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, January 02, 2010

WELCOME TO ORWELL'S WORLD 2010


By John Pilger

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell described a superstate called Oceania, whose language of war inverted lies that “passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’, ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past’.”

Barack Obama is the leader of a contemporary Oceania. In two speeches at the close of the decade, the Nobel Peace Prize winner affirmed that peace was no longer peace, but rather a permanent war that “extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan” to “disorderly regions and diffuse enemies”. He called this “global security” and invited our gratitude. To the people of Afghanistan, which America has invaded and occupied, he said wittily: “We have no interest in occupying your country.”

In Oceania, truth and lies are indivisible. According to Obama, the American attack on Afghanistan in 2001 was authorised by the United Nations Security Council. There was no UN authority. He said the “the world” supported the invasion in the wake of 9/11 when, in truth, all but three of 37 countries surveyed by Gallup expressed overwhelming opposition. He said that America invaded Afghanistan “only after the Taliban refused to turn over [Osama] bin Laden”. In 2001, the Taliban tried three times to hand over bin Laden for trial, reported Pakistan’s military regime, and were ignored. Even Obama’s mystification of 9/11 as justification for his war is false. More than two months before the Twin Towers were attacked, the Pakistani foreign minister, Niaz Naik, was told by the Bush administration that an American military assault would take place by mid-October. The Taliban regime in Kabul, which the Clinton administration had secretly supported, was no longer regarded as “stable” enough to ensure America’s control over oil and gas pipelines to the Caspian Sea. It had to go.

Obama’s most audacious lie is that Afghanistan today is a “safe haven” for al-Qaeda’s attacks on the West. His own national security adviser, General James Jones, said in October that there were “fewer than 100” al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. According to US intelligence, 90 per cent of the Taliban are hardly Taliban at all, but “a tribal localised insurgency [who] see themselves as opposing the US because it is an occupying power”. The war is a fraud. Only the terminally gormless remain true to the Obama brand of “world peace”.

Beneath the surface, however, there is serious purpose. Under the disturbing General Stanley McCrystal, who gained distinction for his assassination squads in Iraq, the occupation of one of the most impoverished countries is a model for those “disorderly regions” of the world still beyond Oceania’s reach. This is a known as COIN, or counter-insurgency network, which draws together the military, aid organisations, psychologists, anthropologists, the media and public relations hirelings. Covered in jargon about winning hearts and minds, its aim is to pit one ethnic group against another and incite civil war: Tajiks and Uzbecks against Pashtuns.

The Americans did this in Iraq and destroyed a multi-ethnic society. They bribed and built walls between communities who had once inter-married, ethnically cleansing the Sunni and driving millions out of the country. The embedded media reported this as “peace”, and American academics bought by Washington and “security experts” briefed by the Pentagon appeared on the BBC to spread the good news. As in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the opposite was true.

Something similar is planned for Afghanistan. People are to be forced into “target areas” controlled by warlords bankrolled by the Americans and the opium trade. That these warlords are infamous for their barbarism is irrelevant. “We can live with that,” a Clinton-era diplomat said of the persecution of women in a “stable” Taliban-run Afghanistan. Favoured western relief agencies, engineers and agricultural specialists will attend to the “humanitarian crisis” and so “secure” the subjugated tribal lands.

That is the theory. It worked after a fashion in Yugoslavia where the ethnic-sectarian partition wiped out a once peaceful society, but it failed in Vietnam where the CIA’s “strategic hamlet program” was designed to corral and divide the southern population and so defeat the Viet Cong -- the Americans’ catch-all term for the resistance, similar to “Taliban”.

Behind much of this are the Israelis, who have long advised the Americans in both the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures. Ethnic-cleansing, wall-building, checkpoints, collective punishment and constant surveillance – these are claimed as Israeli innovations that have succeeded in stealing most of Palestine from its native people. And yet for all their suffering, the Palestinians have not been divided irrevocably and they endure as a nation against all odds.

