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

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

THANKS FOR THE CALL COLONEL - WELL MAYBE NOT

At 10:30 a.m. this morning I had a phone call from the base commander at Kirtland A.F.B. in Albuquerque, New Mexico. And it's a Sunday.

In my blog yesterday I quoted Col. Robert Suminsby, Jr. about his belief that we need to get our priorities straight here in the U.S. when it comes to funding things like Social Security and Medicare instead of "aircraft and satellites."

"How could you know what I mean when I talk about our nations priorities?" the Colonel asked me in very unfriendly tones.

I tried explaining to him that I have a lifetime of experience listening to people in the military say that we should ramp up Pentagon spending. He was not in a mood to listen.

Instead the Colonel's voice escalated, similar to his desire to see the military budget take ascendancy over social progress in America. "I can see that you are not one who should be involved in deciding on our nation's priorities," he yelled at me. Then he hung up.

Wow. A call from the base commander one day after my blog quoting him appears. I don't get that kind of service very often.

Some background is in order here to help understand why the Colonel is hot under the collar.

A couple of months ago Colonel Suminsby made a speech to a group of community leaders in Albuquerque calling for a hard look at "entitlement programs" funding. His base paper reported on the event and that was supposed to be that. But Bob Anderson, Vietnam veteran and local organizer with Stop the War Machine, picked up the paper and was quick to notice the significance of the speech. Stop the War Machine went to the Albuquerque City Council and asked them to pass a resolution condemning the Colonel's statement. Then on June 15 the local newspaper ran a story on the Colonel's ideas called Kirtland Commander Fears for Air Force's Future.

I believe that the Colonel's statement is not just - how would the Air Force put it? - out of the blue. It is part of this recent larger public relations campaign the Air Force is calling - Air Force Above All.

You might have seen the TV commercials. High-tech space weapons images....you know USA ├╝ber alles - that sort of thing. Watch this Air Force video to see for yourself.

The Air Force sees the writing on the wall. We can't have social spending and pay for Star Wars and new generations of massively expensive war planes. So they are programming the minds of the American people.

I guess the best thing about his call is that once again it has been confirmed that Pentagon brass are reading my blog. And they are not happy about it.

The Colonel likely does not know that I too was in the Air Force - from 1971 to 1974. What he does not understand clearly enough is that I no longer have to take orders from officers. You see I am a free man now.

So thanks for the call Colonel but I don't have to jump when you say jump. It's what they call freedom of speech and democracy.

Hope you like this blog entry as well. It's for you.

By the way, Colonel Suminsby is a native of Northeast Harbor, Maine.

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