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....
- Name: Bruce K. Gagnon
- Location: Bath, Maine, United States
Saturday, September 19, 2015
Thursday, September 17, 2015
How Do We Awaken?
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Where Do These Navy Destroyers Go?
|Dredging just off Gangjeong village on Jeju Island|
|Military housing steals land from Gangjeong villagers for Navy base|
By Bruce K. Gagnon
Do people in our community ever stop and wonder where the Navy destroyers actually go when they leave Bath Iron Works [Maine]? Do we wonder how they impact people’s lives where they are ported and what environmental footprint they leave?
During the entire month of August, I was in Japan and South Korea where BIW-built Aegis destroyers (outfitted with so-called “missile defense interceptors”) are being ported. Currently, in both those countries there is raging opposition to U.S. expanding military bases as a result of Obama’s announced “pivot” of 60 percent of Pentagon forces into the Asia- Pacific to help control China.
The U.S. military “pivot” into the Asia-Pacific means more airfields, ports-of-call and barracks are needed for U.S. operations.
I spent 11 days in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea, where a Navy base is being built to host U.S. aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and Aegis destroyers. The 500-year-old fishing and farming community is being torn apart to host the base. Just offshore, the UNESCO-recognized endangered soft coral forests are being destroyed as dredging is underway to make it possible for the U.S. warships to port there. The US Navy handed their base specifications to the Korean government and the base is now near completion. The village’s sacred rocky coastline was blasted and covered in concrete and the villagers’ eight-year campaign against the base has resulted in 700 arrests and more than 50 jailed (one as long as 15 months, just for blocking cement trucks).
On my last day on Jeju Island, I was taken to Jeju City to do a radio interview about my experiences there. As my translator and I sat in the station lobby waiting to go on the air we heard a news broadcast that said the South Korean Navy was planning to file a court action against Gangjeong villagers for $20 million on behalf of Samsung Corporation (the lead Navy base construction contractor). The claim is that their eight-year non-violent protest in the village has “obstructed business operations” and resulted in delays and profit loss. Upon hearing about this plan to demand $20 million from this small village (less than 2,000 citizens) I was told village elders cried out “The Navy is trying to kill our village!”
When I first got involved helping to support Gangjeong in 2008, I organized a campaign for American citizens to call the South Korean embassy in Washington DC to share our support for the struggling villagers. When I called I was told by South Korean embassy staff, “Don’t call us, call your government. They are forcing us to build this base.”
This is a theme we hear a lot these days even from Rep. Chellie Pingree, who has said that we must cut our military budget by having our “allies pay more” for our bases. So, in this case the U.S. got the South Korean government to build a Navy base on Jeju Island (called the Island of Peace) and then with our “Status of Forces Agreement” (SOFA) the Pentagon has the right to use any base in South Korean any time they wish. Same story in Japan, Philippines and other locations around the world.
On Aug. 5, the U.S. Navy admiral assigned to South Korea publicly declared that the Navy was eager to use the new Jeju Island base to port warships being assigned to the region. These deployments on Jeju would put American warships right in the middle of the Yellow Sea shipping lanes that China utilizes to import 80 percent of its resources, particularly oil, to run its economy. It will also make Gangjeong village a prime target during hostilities.
Mainers, like most Americans, are not particularly interested in what our military empire of more than 800 bases around the world are doing to our image or to the environment. It is well past time that we begin to pay attention and offer our solidarity to those who are living under the heavy boot of U.S. “Full Spectrum Dominance.”
First Aegis Destroyers Port at Navy Base on Jeju Island
Yesterday the first Navy Aegis destroyers (outfitted with so-called 'missile defense' systems) pulled into port at the new Navy base in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea. The two warships were met with protests on the land and kayaks in the ocean.
The US-Japan-South Korea military alliance is aimed at China and Jeju Island is now officially a prime target in future hostilities.
See my Op-Ed on this very subject today in the mid-coast Maine Times Record here
제주 해군기지 첫 입항.. 주민 반발_(박주연.박재정)
Posted by 제주MBC on Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Time for Natural Guard
With the worsening reality of climate change the world is seeing a flurry of extreme weather incidents. (Here in Maine the TV weather forecasters are 'marveling' every night at the unseasonably warm temperatures. It's like they don't have a clue as to what is really going on!)
Raging fires in California due to severe drought conditions, floods unlike any before in other places, and rising sea levels due to melting Arctic ice all indicate that our future on this spinning satellite Earth will be a difficult one.
Rather than waste colossal amounts of taxpayers monies around the globe on ramped up militarism and endless wars might it be a better idea to turn our little green men in uniform into the Natural Guard? The job of the Natural Guard could be to go into climate challenged and devastated communities and offer immediate relief assistance. Rescue, humanitarian aid, and relocation assistance workers will all be more necessary than ever in the coming years.