The most telling forerunners of the Obama Plan, which the Nobel Peace Prize winner and his strange general and his PR men prefer we forget, are those that failed in Afghanistan itself. The British in the 19th century and the Soviets in the 20th century attempted to conquer that wild country by ethnic cleansing and were seen off, though after terrible bloodshed. Imperial cemeteries are their memorials. People power, sometimes baffling, often heroic, remains the seed beneath the snow, and invaders fear it.

“It was curious,” wrote Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four, “to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here. And the people under the sky were also very much the same, everywhere, all over the world … people ignorant of one another’s existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the same people who … were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would one day overturn the world.”

- John Pilger is a world-renowned journalist, author and documentary filmmaker. "It is too easy," he says, "for Western journalists to see humanity in terms of its usefulness to 'our' interests and to follow government agendas that ordain good and bad tyrants, worthy and unworthy victims and present 'our' policies as always benign when the opposite is usually true. It's the journalist's job, first of all, to look in the mirror of his own society."

Friday, January 01, 2010

NO MORE WAR

COURAGE TO END TOTAL WAR

It’s a brilliant strategy if you think about it. Make the public afraid of each other. Every person could be a terrorist - everyone is suspect. There is no better way to defeat an organized anti-war opposition than to make the people terrified of each other.

The corporate oligarchy is now doing under Obama what it could not accomplish under Bush. Total war. The anti-Bush movement in the US and worldwide was gaining too much ground. So the oligarchy let the air out of that balloon. In Bush’s place they put in a magician who has proved very effective at keeping the left off balance and thus unable to pump new life into the reeling anti-war movement.

So now it’s Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Somalia and Yemen. Next could be Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Tom Gjelten did a story called “Afghan War Could Spill Over Into Central Asia” on December 31 that upped the fear meter and brought back the Vietnam-war era worry of the “domino theory”. You must watch the slight of hand ….the modus operandi in action again.

Bush, or John McCain for that matter, would have been resisted at every step of this new escalation. But many “progressives” are frozen into place by the handiwork of the magician and a deferential Congress under the control of the other war party. The “execution” of this masterstroke has worked as well as the insides of an expensive Swiss watch.

The oil and military industrial oligarchy have created a situation where the public is so primed for fear by the slavish media that they are ready to strip their constitutional rights down to the bare bone in order to be “protected” by big daddy.

Few are asking the legitimate question of why people are fighting against the US around the world? What are they upset about? Could it possibly be that we are increasingly occupying their lands and grabbing their natural resources? Does it take a rocket scientist to see this? All the talk about our troops protecting our freedoms overseas is pure bloviation.

In the end this total war plan is destroying our economy at home. More than 40 states are now in fiscal crisis. Here in Maine public education is being eviscerated and social programs are next on the block to have their heads removed. But teachers or workers inside of the social service agencies are unwilling to raise their voices and say the obvious – bring our war $$ home so we can maintain social progress. They have been made job scared. Instead, they call for more taxes that an already belabored public rejects out of hand, and they are dismissed as socialists. Thus those trying to preserve domestic tranquility get marginalized. Meanwhile, few are willing to make the connections and speak the truth about the very real, local consequences of endless war.

So as Obama’s total war rages overseas it is also being waged on us here at home. Except, because they have us focused 24-7 on the antics of a hapless airplane bomber, we are taking our eyes off the ball that is being ripped right out of our hands. That is the value of Obama, the magician.

We have sadly become slaves, chained to wars, as we watch our very social fabric torn apart. But we remain silent, as we have been programmed to do. And still, in the midst of all that, we boast about our great freedoms here at home as we strip down to our underpants at the airline security check-in.

There is a way out but it takes courage. The courage to speak up, to defend our constitution, to defend social progress, to defend the future generations. Real courage is needed to call for an end to total war.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

HAPPY NEW YEAR DEAR FRIENDS


My new year greetings and best wishes to all of you.

