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

Saturday, April 26, 2008

TWO SETS OF JUSTICE

No justice for Sean Bell. He comes out of a nightclub in New York city, having done nothing wrong, and is approached by plainclothes cops who pull a gun on him. They shoot Bell 50-times. Bell had no gun. The police are acquited by a judge. Once more we see a innocent black man gunned down by "law enforcement" and the cops are set free.

If Sean Bell had been white none of this would have happened. He would not have been hassled by cops, he would not have been shot, and most certainly cops who killed an innocent white man would have been punished.

Two Americas. Two sets of justice in America. One for white people and another for people of color.

How can anyone expect black people to have faith in this white man's system?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

STRATCOM CONFERENCE TAKES ISSUE GLOBAL

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton speaking at Omaha conference



By Tim Rinne & Bruce Gagnon

Admittedly, “StratCom: The Most Dangerous Place on the Face of the Earth” sounded a bit over the top for the title of a conference. But by the time the participants caught their flight home from Omaha, Nebraska last month, there wasn’t anybody disputing whether U.S. Strategic Command deserved the label.

Two hundred people from 12 countries and 28 states gathered April 11-13 at the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space 16th Annual Space Organizing Conference to learn about this remote command in America’s heartland. And the local sponsor, Nebraskans for Peace, who for years had been fretting about what was going on in its own backyard, couldn’t have been more excited. There’d never before been an international conference specifically addressing the transformation that’s taken place at StratCom. But then, until just recently, StratCom had never before represented the threat to the world that it does now.

From the moment George W. Bush was rushed to StratCom’s underground headquarters at Offutt A.F.B. on 9/11, the U.S.’s nuclear command began to undergo what StratCom Commander General Kevin Chilton described as “not a sea-state change, but a tsunami of change” in its role and mission. In the years since 9/11, the command has seen its traditional and sole responsibility of maintaining America’s nuclear deterrent proliferate to include missions for space, cyberspace, intelligence/reconnaissance/surveillance, missile defense, full spectrum global strike, information operations and combating weapons of mass destruction.

In the blink of a strategic eye, the command has gone from being something that was ‘never supposed to be used’ (i.e. the doomsday machine) to ‘being used for everything.’ It’s gone from being putatively ‘defensive’ to overtly ‘offensive’ to become, in the words of Nebraska activists, “Dr. Strangelove on steroids.”

With now eight missions under its belt, StratCom’s fingerprints are seemingly everywhere. Though it’s almost never mentioned by name, you can hardly open a newspaper anymore without reading about one of its various machinations. Here’s a rundown:

Now charged with actively waging the White House’s “War on Terror,” StratCom is authorized to attack any place on the planet in one hour—using either conventional or nuclear weapons—on the mere perception of a threat to America’s ‘national interests.’

Through its National Security Agency “component command,” StratCom is regularly conducting the now-infamous ‘warrantless wiretaps’ on unsuspecting American citizens.

The proposed “missile defense” bases in Poland and the Czech Republic that are reviving Cold War tensions with Russia are StratCom installations under StratCom’s command.

Having conducted what it touts as “the first space war” with its “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign on Iraq, the command is now actively executing the Bush/Cheney Administration’s expressed goal of the weaponization and “domination” of space.

StratCom’s recent shoot-down of a falling satellite using its Missile Defense system, just after the U.S. had repudiated a Russian proposal banning space weapons, demonstrated the anti-satellite capability of this allegedly ‘defensive’ program and is certain to jump-start an arms race in space.

In actively promoting the development of new generations of nuclear weapons (the so-called ‘bunker-buster’ tactical nukes and the Reliable Replacement Warhead), StratCom is seeking to ensure America will wield offensive nuclear capability for the remainder of the 21st century.

Under the White House’s “Unified Command Plan,” StratCom commands access to the hundreds of military bases around the globe and all four military service branches, while working hand-in-glove with the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

Operating like some executive branch vigilante and scofflaw, StratCom is now poised to routinely violate international law with preemptive attacks and to usurp Congress’ constitutional authority to declare war under the “War Powers Act.”

StratCom, in the words of Commander Chilton, is today “the most responsive combatant command in the U.S. arsenal”—and the next war the White House gets us into (be it against Iran or geo-political rival like China) will be planned, launched and coordinated from StratCom. In fact, Chilton recently told Congress, he believes the name actually ought to be changed to “Global Command,” to better reflect the “global” nature of its new role and mission.

This is the “New StratCom” that Nebraskans for Peace has watched materialize before its eyes. This is the enhanced threat, which the world community has no notion of whatsoever, because the changes at StratCom have occurred with the speed and power of a “tsunami.” This is the global menace the Global Network sought to expose to the international public at its conference in Omaha this past month.

And while the media coverage of the conference was minimal, the word is neverthess starting to get out nationally and internationally. Most of the people in attendance were activists, organizers and academics from all across the country and around the world. Picking up on the comment that StratCom is now a global problem, Jackie Cabasso of the Western States Legal Foundation stressed that addressing it will in turn require a global response. Americans, she said, can no more be expected to halt this threat than we can expect Nebraskans to do it: “It’s going to take the efforts of the world community.”

That sort of international commitment was already strongly in evidence. While the speaker from Poland was prohibited from entering the U.S. by Homeland Security, Jan Tamas of the “No To Bases Initiative” in the Czech Republic tied the proposed Star Wars radar in his country directly to StratCom. From the title of his talk alone, “StratCom is the Main Threat to Peace in the Korean Peninsula,” Ko Young-Dae, the representative from Solidarity for Peace and Reunification in Korea (SPARK), made it clear that he understood the connection to the Omaha command center. British activist Lindis Percy of the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases, who regularly contends with StratCom’s presence in her homeland, sized it up perfectly with the expression, “horrid StratCom.” Similar sentiments were expressed by the German, Swedish, Indian, Japanese, Filipino, Mauritian, Italian, Romanian and Canadian participants. In country after country, an understanding the StratCom menace is starting to take hold.

