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, November 16, 2007

NOVEMBER 17 PROTESTS PLANNED TO OPPOSE MISSILE DEFENSE

The people in Poland and the Czech Republic are increasingly agitated as the Bush administration presses forward with plans to deploy "missile defense" systems in their countries.

It took these citizens many years to get rid of the Soviet occupation and now they see their right-wing governments cutting deals with Bush to allow the U.S. to become the new military occupier in their country.

On November 17 there will be a national demonstration in Prague, Czech Republic denouncing plans for deployment of the U.S. radar base. Czech citizens are demanding the right to a national referendum as 68% of the people there are opposed to the U.S. radar facility that will make them a target as tensions increase between the U.S. and Russia.

The Union of Security Forces of the Ministry of Interior of the Czech Republic will join the national demonstration for Democracy that will take place in Prague. The Union comprises hundreds of policemen, firemen, customs officers, prison guards, judiciary security personnel and former workers of Czech public security forces. This is evidence that the opposition to the U.S. radar is spreading deep into Czech culture.

Solidarity protests are planned in many cities including Rome, Milan, Madrid, Barcellona, Athens, Budapest, Paris, New York and Buenos Aires.

Others around the world are sending letters to Czech embassies in their country. I faxed a letter on behalf of the Global Network last night to the Czech embassy in Washington outlining our support for the November 17 protest in Prague.

Our best wishes to our friends in Poland and the Czech Republic. We stand with you all the way.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

MORE MONEY FOR IRAQ

Not enough troops in Iraq? Don't worry the Pentagon says. We've got the latest invention deployed there now. Don't have to feed it or worry about forking over disability funds when it returns wounded or with PTSD. The robot killer does what it is told and saves the taxpayer money in the long run.

So sure we'll bring some troops home from Iraq. But we'll replace them with our fancy new robot killer toys. Just put a soldier in a safe place with a computer screen in front of them and by remote control we can make Iraq safe for democracy and free markets. Killer capitalism we call it. Get used to it.

The House of Representatives yesterday passed, by a vote of 218-203, an Iraq war funding bill giving Bush more money for the occupation.

The Washington Post reports that, "The House measure, called the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act, grants $50 billion for the war on the condition that Bush redeploys most U.S. troops from Iraq beginning 30 days after the measure's passage, and ending by Dec. 15, 2008."

"It would ban the White House from using federal funds to establish permanent bases in Iraq [Congress long ago funded the construction of these bases and they are now largely built] or assert U.S. control over Iraq's oil supply. It would prohibit the president from deploying any military unit to Iraq until he has certified it in writing to be fully mission capable."

Bush has vowed to veto the bill.

David Swanson, an impeachment campaign leader, wrote today "Organizations and individuals who fail to criticize this new funding vote will relinquish the right to criticize the occupation of Iraq..... What peace pledge? What Out of Iraq Caucus? What Progressive Caucus? What opposition party? The silence of millions of Americans who have demanded an end to funding for the past year or for the past five years is absolutely deafening. It's the sound of our tombs. Speak now, people, or forever forget about peace."

Swanson continues, "UPDATE: 15 Democrats voted No: Allen, Baird, Barrow, Boren, Cooper, Kucinich, Lampson, Marshall, Matheson, McNulty, Michaud, Snyder, Stark, Tanner, Taylor. Only Kucinich and Stark were among the 90 who had signed the peace pledge. The other 88 lied to us."

"UPDATE 2: Over in the Senate, not a single Democrat is willing to filibuster this war money, although dozens of them whine and moan about the war non-stop. Their latest plan is to give the Republican pro-war senators a giant microphone by 'forcing them' to actually talk all night if they filibuster the bill. So many senators, so little intelligence. And the party-before-sanity crowd is cheering for this."

Two of those 15 Dems that voted NO are from Maine. Rep. Tom Allen, who is now running for the U.S. Senate seat in Maine, has routinely voted for every Iraq funding bill up to now. He is trailing in the polls and is worried about losing the "left" vote. So his vote yesterday opposing this war funding, while commendable, is clearly an election year ploy on his part. Nothing new there. The other Maine congressman, Mike Michaud, has been regularly voting against more Iraq funding. Neither of them are willing to support impeachment of Bush-Cheney.

Like Swanson I am stunned that all those "good liberals" like Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters, Barney Frank, and the rest of the lot just didn't show up on this vote. Once more we learn - don't trust a Democrat who says we need to stop funding the occupation. They always have a good reason to cave in.

All the more reason for me to throw in with Cynthia McKinney who is running for the Green Party nomination for president. I know that when she says something she means it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

DEMS STUDY AND LAMENT AS NATION CRUMBLES

The Washington Post is reporting today that, "The economic costs to the U.S. of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so far total approximately $1.5 trillion, according to a new study by congressional Democrats that estimates the conflicts' 'hidden costs'-- including higher oil prices, the expense of treating wounded veterans and interest payments on the money borrowed to pay for the wars."

"That amount is nearly double the $804 billion the White House has spent or requested to wage these wars through 2008, according to the Democratic staff of Congress's Joint Economic Committee. Its report, titled The Hidden Costs of the Iraq War, estimates that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have thus far cost the average U.S. family of four more than $20,000."

"The report argues that war funding is diverting billions of dollars away from 'productive investment' by American businesses in the United States. It also says that the conflicts are pulling reservists and National Guardsmen away from their jobs, resulting in economic disruptions for U.S. employers that the report estimates at $1 billion to $2 billion."

Sadly, the very same Democratic party that commissioned the study will soon hand Bush-Cheney even more money for the Iraq-Afghanistan occupations and the ballooning Pentagon budget. Here-in lies even more evidence of the very cynical strategy of the "party now in power" as they disclose to the American people their intention of doing nothing to stop the chaos that they so strongly lament.

