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, October 06, 2007

WORKING WITH BISHOP GUMBLETON

On Friday I spoke in Omaha at Creighton University (a Catholic Jesuit school) along with Bishop Thomas Gumbleton from Detroit, Michigan. Bishop Gumbleton, a lifelong peace worker, has just retired and is dedicating the rest of his life to speaking out for peace and justice.

We spoke together again Saturday morning at the annual conference of Nebraskans for Peace and again it was wonderful to hear Bishop Gumbleton mince no words as he called for an end to all war - the abolition of modern war from the face of the Earth. Not many bishops are going anywhere near that message these days but Gumbleton has never wavered from his strong beliefs. In 1997 when I organized the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station demonstration that brougt over 5,000 people to the front gate to protest the first flight test of the Trident II nuclear missile, Bishop Gumbleton was there.

Bishop Gumbleton, upon hearing of our plans to return to Omaha next April 11-13, 2008 for our annual GN space organizing conference and protest immediately said he wants to return to be part of that event.

After the day off on Sunday I will be busy on Monday meeting with key people in the Omaha area to plan our April 2008 GN space conference that will feature StratCom. People at the conference yesterday were excited to know that activists will be coming from around the U.S. and around the world next year to help shine a light on the "mission" of StratCom.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

HEADING TO STRATCOM

They used to call it the Strategic Air Command (SAC). They were in charge of the nuclear bombers and nuclear missiles. Then the Pentagon changed the name to the Strategic Command - StratCom.

StratCom is headquartered at Offutt AFB in Omaha, Nebraska. Their mission now includes being in charge of "full-spectrum global strike" (staging offensive, preemptive attacks); combating weapons of mass destruction; space and computer warfare; ballistic missile defense; and surveillance and reconnaissance (the "warrant-less wiretaps" conducted by the National Security Agency). In other words it runs almost the whole shebang!

I will be spending almost the entire Keep Space for Peace Week in Omaha as the guest of Global Network affiliate Nebraskans for Peace. They are planning a series of events during space week to highlight the growing and dangerous mission of StratCom.

According to Nebraskans for Peace Coordinator Tim Rinne, "Under the [Bush] administration’s 'doctrine of preemption,' StratCom has been commissioned to launch a first-strike attack anywhere on earth — within two hours — if a threat to America’s national security is even suspected. Following the same drill used on Iraq over its alleged stockpiles of WMD, this new StratCom directive (called 'CONPLAN 8022') is a high-tech version of ‘shoot first and ask questions later.’ And neither a dithering Congress nor international rule of law will be permitted to stand in the way.......StratCom’s attack plan even includes the use of tactical nuclear weapons to take out the reinforced bunkers housing Iran’s nuclear research facilities. "

Rinne continues, "The mission array of the newly retooled StratCom, however, extends far beyond this vigilante role. In its struggle with the forces of international terrorism, the Bush-Cheney Administration has seen fit to equip the Omaha command center with powers worthy of 'Big Brother.' The 'warrantless wiretaps' on American citizens conducted by the National Security Agency are, it turns out, a StratCom brainchild. As part of StratCom’s C-4ISR mission set, the NSA was made a 'Component Command' of StratCom, and the decision to begin this domestic spying operation was made by General Michael Hayden before he subsequently moved on to become the director of the CIA."

"At present, though, the world doesn’t even know what’s going on at StratCom. The changes have been so dizzying, public awareness hasn’t been able to keep up. Unless the world community has a working knowledge of the threat StratCom now represents, however, we will never be able to muster the power needed to start reining it in."

One key reason I will be going to Omaha during this coming week is to help Nebraskans for Peace make preparations to host the Global Network's (GN) annual space organizing conference on April 11-13, 2008. At our last GN conference in Germany last spring it was agreed that we need to help shine a bright light on what we are calling the "most dangerous place on the face of the Earth."

The International Network against Foreign Military Bases has put out a call for activists around the world to oppose all U.S. bases. They have also called on U.S. peace activists to do more to oppose U.S. bases in our own country. Surely StratCom ranks right at the top of the list of bases that must be known about and protested in the U.S. Thus the International Network has endorsed the GN's 2008 conference in Omaha and will be sending key leaders from their organization to the event.

