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.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Should we trust the Mueller investigation?



Special Counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 12 officials with the GRU, Russia’s main foreign intelligence agency, for allegedly meddling in the 2016 election, including hacking Democratic Party emails. Case closed? Author and investigative journalist Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News joins TRNN’s Aaron Mate to discuss.

Aaron Mate does a great job of raising key doubts about the Mueller investigation.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern writes about the alleged Russian hacking story:

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity — including two “alumni” who were former National Security Agency technical directors — have long since concluded that Julian Assange did not acquire what he called the “emails related to Hillary Clinton” via a “hack” by the Russians or anyone else. They found, rather, that he got them from someone with physical access to Democratic National Committee computers who copied the material onto an external storage device — probably a thumb drive. In December 2016 VIPS explained this in some detail in an open Memorandum to President Barack Obama.

On January 18, 2017 President Obama admitted that the “conclusions” of U.S. intelligence regarding how the alleged Russian hacking got to WikiLeaks were “inconclusive.” Even the vapid FBI/CIA/NSA “Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections” of January 6, 2017, which tried to blame Russian President Vladimir Putin for election interference, contained no direct evidence of Russian involvement.  That did not prevent the “handpicked” authors of that poor excuse for intelligence analysis from expressing “high confidence” that Russian intelligence “relayed material it acquired from the Democratic National Committee … to WikiLeaks.”  Handpicked analysts, of course, say what they are handpicked to say.

Aaron Mate mentions William Binney, a former NSA technical director for 36 years, during his interview above with Isikoff.  Binney and other members of VIPS (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity) have written several critiques of the Russian hacking story.  See some of them here

NATO protest in Brussels



There were more than 3,000 people at the NO to NATO protest during its recent meeting in Brussels, Belgium.

Just after the 4:40 mark in the video is Dave Webb, board convener of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.  He also chairs the UK's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

The interviews are in English and German.

NATO is the offensive military arm of corporate capital.  It is repeatedly being used to take down nations that won't comply with corporate dictates.  NATO is also expanding into the Asia-Pacific by setting up 'Partnership' relationships with Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and more.

See the full list of 'Partners' here

It was during the presidency of Bill Clinton that the US violated its promise not to expand NATO toward the east.  Today NATO has set up military operations all along the Russian border and has turned Norway and Poland into major weapons depots.  US-NATO war games are regularly held throughout the Nordic region, eastern Europe and the Baltics.  US 'missile defense' launch facilities aimed at Russia have been deployed in Romania, Poland and Turkey.  US Navy Aegis destroyers, outfitted with 'missile defense' systems, are regularly cruising in the Black Sea.

When Russia responds with military exercises inside their own country they are accused by NATO of being aggressive.

While having been created as a 'North Atlantic' alliance aimed at the then former Soviet Union, NATO has now become a global military alliance and is trying to essentially replace the United Nations as the leading international organization that deals with conflicts.

The US controls NATO and uses it as a bludgeon to get its way where it wishes.

Bruce

Friday, July 13, 2018

Trump versus NATO is a false narrative: The U.S. will always fund Europe’s defense




The United States will continue to use NATO as much as possible to drive the agenda of Western-led imperialism

By Vijay Prashad

Donald Trump has leapt across the Atlantic Ocean to bring America’s European allies to heel. Or so his Twitter account suggests. In London, an orange effigy will fly above the city in welcome. Massive crowds will gather on Friday to greet him with jeers and boos. Trump has the ability to translate dissent into praise. He will see the crowds and preen. Surely, he is the most important American to set foot in the British Isles.

He will walk through the streets of Brussels, pretending to attack America’s NATO allies. He will wink to his base — telling them that he is being tough on everyone, not just China, but also Germany and France. His base will think that he is their champion, speaking for them in a voice that has not been heard before.

Others will be hoodwinked into the belief that Trump — yes, Trump alone — is somehow changing the terms of the great Atlantic relationship.

