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

Saturday, July 25, 2009

TOUGH TALK ABOUT KOREA

Now what does Admiral Timothy Keating, head of the US Pacific Command (PacCom) mean by this statement: "I can tell you that we have plans with the United States Forces Korea and others in place if the president tells us to execute those plans, in the event of some uncertain succession in the North [Korea]. We are prepared to execute a wide range of options in concert with allies in South Korea and in discussions through [the Department of] State, which would have the lead, with countries in the region and internationally if necessary."

His over use of the word "execute" is troubling. See the whole story here

I am heading from Tokyo to Nagoya today for a 1:30 pm talk. Last night I spoke to 60 folks in Tokyo after spending the day seeing the Yokosuka Naval Base about an hour from Tokyo. The new Navy Aegis destroyer named after John McCain was there.

It is hot and sticky here in Japan.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

TALKING SPACE IN TOKYO

I am in the office of the People's Plan Study Group where our Global Network board member Hibiki Yamaguchi works. He picked me up at the airport yesterday and took me to my hotel.

This morning Hibiki brought me to his office in downtown Tokyo where I will do three interviews today. I just finished the first with a reporter from the Mainichi Daily News (the 3rd largest paper in the country). Next I will do the Kyodo News Agency and then an interview with the Global Children's Newsletter which has been described to me as a "wallpaper-type newspaper for kids in elementary schools."

Tonight I will attend a public gathering regarding a lawsuit on noise pollution by US military forces in Japan. A film has been made about the problem and will be shown this evening.

In the morning I will be taken to Yokosuka naval base which is shared by the US and Japanese Navy. It is here that both countries have their Aegis destroyers that are outfitted with "missile defense" systems on-board. I understand I will be taken on a boat around the harbor for a tour. I will do a formal talk here in Tokyo tomorrow night after my trip to Yokosuka.

This morning I got an email from Bill Sulzman in Colorado Springs. I've written about Bill on the blog before, he was a co-founder of the Global Network in 1992. He said he heard my interview on KPFK's Uprising Radio show out of Los Angeles. Bill is a L.A. Dodgers baseball fan so he must listen on-line to radio there often. The radio show had me on the other day to offer my reflections about the 40th anniversary of the US astronauts landing on the Moon. You can listen to the interview by clicking here

KILLING AS SPORT


I made it to Tokyo after a 13-hour flight from Detroit. Not much sleep on the plane but went to bed about 6pm last night. Woke up at 2am and checking emails, wide awake. My bio-clock is just a bit off I'd say.

The piece above shows how the military is using video games for recruiting. We are teaching our kids that killing can be fun.....and has no moral/ethical dimension. Look out world, here we come. The era of drones, robotic, hands-off killing is here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

CHECKMATE DANGER

The run-away-train called Georgia is at it again poking a stick at Russia. V-P Joseph Biden will visit there this week and the New York Times is reporting that Georgia intends to invite the US to send troops to help patrol the borders near the conflicted breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. You might remember that last summer Georgia attacked Russian peacekeepers in those two republics and a hot war ensued. (South Osseti and Abkhazia want to be autonomous - Russia long ago has recognized them and Georgia has not.)

A member of the Georgian National Security Council told the Times, that US troops in the conflict zone would make it “politically very costly to Russia to do anything on the ground.”

The newspaper went on to report, "Mr. Biden intends to make it clear, on this trip, that the United States will not abandon its allies in deference to Russia, said one of his senior advisers."

If you are thinking - "Gee, would this be the equivalent of Canada inviting Russian troops to set up shop right along the border with the US?" - then you are indeed right on the money. It's a chess move but an extremely dangerous one at that. During the Cold War this would have been the spark that would have ignited nuclear war between the two superpowers. Today the US arrogantly thinks it can get away with such moves without a hitch.

This all could be a trial balloon. But it appears the US is determined to use the Georgia-Russia border to continue to sow seeds of disharmony in the region. Please remember that I've previously written that the Rand Corporation a couple of years ago suggested that Russia should be broken up into three separate countries so the US-British oil corporations would have an easier time getting their hands on Russia's supplies of natural gas - the most in the world by the way. The US and NATO "balkanized" the former Yugoslavia and while in the Senate, Joseph Biden, suggested we break Iraq up into three countries for the same purpose of easier control of their oil. There is a dangerous pattern at work here.

So what will happen to the US-Russia nuclear negotiations if Obama first moves to put US troops on the Georgia-Russian border? Fa-get-about-it!

By the way, did you happen to notice that pesky little Caspian Sea popping up again in the map above? What could be going on here?

Monday, July 20, 2009

MEDIA, MISSILES, AND MONEY

I was up early this morning because I needed to catch a ride with a housemate to nearby Brunswick. I had breakfast at a little local joint and then met Lisa Savage from Solon, Maine who is the coordinator of CodePink in our state. She drove me out to Harpswell where we taped the 71st edition of my cable access TV show This Issue. (The show is now in its 6th year of broadcasting.) Lisa is leading our emerging statewide coalition on Afghanistan organizing so we talked about "the good war." Lisa did a nice job. She's a 9th grade history teacher by trade and a near full-time peace activist on the side.