Thanks for sharing the past year with me.....the next one is likely to be just as rocky. Keep checking in here with me as I do my best to stay faithful to the struggle for true peace and real justice and share some stories about other good hearted souls on the same path.

My one request? Let me hear more from each of you in the coming year....gimme more feedback.

Always know that what each of you do indeed does make a difference...at least to me it does. You remind me that we are not alone and that is something very important.

OK, now let's get down to the important stuff here. Key reasons why I am a Kinks and Ray Davies fan are:

1) His sense of humor as you will see in the song lyrics below in the face of all kinds of problems

2) His touching sentimentality.....

3) His ability to get people to sing along with his social critique (an organizers dream I'd say)

Don't ever give up....I won't. I am planning to be on the picket line to the bitter end if need be. What could be more important than working hard, with wonderful people, to help make the world a better place for the future generations.....and all our relatives (the animals, the plant life, the water, the air, the sky, the rocks, the ground)?

We humans think we are so smart but we forget we are animals too....the spider knows what its job is....to spin the web - so do your job - help keep the fires burning for all our relatives.

Peace out til next year. Let's make it a more determined and active one - together.

Bruce



Holiday

Written by: Ray Davies (The Kinks)

Holiday,
Oh what a lovely day today,
I'm oh so glad they sent me away,
To have a little holiday today, holiday.
Holiday,
And I'm just standing on the end of a pier,
Hoping and dreaming you were here,
To share my little holiday.

Lookin' in the sky for a gap in the clouds,
Sometimes I think that sun ain't never coming out,
But I'd rather be here than in that dirty old town,
I had to leave the city cos it nearly brought me down.

Oh holiday, oh what a lovely day today,
I think I'll get down on my little ol' knees and pray, thank you Lord,
Thank heaven for that holiday today, holiday.
I'm leaving insecurity behind me,
The environmental pressures got me down,
I don't need no sedatives to pull me round,
I don't need no sleeping pills to help me sleep sound.

Oh holiday,
Oh what a lovely day today,
I think I'll get down on my little ol' knees and pray,
That's what I'll do,
Thank heaven for that holiday.

Lying on the beach with my back burned rare,
The salt gets in my blisters and the sand gets in my hair,
And the sea's an open sewer,
But I really couldn't care,
I'm breathing through my mouth so I don't have to sniff the air.

Oh holiday,
Oh what a lovely day today,
I'm so glad they sent me away,
To have a little holiday.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

STUCK IN EGYPT AGAIN



Updated version with much more details......

MAKE IT REAL....



* The US bombs Yemen and it is taken as a given that expanding the "war on terror" is the only thing to do. We are becoming slaves to endless war and we seem to gladly carry our chains around with us.

* Last night it was just Karen Wainberg and me on the corner in Bath for our weekly Bring Our War $$ Home vigil. The wind was blowing 40 mph and the weatherman was saying that with the wind chill it was essentially 15 degrees below zero. We stayed 20 minutes. The wind on the face was rough.

* This speech above, by Jaribu Hill, Exec. Dir. of the Mississippi Workers' Center for Human Rights, fits into the must listen to category. She makes it real.....we have to connect the war spending to economic collapse here at home.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

TALKING AFGHANISTAN



I interviewed my friend Mark Roman recently on my show called This Issue.

Mark is a leader of the group called Waterville Area Bridges for Peace & Justice

His interview marked the sixth anniversary of my cable show that now plays on eight stations across Maine.

Monday, December 28, 2009

GREAT MAN PASSES AWAY



I had the honor of meeting Dennis Brutus a couple times over the years. He took a great interest in our space issues work and tried to do what he could to spread the word about the efforts of the Global Network. He came to speak at one of our annual space organizing conferences several years back in Washington DC. At the US Social Forum in Atlanta several years ago he came to a workshop I was involved in to offer words of support for our work. Dennis was a true revolutionary to the end. If there was an important fight going on he wished to be a part of it.


