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.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

PACIFIC ISLANDS MUST UNITE AGAINST MILITARY BASES

Totems near the spot where Navy base would be built on Jeju Island

* The Maine chapter of Veterans for Peace held its annual retreat this weekend about an hour north of where I live. It was basically a planning meeting for the August 2010 national convention of the organization. Veterans for Peace was founded 25 years ago in Maine so this convention next summer will be an important one. I have cleared my calendar so I can be a working volunteer prior to and during this event. There is alot to do in order to make it a successful convention. One of my jobs will be to help sell commemorative program advertisements. Get you check books ready.

* It appears that I will be heading to Jeju Island during the first week of February. Activists on the island have invited me to come and have offered to pay for my trip. I would be bringing with me the list of names of those from 31 nations (800 organizations and individuals) who have signed the international solidarity appeal. You can see the latest updated version of the list just below. Each day we are getting more emails from folks around the planet who are learning about the Navy base plan and who are looking for ways to support the people of Gangjeong village. Just today we heard from an American artist who is now on Jeju Island and wants to contribute her environmental art to the effort. We also heard today from a political science professor at American University who specializes in researching foreign military bases. So the word is getting around.

* Also in recent days there has been a flurry of emails between activists about the important connection between these base struggles on Jeju Island, Okinawa, Guam, and Hawaii. Each of these islands is being heavily militarized as part of the U.S. strategy to double its military presence in the Asian-Pacific. All of these places face similar issues of environmental degradation due to militarization. There needs to be a greater linking of these island struggles into a coordinated sharing of strategy and resistance. Maybe a good start would be a speaking tour of one person from each of these islands that would visit the U.S. , Europe, and beyond. I would bet that anti-NATO movements in Europe would be very interested in learning more about these island base campaigns as the ever expanding NATO offensive military alliance is now moving into the Asian-Pacific region.

* The Washington Post reports today:

In a small town election that may have a big impact on U.S. ties with Japan, voters in Nago on Okinawa island chose a new mayor Sunday who opposes the relocation of a noisy U.S. military air base to his town.

The United States and Japan agreed four years ago to move the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, now located in a dense urban area in the center of Okinawa, to Nago, a town of 60,000 in the thinly populated northern part of the tropical island. It was to have been built on landfill along a pristine coast on the edge of the town.

But to the exasperation of the Obama administration, that deal was put on hold last fall after the election of a new government led by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who says Japan has been too passive in its dealings with the United States. Hatoyama has suggested that the base should be moved off Okinawa or out of Japan altogether -- and has also said that the outcome of the mayoral vote in Nago would be a factor in his government's final decision, which he has promised to make by May.

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