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, March 08, 2008

SABOTAGING PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Israel's continued pounding of Gaza must stop and the peace movement in the U.S. needs to begin to strongly speak out against the destruction of the Palestinian people.

Israel and the U.S. have consistently used the excuse that the 2006 election of Hamas put a "terrorist" government in charge of the Palestinian people. But the truth is that the U.S. and Israel began attacking the Hamas government from their first day after winning the election. The peace process never stood a chance because the Bush administration then provoked a civil war between the victorious Hamas and the losing Fatah. Instead of losing the election, Hamas ended up seizing control of Gaza and Israel has been on the attack ever since. In recent weeks well over 125 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed.

In the April edition of Vanity Fair, an article called The Gaza Bombshell by David Rose, tells the story of the real Bush plan for "peace".

"Within the Bush administration, the Palestinian policy set off a furious debate. One of its critics is David Wurmser, the avowed neoconservative, who resigned as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief Middle East adviser in July 2007, a month after the Gaza coup."

"Wurmser accuses the Bush administration of 'engaging in a dirty war in an effort to provide a corrupt dictatorship [led by Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas] with victory.' He believes that Hamas had no intention of taking Gaza until Fatah forced its hand. 'It looks to me that what happened wasn’t so much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was pre-empted before it could happen,' Wurmser says."

"The botched plan has rendered the dream of Middle East peace more remote than ever, but what really galls neocons such as Wurmser is the hypocrisy it exposed. 'There is a stunning disconnect between the president’s call for Middle East democracy and this policy,' he says. 'It directly contradicts it.' "

I believe it is just one more example of the Bush pirate team sabotaging the possibility of peace. That is their modus operandi. It's what they did in Iraq, have done in Palestine, intend to do in Iran, and are now doing in North Korea. If your agenda is endless war and increased Pentagon spending then you cannot allow any peace negotiation process to succeed. It is dark and it is the way of the American empire today. My guess is before Bush is done we will see him expand the war in the Middle East and make an even bigger mess.

If we had a real opposition party in the U.S. Bush's crew would be thrown in jail for what they have done over and again to destroy world peace. But in our two-party collaborative model of empire building it is routine for the Democrats to sit back and nibble at the edges as chaos ensues. That only leaves the public to intervene on the side of humanity and sanity. We'd best get on the stick before it is too late.

Friday, March 07, 2008

( Click on map to enlarge)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

ARMS RACE IN ASIAN-PACIFIC UNDERWAY AS U.S. ENCIRCLES CHINA

People from the South Korean peace movement have been protesting this week against U.S. and South Korean combined war exercises called Key Resolve-Foal Eagle. The U.S. Pacific Command conducts these exercises to rehearse the implementation of Operational Plan 5027 (OPLAN 5027). The Plan's goal is to occupy North Korea, change the North Korean regime, and destroy the North Korean Peoples Army.

It has been reported that 27,000 U.S. troops and the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier are involved in the war game.

The South Korean peace group called SPARK (a Global Network affiliate) says, "We think these aggressive, first-strike rehearsal exercises work against peaceful efforts to reduce tension on the Korean peninsula, such as the 6-Party Talks and the current visit of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra to Pyongyang, North Korea."

There is little doubt that the U.S. is dramatically escalating tensions in the Asian-Pacific region. Current U.S. Naval presence is being doubled by expanding operations in Guam, Australia, South Korea and Japan. Not only is the U.S. encircling North Korea but the new military strategy also calls for the surrounding of China as well.

China has a fossil fuel dependent economy and imports 80% of its oil through the Taiwan Straits. Thus they have a high need to be able to keep that pathway open and free so oil tankers can move easily to port. The Pentagon is now developing a military strategy to enable the U.S. to choke off China's oil imports by controlling the Taiwan Straits. By doing this the U.S. feels they would essentially control China by holding the keys to its economic engine.

Like any country would, China is now expanding its ability to keep the Taiwan Straits open. As China expands its military operations in that area the U.S. declares that they are preparing to attack Taiwan and this justifies even more Pentagon spending in the region as the U.S. says "we must protect Taiwan from Chinese aggression."

China is not likely to invade Taiwan since they have now developed huge economic ties with each other. Nor is China likely to attack the U.S., one of their best markets, especially as they today only have 20 nuclear missiles capable of hitting the west coast of the continental U.S. Of course the U.S. now has more than 10,000 nuclear weapons in our own "arsenal of hypocrisy."

Conversely, the U.S. Navy is now deploying Aegis destroyers all along the coast of China and these ships are outfitted with "missile defense" systems that would be used to pick off any Chinese nuclear missiles that were launched in retaliation after a U.S. first-strike attack. Each year for the past several years the Space Command has been computer war gaming a first-strike attack on China. Set in the year 2016 the Pentagon launches a devastating attack on China using as its first weapon the military space plane that is now under development and would fly to the other side of the world in just two hours.

A Pentagon report came out this week declaring that China was undertaking a massive military buildup and is preparing to "develop the ability to attack an adversary's space assets."