The time has come to end the empire. Bringing StratCom, and its mission of global dominance, to the world's attention is now our mission. Please help us do so.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

KEEP SPACE FOR PEACE WEEK ACTIONS

International Days of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space

October 4-13, 2007

No Arms Race in Space
Stop Star Wars Research & Development
Stop Endless War

Convert the Military Industrial Complex
Fund Human Needs



1) Albuquerque, New Mexico (Oct 6 Protest at Northrop Grumman for their war profiteering and militarization of space) Bob Anderson citizen@comcast.net

2) Albuquerque, New Mexico (Oct 7 Space video showing at Guild Cinema) Bob Anderson citizen@comcast.net

3) Ashland, Oregon (Oct 8 Showing of Arsenal of Hypocrisy, discussion and legislative action at Peace House, 6:00 pm with pot luck) Jill Mackie jmackie@mind.net

4) Asheville, North Carolina (Oct 12 Unitarian Church presents Movie Night A SPACE 4 PEACE at 7:00 PM. This video depicts how our “Defense Department” plans to not just militarize space, but to weaponize space for offensive and commercial purposes.) For more: Lew Patrie - (828) 273-2229 or 299-1242

5) Australia During Keep Space for Peace Week Australian WILPF is communicating with the Foreign Minister to urge him in strongest terms to support negotiations for Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space, and not to cooperate with the U.S. missile defense program or with its plans for space domination. The WILPF national co-coordinator is running for the Senate in the hope of positively influencing national policy on this and similar issues. Cathy Picone cpicone@westnet.com.au

6) Bath, Maine (Oct 6 Vigil at Bath Iron Works 11:30-12:30) Jack Bussell jafabussell@gwi.net

7) Bellevue, Nebraska (Oct 11 Protest at Northrup Grumman aerospace facility) nfpstate@nebraskansforpeace.org

8) Boston/Cambridge, Massachusetts (Oct 4 Space video and presentation by Mary Beth Sullivan from the Global Network 6:45 PM, Central Square Public Library, 45 Pearl Street, Cambridge, MA) WILPF Call 617-244-8054

9) Brdy, Czech Republic (Oct 20 Int’l Meeting Against Missile Defense radar in Czech Republic) Ivona Novomestska ivona.n@email.cz

10) Canberra, Australia (Oct 13 Picnic at the Raytheon Tidbinbilla Tracking Station, Tidbinbilla Road, 11-1pm) Benjo Keaney kean666@hotmail.com

11) Colorado Springs, Colorado (Oct 8 Bannering at "Camp Casey", corner of Dale St & Nevada Ave at noon) Bill Sulzman bsulzman@juno.com

12) Colorado Springs, Colorado (Oct 12 vigil outside the west gate of Schriever Air Force Base from 3-4 pm) Bill Sulzman bsulzman@juno.com

13) Croughton, England (Oct 6 March & Rally at U.S. Space Communications
Base, 12:00 – 3:00 pm) Oxfordshire Peace Campaign oxonpeace@yahoo.co.uk

14) Damascus, Syria (Oct 13 Public Meeting at Damascus Center) Ghassan Shahrour, MD ghassan.dr@gmail.com

15) Darmstadt, Germany (Oct 13 Spy Base Dismantlement: bannering and speeches celebrating the announced dismantlement of the U.S. spy base in Darmstadt) Darmstädter Friedensforum regina.hagen@jugendstil.da.shuttle.de

16) Faslane, Scotland (Oct 1 “Big Blockade” of Faslane Naval Submarine Base. This will be the culmination of the Faslane 365 year of actions against Trident, Britain’s weapon of mass destruction) Brian Larkin brian@faslane365.org

17) Florence, Oregon (Oct 6 Demonstration on Hwy 101 to a Keep Space for Peace theme. We'll have signs and leaflets. Starting time is 1pm) Stuart Henderson shenderson88@hotmail.com

