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, February 26, 2016

Mixed Bag

My Op-Ed published in the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper in Okinawa yesterday along with a bio story as well.  Thanks to Satoko Norimatsu for making the arrangements and doing the translation

  • I was honored to be invited to write an Op-Ed for the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper about my experiences during the recent Veterans For Peace delegation to Okinawa.  Satoko Norimatsu was the person who initiated the whole thing and I was offered an honorarium for the piece but asked it be given to the Okinawan organizing committee that worked so hard to coordinate our visit.  They incurred many costs and deserved the support.  Some others from that trip are also being invited to write O-Eds for the paper as well.  I was asked to specifically comment on several points in my piece including the recent North Korean satellite launch and my own experiences being a GI who became a peacenik in large part because of the anti-war activity at my base during the Vietnam War. We've heard that the right-wing Japanese government wants to shut down the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper because it so strongly supports the vast majority of Okinawan citizens who oppose US bases there.

  • The dysfunctional US presidential primaries get more unreal every day.  The latest news comes from journalist Robert Parry who wrote a piece about neo-con interventionist, and founder of the Project for a New American Century, Robert Kagan endorsing Hillary Clinton.  Parry says:

Kagan, who I’ve known since the 1980s when he was a rising star on Ronald Reagan’s State Department propaganda team (selling violent right-wing policies in Central America), has been signaling his affection for Clinton for some time, at least since she appointed him as an adviser to her State Department and promoted his wife Victoria Nuland, a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, to be the State Department’s chief spokesperson. Largely because of Clinton’s patronage, Nuland rose to assistant secretary of state for European affairs and oversaw the provocative “regime change” in Ukraine in 2014.

  • In another election related story Noam Chomsky commented on the surprising progress of Donald Trump's Republican nomination campaign. AlterNet reports:

"Fear, along with the breakdown of society during the neoliberal period," Chomsky said.
"People feel isolated, helpless, victim of powerful forces that they do not understand and cannot influence."

He said economic uncertainty and a loss of social cohesion had also fueled the rise of fascism in the last century — but he cautioned that some current conditions were even worse.

"It's interesting to compare the situation in the '30s [in the US], which I'm old enough to remember," Chomsky said. "Objectively, poverty and suffering were far greater. But even among poor working people and the unemployed, there was a sense of hope that is lacking now, in large part because of the growth of a militant labor movement and also the existence of political organizations outside the mainstream."

  • A big story out of Bayreuth, Germany is stirring lots of talk across the Internet.  That city had made the decision to give CODEPINK the 2016 Wilhelmine-Tolerance Prize in a public ceremony on April 15th in honor of their excellent peace and justice work. But the Israeli Embassy intervened demanding that the city rescind the award claiming that CODEPINK denies the right of Israel to exist and has ties to Holocaust deniers in Iran, allegations made by journalist Benjamin Weinthal in an article published on February 10th in the Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post.  After much consultation the Bayreuth city council, representing eight political parties, voted 23-18 on the Green Party motion to confirm the award to CODEPINK. Those who voted against the Green Party’s motion had made alternative proposals, either to delay the decision pending further investigation, or to grant the money award while at the same time suspending the public award ceremony because of fears that the ceremony might be disrupted by CODEPINK’s detractors. While a few council members criticized CODEPINK in some respects, not a single council member called for revoking the award to CODEPINK. And some members stated during the debate that they felt the attempts to exert outside pressure on them were inappropriate.  

Asked what she thought of all this, retired U.S. Army Colonel and former U.S. diplomat Ann Wright, one of the seven CODEPINK delegates who will be coming to Germany in April, said: "Repeating a lie over and over does not make it true. It is sad and even a bit frightening when many in the media and even some members of the German parliament keep repeating such lies despite all the evidence to the contrary that we have provided. CODEPINK has never made statements denying the right of the State of Israel to exist. But we do insist that Israel stop its illegal policies in the West Bank and Gaza. We are firm that Israel must adhere to international law and also implement true equality for all its Jewish and Arab citizens. Many Jewish Israelis advocate the same positions."

  • The Pentagon is planning the containment of Russia in the Arctic. This was stated by the NATO Supreme allied commander in Europe, US General Philip Breedlove. "We are studying the possibility of the containment of Russia in the Arctic. The claims of Russia do not directly affect the US but they affect three of our allies," the general reportedly said.  He did not specify how the US plans to deter Russia, but remarked [we] "have to do it".  Russia has the largest land border with the Arctic Ocean and due to climate change and melting ice the oil corporations want to drill-baby-drill in that region.  Russia is an obstacle that 'needs to be removed', thus the persistent calls for regime change in Moscow and the eventual Balkanization of the Russian Federation.  Dangerous talk for sure by the US.  Can we begin to understand more clearly why there is so much demonization of Putin happening in the western media? Follow the $$$, follow the oil!


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