After the show I was out with our old-fashioned muscle-powered rotator lawn mower to cut the grass before I go on my trip. I am trying to catch up with all my chores before I leave.

I wrote two letters to the editor today in response to pieces in two papers that were giving rare coverage to the "missile defense" issue. The Portland Press Herald ran an op-ed in today's edition written by George W. Bush's former director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Lt. Gen. Trey Obering, now retired, likely is finding it difficult to enjoy all his free time so he was back at this old habit of wildly exaggerating the nuclear threat from Iran and North Korea. He wondered why Russia was so upset about proposed US deployments in Poland and the Czech Republic. The usual stuff.

The second letter I wrote was to the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. The Alaskan Congressional delegation (Republican and Democrat alike) are complaining about the Obama team's desire to cut $1.4 billion from the MDA's budget in 2010 which means that Bush's proposed deployment of 40 "missile defense" interceptors in Alaska will now be scaled down to about half that amount. They are screaming jobs so I concentrated on the fact that diverting Pentagon funds to build rail, solar, and wind systems would create many times more jobs and help deal with climate change. Not certain they will print my letter but it was worth a try.

I got a call this afternoon from KPFK radio in Los Angeles about doing an interview tomorrow. They want me to reflect on the moon landing anniversary and discuss where the space program is heading these days.

I did two other radio interviews on Saturday, one a 20-minute spot on a Vancouver, Canada station and the other was a two-hour show out of Austin, Texas. I love doing radio interviews because you have to use your imagination to keep the listeners involved.

Last week I heard that plans are now being made to "deorbit" the International Space Station (ISS) in 2016. The ISS was originally going to cost tax payers $10 billion, but like most high-tech space technology programs, the cost kept rising. We've now spent $100 billion on it and just as it finally gets finished it will be dropped back toward Earth where it will burn up on reentry and scatter into the Pacific Ocean. The Washington Post reports, "The rap on the space station has always been that it was built primarily to give the space shuttle somewhere to go. Now, with the shuttle being retired at the end of 2010, the station is on the spot. U.S. astronauts will be able to reach the station only by getting rides on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft."

The ISS was always fundamentally a jobs program for the Central Florida "space coast" and what an expensive one it was. When you begin to track other space projects - things like launch vehicles, military satellites, various space weapons programs - you find similar kinds of massive cost overruns. The space program is a huge boondoggle.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

10 MORE YEARS IN AFGHANISTAN?


Obama wants 400,000 trained and equipped Afghanistan military forces before the US can leave. They now have 8,000. It could take ten more years to reach that number. Are we ready for this-$$$$-?

WHERE THE ACTION IS

This map is where the action is in the world today. Former National Security advisor for President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, spelled it out in his book The Grand Chess Board, when he wrote, "For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia... and America's global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained…. The primary interest is to gain geostrategic depth through political influence in Afghanistan…and to benefit eventually from any pipeline construction linking Central Asia with the Arabian Sea."

Brzezinski also states in the book that the US will have to maintain a massive military presence in the region for a long time that will be extremely expensive. Brzezinski says that the American people are unlikely to appreciate such an expense and sustained military occupation unless a "Pearl Harbor like incident" happens that will galvanize their support. Brzezinski's book was published in 1998.

It should be remembered that Brzezinski was a chief foreign policy adviser to President Obama during his recent presidential campaign. Brzezinski first met Obama when he was a student at Columbia University in 1981 and helped nurture his career ever since.

If you click on the map, and enlarge it, find Afghanistan and Pakistan. Just north of those two countries is oil rich Turkmenistan bordering the Caspian Sea. The reason for much of the global conflict today is over who will control the pipeline routes from that resource laden Caspian Sea region.

If the Caspian Sea resources were moved westward to Europe they'd have to go through Iran or Russia. Or pipelines could head due east into China which is a huge energy market. The US-British oil corporations don't want those countries to get a piece of the action.

Thus control of Afghanistan and Pakistan by the US-British corporate oligarchy would allow resources from Turkmenistan to head directly south to the Arabian Sea where it could be then loaded onto tankers and shipped to fuel-hungry countries.

The US, telling the American people it's all about securing democracy and defeating the Taliban, is using our tax dollars and the lives of our young soldiers, to make a power grab in the region - essentially bypassing those who live there like Iran or Russia.

Russia has the world’s largest deposits of natural gas and significant supplies of oil. The US has recently built military bases in Romania and Bulgaria and will soon be adding more in Albania. NATO has been expanding eastward into Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, right on Russia’s border. Georgia and the Ukraine are next on the list to become members of what is quickly becoming a global NATO military alliance.

The NATO Treaty’s Article 5 is quite clear that if one NATO member country is attacked, it is the responsibility, the obligation, of all NATO members to join in defense of that country. That means that if Georgia, which the US is now vigorously promoting for full membership in the alliance, got into another hot conflict with neighboring Russia, NATO would be called upon to go to war with Russia.

Since fossil fuels are a declining resource and global demand for energy is dramatically growing, this region will be even more in danger of eruption into shooting wars in the coming years. Get to know it intimately. Your hard earned tax dollars, and maybe your children or grandchildren, will be flowing into this part of the world for some time to come.