18) Ft. Myers, Florida (Oct 3 & 10 Vigils on behalf of lost American and Iraqi lives and to Keep Space for Peace, Corner of McGregor and Colonial, 4:30-5:30pm) Arlyne Goodwin Arlynepeace@cs.com

19) Fylingdales, England (Oct 6 Fylingdales Action Network will deliver a letter to the Commander of Fylingdales U.S. radar facility pointing out the dangers to world peace of the developing of a missile shield for America.) Jackie Fearnley Jackie.Fearnley@beevitalpropolis.com

20) Geneva, Switzerland: (Oct 10 WILPF plans to issue a statement, on the 40th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty, urging demilitarization of space, negotiation of new treaty terms on banning weapons in space and Prevention of a Arms Race in Outer Space. It will go to delegations and governments involved in treaty negotiations in Geneva and New York: namely the General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament in New York, the Fourth Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in Vienna, and the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.) Contact: Ray@reachingcriticalwill.org

21) Halifax, Nova Scotia (Oct 9 Film screening: Arsenal of Hypocrisy Dalhousie University Student Union Bldg, Room 303, 8:30-9:30 pm) Tamara Lorincz
tlorincz@dal.ca

22) Hillsboro, Oregon (U.U. Community Church Program Promoting global security and keeping weapons out of space, 10:00 am) Celeste Howard celeste@pacifier.com

23) Jalgaon, India (Oct 4-5 Space weaponization talks at North Maharashtra University; Indian Women for Peace & Development; Young Lawyers of Jalgaon Bar Association; and Rally of College Students) J. Narayana Rao jnrao36@sify.com

24) London, England (Oct 13 Space weapons issue workshop at annual CND National membership conference) http://www.cnduk.org/

25) Menwith Hill, England (Oct 13 Demonstration at NSA Spy Base, Yorkshire 12:00-4:00 pm) Lindis Percy percy@starbeck.eclipse.co.uk

26) Menwith Hill, England (On-going Women’s Peace Camp at nearby Lay-by) Helen John helenmenwith@yahoo.co.uk

27) Monterey, California (Sept 19 WILPF slide show on the US militarization of outer space - 6:30 to 8:30 at the Monterey library. Special discussion of the role of Onizuka Space Station in Sunnyvale, (known as the Blue Cube), Vandenberg Space Command and the role of the world wide network of satellite tracking stations.) MacGregor Eddy (831) 206-5043 macgregoreddy@gmail.com

28) Nagpur, India (Oct 2 Dharampeth Science College, All India Peace & Solidarity Organisation, Talk on Importance of Declaration of 2nd October as day of Non- Violence, 11.00am) Yugal Rayalu yugalrayalu@yahoo.com

29) Nagpur, India (Oct 6-8 Space weaponization talks at Rally at Gandhi Statue; Meeting with students at S.F.S. College; Rally of Indian Women for Peace & Development; Students of Mahila Mahavidyalaya) J. Narayana Rao jnrao36@sify.com

30) Naples, Florida (Oct 5 & 12 Vigils on behalf of lost American and Iraqi lives and to Keep Space for Peace, Corner of U.S. Hwy 41 and Pine Ridge, 4:30-5:30pm) Arlyne Goodwin Arlynepeace@cs.com

31) Nairobi, Kenya (Oct 12 People's Parliament will hold public discussions on the issue of peace and the militarization of Space. Discussions will tie in with the proposed establishment of the AFRICOM command center by the USA in Africa.
The main event will be held at the Jeevanjee Gardens Park.) Wangui Mbatia
leader@peoples-parliament.org

32) New York City (Oct 11 Joel Landy presents Keep Space for Peace musical review at TheYippie Museum and Cafe http://www.yippiemuseum.org/ 9 Bleecker Street at Bowery, 8 - 10 pm) joellandy@yahoo.com

33) Omaha, Nebraska (Sept 24 Speech at Univ. of Nebraska-Omaha by Norman Solomon on Transformation of StratCom, 7:00 pm) nfpstate@nebraskansforpeace.org

34) Omaha, Nebraska (Oct 5 Speech by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton & Bruce Gagnon at Creighton University on StratCom's Role in Militarization of Space: An Update and Christian Response, 3:30 pm) nfpstate@nebraskansforpeace.org