Dennis Vincent Brutus, 1924-2009


World-renowned political organizer and one of Africa’s most celebrated poets, Dennis Brutus, died early on December 26 in Cape Town, in his sleep, aged 85.

Even in his last days, Brutus was fully engaged, advocating social protest against those responsible for climate change, and promoting reparations to black South Africans from corporations that benefited from apartheid. He was a leading plaintiff in the Alien Tort Claims Act case against major firms that is now making progress in the US court system.

Brutus was born in Harare in 1924, but his South African parents soon moved to Port Elizabeth where he attended Paterson and Schauderville High Schools. He entered Fort Hare University on a full scholarship in 1940, graduating with a distinction in English and a second major in Psychology. Further studies in law at the University of the Witwatersrand were cut short by imprisonment for anti-apartheid activism.

Brutus’ political activity initially included extensive journalistic reporting, organising with the Teachers’ League and Congress movement, and leading the new South African Sports Association as an alternative to white sports bodies. After his banning in 1961 under the Suppression of Communism Act, he fled to Mozambique but was captured and deported to Johannesburg. There, in 1963, Brutus was shot in the back while attempting to escape police custody. Memorably, it was in front of Anglo American Corporation headquarters that he nearly died while awaiting an ambulance reserved for blacks.


While recovering, he was held in the Johannesburg Fort Prison cell which more than a half-century earlier housed Mahatma Gandhi. Brutus was transferred to Robben Island where he was jailed in the cell next to Nelson Mandela, and in 1964-65 wrote the collections Sirens Knuckles Boots and Letters to Martha, two of the richest poetic expressions of political incarceration.

Subsequently forced into exile, Brutus resumed simultaneous careers as a poet and anti-apartheid campaigner in London, and while working for the International Defense and Aid Fund, was instrumental in achieving the apartheid regime’s expulsion from the 1968 Mexican Olympics and then in 1970 from the Olympic movement.

Upon moving to the US in 1977, Brutus served as a professor of literature and African studies at Northwestern (Chicago) and Pittsburgh, and defeated high-profile efforts by the Reagan Administration to deport him during the early 1980s. He wrote numerous poems, ninety of which will be published posthumously next year by Worcester State University, and he helped organize major African writers organizations with his colleagues Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe.

Following the political transition in South Africa, Brutus resumed activities with grassroots social movements in his home country. In the late 1990s he also became a pivotal figure in the global justice movement and a featured speaker each year at the World Social Forum, as well as at protests against the World Trade Organisation, G8, Bretton Woods Institutions and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.

Brutus continued to serve in the anti-racism, reparations and economic justice movements as a leading strategist until his death, calling in August for the ‘Seattling’ of the recent Copenhagen summit because sufficient greenhouse gas emissions cuts and North-South ‘climate debt’ payments were not on the agenda.

His final academic appointment was as Honorary Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society, and for that university’s press and Haymarket Press, he published the autobiographical Poetry and Protest in 2006.


(By Patrick Bond)

UNIONS GOT CONNED



Philip Dine is a Washington-based journalist, frequent speaker on labor and politics, and author of the recent State of the Unions: How Labor Can Strengthen the Middle Class, Improve Our Economy, and Regain Political Influence.

To me he is a bit timid and I think this is more evidence how most labor unions are afraid to really take on corporate power in the US. The answer to the union's problems is not to crawl in bed with the Republicans. Until union leaders get a real class and power analysis, and really fight for workers, they will continue to decline.

FROM FILM TO ACTION

I went to see the new movie Avatar recently and like many others found it to essentially be a film trashing US military "snatch and grab" operations to control resources on behalf of greedy corporations. In this case it is a story about the US trying to control an entire planet for their "unobtainium".