But this is all bunk. Trump is a deception. There is no change afoot. The United States will continue to fund European ‘defense,’ which is more accurately characterized as the U.S.-driven attempt to dominate Eurasia (Russia and China). The United States will continue to use NATO as much as possible to drive the agenda of Western-led imperialism. All this, the facts of the matter, will be set aside as the liberals cry out in horror about Trump’s political infidelities. How dare The Donald poke a finger in the ‘special relationship’ with the other colonizers, they say! They are outraged. The colonizers must stay together.

Two Donalds

Trump travels with his bludgeon — his Twitter account. He warned before he left for Europe that the Europeans must lift their military spending. This comes before the NATO summit, where Trump is expected to be as testy as he was in the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Canada. Then, Trump provoked a war of words with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Now, he seems to want to get into a war of words with all of Europe.

The Europeans (and the American establishment liberals) fear that Trump will break the Atlantic alliance — the linkage between Western Europe (substantially) and the United States. Old colonial ties and ties reaffirmed through the Group of Seven (G7) process brought the United States into a very tight embrace with France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Much was made during the Bush years of the New Europe (namely, Eastern Europe), but this was not serious. The real Atlantic alliance is between the U.S. (with Canada) and these three major European powers.

It is to this that European Council President Donald Tusk gestured when he said, “Dear America, appreciate your allies. After all, you don’t have that many.” This was a bitter statement. It comes from a former Prime Minister of Poland, who is now disliked in his own country. Tusk has thrown his fortunes into the European project. He worries on behalf of Berlin, London and Paris.

Donald Trump responded lightly. “We have many allies,” he said, brushing off the other Donald’s warning.

2 Percent Threshold

The United States — before Trump — and NATO itself had made low military spending in Europe an issue. It was NATO that agreed to the 2 percent of GDP threshold, arguing that each of the NATO member-states must lift their military spending to above 2 percent of GDP. The majority of European countries in NATO — 24 of 28 — spend well below that threshold. They have no real plans to lift their military obligations.

The 2 percent threshold provides Trump a Twitter-worthy argument. He knows that the U.S. is the largest spender on the military on the planet, and he knows that U.S. allies such as the European states, but also Japan and South Korea, have relied upon the U.S. military umbrella to protect them from threats. The United States spends close to 40 percent of all military spending on the planet. No country in Europe spends near U.S. levels. The United States and the European Union have a comparable GDP. The U.S. spends over 3 percent of its GDP on the military, whereas the European Union spends half that amount.

It is the United States that acts as the gendarme of the world’s monied. That has become its role. It is not the military of the people of the United States.

Trump’s deceptions

While Trump fulminates about European military spending, the United States’ overall policy direction and contribution to European warfare has not diminished. It is one thing to go on Twitter to titillate one’s base and quite another to shift the policy.

All U.S. government strategic documents reaffirm the U.S.-European alliance and confirm that the main threats to this alliance are from China and Russia. This is the old game, the attempt to prevent the emergence of any challenges to the Atlantic alliance and the attempt to maintain Atlantic hegemony over decision making on issues of importance, namely trade and development. The most recent such document—the U.S. Secretary of Defense’s National Defense Strategy (February 2018) — makes just these points. The crucial sentence is this: “A strong and free Europe, bound by shared principles of democracy, national sovereignty and commitment to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty is vital to our security.” Article 5 is the commitment made by all NATO members for collective defense.

But is Trump really going to starve NATO and the European alliance? There is no evidence of this. Trump has increased the U.S. military budget by gargantuan amounts—to the near astronomic levels of close to $800 billion (China, the second largest military spender, is at $230 billion). The numbers are at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and International Institute for Strategic Studies. Trump increased military spending by close to 10 percent. There is no hesitancy to spend money on the military, no desire to shift some of that treasure toward those who are out of work and desperate. None of that.

