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: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'll be taking an 'unpaid leave of absence' from my job at the Global Network from December 15-March 15, 2020 in order to help my friend Lisa Savage on her campaign for the US Senate in Maine. She's running as a Maine Green Independent Party member and needs to gather 2,000 petition signatures of registered Greens during that period. I'll be back to GN after March 15.

Friday, April 10, 2009

DRONES, WAR, SMASHERS, & NATO


* Fourteen peace activists were arrested yesterday at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada. The arrests occurred during a ten-day vigil which sought to raise public awareness of the increasing use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) drones in the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Air Force personnel based at Creech control the Predator and Reaper drones being used in Central Asia. Eight activists were also arrested this morning after fifty people involved with the Holy Week Faith and Resistance retreat in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Jonah House and the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, had vigiled at the Pentagon.

In a related noontime action today at the White House during the "100 Days Campaign to Close Guantanamo" vigil, one activist, dressed in an orange jump suit and black hood, climbed up onto the White House sidewalk ledge and with his arms outstretched, was chained by two supporters to the White House fence. He was arrested by U.S. Park Police.

* Obama requested a special supplemental appropriation of $83.4 billion yesterday for Iraq and Afghanistan. In typical Bush-era nonsense Obama told Congress that, “The Taliban is resurgent and al Qaeda threatens America from its safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border.” During Bush's reign-of-terror the peace movement would be howling about these massive war supplementals and many would be sitting in their Congress persons offices in protest of the funding. Now, except for the Catholic Worker community, things are pretty quiet out there.

Many "progressives" don't want to think about it - cognitive dissonance. Don't worry though, Obama has a secret plan to trick the military industrial complex and is just waiting to spring it on everyone - so relax and enjoy the show. We've got vegetable gardens on the White House lawn now which means something, right? It's sad how low our expectations have sunk.......

* The story out of Strasbourg, France is not encouraging. French and German police, by the tens of thousands, attacked anti-NATO protesters last weekend and the so-called black block anarchists were used as an excuse to smash up the protest. I am more convinced than ever that most of these "black blockers" are really paid government agents. One English friend who was at the protest wrote me today and said, "I saw clearly, in two different places carefully placed long rows of stones, local handy sized pebbles, along the side of the road. How could they have been there if not put there some time before? Why did the police not remove them or the obvious conclusion is that the police put them there?......The third matter was seeing a large group of police of whom about a third had blue jeans on instead of the black combat hard wearing trousers of police issue. This again seems like the only explanation is that they were protesters moments before and merely just put on there black police jackets."

Highly regarded journalist Diana Johnstone, reporting from the scene wrote, "In this cycle of provocation, there is no doubt who started it: NATO. The lavish celebration of NATO’s 60th anniversary, held in the Rhineland cities of Strasbourg, Kehl and Baden Baden over the weekend, was an insult to the citizens. After all, if President Obama and the other leaders of the self-proclaimed free world of democracies are so popular, why must their host cities be turned into heavily armed fortresses to receive them? If Europeans welcome NATO protection, why must they be held at gunpoint miles away from their benefactors?"

It's hard not to notice that the real message coming out of NATO's 60th anniversary "celebration" was no one should think for a moment about challenging the new offensive empire building strategy of the "alliance". Obama's new National Security Adviser, Gen. James Jones, was the former commander of NATO. In 2006 he told the Associated Press the following: "NATO is developing a special plan to safeguard oil and gas fields [Caspian Sea, Central Asia, Africa]...Our strategic goal is to expand to Eastern Europe and Africa....NATO is ready to ensure the security of oil-producing and transporting regions."

NATO is setting up the military infrastructure for resource wars and Obama put the right man, Gen. Jones, into the position of making it happen. In a related story Reuters also reported in 2006, "NATO's top commander of operations, US General James Jones, has said he sees a potential role for the alliance in protecting key shipping lanes such as those around the Black Sea and oil supply routes from Africa to Europe."

Anyone who stands in protest of the "new robust NATO" is the enemy and will be smashed - whether they are peace activists, Russia, or China does not matter.

* So the operative question is - where are the Democrats in all of this? They were put into power of Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008 to end these wars......but instead we see more of the same Bush plan. What is the difference between the two war parties now? Vegetable gardens?

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