come out.......I am hopeful that I will be selected as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.........If I am selected as Chair, I believe it will place us in a position to make real and meaningful changes for the good of the American people."

I think the Conyers quote speaks for itself.

As if that wasn't enough, I then clicked on an article this morning from Mother Jones magazine called So You Want to Impeach? This piece strongly laid out the well-known case against the Bush pirate team and then ended with a final swift stroke, "Impeaching Bush alone, of course, would be of no use -- for Cheney, equally if not more culpable, is but another head of the same abominable Hydra. And there's the rub. Take away Bush, take away Cheney, and the line of succession would point to... President Nancy Pelosi. In order to replace a president who (for his many grievous sins) was popularly elected in a national election after the fiercest campaign in memory, we'd anoint a politician who hasn't faced serious opposition in two decades and was last elected by 225,000 true blue citizens... of San Francisco."

Are you still sitting in your chair? And Mother Jones is supposed to be a progressive publication. The Democrats and their sycophants are throwing the people who just put them into office the old brushback pitch. This one is aimed right at our heads. They are playing mind games with us. First they rev us up before the election to get us good and angry, then after they win they bring us down.

It's kind of like what the Republicans have done to their Christian base for years with issues like abortion, school prayer, and public display of the 10 commandments. Pander to them, fire them up, use them up, and then don't deliver on political promises. Both parties have this technique down to a fine art.

In the headline above is a link to one of the key groups now organizing impeachment campaigning in the U.S. We can't let the Dems off the hook. Hell, they are not even in power and they are already sending Bush signals that they are not going to hold him accountable! It's time for the people to speak out and put the heat on the weak-willed Democrats and the constitution-busting Republicans.

It's our country. The time for the people to take over has come.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

HELP STOP U.S.-INDIA NUCLEAR DEAL


In June 2005, President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Singh signed a nuclear agreement that set the groundwork for the sharing of nuclear technology and fuel with India. By providing India with nuclear fuel under the agreement, the U.S. would free India’s domestic uranium deposits for use in production of more nuclear weapons. India is a known nuclear weapons state that conducted nuclear testing most recently in 1998, and has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a treaty controlling the spread of nuclear weapons and signed by 187 countries.

Before the deal can be finalized, Congress must amend the Atomic Energy Act to allow the U.S. to enable nuclear cooperation with India without requiring India to sign the NPT or give up production of nuclear bomb making materials. The House passed legislation on July 26, 2006 allowing the deal to proceed while the companion bill in the Senate has not been voted on. Maine Democratic Party Congressmen Tom Allen and Mike Michaud voted in favor of the House bill that passed by a margin of 359-68. Most progressive members of Congress voted against it. (Tom Allen has publicly stated that the U.S. must help India expand its nuclear industry in order to deal with global warming.)

Everywhere Mary Beth Sullivan and I went during our recent speaking tour in India our peace activist hosts were talking about this nuclear deal. While the U.S. is condemning North Korea and Iran for pursuing nuclear weapons, the White House is offering to supply India with nuclear fuel that would enable them to build as many as 30-40 more nukes a year. They could not understand why the American peace movement was not more aware of the bill that will dramatically increase nuclear tensions in Southern Asia, already a flashpoint for nuclear war as Pakistan and China will be forced to respond to India’s nuclear expansion. It became clearer to me that the U.S. intends to use India as a “military outpost” in its aggressive attempt to surround and “manage” China in the years ahead. The U.S. weapons industry is arming Pakistan and India, playing divide and conquer in the region, and making enormous profits in the process from the resulting arms race.

The New York Times, wrote on March 7, 2006, "The nuclear deal that Mr. Bush concluded with India threatens to blast a bomb-size loophole through the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It would have been bad enough on its own, and disastrously ill timed, because it undercuts some of the most powerful arguments Washington can make to try to galvanize international opposition to Iran's nuclear adventurism..."
On why nuclear cooperation was given precedence over all other bilateral issues, one Indian diplomat has said, "If the nuclear issue was not resolved, India's space, defence and high-technology industry would not get huge investments. No multinational will invest in India if U.S. laws do not permit it. That unresolved issue was poisoning the entire trade system between India and the U.S.! It was the roadblock to India's knowledge power."

"This nuclear bill is not about nuclear technology or about selling some US reactors to India," the diplomat said. "The U.S. is buying a relationship and in the process India's strategic interest is being served. It will also help the Indian economy to grow by 10 per cent."

When Congress comes back to Washington for the short lame duck session in January, the administration is pushing the Senate to take up the U.S.-India nuclear deal.

The U.S. should develop a consistent position on nuclear weapons. We should not help other countries develop nukes and we should honor the NPT and get rid of our own.
We should also not be spreading nuclear technology - civilian or military around the world. If India wants to increase their ability to provide electricity for their country, they should expand the development of solar power. India gets lots of sunshine.
Please use the link in the headline above to contact your senators in Washington right away and urge them to vote NO on the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

VETERANS DAY PARADE IN PORTLAND


Yesterday in Portland over 100 members and supporters of Maine Veterans for Peace (VfP)participated in the annual parade through the heart of town. For the past 15 years VfP has participated in the parade.

This year though the American Legion, that organizes the parade each year, tried to keep our VfP chapter out of the event, largely due to our active and intense opposition to the war and occupation of Iraq. The American Legion said that if VfP was participating they had been told by other pro-war American Legion chapters in the area that they would refuse to be in the parade.

Our VfP chapter went public through the local media with our intention to continue participation and a series of letters to the editor brought the debate to the larger community. Eventually the city of Portland had to get involved and through their intervention the American Legion had to back down.

As usual our VfP delegation, mostly dressed in black, was the largest contingent in the parade. The small American Legion delegations were mixed into the parade as they normally are each carrying flags and rifles and busting out of their old military uniforms that long ago did not fit them properly. Other less controversial entrants in the parade were high school marching bands, clowns, unicyclists, fire trucks, Army vehicles and the like.

Following the parade a dull and lifeless rally was held at Monument Square where politicians and a few pro-war vets spoke. Our just reelected Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) talked about his pride in our troops who are "protecting our interests" overseas. As he spoke our 100 strong VfP contingent stood just opposite him, many of the members having been active supporters of his opponent Dexter Kamilewicz, an Independent who got 22,689 votes for 8%, in last week's voting. Dexter stood with us, dressed in black as well, as a reminder that we would not let off with our pressure to bring the troops home now. Rep. Allen says he is against the war but has voted 7 times to the tune of $354 billion to enable Bush to build permanent bases in Iraq and keep this insane war going.

Following the official rally, after a 10-minute wait, VfP was given the podium for our own rally where Maine VfP President Doug Rawlings spoke. The local paper today reported that Doug said, "We are not here, as some of our detractors claim, to disrespect America. We're here in the name of decency and humanity....Let us leave here today with the understanding that war itself is evil." Not reported in the paper were Doug's words calling for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and a cut in funding for the war. (The photo above was also in the Sunday paper.)

Last night I read that the Bush administration is going to ask for a $160 billion supplemental to fund the war for the remainder of 2007. This would be the largest appropriation for the war to-date! It is clear that Bush is coming right out of the starting blocks and will call the Democrats bluff to see if they will take responsibility and help "manage" the war creating even more "bi-partisan" support for the occupation. From what we have heard so far from our congressman, and most of the Democratic party leadership, they would likely support such a request.

As we walked the length of the parade route yesterday we got an excellent reception from the crowd lined up along the street. It is clear that the people are tired of the war and are looking for a way out. Knowing this, the peace movement should feel emboldened to continue to escalate the pressure on Congress before even more lives are lost in Iraq.