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, May 15, 2008

ONE MORE NIGHT

We did another all-nighter. Things began yesterday at noon with a picket line outside the office of Sen. Susan Collins in Portland. TV channel 13 showed up and interviewed me live at the top of the noon news with our protesting crew in the background. Very nice. I kept saying that we need folks to call the politicians.

We stayed on the streets for several hours and handed out over 700 leaflets. People began sitting in the office about 2:30 pm and I remained outside holding a sign and leafletting until about 4:30. By 6:00 we had 17 people inside and wrote the statement just below and had it sent out over the email to folks around Maine.

At 10:00 pm the police arrived and threatened (very nicely though) to arrest those of us who did not leave. Several left and the photo above, of those willing to risk arrest, was taken by a very friendly policewoman. By 10:30 the police were outside negotiating with someone and decided not to arrest us. Instead they posted one cop inside the inner office and said we could stay the night.

All during this time we had the TV on in the small office waiting room where we were sitting in and I was watching the Boston Red Sox - Baltimore Orioles (my team) baseball game. The Orioles won in a dramatic fashion with a grand slam late in the game. The sound on the TV was muted but I was content.

Before the game came on we sang every peace song we could think of and several folks shared readings, including one profound excerpt from the George Orwell's book 1984.

In the end, as an organizer, I recognize that Sen. Collins will continue to vote for the Iraq occupation funding and that it will be incredibly difficult to move her from that position. But we know that 70% of the American people want us to leave Iraq. So it is not really about convincing the public of our position. Instead it is about getting the public to (1) Know this war supplemental to the tune of $178 billion is about to be voted on. Most people have no clue and the media is not saying much about it. (2) Helping motivate people enough to pick up the phone, pick up a sign, or just talk to others about this issue and act to help stop this endless war.

So our action in the office is really a public participatory drama that is intended to draw people emotionally/intellectually into the issue in hopes that they will break out of their blind participation in the daily grind long enough to come alive and do something to help make a difference.

I am told the piece they used on TV 13's evening news had me talking about how Maine's share of the Iraq war money could have been used in our state for positive purposes. So all this effort in recent days paid off with us having that bit of a time slot on TV to put out that message. Since we don't have the $$$$ to buy TV time, this is how we have to do it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. On we go.


This letter was composed by a group of 17 Mainers from throughout the state while in the office of Sen. Susan Collins on May 14.

We are joined tonight in a united purpose: to remain in Sen. Collins office on the 14th and the 15th of May to represent the vast majority of Mainers who want the Iraq Occupation to end, and who want the troops to return home now.

The Iraq war was a premeditated criminal act. Neither further funding nor continuing the occupation should be allowed. This war embodies the most serious of war crimes: crimes against the Iraqi people, and our own American soldiers. The cost is extreme in terms of human suffering, creating two million war refugees in addition to the 2.5 million Iraqis who are displaced in country.

In addition, this war creates suffering for our own people at home. Many of our own residents have no food, no heat, no jobs, and inadequate health care.

We want our tax dollars back in our own state and country to rebuild our own communities.

Any further Iraq funding should go only toward military withdrawal, reconstruction, and reparations -- not continued military presence. It is immoral and unconscionable to make Iraqis pay for the reconstruction.

Just as Sen. Collins is responsible for her acts, we are responsible to remind her of a previous statement to end this war. We urge Sen. Collins, as our elected representative, to vote against any further funding of the Occupation of Iraq.

We urge people to spread the message of our resistance and take action to help to bring an end to this atrocity, to this madness.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

COLLINS OFFICE SIT-INS TO CONTINUE

The Congress, originally scheduled to vote on the "Iraq Emergency Supplemental" bill last week, is now expected to have the vote on another $172 billion for the occupation sometime this week. With that in mind a decision has been made to return to the Portland office of Sen. Collins on Wednesday, May 14th at noon to resume the office sit-ins.

In addition to sitting in the office on May 14 there will also be a day long street protest just outside the office of Sen. Collins where activists will pass out leaflets urging the public to call her office asking her to vote against any more funds for the Iraq occupation. The leaflet will urge the public to also call Sen. Olympia Snowe and Rep. Tom Allen.

According to the National Priorities Project the Iraq debacle has already cost the country over $519 billion since 2003. Taxpayers in Maine have paid $1.4 billion as their share. These funds could have been used in our state for many social programs and infrastructure needs.

This event will be organized by the Stop the Iraq Occupation Coalition (Made up of local members from Veterans for Peace, Peace Action Maine, PeaceWorks, and WILPF)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ON PEACE


May 2, 2008
Speech by Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Greens Congress
Sao Paulo, Brazil

My name is Bruce Gagnon and I live in the state of Maine in the United States.

I work for the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.

A recent U.S. military report called "Transforming the way the Pentagon looks at energy," says that in order to ensure a "reliable" source of oil for the long term the military will increase its efforts to maintain control over foreign sources.

