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.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Here are a few odds and ends from my trip to Hawaii, Philippines, and Australia.  The Obama "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific is real, being debated across the Pacific, and is still largely a mystery to the American people.

  • One key strategy of the US is to get the "allies" to pay for as much of the Pentagon pivot into the Asia-Pacific as possible.  That's why we see South Korea building the base on Jeju Island, the Philippines allowing the US to dock ships at Subic Bay for free, and for the Australians to pay for the upgrades at Robertson Barracks in Darwin where 2,500 US Marines will visit on six-month rotations.
  • Even though the US was kicked out of Subic Bay naval base in 1991 a Visiting Forces Agreement in 2002 between the US and the Philippines allows permanent docking rights.  Hundreds of US Special Forces are now in Mindanao as well.
  • Agreements are also now being written to allow Japanese and Australian military forces inside the Philippines thus destroying Filipino sovereignty.
  • Mark Twain wrote about the US-Philippine War in 1900:  "Once I was not anti-imperialist. I thought that the rescue of those [Philippine] islands from the [Spanish] government under which they had suffered for three hundred years was a good business for us to be in. But I had not studied the Paris Treaty. When I found that it made us responsible for the protection of the [Catholic] friars and their property I changed my mind."
  • It is estimated that one million Filipinos died in the early 1900's during the US war. 
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is big in the Philippines.
  • US is also sending rapid deployment forces to Singapore.
  • Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal is bad in that it creates "special tribunals" that can veto national laws, a direct assault to national sovereignty of those who sign it.  The TPP furthers the interests of casino capitalism.
  • An empire (US) falls when it loses control of its backyard like has happened in Latin America.  
  • When our empire falls will we create a new way of organizing our economic system?
  •  The pivot will feature new military strategies that utilize drones, special ops, cyber warfare and missile defense.
  • The US schizophrenia toward China is best illustrated by the word con-gagement.
  • Foreign policy in the US is subservient to military policy.
  • An expanding NATO now is joining the Asia-Pacific pivot by military "partnerships" with Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Singapore.
  • The new military alliance between the US and India breaks the long tradition of India's non-aligned status.  This new alliance is also aimed at China.
  • China's military budget is less than one-tenth of the Pentagon budget.
  • Approximately 50 US bases/facilities are now in Australia.
  • Australia refuses to answer this question:  Can the US forces in Australia be used to attack another country?
  • The ruling Labor Party in Australia used to oppose "missile defense" but not any longer.  They are now going to build four Aegis destroyers (with missile defense interceptors) for their own Navy.
  • US Patriot (PAC-3) missiles deployed in Okinawa use North Korea as pretext but are aimed at China.
  • A US "missile defense" X-band radar is now in Kyoto prefecture in Japan.
  • While the US currently occupies one-third of Guam it wants even more of the island for the military.
  • US weapons sales to Taiwan continue in spite of promises to China that they would stop.
  • US coordinates war exercises with Taiwan and commands the weapons (interoperability) that they sell to them.
  • Since the Obama pivot was announced there has been a 63% increase in US warship visits to Subic Bay.
  • On January 17, 2013 a US mine sweeper got stuck on a coral reef (World Heritage site) in the Philippines.  Several thousand square meters of coral were damaged.
  • The US is powerless to shape geo-political situations, it can destroy but can't create political solutions (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya).
  • US forces in Iraq continue to provide satellite intelligence to Turkey for their war against the Kurds.  In return the US gets bases and a recent "missile defense" deployment site near Syrian border.
  • The US military/corporate empire does not take defeat well and in fact becomes meaner when it does not get its way.
  • If you want peace you have to defeat the current economic system where people are slaves to the resource extraction and corporate production system.
  • Good organizing advice: Make trouble, fail, fight again, fail again....repeat until victory....determination, stubbornness and a bit of luck can go a long way.


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