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: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'll be taking an 'unpaid leave of absence' from my job at the Global Network from December 15-March 15, 2020 in order to help my friend Lisa Savage on her campaign for the US Senate in Maine. She's running as a Maine Green Independent Party member and needs to gather 2,000 petition signatures of registered Greens during that period. I'll be back to GN after March 15.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

EUROPE IS JOINING THE SPACE ARMS RACE

Got home from Germany on Sunday evening and was waiting for a photo to arrive before I posted something here on the blog.

Our annual Global Network space organizing conference, and two protests, were a wonderful success. The photo above is from an early morning vigil at the gates of the European Space Agency Operations Center in Darmstadt. We handed out quite a few leaflets to people as they arrived to work. It was cold and raining while we were there but it was an effective protest that got covered the next day in the local newspaper.

In the photo you might notice a few people with white canes and black patches on one of their eyes. (Click on the photo and you will get a larger version of it.) The leaflet we handed out was called The Military Use of Space: Take off the blinders! The European Union is now developing a civilian reconnaissance satellite system called Galileo that is going to also have military applications. The European Space Agency (ESA), just like NASA, was created as a civilian space agency and was not to be dragged into military space. But also like NASA, the ESA is now going "dual use", meaning space technologies are being developed for both civilian and military purposes.

What this ultimately means is that the aerospace industries are pushing their governments all over Europe to increase funding for space militarization. At our space organizing conference we heard that in Sweden, for example, their government is rapidly funding growing efforts to pull the country into military space technologies. Same story all across Europe. And in each case they are cutting social spending to pay for the development of space warfare technology.

During the time in Darmstadt I was on a panel that was live on a local German community radio station talking about ESA and the militarization of space. A representative from the ESA was on the panel and maintained that ESA was against the militarization of space but he said several times that "Europe must defend itself." This ultimately translates to 'We can't let the U.S. control and dominate space. We must respond and if that means ESA develops military space technologies then so be it.'

I'll write more in coming days about the conference and post some more photos from the events. But despite the bad news from Europe, something we've known about for years, the fact is that opposition is growing in Europe as our contacts expand and more peace activists begin to understand the issue and do more work on it. One activist from Sweden asked me to do a speaking tour of Norway, Denmark and Sweden next year so this is evidence that folks are paying attention and taking action.

We met in Germany in hopes that we could give energy to European grassroots activists around the space issue. I think that happened.

At our conference we also decided that next year our meeting will be held in Omaha, Nebraska in order to shine an international light on the Pentagon's Strategic Command (StratCom) that is now in charge of Star Wars, satellite surveillance and reconnaissance, nuclear weapons, and planning for global preemptive war.

We hope you will join us at a future Global Network event and become a part of this effort to keep space for peace.

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