35) Omaha, Nebraska (Oct 6 Annual Nebraskans for Peace Conference at First United Methodist Church featuring Gumbleton and Gagnon, 10:00 am) nfpstate@nebraskansforpeace.org

36) Omaha, Nebraska: (Oct 6 WILPF participatory workshop on the aerospace corporations and StratCom, including gathering specific data on aerospace corporations in Nebraska, and on working for conversion to a peace economy. WILPF and Peace Economy Project at Nebraskans for Peace conference) Carol Urner carol.disarm@gmail.com

37) Omaha, Nebraska (Oct 9 Protest at Strategic Space & Defense Conference at Qwest Center, 5:00 pm) nfpstate@nebraskansforpeace.org

38) Omaha, Nebraska (Oct 10 Protest & Die-In at Strategic Space & Defense Conference at Qwest Center, 7:30 am) nfpstate@nebraskansforpeace.org

39) Ottawa, Canada (Oct 4 Former astronaut and President of the Canadian Space Agency, Captain Marc Garneau, will hold a news conference followed by a luncheon briefing for parliamentarians calling for a re-invigorated and coherent national Canadian policy on space.) Steven Staples, Rideau Institute operations@rideauinstitute.ca

40) Palo Alto, California (Oct. 21 Keep Space for Peace Event at Unitarian Church, 605 E. Charleston Rd., Speaker: Jackie Cabasso) WILPF Peninsula Branch BernSFish@aol.com

41) Parvatipuram, India (Oct 10 Space weaponization talks at Lions Club and SVD College) J. Narayana Rao jnrao36@sify.com

42) Portland, Maine (Oct 2 Bruce Gagnon speaks on space issues at Peace Action Maine office – 644 Congress St, 7:00 pm) Daniel Muller danny@peaceactionme.org

43) Portland, Oregon (Oct 10 WILPF Keep Space for Peace vigil and leafleting in downtown Portland on the 50th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty.) Barbara Drageaux bjdrgx@aracnet.com

44) Primghar, Iowa (Oct 13 Speech by Bruce Gagnon to PeaceLinks, 7:00 pm) olivew@tcaexpress.net

45) Raipur, India (Oct 9 Space weaponication talks at Lions Club; Meeting of All India Peace & Solidarity Organization along with various Trade Union organizations) J. Narayana Rao jnrao36@sify.com

46) Raipur, India (Oct 4 Lecture against weapons & nuclear power in space) Ramesh Kothari rameshnkothari@yahoo.co.in

47) Sacramento, California (Oct 4 Downtown leafleting by WILPF, Peace Action, and Grandmothers for Peace exposing local area aerospace corporations profiteering on space militarization) Ellen Schwartz ellen@nicetechnology.com

48) Srikakulam, India (Oct 12 Space weaponization talk to All India Peace & Solidarity Organization and Trade Unions) J. Narayana Rao jnrao36@sify.com

49) St. Louis, Missouri (Oct 12 - 14 Peace Economy Project's "Defining Security National Conference to Promote Peace, Cut Military Spending and Fund Real Needs" will include a Global Network discussion of weaponization of space) Andy Heaslet pep@peaceeconomyproject.org

50) Superior, Wisconsin (Oct 9 Lecture by Dr. Helen Caldicott at College of St. Scholastica) Jan Provost G4Peace1@charter.net

51) Toledo, Ohio (Oct 4-13 Daily space flyer distribution at County Building, Corner of Adams & Erie from 4:00-5:00 pm) Roz Marovitz rkmarovitz@hotmail.com

52) Traverse City, Michigan (Oct 5 Joining anti-Iraq demonstration with No War in Space banner; 5 public TV showings of Arsenal of Hypocrisy; GN space week posters all over town) Carol Still ipjn.1@juno.com

53) Tuscon, Arizona (Oct 13 WILPF showing Arsenal of Hypocrisy and discussion on Keeping Space for Peace at the Martha Cooper Library, 1377 N. Catalina Ave) Pat Birnie patbirnie@gmail.com