If we think the current Syrian refugee crisis is a challenge just wait a bit longer for the climate induced storms to get even worse. Where will Pacific islanders go when their homes sink under the rising tides? Where will hungry people move to when their regions become so drought plagued that growing food is no longer possible? The list could easily go on.
All of us should start planting the seeds for the idea of transforming the world's military forces into the Natural Guard. To continue on this path of growing militarism does nothing to bring real security in our greatest time of need.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Maine Peace Walk Pot Luck Supper Schedule
Day 1 (Ellsworth) Friday, October 9 - Ellsworth Unitarian Church (121 Bucksport Rd) Evening potluck and kick-off program at 6:00 pm. Homestays needed. Host: Starr Gilmartin 667-2421
Day 2 (Orland) Saturday, October 10 - Potluck supper 6:00 pm and program at H.O.M.E (90 School House Rd.) Sleep at H.O.M.E. Host: Starr Gilmartin 667-2421 or Lawrence 415-565-9867
Day 3 (Belfast) Sunday, October 11 - First Church UCC (104 Church St) Pot luck supper (unadvertised) 6:00 pm, public program 7:00 pm. Home stays needed & sleep at church: Cathy Mink 323-5160 & Bev Roxby 669-2903. Host: Joel 338-2282 or 323-0940 at the UCC Church
Day 4 (Camden) Monday, October 12 - Our Lady of Good Hope Catholic Church (7 Union St) Pot luck supper and program at 6:00 pm. Home stays needed. Host: Maureen Kehoe-Ostensen 763-4062
Day 5 (Rockland) Tuesday, October 13 - Potluck supper and program at Unitarian church (345 Broadway) at 6:00 pm. Homestays needed. Host: Midcoast Citizens for P & J (Steve Burke 691-0322)
Day 6 (Damariscotta) Wednesday, October 14 - Friends Meeting House (77 Belvedere Rd) Potluck Supper and program at 6:00 pm. Sleep at Meeting House. Host: Friends Meeting (Sue Rockwood 570-854-4458)
Day 7 (Bath) Thursday, October 15 - UCC Neighborhood Church (corner of Washington & Centre) Potluck supper and program at 6:00 pm. Homestays needed. Host: Bruce Gagnon 904-501-4494 & Mary Beth Sullivan 443-9502
Day 8 (Day off) in Bath Friday, October 16 - Stay at same homestays again this night. Potluck supper at Addams-Melman House (212 Centre St) at 6:00 pm. Host: Bruce Gagnon 904-501-4494 & Mary Beth Sullivan 443-9502
Day 9 (Brunswick) Saturday, October 17 - Pot luck supper and music program at Sternlieb home (21 McKeen St) at 6:00 pm. Home stays needed in Brunswick. Host: Selma Sternlieb 725-7675
Day 10 (Freeport) Sunday, October 18 - Pot luck supper at First Parish Congregation Church (on US 1) at 6:00 pm and program. Sleep at church. Host: Paula O’Brien 865-6022 & Sukie Rice 318-8531 & Cheryl Avery 865-0916
Day 11 ( Portland) Monday, October 19 - State Street Church-UCC (159 State St.) Pot luck supper & program at 6:00 pm. Homestays needed. Host: Grace Braley 774-1995
Day 12 (Saco) Tuesday, October 20 - First Parish Congregation Church on corner of Beech & Maine. Pot luck supper and program. Home stays needed. Host: Tom Kircher 282-7530
Day 13 (Kennebunk) Wednesday, Oct 21 - New School (38 York Street). Pot luck supper and program. Sleep at school. Host: Olive Hight 207-590-9505
Day 14 (York Beach) Thursday, October 22 - York Beach (52 Freeman St) Supper, music program & sleeping spot. Host: Pat Scanlon 978-474-9195 & Smedley Butler Brigade of Boston-area VFP
Day 15 (Portsmouth) Friday, October 23 - Supper and program at church & homestays needed, locations yet to be determined. Host: Doug Bogen 603-617-6243
Day 16 (Finale in Portsmouth) Saturday, October 24 - Meet at Market Square 9:00 am. Walk thru downtown and back over bridge to Kittery. Rally & speakers at shipyard gate (deliver letter). Walk back to Market Square for final closing circle. Host: Doug Bogen 603-617-6243
~ The walk is being sponsored by Maine Veterans for Peace; PeaceWorks; CodePink Maine; Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST); Peace Action Maine; Veterans for Peace Smedley Butler Brigade (Greater Boston); Seacoast Peace Response (Portsmouth); and Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.
