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

Thursday, April 03, 2008

THE NEW ARMS RACE IN EUROPE

We made it to Elmira, N.Y. before stopping at a hotel for the night. It was a 12 hour driving day. The weather was quite nice although we see that rain will be our fate for Friday's drive.

The news today is that NATO has agreed to support "missile defense" in Europe and the Czech government, despite major opposition from their public, will allow Bush to deploy the Star Wars radar base in their country.

Our friend Jan Tamas, a key leader in the opposition movement to the radar in the Czech Republic writes this about the "agreement." "The public opposition to the US plan of installing an NMD base in the Czech Republic continues to be very strong and so it will be very difficult for both the Czech government and especially the Czech parliament to pass this treaty. The government has a very small majority in the Czech Parliament and therefore the outcome of the vote is not predictable at this moment. Some members of the Czech Parliament from the Green Party, which is part of the government coalition have already expressed lack of satisfaction with the outcome of the NATO summit and may vote against the treaty. In any case, we will continue pushing for national referendum on this issue, so that all citizens of our country will get a chance to decide on this very important issue."

NATO expansion that is now underway is good for the military industrial complex as they require that all NATO members military forces and equipment must be "inter-operable." This means they have to have American military technology rather than their present systems which were likely purchased from Russia and other nations. In the end it dramatically enlarges a military force outfitted and controlled by the U.S.

So NATO not only expands the ring of military encirclement around Russia ever tighter but they also please the corporate military big-wigs who are now calling the political shots in their countries. Like in the U.S. the military industrial complex in Europe in moving to dominate governments. That means more militarization and less social spending.

Poland will be brought in line next as they will ultimately agree to host Pentagon "missile defense" interceptor missiles. Not long ago a team of American physicists declared that the U.S. deployments in Poland and the Czech Republic could not actually intercept any missiles from Iran (even if they had any). Instead, the scientists said, the systems could only work to pick off Russian nuclear missiles. Of course the Bush pirate crew vigorously denies any such intention on the part of the U.S. to surround or attack Russia. But Russia knows they are the real target - largely because they are now the world's leading producer of natural gas. The U.S. is putting its first-strike system in place.

Our annual Global Network conference in Omaha, and the preceding protest in Colorado Springs, could not turn out to be more timely.

The whole world is watching as they say. People are starting to pay attention to Bush's new arms race in Europe and in space. Just like Ronald Reagan in the early 1980's, with his Pershing II and Cruise missile deployments, Bush is poking at a hornets nest. The peace movement in Europe is waking up from its long slumbers and folks in the U.S. are even beginning to pay some attention to this issue.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

LEAFLET FOR "SPACE WARRIORS"

This is the leaflet that has been prepared for us to hand out to those "space warriors" who will be attending the Colorado Springs confab next week. Since we know that some of them regularly view this blog they can get an early glimpse.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

TAKING OFF FOR SPACE CENTRAL

We leave early Thursday morning for the long drive to Colorado Springs in our rental mini-van. My Addams-Melman House mates Mary Beth and Karen will make the long drive west with me as we first go to protest the aerospace industries annual space symposium in Colorado. Each year they bring more than 5,000 space industry, military, politicians, and academia together to promote the weaponization of space. They bus in hundreds of unsuspecting high school students from around Colorado and run them through their safely guarded arms bazaar and fill their young minds with the "ooh and awe" of control and domination of the heavens - the masters of disaster in action.

Several days of protests are planned outside the event by our friends in Citizens for Peace in Space based in Colorado Springs. (Click on the graphic above to see it better.) We have about a dozen Global Network leaders from around the world coming to join these events.

From there we will drive back east to Omaha, Nebraska in time for the Global Network conference which is set to begin with a protest on April 11 at the front gates of StratCom which is located inside Offutt A.F.B.

Here is the revised schedule for Colorado Springs:

* Monday April 7, 5 - 5:45 PM - Bannering and leafletting before the opening banquet at the Convention Center at the Broadmoor. We will carpool from the Justice and Peace Office at 214 E. Vermijo at 4:30. Meet us there or at the Broadmoor.

