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

Tuesday, April 08, 2014


This weekend Maine Veterans for Peace, and other sponsors, will hold three events in our state to make public the issue of the US military 'pivot' into the Asia-Pacific.  This pivot is being used to provocatively surround China and Russia as 60% of US forces move into that region.  Vital in this pivot will be naval forces, many of which are built at Bath Iron Works. 

Remembering the call to work within our 'bio-region' the issue of the Navy's April 12 ceremony in Bath thus looms crucial for our collective movements.  The ‘christening’ of the new $4 billion Zumwalt ‘stealth’ destroyer ought to be connected to climate change and growing cutbacks in social spending.

At this very moment USM students are in the streets protesting faculty lay-offs and cuts of entire programs, while climate change activists are stepping up their local efforts to arouse the public about our warming Mother Earth.  To all of our movements the public appears tranquilized in the face of these mounting crises.

The US ‘pivot’ is all about control of declining resources on the planet.  In order to be successful the Obama team has stepped up military escalation and confrontation that benefits the agenda of the resource extraction corporations.  Not only is this strategy highly expensive, but also it dramatically exacerbates the already massive carbon footprint the US has.  In fact the Pentagon has the largest carbon boot print on the planet today, and during the development of the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate the US military’s boot print had to be waived as a relevant issue in order for the US to agree to sign on.  There can be no doubt that warships equal global warming.

On Friday, April 11 the International Panel on the US ‘Pivot’ to Asia-Pacific will speak at UM-Orono at 2:30 pm in the Memorial Union/Bangor Room.  Speakers from AFSC, India, Japan and South Korea will share their expertise on the impacts of this US military expansion.

On Saturday, April 12 Maine peace groups will hold a rally in Bath from 10:00 am to noon right across from the official ‘christening’ of the Zumwalt destroyer.  The police will block off Hinckley Street along Washington Street for the protest event.  VFP’s sound system will broadcast the 1994 Labor Day rally inside BIW where speakers called for the conversion/diversification of the shipyard.  Following that we will have open mic and music.  Many creative banners will be on display for the thousands of people who come to witness ‘Christ’s blessing’ of the warship.  American ‘exceptionalism’ will be on display that day. (Following the rally folks are invited to the Addams-Melman House, 212 Centre St, in Bath for soup and conversation.)

How do we end the US addiction to military production in our local communities?  Unless the workers at BIW feel that people across Maine share their desire to "build something more positive" then little movement toward real conversion is possible. Jobs are key... there must be public discussion about how we convert BIW and protect jobs. By connecting the issue dots we can help create an alternative strategy that reduces spending on militarism, helps end wars for oil, lowers our national carbon boot print, and creates 'products' like needed commuter rail systems at BIW.   This difficult but crucial undertaking is our greatest challenge.

Later in the evening on April 12 the same international panel will speak at the new Unitarian Church in Brunswick.  Potluck supper begins at 6:00 pm and the panel discussion at 7:00 pm.  The public is warmly invited.

The link above is to a short military promotional video about the Zumwalt destroyer.

Maine Veterans for Peace


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