54) Vandenberg AFB, California (Oct 13 Vigil at main gate, 1:00 pm) Dennis Apel jdapel@yahoo.com

55) Veeraghattam, India (Oct 11 Space weaponization talk at Government Degree College) J. Narayana Rao jnrao36@sify.com

56) Visakhapatnam, India (Oct 13 Space weaponization talks at Meeting in the University Campus and to the Inaugural meeting of the Indian Women for Peace & Development Chapter) J. Narayana Rao jnrao36@sify.com

57) Washington D.C. (Oct 4 WILPF lobbying in Congress against space militarization, and in support of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, a ban on space weapons, and Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space) Carol Urner carol.disarm@gmail.com

58) Washington D.C. (Oct 5 Vigil at White House noon-1:00 pm) Dorothy Day Catholic Worker artlaffin@hotmail.com

59) Washington D.C. (Oct 9 Vigil at Pentagon 7:00-8:00am) Dorothy Day Catholic Worker artlaffin@hotmail.com

60) West Palm Beach, Florida (Oct 6 Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space, 2-3 pm Corner of Okeechobee Blvd. and Military Trail) Susan Mosley Palm Beach County WILPF susanm4peace@yahoo.com

Women's International League for Peace & Freedom is a co-sponsor, along with the Global Network, of this week of protest. www.reachingcriticalwill.org

Monday, October 01, 2007

STAR WARS COVERAGE MISSES KEY POINT

Just in time for Keep Space for Peace Week, Rolling Stone Magazine has just come out with a long article on "missile defense" entitled "The Shield." Written by Jack Hitt, the extensive article concludes that the Pentagon's missile defense system will never be finished and is completely unnecessary.

Hitt reports that "missile defense is the single most-expensive weapons system in the American arsenal. The Bush administration nearly tripled Clinton's average missile defense budget, to $11-billion a year -- a sum almost four times larger than the U.S. government's total spending on energy research." By 2013 research and development is expected to grow to $19-billion a year.

The article is largely set around the Missile Defense Agency's (MDA) new X-band radar, or SBX, that was built to sit on a former oil rig platform. Constructed in Texas, the sea-going radar was too big to get through the Panama Canal and had to be shipped to Hawaii the long way - around the tip of South America. Its ultimate destination is Alaska where it will then be tied in with other U.S. Star Wars radars dotted around the planet in Greenland, California, Massachusetts, and England giving the military full spectrum visibility of the entire planet.

Hitt reviews the MDA's plan for a "layered missile defense shield" that would theoretically intercept offending "evil weapons of mass destruction" in their boost phase, midcourse, and terminal stages of flight. Various space weapons systems are now under development by the MDA for each of these three phases of flight and include the Airborne laser (a converted Boeing 747 with a laser on it's nose), Kinetic Energy Interceptor, Navy Aegis destroyers outfitted with interceptor missiles, PAC-3 (latest upgrade of the Patriot interceptor), Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (interceptors mounted on Army trucks), and more.

Hitt astutely notes that "As with its complex technology and multiple military rivalries, the missile defense system is also 'layered' in another way -- as a series of receding and lucrative private contracts."

Hitt spends much time in his article discussing the testing program for missile defense. He shares the Pentagon's new testing philosophy called "spiral development" which "means that you build a weapons system not with a fixed design and completion date in mind, but with a more flexible idea of what you are shooting for, one that is subject to endless change and revision."

Thus the program never ends, the money flows forever as new upgrades to the system keep the aerospace corporation profits high and dry. Hitt says, "In the procurement business, it's called 'kicking the can down the road' -- slowly working your way to a goal without ever really getting there. Instead of building a missile defense shield, what gets constructed is a full-employment policy for defense [military] contractors."

There are some things that Hitt does not talk about. He never considers that "missile defense" is not really supposed to work because the program is not about defense - it is an offensive, Star Wars program to give the U.S. "control and domination" of space and the Earth below.