These weak-kneed Democrats stand back rubbing their chins and wringing their hands in grave concern but do nothing to hold the Bush pirate team accountable for their crimes against international law and humanity as a whole. They are doing their level best to kill the national campaign for impeachment.

Thankfully the peace movement is not sitting back waiting for Godot. People are protesting locally in record numbers, getting arrested as we saw in Boston yesterday when 18 Veterans for Peace were locked up for standing with gags over their mouths in protest of once again not being allowed to participate in the Veterans Day parade in that community.

In Olympia, Washington demonstrations continued against shipments of military cargo through the Port of Olympia. Activists were pepper sprayed by police as they tried to block military trucks hauling equipment to Fort Lewis after it was unloaded from a ship carrying the gear back from Iraq. More than a dozen have been arrested in recent days.

Even in conservative St. Augustine, Florida folks held a Veterans Day die-in to protest the war. Our 96 year old friend Peg McIntire, with a sign on her walker that said "Granny for Peace", was right in the middle of the action.

People are stretching themselves to go beyond their normal protest boundaries which is just what we need as our nation descends deeper into fascism and endless war.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

REMEMBERING WAR AND PREPARING FOR MORE

Our Maine Veterans for Peace chapter walked today in the annual Veterans Day parade in downtown Portland. Last year they tried to keep us out of the parade and it caused quite a stir in the local paper. Watching the clowns, uni-cycle riders, Girl & Boy Scouts, and other assorted entries in the parade made me wonder how the right-wing veterans groups that organize the event can justify their presence while wanting us out.

Year after year we have about the largest contingent of veterans in the parade. Quite a few folks applaud as we walk by. I saw about 6-8 older guys today turn their backs on us as we passed them by on the street. In one instance it was two guys with "Vietnam Vets" hats on - I'm sure they want to be proud of their time in that war and we remind them that "their war", just like the current one, was illegal and immoral.

Veterans for Peace in the Boston area held a great action when they were denied the right to participate in that parade and 18 were arrested. See the moving video here: http://www.youtube.com:80/watch?v=-YnwXHBxD9s

On another matter, today the Washington Post ran a story called Pakistan Nuclear Security Questioned. This is a very important article because they seemed to be floating a trial balloon when they mentioned in the article, "Protection for Pakistan's nuclear weapons is considered equal to that of most Western nuclear powers. But U.S. officials worry that their limited knowledge about the locations and conditions in which the weapons are stored gives them few good options for a direct intervention to prevent the weapons from falling into unauthorized hands."

The last few words really got my attention, "direct intervention to prevent the weapons from falling into unauthorized hands."

I've been toying with a wild theory the last few days. What if Bush-Cheney had told Musharraf to crack down on democracy advocates knowing that chaos would ensue? (Many people in Pakistan are now calling their "leader" Busharraf because they say he is under the control of the U.S. administration.) Then after martial law is declared, and the society erupts as it now has, we start seeing articles like the one today in the Post saying that the nukes in Pakistan are in danger of falling into terrorist hands. So what does that leave us to do?

Could it be that the Bush administration intends to widen the chaos beyond Iraq and Afghanistan into Iran and Pakistan? Take a look at the map and see how this all lays out.

I know what your first question is: Ok, Bruce, how would the U.S. be able to put enough troops on the ground to control all of this?

The guy that was Donald Rumsfeld's "strategy guy" has an answer to your question. Thomas Barnett, the futurist, and former instructor at the Naval War College has been laying out the answer for some time now. In a recent article called How our military evolves in this long war he says, "In my 2004 book, The Pentagon's New Map, I argued that our military would inevitably split into a Leviathan-like combat force and a 'system administrator' [sysadmin] force optimized for everything else: postwar stabilization and reconstruction, nation-building, crisis response, and counter-insurgency."

" Eventually, all these sysadmin activities will require a bureaucratic center of gravity. In my 2005 book, Blueprint for Action, I proposed a new agency to complement our departments of 'war' (Defense) and 'peace' (State). I wasn't the first and won't be the last to issue that call. Indeed, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani proposes creating such an independent agency -- serious political progress in its own right."

"Every year I address the student body at National Defense University's Industrial College of the Armed Forces, briefing the strategic concepts from my books. Well, this year the students are engaging in a 'senior leadership capstone exercise' in which they'll brainstorm how to go about creating a new Department of Global Development that aims to win both the prewar and postwar in this long war against radical extremism."

"That gets me to my last sign of progress: the emergence of industry players associated with the sysadmin's rising profile. Last year Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defense corporation, acquired Pacific Architects & Engineers, a long-time contractor to the U.S. State Department. PA&E is essentially State's version of Kellogg Brown & Root, the Pentagon's premier contractor for overseas base construction and support services."

"Lockheed's purchase was a shot across the bow of the entire defense industry, signaling its historic decision to focus more on serving the U.S. military's ballooning postwar portfolio. Within a generation, I predict Lockheed will evolve from being primarily a U.S. defense firm to operating as a global security contractor -- less Leviathan and far more sysadmin."

Can you imagine the Pentagon invading and taking over country after country (Iran, Pakistan, Venezuela, etc) and then turning it over to the State Department who then contracts with Lockheed Martin to literally "run" these countries - sysadmin - to the benefit of the oil and weapons corporations? Welcome to the New World Order.

You take a countries resources by force.....you then hire Lock-Mart to run the show and pay them from the oil profits. Lock-Mart makes money off the weapons used to destroy the country and then they make money "rebuilding" and "running" the country for the global corporate elite.

Far fetched?

Hang on for the ride folks. Only time will tell.

As the Indians used to say though, put your ears to the railroad tracks and hear the train coming.