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.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Notes from NYC Peace & Planet Confab

Three Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist led peace walks converged on New York City yesterday and were honored at the end of the Peace & Planet conference held at Cooper Union. The walks came from the west coast, New England, and the south.

Things went well yesterday at the Peace & Planet conference in New York City.  More than 500 folks from around the world (the most from Japan) were in attendance.  The two workshops I participated in (US military 'pivot' into the Asia-Pacific and US imperialism) were well attended considering there were about 40 workshops to pick from.

Global Network board convener Dave Webb (National chair of CND in the UK), Ko Young-Dae (SPARK in South Korea) and I did the Asia-Pacific workshop with heavy emphasis on US 'missile defense' (MD) deployments in the region.  Ko is a brilliant analyst who has spoken at two Global Network conferences over the years and will join us in Kyoto, Japan for our 23rd annual event on July 29-August 2. Dave did an excellent PowerPoint presentation showing how the US global MD system is connected via space satellites and ground radar stations around the planet.  It really helps people to see the pictures to understand how this first-strike system works.

Ko talked about how possible US deployment of the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea is presently a huge political issue.  The US maintains it is aimed at North Korea but Ko clearly showed how THAAD would not work against North Korean missiles because they don't fly high because of the short distance they would have to travel to hit South Korea.  In fact Ko reminded us the US MD system in the Asia-Pacific is aimed at China and the THAAD radars would extend US reach further into Chinese territory.  Key to US missile defense strategy in the Asia-Pacific has been to construct a three-party military agreement which links US-Japanese-South Korea systems.  The military connection between South Korea and Japan (who for years brutally occupied Korea) does not sit well with many Koreans - especially since the right-wing Japanese government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (the grandson of a WWII fascist military leader) is rekindling the military might of Japan.  Ko also stated that deployment of THAAD in South Korea would sever relations with China at a time when the two countries have growing economic ties.

In the second workshop on US imperialism I was one of six speakers.  One of the best was Al Marder from New Haven, CT who is in his 90's but still going strong.  I've known Al for many years and before the workshop began he reminded me how movements are like the ocean tides - they ebb and flow.  Without our constant organizing Al told me "the ebbs would last much longer."  One key theme that kept emerging from the presenters in this workshop was US support for fascist groups around the world.  A speaker from Brazil reported that US is actively supporting "Christian fundamentalists" in his country who are adopting fascist tendencies.  From Ukraine to the US we see the same problem - the wedding of corporations and government - the classic definition of fascism.

Today there will be a march from Union Square in NYC to the United Nations demanding the elimination of nuclear weapons and an end to war.  I will march with the national Veterans For Peace contingent. I head home on Monday morning on the train.


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