Ample evidence has existed for years that the real intent of the MDA's work is to create this kind of offensive system that would give the Pentagon the ability to "deny" other powers military access to space. The U.S. well understands that those who have military "space assets" in place will win the wars on the planet below. When the Pentagon launched the 2003 "shock and awe" attack of Iraq in 2003, 70% of the weapons used in the initial attack were guided to their targets by military satellites now in space and working quite effectively. Space weapons technology is now functioning and according to Pentagon documents no one else should be allowed to have that same capability. If they did have it they might be able to challenge the U.S.'s notion of "full spectrum dominance."

Thus spending on "missile defense" allows research, development, testing, and deployment of a host of "offensive" space programs.

In the recent Air Force Space Command's Strategic Master Plan: FY06 and Beyond, the space warriors say, "This capability (space) is the ultimate high ground of U.S. military operations. Today, control of this high ground means superiority in information and significant force enhancement. Tomorrow, ownership may mean instant engagement anywhere in the world."

Hitt also generally gives a pass to the Democratic Party in his article. He does briefly mention that Bill Clinton changed Ronald Reagan's "Strategic Defense Initiative - SDI" to the "Ballistic Missile Defense Organization - BMDO" but he ignores the strong bipartisan nature of the whole Star Wars program. The Democrats have been full partners in keeping the program alive and fully funded since the 1980's.

In the end Hitt's article fails to outline the real U.S. military doctrine that exists today - preemptive first strike attack. His article determines that "missile defense" is about endless corporate welfare. He is right about that. But he leaves out the true military role for space technology, which is to enhance and ensure U.S. military control of the entire Earth and all of its diminishing resources on behalf of corporate globalization.

Preemptive attack, directed by space technology, is the future of U.S. military doctrine. The sooner we all understand that, and openly debate the policy, the sooner we put an end to the expansion of U.S. empire.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

ONE SEASON ENDS

The regular baseball season ended, mercifully, today and my team ended up tied for the third worst record out of both the American and National leagues. My team, the Baltimore Orioles, now have had losing seasons 10 years in a row.

People often ask me how I can go on doing political work, with all the defeats, day in and day out. I tell them that I use baseball as my escape hatch - my way to lose myself a bit from the craziness of this world. But when your team is also losing all the time........

Baseball and life are very similar. If you get a hit in baseball 3 times out of 10 then you are considered a great hitter. You get used to failure. You learn to find joy in the small victories.

When I was a boy I played Little League baseball and I was a catcher. I modeled myself after the famous Italian-American catcher Yogi Berra (New York Yankees) who is best known as the foremost working class baseball philosopher. My favorite of all his sayings is: "You can take them to the ball game but you can't make them go in."

I have used that phrase quite often in my organizing. You can organize campaigns, put the information out there, you can organize protests, you can hold a sit-in at a congressional office - but you can't make the public participate. You have to give up expectation, you have to give up control. You have to learn to be happy batting .300

In Maine most baseball fans love the Boston Red Sox. You see Red Sox hats and T-shirts all over the place. The team Red Sox fans hate most is the New York Yankees - they call them the evil empire because the Yankees have always been good and always have loads of money to buy the best players. Tell me the average person does not understand empire!

When I walk around with my black Baltimore Oriole hat (with the bird logo on it) Red Sox fans don't say anything.....they don't give me a hard time like they would if I wore a Yankee hat. The Orioles are no threat. They probably feel sorry for me.

Sometimes I tell myself that I'm not actually promoting my baseball team with my hat but just promoting the beautiful bird - the Baltimore Oriole.

In the end though winning and losing is just a mind game. It's a distraction from what is really important in life. Can we breath the air? Can we guarantee that our children and grand kids will have a future on this planet? What about the polar bear and the people who live on tiny islands in the Pacific? What is their future after climate change? How can we stop the U.S. drive for endless war?

When it comes to political change in the U.S. today it feels like we are hitting less than .100
How great it would feel if we could hit .300 when it comes to seeking political change.

But I'm not giving up. I've learned over the years that there is always next year. Next spring will bring a new chance to turn things around. As long as I am breathing I will keep taking a swing. Now and then I know we can hit one out of the ballpark.

At the very least I have to keep trying. I have no other choice. Let me lift my head up and keep moving on.