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

Monday, August 03, 2015

Annual Coordinator Report – 2015

One might call 2014 the ‘year of Russia’. In a recent Chicago speech by George Friedman, founder and CEO of the private intelligence corporation STRATFOR, he declared that the US wants “regime change” in Moscow. The project is well underway as Russia becomes encircled by US-NATO bases along its border and Pentagon deployments of land-based ‘missile defense’ (MD) systems in Poland, Romania, and Turkey. US Sea-based MD systems are actively cruising in the Mediterranean, Black, and Baltic seas and plans are underway to post them in the Barents and Bering Seas.

Similarly, an expanding and US controlled NATO is moving to encircle China with its new ‘alliance partners’ in Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan. Land-based MD systems have been deployed in Japan, Okinawa, South Korea, Taiwan, Guam and sea-based MD interceptor systems are being docked throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Washington’s message to Russia and China? “We have put a loaded gun to your head. Forget your efforts to create a multi-polar world through the new BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) economic development bank. The west is in charge of the global economic system and we are backing up our control of the world economy with space-directed Full Spectrum Dominance.”

This is the moment that we are now in as we hold the Global Network’s (GN) 23rd annual conference.

Things really began to unravel when, in 2002, the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia that restricted deployment of MD systems. Since that time the Pentagon and the Missile Defense Agency have expanded research, development, and testing of these systems and have begun the provocative and dangerous deployments of MD near Russia and China. Those two nations have repeatedly warned the US-NATO that MD deployments would blow apart serious negotiations for nuclear weapons reductions. In fact all sides are now moving toward new generations of nuclear weapons.

It is much to my surprise, and disappointment, that some parts of the global peace movement has yet to understand or recognize the dangers of US-NATO expansion and MD deployments. Maybe it fears the recycled red-baiting (what I call being ‘Putinized’) that waits anyone who speaks out against the western encirclement of Russia. Whatever the reason the peace movement is in a weak position today, in part because of its reluctance in dealing with the aggression of US-NATO on behalf of corporate globalization. As a result the possibility of WW III is now greater than ever according to Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies, history, and politics at New York University and Princeton University.

During this past year I’ve been spending several hours each day learning more about the civil war in Ukraine. After studying many accounts confirming the US directed the coup d’état in Kiev, I am convinced this was intended to create chaos and civil war along the Russian border in order to further plans for destabilization of the Moscow government. Professor Cohen is now warning us to follow the unfolding situation of Transnistria (also called Trans-Dniestr or Transdniestria), a breakaway state located mostly on a strip of land between the River Dniester and the eastern Moldovan border with Ukraine. It appears that US-NATO could next create a crisis there in its deadly project to draw Russia directly into war.

Added to this story is the melting ice in the Arctic Sea and the opportunity for oil corporations to drill where there was once only ice. The US military is increasingly active there and Sen. Angus King (I-ME) has become very involved in promoting the development opportunities from the Arctic zone. Russia has the largest land border with the Arctic which is likely why the RAND Corporation has developed a plan to Balkanize the Russian nation thus making it easier for corporate control of the entire Arctic region.

Our Global Network financial situation is more stable today than ever. I can only explain it by the increasingly unstable global situation and our base of supporters feeling like they are getting clear information and determined action from our network. Unexpected generous donations from the craigslist Charitable Fund the last two years has given us an additional boost. A recent funding appeal to our members for travel assistance for our Kyoto meeting was very successful. Our members appear to like our efforts to connect-the-dots and do solidarity work in places like Jeju Island, Okinawa, Sicily, and in Kyoto Prefecture.

The documentary The Ghosts of Jeju (now translated into six languages) has dramatically helped take our space warfare concerns to many new places. Filmmaker Regis Tremblay is working on another film about US militarization across the Asia-Pacific and the GN is doing what we can to support that project.

In June I traveled to Washington DC to join a Veterans For Peace (VFP) delegation that met with the Governor and various mayors from Okinawa. I am now helping to organize a large VFP delegation this fall that will travel to Jeju Island and Okinawa. VFP leadership has expressed interest in connecting more directly with our space-related work and has invited me to submit articles for print in their two most recent national newspapers.

During the past year I was also invited to speak at several national conferences held in New York, California, New Jersey, and Washington DC. In each of these events I helped put our space issues directly into the peace and justice movement’s overall analysis of current events.

Throughout 2014 we’ve also worked closely with the group called that is doing magnificent work concentrating on the drone issue. Our GN boards approved a $500 donation toward their effort to purchase TV ads in US communities where drone operations bases are located. The ads called on drone pilots to stop flying. Recent reports suggest that the military is having to cut back on its drone missions due to pilot “burnout”. The drone campaign recently consulted with the GN about how satellites and down-link stations are used to direct drone attacks, so it is good to see activists beginning to make these important connections.

During Keep Space for Peace Week in 2014 there were more than 80 local events held in 10 countries.

During space week our GN board member Tamara Lorincz (Canada) represented us at a national youth conference on space and disarmament issues held in Nagpur, India. Board member J. Narayana Rao reported that the students loved Tamara. Space week will be held in 2015 from October 3-10. Our poster is now being distributed across the US and around the world.

For the last several years I’ve been organizing a peace walk across Maine during our annual Keep Space for Peace Week. Two years ago the walk focused on drones and in 2014 the walk began in a western Maine community where a MD interceptor deployment site is being considered. This coming October 9-24 the Maine Walk for Peace will feature the ‘militarization of the seas’ theme and the Pentagon’s impact on creating climate change. This will allow us to talk about the US ‘pivot’ of 60% of Pentagon forces (mostly Navy) into the Asia-Pacific where much environmental damage is being done to ocean life.

Our Space Alert! newspaper remains popular and many local people continue to place bulk orders for distribution across their communities. Our message also has been widely broadcasted again this year by regular interviews on PressTV and Russia Today. My public access TV show, This Issue, now in its 11th year, is aired on 14 stations across Maine and is sometimes picked up in other states. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing GN board member Regina Hagen from Germany when she visited. As our issues get more coverage in the alternative media, my blog Organizing Notes has seen increased viewing. 

During the past months the top sources of blog visitors have been: US, France, Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Greece, South Korea, India, United Kingdom, and Japan.

In Bath, Maine in June, 2014 I helped organize a public forum about conversion of Bath Iron Works that drew 100 citizens. This kind of event was historic in the ship building community of Bath. I continue to speak and write about conversion of the military industrial complex at every opportunity. It seems that an increasing number of people are talking about this across the country. The issues of jobs, climate change, austerity cuts in social programs, and endless war all offer the chance to put forward the alternative transformative vision of conversion to building rail, solar, wind and tidal power systems so we can deal with the coming reality of climate change.

We continue to owe our web master and board convener, Dave Webb many thanks for his excellent work and leadership. We thank all of our board members for their help and advice throughout the year. We thank all of our members who send donations to keep us going and the very useful information they send along that I’d otherwise never have the chance to find.

I also owe my partner Mary Beth Sullivan many heartfelt thanks for her support and loving patience while I work long hours and am often gone on trips. She helps keep the GN going in many unrecognized ways.

Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space


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