* Monday April 7, 7 - 8:30 PM - Forum at the Carnegie Room, Penrose Public Library (downtown, Cascade and Kiowa) titled, "War or Peace in Space? a Global Perspective" - Panelists include J. N. Rao of India, Jan Tamas of the Czech Republic, Damian Moran from Poland and Mary Beth Sullivan from Bath, Maine.

* Tuesday April 8, 3 - 4 PM - Bannering outside the north gate of Peterson AFB. Carpooling from the J&P office at 2:30 PM.

* Wednesday April 9 10:30 - 12:30 - Bannering at the Broadmoor during the visits of hundreds of local school children to the "Lockheed Martin" Arms Bazaar Exhibit Hall. Carpooling from the J& P at 10 AM.

Colorado Springs is military central with five bases located there. Schriever and Peterson Air Force Base's are key space command facilities and have grown dramatically over the years. In addition, aerospace corporation production facilities are now the boom industry in the city. About half the population of Colorado Springs works for the military industrial complex.

Monday, March 31, 2008

REPORT FROM BETHLEHEM

I returned last night from a one day trip to Bethlehem, PA. to speak at annual dinner of LEPOCO which was celebrating its 42nd year of peace work in the former steel town.

Upon arriving at the airport I was taken for a quick drive by the old steel works which has long been closed and is rusting and crumbling like other ancient ruins of industry across the nation. I was told that in the place of the steel mills will soon be a grand casino, which is fitting I guess. Instead of real jobs with steady incomes, workers can go play the slot machines and hope that luck will bring them a quick financial reward. But like most capitalist endeavors, the game is rigged on the side of the house and more financial ruin and poverty for the "player" are the sure result.

My talk to LEPOCO was well received by the 150 there, except for a few who were not happy with my answer to a question about Obama. Just as I had expected, the key questions from the audience were about which of the candidates I would support. I was told Mr. Obama would be in town on Monday and they expect over 2,000 people to greet his call for "change" in America.

I did not bring up Obama or Hillary in the main body of my talk. I did several times of course tell stories about the complicity of both war parties in supporting the development of Star Wars, the occupation of Iraq, and the like. But I knew that it was best to leave their names out of my speech and let the question period surface these issues of "who is the best candidate."

Once asked by someone in the audience about Mr. Change, I did ask the crowd if they were sure they wanted me to actually answer the question. "Are you sure you want to hear what I have to say," I asked. YES they howled. "Ok, but you don't want to get me started!"

I read excerpts from Amy Goodman's Democracy Now interview with journalist Allan Nairn in January, 2008 where they discussed Mr. Obama's top military advisers. One of them Nairn said was "General Merrill McPeak, an Air Force man, who not long after the Dili massacre in East Timor in ’91 that you and I survived, he was—I happened to see on Indonesian TV shortly after that—there was General McPeak overseeing the delivery to Indonesia of U.S. fighter planes."

I told the LEPOCO audience that I knew of this Gen. McPeak too, as I held up my copy of the Space Command's Vision for 2020 which I had earlier referred to in great detail. This Gen. McPeak I told them had once been the commander of the U.S. Space Command........

The last question of the night came from one of the leaders of the group. She asked me who I would vote for. I said I would only answer the question if they understood that I was not telling them who to vote for. I said that voting was a sacred and private act but that I would share with them who I was going to support.

I said I was going to vote for the black [pause] woman [pause] and then went on to talk about this person for quite some time without naming her. As I did this I noticed a woman in the back of the hall holding up her green dinner place mat like a sign over her head. Eventually I mentioned Cynthia McKinney's name.

The bulk of my talk though was about conversion of the military industrial complex and the dire need to transform our declining gas guzzling nation to a solar-wind-rail society which would create jobs and would help reduce the causes of climate change. I stated that the cost of the Iraq occupation in 2007, if the money had been invested back here in the U.S. in sustainable technology development, would have created one million good jobs. I suggested that instead of just standing on the street with our signs that say PEACE on them, that we need to adapt our message to articulate this linkage between growing militarism, economic decline, and offer a positive vision for real job creation at a time when people in places like Bethlehem, PA. are worried about how they will feed their families in the near future.

Today we are preparing to head west to Colorado Springs and then Omaha for two weeks worth of protesting and conference organizing. My next blog entry will give much detail about that.