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, December 29, 2007

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

I leave today for a speaking tour in Florida that will take me to Bradenton, Clearwater, Siesta Key, Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and Naples. It will be a bit of driving but that always happens when I return to Florida.

My talks will be largely featuring the space issue and each ending with my economic conversion message. Especially now, as concern intensifies about the impact of climate change, we need to be demanding Congress move funds from war making to building windmills, solar power, and mass transit systems. The vise is tightening around us and we need to make some noise.

I am scheduled to do four radio interviews during this road trip which is something I love to do. I was taught how to do radio by a local talk show host in Orlando during the early 1980's. A guy by the name of Clive Thomas used to have me on his show for three hours at a time and during the commercial breaks would make sure I understood how to handle the task at hand. It was great on-the-job training.

So I will be posting some reports from sunny Florida. It seems since I left Florida in 2003 that I've returned there more than any other place. Some folks living here in cold (and today raining) Maine wish they could come along for the sunshine. Frankly, even though I just love seeing old friends again I miss the cold weather after a day or so in the heat.

More later and best wishes in the new year to you. Let's hope that 2008 will be a better year, we sure could use one.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A DEADLY REGION FACES MORE VIOLENCE

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan was a sad turn of events in an already deadly region. Her challenge to current dictator, and president, Pervez Musharraf was publicly welcomed by the U.S. even though the Bush administration has long been a backer of Musharraf. In Pakistan the popular resistance calls their president Busharraf in order to acknowledge the close connections between Pakistan and the U.S.

The U.S. has long been providing Pakistan with high-tech weapons systems which has only made neighboring India more insecure as they see their border rival armed to the teeth. The U.S. response has of course been to sell India even more weapons thus creating a regional nightmare.

Bhutto was a polarizing figure who served two turbulent tenures as prime minister, first from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996.

We are told that she was attempting to save her homeland from military rule and the madness that has torn apart Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, by the Western created Islamic mujaheddin originally funded to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.

The new film "Charlie Wilson's War" glorifies the U.S. role in Afghanistan as best as I can make out. Admittedly I've not yet seen the movie but it appears to make a hero out of Wilson's role in organizing Congressional covert funding of the Afghan mujaheddin and Pakistan's intelligence service (ISI). Read this review of the film by Chalmers Johnson:

http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/29863

The Bush administration has been a staunch supporter of Musharraf, providing his regime with over $10 billion in financial aid since 2001. Musharraf's use of U.S. funds to crack down on the country's democratic forces has led to growing anti-American sentiments among the nation's moderate, secular forces.

One likely consequence of the Bhutto assassination is greater militarization and fragmentation of Pakistan and Afghanistan, including more U.S. and NATO troops to "suppress" fundamentalist terrorism.

Thus the Bhutto assassination will sadly help to prepare the American people for expanded U.S. operations in Pakistan.

Democratic party presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama has been saying for some time that the U.S. should shift its focus from Iraq to become more involved in the internal problems inside Pakistan. In a statement yesterday following the killing of Bhutto, Obama said, "I've been saying for some time that we've got a very big problem" in Pakistan. "We were distracted from focusing on them."

News reports in recent days have been predicting that early next year U.S. special forces will vastly expand their presence in Pakistan to train and support counter-insurgency units. This will sink the U.S. further into the quagmire and it is likely that both major political parties in the U.S. will back such an explosive policy.

Militarists in the south Asia region have gained the upper hand. That means more weapons, more violence, and loss of democracy. The U.S., once again, seems eager to offer its own prescription for stability - endless war.

The obvious links to fossil fuel extraction and pipeline routes in this region cannot be ignored. This is what drives U.S. policy today. Unfortunately for the people in the region they will continue to suffer due to the fact of where they happen to live.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

GOOD OR EVIL - WHICH ARE WE?

The Airborne Laser (ABL) is now under development (a modified Boeing 747) and is a key part of the U.S. Star Wars program. It's job would be to fly over an "offending territory" 24 hours a day and fire a laser beam from the turret in the nose cone knocking down nuclear missiles soon after they had been launched.

It's real job is to mop up after a U.S. first-strike attack, picking off any lone missiles that might be fired in retaliation after the initial U.S. volley. (It should be noted that the U.S. Space Command has been war gaming such an attack on China for the past few years. Set in the year 2016 the Pentagon launches a first-strike attack against Chinese nuclear missiles.)

The key problem with the ABL is that the technology is quite difficult to make work properly. Thus the program, like most space technology programs, is way behind schedule and well over budget.

In the recent Congressional Defense Authorization process the House of Representatives wanted to give the ABL $300 million for research and development in the coming year and the Senate wanted to fund the program at $350 million. It was sent to a joint House-Senate "conference committee" to resolve the difference. Their decision was to fund the project at $513.8 million.

The Congressional Budget Office has made a preliminary estimate that the ABL program could cost as much as $36.0 billion to develop, procure, and operate a fleet of seven aircraft for 20 years.

The ABL is being developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, NM) and Team ABL, comprising Boeing (Wichita, Kansas), TRW (now Northrop Grumman Space Technologies) and Lockheed Martin.

Boeing is responsible for program management, systems integration, battle management system and modification of the aircraft. TRW is building the laser systems. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is responsible for the target acquisition and beam control systems.

The first prototype is scheduled for completion in late 2008 with high-power testing to begin by the end of the year. Missile intercept testing will start in 2009.

According to the head of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, Lt. Gen. Trey Obering, "I believe we are building the forces of good to beat the forces of evil. We are taking the first major step towards giving the American people their first light saber. This is not the prettiest aircraft I have seen. It is not supposed to be pretty. It is supposed to be mean."

The Pentagon mentions that this "force of good" weapon system would be used to "protect" the U.S. against North Korea and Iran but the fact is that it is being developed to contain China.

The U.S. is now militarily surrounding China by doubling its Naval presence in the Asian-Pacific region, deploying Aegis destroyers outfitted with "missile defense" systems on-board just off China's coast, and expanding runways in Japan and Guam to handle long range bombers. Bases in South Korea are also being expanded as the Pentagon intends to militarize the region forcing all allied countries to make "upgrades" to their weapons systems thus generating another generation of profits for the military industrial complex.

Just as chaos and instability has been brought to the Middle East by arming all sides and creating endless war in the region, the plan for the Asian-Pacific is the same. The U.S. empire's strategy is to rule by force of violence. Where there is presently no violence, it will be brought to ensure control through madness.

Only a very sick culture would act like this. The U.S. is addicted to war and violence. Hitler would have admired the current U.S. military machine.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

THIS IS WHAT YOU SHALL DO


"This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."

From the Preface to "Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman


Click on the link in the headline above for a wonderful short video called Peace on Earth which is a 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon directed by Hugh Harman, about a post-apocalyptic world populated by animals.