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'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

TOWN HALL WORDS

Lisa Savage, a teacher from Solon, Maine and member of Code Pink, talks about military recruiters in schools during the Town Hall Meeting

We had 200
people at our Town Hall Meeting last night in Portland. Despite a bad rain storm that surely kept some away the event was a smashing success as 51 people from 35 Maine towns got up to the microphones to speak for three-minutes to the assembled group of elected officials who were there. We had our two Congresspersons and our two Senators represented. We had the Governor represented and the leadership of the State legislature there as well as a representative for the Maine Municipal Association which serves the interests of the towns and cities across the state.

At the end of the three hour event the elected officials were given five minutes each to make comments after listening to the people all evening. One of them, Senator Phil Bartlett who is the State Senate Majority Leader, impressed me very much when he basically said, "What I heard is that our foreign policy is about wars for energy and oil. We need to change the way Maine uses energy and the state needs to take a lead on this." He said even more but I wasn't taking notes. I really felt like he was deeply listening to us.

When it came my time to speak I started out with a story about the great Sioux Indian Sitting Bull who once took a trip to New York City and while sitting on a door stoop was shocked at the number of little street urchins who came begging to him. He then realized that the white man's world had a spiritual "disconnect" as he could not imagine anyone would let their children go hungry and be homeless.

I then went on to make the following statement:

Major demonstrations will be held this weekend in Strausbourg, France with activists from all over the world protesting NATO’s 60th anniversary celebrations. NATO is becoming an offensive global military alliance, controlled by the US, and is being used not only in Afghanistan but also to surround Russia as NATO tries to expand bases into Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – all right on Russia’s border. Why? Because Russia has the world’s largest supply of natural gas and significant supplies of oil.

The US government is still controlled by corporate interests that are preparing for resource wars in the coming years. Right now the US military empire has more than 800 bases worldwide and our 2010 military budget will be over $663 billion. We are spending more than $12 billion a month in Iraq & Afghanistan. The Pentagon has created a new command called AfriCom. Some time ago I was watching C-SPAN and heard a Pentagon representative say we will be fighting in Africa 20 years from now for their oil.

We need a single-payer health care system but we are told no. We need massive infrastructure repairs, new sustainable technologies developed, in order to deal with climate change but we are nickel and diming it. Until we deal with the military budget there will be no real change in America.

Local, state, and federal politicians all avoid talking about the military budget. President Obama has recommended a 4% increase in Pentagon spending in 2010 after George W. Bush doubled the military budget during his 8 years. When does it all end?
It ends when the progressive community puts military spending on the table…..it ends when we support Congressman Barney Frank’s call for a 25% cut in military spending. It ends when we say we can’t afford guns and butter anymore……

The people want jobs and the evidence is abundant that building rail systems, building and installing solar, building wind turbines, weatherizing homes, and hiring teachers and nurses all create more jobs per billion dollars than military production does.

But our elected officials from both parties in this state, and around the country, support virtually every high-priced weapon system the military industrial complex comes up with.

The number one industrial export product of America today is what? And when weapons are your number one industrial export product, what is your global marketing strategy for that product line?

What does it say about the soul of our nation that we have to have endless war for oil to create jobs for our workers here at home?

Thank you.

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