Soaring global demand for dimishing resources means strong international competition in the coming years.

Global power, the Pentagon says, will reside in the hands of those who control the distribution of declining natural resources.

One way to keep control of the global economic system is by holding the keys to the world's economic engine - oil.

During the two terms of the Bush administration, George W. Bush has doubled military spending. The U.S. military now controls just over 50% of every federal tax dollar.

The U.S. Congress is now sharply cutting remaining social programs, public education, and environmental programs.

To fund the occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan the U.S. is spending more than $14 billion a month. The U.S. now spends more on the military than the rest of the world combined.

The Republicans and the Democrats are partners in funding and promoting the U.S. military empire that consists of more than 750 military bases around the world.

The weapons corporations are now giving more campaign donations to the Democrats than the Republicans. The two Democratic party presidential contenders, Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama, have pledged to expand the U.S. military by adding more soldiers and building a new generation of weapons.

And now the weapons industry wants to move the arms race into space. Weapons corporations say that weapons in space (Star Wars) will be the largest industrial project in the history of the planet Earth. The new arms race will be so expensive that the U.S. can't pay for it alone and is bringing its allies into this new space weapons arms race. Many European countries have become partners as has Japan and Australia.

The Pentagon says that under corporate globalization every country will have a different role. There will be no significant industry in the U.S. (except weapons production). No automobile manufacturing, no clothes or shoe production. Instead, the military says our role in the U.S. will be "security export" which translates to endless war to benefit the corporate interests.

Today the U.S. is surrounding Russia with the help of an expanding NATO alliance. Why Russia? Russia has the largest supply of natural gas on the planet and also has huge supplies of oil.

The U.S. is also attempting to deploy so-called "missile defense" interceptors in Poland and a space warfare radar system in the Czech Republic. We need Green parties in Poland and the Czech Republic, and throughout Europe, to speak out louder against these new U.S. bases.

The U.S. today is militarily surrounding China with the help of a military alliance with Japan, South Korea, and Australia. The Washington Post newspaper several years ago reported that the U.S. is moving to "manage" China by doubling its military presence in the Asian-Pacific region and by deploying missile defense systems throughout the region. This will create a new and expensive arms race.

The U.S. Space Command for the past several years has been war gaming a first-strike attack on China, set in the year 2016. The attack uses the military space plane, now under development, that would fly from one end of the Earth to the other in one hour and drop a devastating attack on China and then return to space.

Space technology coordinates all war on the planet today. When the U.S. launched the "shock and awe" invasion on Iraq in 2003 over 70% of the weapons used in the initial attack were directed to their targets by military space satellites. Thus the Pentagon says, whoever controls space will control the Earth below.

In addition the U.S. is now preparing an attack on Iran in order to control their oil and natural gas.

The U.S. is demonizing Venezuela because they had the audacity to nationalize their oil.

And the Pentagon has just recently created a new military command called AfriCom. The Pentagon says we will be fighting in Africa in 20 years to control the oil of Nigeria, Angola, and Algeria.

Everyone acknowledges that the U.S. is a major contributor to global warming and that we in the U.S. must immediately change our entire consuming culture if the planet is to survive. But where will the massive investment for solar, wind, rail, and conservation come from when the U.S. is instead preparing for endless war?

In fact, if the U.S. successfully draws Russia, China, the European Union, and Japan into a new arms race in space, how will any of our societies be able to afford to produce the alternative technologies we will need to avoid the coming global energy crisis?

Global Greens must make a unified demand for the conversion of the global war machine, or as we call it, the military industrial complex.

We know that conversion of the global war machine will create more jobs than we currently get from military spending. We know that if we don't convert the military industrial complex then the future generations will suffer even more.

In the proposed 21 Point Declaration I would like to comment on point number 20. I believe that two key items must be added. The first is that a statement is needed calling for the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS). This new space arms race will be what the weapons industry calls the most expensive industrial project in human history.

Secondly, there must be a specific call for the conversion of the global war machine in the Declaration so that our global budget resources can be dramatically and quickly used to deal with climate change.

The Native Americans, the Indian people, in my country say that the sacred hoop, the sacred circle, has been broken. It is our job to heal the broken circle.

Political power means little if we don't show the determination to stop the madness of endless war and successfully deal with climate change.

Thank you.

THE SCENE OF THE CRIME




Let's set the scene. It's 4:30 am in the office of Republican Sen. Susan Collins. I am fast asleep laying on the floor. Collins staffer Jennifer Duddy decides that the chair on wheels needs to be moved from behind the desk in the photo (just to the left) to another location in the office. She runs me over. I wake up from my slumbers and reach for my eye glasses (inside my shoe) which she is about to step on. Luckily my friend Peter comes running with his camera to film the deed.