China's military budget is now less than $60 billion a year. Compare that with the current U.S. military budget of $650 billion a year. Then factor in the $30 billion a year in the Pentagon's secret "black budget" which is used for high-tech space weapons development that Congress is not even allowed to know about. Then add in the NSA, NRO, DoE, NASA and other budgets that have military applications and the true figure of U.S. military spending is nearly $1 trillion a year.

China is hardly a threat to the U.S. today. But it is true that as China sees the U.S. dramatically expanding its own military presence in the Asian-Pacific they are indeed upgrading their ability to defend their nation. Imagine if China was now building bases in Canada and Mexico and deploying ships off the east and west coasts of the U.S. Wouldn't the American public become alarmed? When the U.S. does the same to China isn't it then logical that China will respond?

Of course the true winner in all of this military expansion is the military industrial complex. They understand that a new arms race in the Asian-Pacific will ensure that an arms race in space will follow as China launches more military satellites to coordinate their growing military.

Huge profits are to be made from this new arms race. The American and Chinese people and taxpayers are the sure losers.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

BACK HOME AND TAKING CALLS

I got home late last night after three grueling flights. The LaGuardia airport in New York is a mess and it's hard to move from one terminal to the other. My foot print is tired today.

The photo above is from a Global Network member who was at the protest on Sunday in Vandenberg. Three folks are being arrested for crossing the line onto the base when they tried to invite the military personnel to themselves cross the line and join with us in calling for an end to the planning and preparation for space war that goes on inside Vandenberg.

You will notice in the photo several people with cameras in civilian clothes. These are not all reporters. Many of them are military security who pose as civilians and then move through the crowd and take photos of us. These are the people who say they are fighting for freedom and democracy but then are doing what all dictatorships do - they are trying to intimidate the pro-democracy activists.

About an hour after I posted my last blog, where I was critical of security at the Vandenberg demo, I am told a call came to our house back in Maine. One of the neighborhood kids, a nine year old who was visiting, answered the phone and a voice said: "Bruce Gagnon you are a moron! A total moron. If you don't like this country, you should leave it!"

Needless to say the nine year old was stunned and very upset. By the time Mary Beth got to the phone the caller had hung up.

We know that many military and aerospace corporate people read this blog. Tell me, how much courage does it take to call and yell at a nine year old child who knows nothing about any of these issues? How much courage and conviction does this caller have that they can't contact me directly and tell me on the phone or in person what they think of me or my work? And do it by first introducing themselves so I know just who it is that I am speaking to?

So to the caller out there I say this: Leave the little kids alone. But if you have something to say to me do it directly and have the guts to call and first tell me your name. Otherwise I am left to wonder who the real moron is?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A DAY AT VANDENBERG'S PROTEST ZONE

Last night I spoke, along with Rev. John Dear and two others, at a church in Santa Barbara. I sold 11 books which is twice the amount I usually sell at such an event so I'd say it went pretty well.

Today we had a bus take us to Vandenberg AFB, about an hour drive north, where over 150 people gathered to protest the 25th anniversary of missile testing protest at the base. A second bus came up from Los Angeles, organized by the L.A. Catholic Worker house. Three people from the Catholic Worker community in California were arrested for walking over the line onto the base.

It's been a few years since I have been back to Vandenberg for a demonstration. I was arrested there myself in 2000 and got two years of supervised probation for trying to deliver a letter to the base commander that outlined our opposition to the base's role in moving the arms race into space. On that particular day there were about 25 folks arrested.

They have made some changes since I was last there. Now they cover the signs on the fancy stone wall that displays the base name. They put up temporary fencing all along the front of the base to make it hard for us to gather people - we had to string out in a long line with just a narrow patch of grass to stand on. They had an unmanned aerial vehicle flying overhead sending back "real time" surveillance data as if we were a grave danger to the nation. I'm sure the "brass" inside enjoyed watching our die-in via the surveillance plane.

After things were over we crossed the street back to the local elementary school where our cars and buses were parked. For just a moment Dennis Apel, the host organizer for the weekend who runs the Guadalupe Catholic Worker house in a nearby town, tried to gather us in a big circle to close the action. A host of military police quickly stormed into the middle of the circle and told us we had to disband and leave immediately.

We of course were doing no harm and the military was purely just doing an exercise in displaying their vast and arrogant powers. The sad thing is that we were much too quick to comply with their demands. As people were dispersing I made my way toward the Major in charge of the security team and asked him "who do you think you are?" He quickly scurried away like a rat running from a garbage can in a dark alley when a light was shined on it.

I then told the assembled security team that it was impossible to serve two masters at once. I said that "you have to either serve the constitution that gives us the right to peacefully assemble or you have to serve the military industrial complex." They all immediately turned away.

While the military likes to beat their chest alot about fighting for democracy to "protect our freedoms", they in fact are slowly but surely squeezing us into our little "protest zones" and those boxes are getting smaller and smaller each year. I am quite fed up with complying with their game playing and intend to keep telling them so. When you do speak that truth to them they run away fast because they know that what they are doing is shameful and downright wrong.

I have to be up early in the morning to catch a 6:00 am flight back east. Once again the three airport trip will take 12 hours. It will be a long day.

But this was a magical weekend and I was joyfully honored to be in the same place as these wonderful activists who call themselves the Pacific Life Community.