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.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Melting Arctic Ice - Future Conflict Zone

Many oil corporations and other business and military interests are excited about what 'opportunities' lie ahead as the Arctic ice rapidly melts due to climate change.

The Portland Maine Sunday Telegram ran a story yesterday entitled Diplomacy forum in Portland will spotlight Arctic, Maine about an international conference that will be held in that city this coming fall.  The newspaper reported:

A forum about Arctic diplomacy slated to take place in Maine’s largest city will focus on issues like climate change and shipping, and put a spotlight on its host, organizers said.

The Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials meeting will take place in Portland from Oct. 4-6. Officials from the council’s eight member nations, including the United States, and a host of non-governmental organizations will assemble for the midweek event.
Already the US and NATO have been ramping up war preparations for the coming conflict with Russia over control of the Arctic.  Russia has the world's largest land border with the Arctic Ocean and some in the western corporate oil-i-garchy have used this fact as a reason to push for regime change in Moscow - so that the oil companies could have a better chance at getting their drilling rigs into those areas once Russia has been broken into smaller constituent components that would be easier to control.

US-NATO have been stockpiling weapons in northern Norway and holding regular war games near the Russian border.  Moscow of course is aware of all this and is expanding its military operations in their large territory to protect their own interests.

Two years ago Maine's Sen. Angus King went on a submarine ride under the Arctic and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman was along as well.  Friedman wrote a piece about the trip called Parallel Parking in the Arctic Circle in which he said:

But this wasn’t tourism. Climate scientists predict that if warming trends continue, the Arctic’s ice cap will melt enough that — in this century — it will become a navigable ocean for commercial shipping year round, and for mineral and oil exploration. Russia has already made extensive claims to the Arctic, based on the reach of its continental shelf, beyond the usual 12 miles from its coastline; these are in dispute. To prepare for whatever unfolds here, though, the U.S. Navy keeps honing its Arctic submarine skills, including, on our trip, test-firing a virtual torpedo at a virtual enemy sub, studying how differences in water temperatures and the mix of freshwater from melted ice and saltwater affect undersea weapons and the sounds a sub makes (vital for knowing how to hide), as well as mapping the Arctic’s seabed topography.

“In our lifetime, what was [in effect] land and prohibitive to navigate or explore, is becoming an ocean, and we’d better understand it,” noted Admiral Jonathan Greenert [the chief of naval operations]. “We need to be sure that our sensors, weapons and people are proficient in this part of the world,” so that we can “own the undersea domain and get anywhere there.” Because if the Arctic does open up for shipping, it offers a much shorter route from the Atlantic to the Pacific than through the Panama Canal, saving huge amounts of time and fuel.

Sen. King has since that 2014 trip been a vocal supporter of the US building more ice breakers in order to help open the way for commercial operations in the Arctic region.  The fact that the Arctic Council will be meeting in Portland next October indicates Maine's growing influence due to its obvious proximity to the melting sea.

I plan to organize a protest during at least one day while the Arctic Council meeting is going on.  I want to help alert the public to the environmental and peace issues involved as the corporate interests push and shove their way into that region. 


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