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

Friday, August 14, 2015

Our Struggle Makes Us a Better Person

I write this in the car as we make the two-hour drive from Osan Air Force Base back to Seoul.  We were joined for this trip by a delegation of 17 Japanese peace activists from Tokyo and Osaka. 

Today was the highlight of my time in Korea so far.  We joined a marvelous peace protest outside a gate at Osan AFB that was made up of more than 500 multi-colored T-shirt wearing groups of students from around the nation.  There had to be more than 1,000 local police and national riot troops there as well making sure we didn’t try to enter the base.  We first had a rally at the gate and then walked around the perimeter of the base during this two-hour protest.

The students began by walking to various military sites starting around August 6 and converged at the gates of Osan AFB in the blazing heat today.  The reason for coming to Osan AFB was because of the recent revelations that the US Forces in Korea (USFK) had recently brought anthrax to the base and at least 22 people were contaminated.  This was a Top-Secret program but the word got to Korea from some American media.  The Pentagon claims it was all a mistake. The USFK are not giving out any information at this point.  The Korean peace movement is demanding a special independent investigation by the South Korean government but so far the puppet regime in Seoul has not shown much interest in making any such demands on their masters from Washington.

I was invited to speak to the assembled peace walkers outside the Osan base gate and told them that the Native Americans said the white man spoke with a forked tongue – Washington always lied.  I said that inside the Osan base is a so-called ‘missile defense’ system (PAC-3) but the Pentagon lies when they claim it is for defense – it’s really an offensive system.  I told the students that the US lies when it claims its biological weapons program is ‘defensive’ – it’s offensive.  I said that Washington lies when it tells the Korean people that it was a mistake to send the anthrax to Osan AFB.  I said the US was in fact sending a clear message to North Korea and China.

I finished my talk to the students by reminding them that Japan had a biological weapons program during WW II that it used to kill hundreds of thousands of people in Manchuria and other places they occupied.  After the end of WW II the US brought the leaders of the Japanese biological warfare team to our country to help create the American biological weapons program at Ft. Detrick, Maryland.  Then during the Korean War the US used those same Japanese biological experts to help the Pentagon drop anthrax and other deadly biological agents across North Korea.  I said the US policy on chemical and biological weapons is hypocritical – we lecture others about the evils of these weapons programs but then our nation continues to produce, test, and prepare to use them on the Korean peninsula.

After dinner we joined the students again at a big park in the city center of the air base town.  There organizers set up a sound truck with a huge TV screen on top of the vehicle and began with speeches and wonderful song and dance routines expressing their outrage against the US military occupation of the country.

The messages were clear and resolute:

  • Kick out USFK
  • Investigate US anthrax program at Osan
  • Apologize Obama who illegally imported anthrax to this country
  • Get out USFK we will do reunification without you
  • US out, out, out
  • Stop stepping on our land, go back to America
  • You tear up our dignity
  • We don’t need you, you are the one who is blocking our reunification
  • We can do it ourselves
  • Our sovereignty is not in our hands
  • Our struggle makes us a better person

As I sat on the ground in the park, surrounded by student groups in their colored shirts, I had tears in my eyes while I listened to their strong words.  Just minutes before, after coming out of the local restaurant where the international guests had dinner together, I saw groups of American GI’s walking through town in their civilian clothes. I thought back on my own time in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and felt proud that this time I was sitting on the right side of history. 

I know that the GI’s at Osan AFB will be talking about the protest today in the barracks, the chow hall, and at their work sites.  I thought about how much the GI’s really need to experience the collective outrage, love and joy that I experienced today being in the middle of this great protest event.


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