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.

Friday, March 28, 2014


The Navy's new expensive and provocative Zumwalt class destroyer at Bath Iron Works in Maine gets 'christened' on April 12

My letter to the editor was printed in our local Times Record newspaper today.

Dear Editor:

On April 12 there will be a ‘christening’ of the Navy’s new ‘stealthy’ Zumwalt destroyer at BIW.  Veterans for Peace, PeaceWorks and other groups around Maine will hold a rally just across from where the public will assemble for the Navy show.

The Navy has to put on the good face for this one, largely because they did not want the expensive Zumwalt anyway; it was going to eat up too much of the shipbuilding budget.  But the corporate forces behind the project pushed the door open and here we are.

Costs for the Zumwalt are still mounting (someone might ask about the sagging walls inside the engine room that are weak because money was saved by ignoring design specs) and will likely come in over $4 billion per ship.  The past destroyers made at BIW were more than $1.5 billion per copy.

President Obama pushed the Navy hard to go with the Zumwalt in spite of huge costs and questions about its strategic value.  One should follow the interesting thread about the Crown family in Chicago (who are majority stockholders in General Dynamics) helping fund and direct Obama’s political career. There is much to learn there – a real “House of Cards” story.

The Associated Press has reported,  “A super-stealthy destroyer [Zumwalt] that could underpin the U.S. Navy’s China strategy will be able to sneak up on coastlines virtually undetected and pound targets with electromagnetic ‘rail guns’ right out of a sci-fi movie.  Using electric pulses, not chemical explosives, the ‘rail gun’ can shoot a 40-pound metal slug from New York to Philadelphia at up to 5,600 mph — more than seven times the speed of sound — with 32 times the force of a car traveling at 100 miles per hour."

In other words, the Zumwalt will be provocative and destabilizing.  We want war with China now too?  Someone is pulling our chain.

Obviously jobs are the big issue when it comes to BIW.  Connecticut, near the top of the list of states most dependent on the military, last year passed a law to create a commission to make plans for the conversion/diversification of military production facilities.  One way or the other 57% of every discretionary tax dollar can’t keep going to the Pentagon.  When military budgets come down jobs will be cut.  But studies show that investing those same dollars in any other kind of job creation result in more jobs in every case.  Thus planning for a stable transition is imperative. 

People across the nation are demanding funding for social progress, education, health care, and probably most importantly turning us away from our toxic shock attack on Mother Earth.  What is our social priority – a corporate version of feudalism or real democracy, social justice and sustainability?

On April 12th we’ll hold our BIW rally from 10am to noon and we will talk to those lining up for the ‘christening’ about the benefits of the conversion process.

Later in the evening on April 12 an International Panel on US ‘Pivot’ to Asia-Pacific will be held at the new Unitarian Church in Brunswick.  Speakers from India, Japan, Korea and the US will discuss the implications of moving 60% of US military forces into the Asia-Pacific to “control” China.  Potluck supper begins at 6:00 pm and the panel discussion at 7:00 pm.  The public is warmly invited.
Bruce K. Gagnon


Blogger LJansen said...

I'm in the other corner of the USA or I'd be there. Thanks for leading the way against militarism, Bruce and all.

3/28/14, 10:39 PM  

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