The final keynote of the conference was delivered by Bishop Emeritus Thomas Gumbleton, who back in the mid-‘80s had committed civil disobedience at Offutt A.F.B. when it was still the “Strategic Air Command.” Back then, all we had to fear—and it was plenty—was nuclear holocaust. Today, the Bishop said, because of our greed for wealth and power, we now have to fear StratCom’s nuclear prowess and much more.

That greed for ever-more wealth and power had been the message of the conference’s first speaker, national Indian activist and Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska member, Frank LaMere. The city of Omaha, LaMere noted, was named after the Indian Tribe of the same name that had inhabited this area for centuries and still has a reservation about an hour north of the city. The Omaha, he said, had a covenant with Mother Earth, that in return for the corn and buffalo she so generously provided them to live, they would in turn honor her by living in a good way. Never, LaMere said, when the Omaha deeded their lands to the U.S. government—without once going to war—had they ever imagined that an instrument of destruction like StratCom, capable of destroying the Earth multiple times over, would rest on their ancestral homeland, on that sacred ground.

The Omaha, he said, cannot stop what is happening today by themselves. Nor for that matter can the people of Nebraska, nor even the people of the United States. To stop what is happening at StratCom—indeed to save ourselves from our own greed and self-destruction—Americans will need, LaMere said, the help of all their relations around the world. So he was cheered, he said, to see all these relations from around the world here in Omaha, willing to help. That was good, he said. But we need to act fast. Time is getting short.

A five-minute introductory video about StratCom created by Global Network chairperson Dave Webb, who is also the Vice-Chair of Britain's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), can be viewed by clicking on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkOeUHHV1eU


- Written by Tim Rinne (Coordinator of Nebraskans for Peace) and Bruce Gagnon (Coordinator of Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

SPEECH TO BE AIRED ON MAINE PUBLIC RADIO

I had a nice surprise today when I heard that Maine Public radio was going to be airing my March 27 speech at the University of Maine-Orono. The talk will be played this coming Friday at 1:00 pm (EST). (You can listen by clicking on the MPBN website in the headline link above.)

A weekly series called "Speaking in Maine" will air the talk that was entitled “A Leftist Analysis of Elections: Why the Republican and Democratic Parties and the Political Process Are Obstacles to Real Democracy.”

I was invited to speak at UMO by Doug Allen who is a professor of Philosophy. My talk was part of the Socialist and Marxist Studies Lecture Series at the school.

When the talk was taped on March 27 I was told it would likely be aired statewide on MPBN but I have to admit I was skeptical. Even though I've been here in Maine for five years now it is still hard to completely get that conservative Florida culture out of my head. Having my talk aired on statewide public radio in Florida could never have happened - totally impossible. Maine, despite its many contradictions, is still a very different state from Florida.

Dare we criticize the corporate dominated political system and offer an alternative vision for politics in America? It should be interesting to see what comes from this opportunity to reach so many folks across our state.

Monday, April 21, 2008

SO THIS IS WHAT THEY MEAN BY SACRIFICE

You will have to forgive me for this one. I just can't pass it up.

While on the long drive home from Omaha I picked up the local newspapers each day to see how the same, or different, they were from any other paper in the country. Generally they are all the same. Same Associated Press news stories, same wire service photos, same columnists from the big newspapers. No wonder the American people are under control these days. Managed news, managed public.

One columnist who is a bell weather for the power structure is David Broder from the Washington Post. You can always count on him for the centrist line. But on this occasion something he said really jumped out and, well, bit me.

Broder was reporting on the recent congressional hearings where Gen. David Petraeus testified about "progress" in Iraq. Broder said, "Petraeus told [Republican Sen. Richard] Lugar, "We've got to continue. We have our teeth into the jugular, and we need to keep it there."

Broder continued by reporting that after his testimony before Congress Petraeus stopped by the newspaper for more discussions. "The general clearly likes that phrase, because he used it twice more during his visit to The Post. I can see why Bush admires his aggressive tone. And I can understand why his troops revere their commander. "

It all comes together for me now. We always hear the politicians and the media talking about how we honor the troops for their "sacrifice" in Iraq. Maybe there is something to the whole Yale University Skull & Bones Club that Bush, John Kerry, and Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank belong to where they worship in the "tomb" and are known to crawl into caskets for dark rituals.

Listen to the BBC radio story on Skull & Bones.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

WHO WILL PROTECT THE PUBLIC FROM THE GESTAPO?

I'm in bed with the flu, yesterday I could hardly move as my body ached and my stomach was in horrid pain . So I spent the evening watching my Baltimore Orioles beat the New York Yankees (the evil empire) in a baseball game via my laptop. I will watch another game today. Sometimes you just have to make such sacrifices.

I read a very alarming account this morning of a martial law run through called Operation Sudden Impact that was held in three southern states in recent days. There is a TV news story about it at this link: http://www.wreg.com/Global/story.asp?S=8165019

Federal law enforcement agencies co-opted sheriffs offices as well state and local police forces in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas as they practiced "rounding up" terrorists.

The authorities even raided businesses and store owners, confiscating computers and paperwork in an effort to "track down possible terrorists before something big happens".

Have no doubt that plans are being implemented to pull something big, possibly before the next election.

Who will protect the public when the gestapo comes around? Sadly the media and the Democrats stand back and applaud.