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

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Today is the final day of the conference in Manila.  It's been a very good event and I've met some great folks and learned alot.  The Ban the Bases Now movement is strong around the globe as it takes on the important task of dismantling empire.  All the activist stories from various countries began with US corporate attempts to control land and resources.  Peasants in the Philippines lost their lands to the building of US bases many years ago.  Then they forced the US to close its bases in 1991 - a great victory for national sovereignty. 

But the US is coming back.  In a local paper yesterday was a headline "US may fund AFP facilities" that reported "Washington and Manila have expanded talks on military cooperation to include possible US funding to build facilities and the storage of US humanitarian and disaster relief supplies."  The rest of the article belies that opening fact these "storage" facilities would essentially be another of the growing US "lily pad" bases where they pre-position military hardware to be used in the event of war fighting.  

Later in the same article they acknowledge this contradiction when they report, "The two countries have been in talks since 2011 for 'joint use' of civilian and military facilities in the former US colony."  In other words the US military is coming back full bore to the Philippines in Obama's "pivot" into the region to encircle China.  The talk of "humanitarian and disaster relief" is pure public relations.  The Filipino anti-bases movement is not buying the line.

We showed the new documentary The Ghosts of Jeju to the conference yesterday and it was well received.  At breakfast this morning one Filipino activist summed it up when she said she loved "the music, the history, and the scenes of resistance to the Navy base on Jeju Island."  I handed out dozens of copies of the video to people from various countries who are eager to take the film home for sharing with others.  The Jeju struggle has become a prominent story in the global anti-bases movement.

I stay here in Manila tonight and in the morning move to Quezon City for three days of media interviews and talks.  The schedule put together by Corazon Fabros looks quite hectic but exciting.  I met Corazon years ago when we were on a speaking tour of South Korea organized by Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi who now heads up the international organizing team on Jeju Island.


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