While in the car today, listening to right-wing talk radio, I heard a woman call in and say that she had walked out of the film because it was portraying the Marines as the bad guy. She said her Marine son, home for the holidays, stayed and watched the whole film along with her husband.

It is good that the woman got the message. And it is good that millions of Americans, seduced by the 3-D fantasma-gorgia-optics of the movie, will see it. It is indeed a picture of our satiable appetite for resources, our nature killing ways, and our propensity for shock and awe when we want the natural resources that other people happen to be sitting on.

It's not likely the woman, her husband, and her solider son would have knowingly gone to a movie with such a story line. But because of public's love for "the lastest entertainment" they couldn't resist the hoopla surrounding this 3-D extravaganza.

The real question is - will watching this movie get people out of their seats into the peace movement or inclined at all to "see and feel" how we are now destroying our own planet for corporate profits?

David Swanson had this to say about that question: "When I saw 'Avatar' in a packed 3-D theater in Virginia, and the crowd cheered the closing shot, I shouted: 'And get out of Iraq too!' No one cheered for that. But no one called me a traitor either."

Knowing is one thing but doing something takes a another big step. Let's hope Avatar helps move people from docility to action.

Like Swanson says in his post on the film: "Did you know that the Na'vi people are real, their troubles are real, and you can be a hero who saves them? It's true! The story of 'Avatar' is the story of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries attacked and occupied by U.S. mercenaries and U.S. troops. You don't have to ride a dragon or shoot an arrow, but you do have to call this number 202-224-3121 and ask to speak with your representative in the U.S. House of Representatives and tell them that their career will be over if they vote another dime to pay for the evil depicted in Avatar."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

2010 SPACE CONFAB IN INDIA


INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ACHIEVING
A NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND MISSILE DEFENCE FREE ASIA

NAGPUR, INDIA
OCTOBER 9-12, 2010


October 9, 2010

11.00-12.00 Registration
12.00-13 00 Lunch
13.00-14.00 Welcome and Introduction
14.00-17.00 Plenary Session I: Can Humanity Survive?
- Weapons of Mass Destruction
- Climate Change and the role of Space Technologies
- Outcome of Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Committee
- StratCom, Space Domination and Global Control
- Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS)
- Climate Change,Violence and Political Control

17.00-18.00 Cultural Programme

18.00-20.00 Plenary Session II: Problems and Prospects of Nuclear Disarmament in Asia
- India, Pakistan and the NPT
- India Conflict with Pakistan (including Kashmir)
- India Conflict with China
- India-US Nuclear Deal
- South Korean and Japanese perspectives


October 10, 2010

09.00-11.00 Plenary Session III: The Danger of Missile Defence and Weaponisation of Space in Asia
- Indian Space Programme
- India and Missile Defence
- Drones in Pakistan
11.00-13.00 Plenary Session IV: Asia and Terrorism - The War In Afghanistan and the role of NATO
13.00 Lunch
15.00-17.00 Plenary Session V: Prospects of Asian Union
- Perspectives from around Asia
16.00-18.00 Adoption of Nagpur Declaration
20.00 Dinner


October 11, 2010

09.00-11.00 Global Network Annual Meeting and Strategy Discussion
11.00-12.00 Interaction with Youth Groups
12.00-14.00 Visits and presentations at Educational Institutions
14.00 Lunch
16.00-18.00 Sight seeing


October 12, 2010

Visit to Sewagram Ashram where Mahatma Gandhi spent time during the freedom struggle of India. The ashram served as the headquarters of Mahatma Gandhi for six years, from 1934 to 1940. Gandhi built the Sewagram Ashram himself, with the material that was available locally. He lived at the ashram, amidst lush green surroundings, without any facilities of electricity and telephone.


** If you have interest in attending this international space organizing conference please let us know as soon as possible so we can pre-arrange for housing, Visa's, transportation and other important tasks. This will be an exceptional life changing experience for all of us.


Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502
globalnet@mindspring.com
www.space4peace.org