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, May 15, 2009

WHOSE WAR NOW?

The vote in the House of Representatives on the Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan wars supplemental spending bill took place yesterday afternoon. More than $97 billion was approved for the remainder of 2009.

Rep. David Obey (D-WI) led the floor debate for the Democrats side and basically said the money was going to do no good, the whole Afghanistan war was a mess, but we've got to give our new president a chance. All I could think about was the 95 kids who got killed last week in a US bombing raid.....how many more kids will die during the next year while guys like Obey "give Obama a chance"? It was the weakest excuse for leadership I've ever seen.

The final vote was 368-60 with 200 Democrats supporting the funding. The Republicans congratulated the Democrats for finally coming round to their side and putting together a "bi-partisan" war funding measure. They were gloating of course, loving that the Democrats, now firmly in control of the government, were accepting ownership of the wars. Of course the Democrats had been supporting Bush's war funding requests for years, but always rhetorically bashed Bush for getting us into the wars. Now the Dems own them and have to do the heavy lifting.

Much to our pleasant surprise in Maine our two representatives, Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, voted against the war funding. So, while it is a hollow victory, it is a reward of some sort for our hard work to turn our state against these endless wars. Now we have the tough job of convincing our two Republican "moderate" senators (Snowe and Collins) to do the same. Always another boulder to push up the hill.

Coincidentally we had an anti-war meeting in Portland last night to figure our next steps following our successful town hall meeting early last month. We are planning a statewide meeting on June 13 to develop strategy. Friends in the northern parts of Maine will join with us from the midcoast and southern regions in order to increase our ability to build opposition to this huge waste of resources and human lives.

I watched much of the war funding debate on C-SPAN yesterday and it was quite an amazing thing to see that most of the discussion was not about war. Should we expand into Pakistan? Should we have a plan in Afghanistan? Should there be a timeline? These key questions were largely glossed over.

In fact most of the debate was about Guantanamo. Should Obama close Guantanamo? Should the prisoners there be brought to the US? Should they be released to walk freely on the streets of America and shop in our malls? I kid you not.....it was all about fear making.

During the 15-minute vote in the House they took calls from listeners on C-SPAN and the vast majority of the calls had nothing to say about the war funding issue - instead they were fixated on "terrorists roaming the streets of America."

I realised that neither the Dem or Repub leadership really wanted to have a no-holds-barred debate on the funding for multiple wars. So just like professional TV wrestling they played good-cop bad-cop and had a stormy debate about Guantanamo prisoners. Thus the attention of the people was effectively diverted.

The war parties got what they wanted.

The American people got hoodwinked.

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