For full walk route schedule details see http://vfpmaine.org/walk%20for%20peace%202015.html
A little advice from the southeast mountains of Mexico...
We understand that there are those who think that it is possible to change the system by voting in elections.
We say that’s a difficult spot because it is the same Ruler that organises the elections, who decides who the candidates are, who says how, when, and where to vote, who announces who wins, and who says whether the election was legal or not.
...[P]eople have to learn for themselves that no one will solve their problems for them, but that instead we have to solve them ourselves, as organized collectives.
It is the people who create solutions, not leaders or parties.
...[W]e, the Zapatistas, don’t get tired of saying organize yourselves, let’s organize ourselves, each person where they are, let’s struggle to organize ourselves, let’s work to organize ourselves, let’s begin by thinking about how to start to organize and let’s gather together in order to unite our organizations for a world where the people command and the government obeys.
In summary... whether you vote or not, organize yourself.
And well, we Zapatistas think that we have to have good ideas in order to organize ourselves. Which is to say, we need theory, critical thought.
With critical thought we can analyze the ways of the enemy, of the one who oppresses us, exploits us, represses us, disdains us, and steals from us.
But with critical thought we also examine our own path, our own steps.
[W]e shouldn’t be afraid of having the people rule. It’s the most healthy and just way. Because it is the people themselves who are going to make the changes that are truly necessary. And that is the only way that a new system of government is going to exist.
We...already know how the political parties operate, and it’s a bad history of bad people.
And for us Zapatistas, it is a history is already in the past.
Monday, September 14, 2015
Important Organizing & News Updates
- Our friend Jason from Hope, Maine arrived here last night after his return from Jeju Island for the past month. He, MB and I went for a long walk and talked about his experience in Gangjeong village. This morning Jason reported he was awake half the night dealing with jet lag. Later on we spent some time going over details on the upcoming Maine Peace Walk – Militarization of the Seas: Pentagon’s Impact on the Oceans. Jason is helping to organize the event that will take us from Ellsworth to Portsmouth on October 9-24.
- Today I sent around our growing list of local actions planned during Keep Space for Peace Week (October 3-10). So far we have 25 events on the list from seven different countries. More will be added in the coming days. See our poster for space week here.
- The well-founded idea that nuclear radiation is dangerous even at the lowest levels is under attack, writes Karl Grossman. Three determined nuclear enthusiasts have filed petitions to the NRC calling on it to apply the doctrine of 'radiation hormesis' - that low levels of radiation actually stimulate the immune system and promote better health. Disagree? You'd better act fast. See more here.
- I highly recommend this very timely and important article How Neocons Destabilized Europe by Robert Parry who writes:
The neocon prescription of endless “regime change” is spreading chaos across the Middle East and now into Europe, yet the neocons still control the mainstream U.S. narrative and thus have diagnosed the problem as not enough “regime change.”
- Long-time activist Stephan Lendman has an article out today called US Drones Attack Syria’s Military, “Disguised as an Airstrike against ISIS”. He writes in part:
Obama’s stepped up [drone] bombing complicit with Britain, France, Canada, Australia and Israel heads thing closer to full-scale naked aggression – to destroy Syrian sovereignty, eliminate an Israeli rival, and isolate Iran ahead of perhaps inventing a pretext to attack the Islamic Republic.
War plans were made years ago, updated as needed. The Iran nuclear deal did nothing to change longstanding US hostility toward Tehran.
Regime change remains official US policy – wanting Iranian sovereign independence destroyed like what’s ongoing in Syria.
Japanese Peaceniks Rising
This evening in Japan time, this morning in our time, 45,000 people are chanting asking for Prime Minister Abe's resignation in front of the national diet. Major cities across the nation are doing the same action locally.
Activists will be joining their action in New York from 7:00 pm at Times Square tonight in solidarity with the people of Japan.
Sunday, September 13, 2015
U.S. Puppet in Kiev Reads His Script
The US-NATO puppet Poroshenko dutifully reads the lines written for him by the public relations team in Washington and Brussels.
His bragging about having one of the "one of the strongest and one of the bravest armies on the continent" is worth a good laugh.
He does tell the truth when he says the drama is still far from over as the US Army will be staying in western Ukraine to train Poroshenko's "brave" Army as it continues to attack innocent civilians in the eastern Donbass near the Russian border. These US directed war crimes are disguised as a fight against an aggressive Russia but take away the US-NATO and the fighting stops immediately.
He can pretend to be a man of peace but his daily deeds reveal himself to be nothing more than an agent of the western corporate controlled war machine.
Thanks for the Blues
I've got to thank
for the love
from Porgy & Bess
to Mario Lanza
in our younger years
she was always
the hard times
took a toll
and her good mind
and broken heart
can't ever stop