Part of this massive military budget — admittedly a small part — has gone toward the U.S.-European Defense Initiative. Trump has raised that amount from $3.4 billion to $6.5 billion. This Initiative is designed as a European and American response to “threats from Russia.” One of the key elements of this Initiative is, as the Comptroller of the U.S. Defense Department notesin February 2018, to “assure our NATO allies and partners of the United States’ commitment to Article 5 and the territorial integrity of all 28 NATO nations.” The next point is more sinister. It speaks of increasing the “capability and readiness of U.S. Forces, NATO allies and regional partners” to swiftly deal with any “regional adversary.” The finger is pointed at Russia. This has been U.S. policy since the unification of Germany, since the desire to move NATO eastwards and since the general consensus in the West to box in both Russia and China to prevent the development of any challenge to Western power.

Trump will make a great deal of noise about the 2 percent threshold and he will be aggressive in public against his European partners. The other Donald, Tusk of the European Council, will take the bait and the media will have a field day. But few will report that beneath this sturm und drang, this tempest, will be the normal, but deeply troubling military alliance of the Atlantic world.

Militaries will be heavily funded, arms dealers will preen, threats will be made to weaker powers, trade treaties will be forced on them, poverty will increase, rhetoric of hate will be normal, and the world will slip into the dark night of barbarism.

Trump will gradually disappear from the stage. So will Tusk. So will Merkel. But other names will remain intact: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Airbus, United Technologies, Leonardo-Finmeccanica, Thales Group, L-3 Communications, Rolls Royce. . .  the smell of war, the putrid smell of a world of war.

~ Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Relations with Russia?



Russia expert Professor Stephen Cohen: “I am deeply alarmed… I think that our relationship with Russia today… is worse than its ever been… fraught with the possibility of war… even more than the Cuban Missile Crisis… its an extremely serious moment.”

Stephen Cohen writes:

"NATO’s only real mission since the 1990s has been expanding to Russia’s borders, and that has resulted in less, not more, security for all concerned, as is evident today. The only 'Russian threat' since the end of the Soviet Union is one provoked by the US-led NATO itself, from Georgia and Ukraine to the Baltic states. And only NATO’s vast corporate bureaucracy, its some 4,000 employees housed in its new $1.2 billion headquarters in Brussels, and US and other weapons manufacturers who gain from each new member state, have profited. But none of this can be discussed in the mainstream, because Trump uttered a few words questioning NATO’s role and funding, even though the subject has been on the agenda of several think tanks since the 1990s."

"Considering today’s perilous geopolitical situation, it is hard not to conclude that much of the American political establishment, particularly the Democratic Party, would prefer trying to impeach Trump to averting war with Russia, the other nuclear superpower. For this too, there is no precedent in American history.” 

~ Stephen F. Cohen is a professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University and a contributing editor of The Nation.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

What's the message?


  • The New York Times and Washington Post are leading the charge to dynamite the Trump-Kim talks.  The Democrats carry the rally flag for the military industrial complex.  The party that presumes to speak for the left (and even peace people) is working hard to ensure we keep a stable full of enemies that can continuously be trotted out to frighten the public.  And the more frightened people get the more money they will allow the corporations to steal to prepare for war.
  • The US is not worried about the military capability of North Korea.  It is being used as a foil to justify expanding Pentagon operations in the Asia-Pacific region to encircle China and Russia. 
  • I know a Korean woman who lives in Canada and is a professor there.  She wrote that the western media translation of North Korea saying Secretary of State Pompeo recently treated them like 'gangsters' actually translated to 'forceful'.  The day after reading this I was on a radio interview talking about Korea. The show host asked me about North Korea saying Pompeo treated them like a 'gangster'.  I explained that the word was mistranslated for a reason.  The media's job is to frame the reality the corporate masters want to project to the 'citizens'.  Trump recently acknowledged this when he responded to a question about Korea.  He said, "It's all a show."  He's taken his act to the global stage and he loves it.  Despite the Democrats complaints about Trump he is faithfully serving the interests of Wall Street - and he helps keep the people divided against one another at home.
  • Watching Trump on his current European tour continues to reveal that the man has no core values except making money and self-promotion.  The world gets to see the real face of America - these are the values that we've been taught here in this capitalist society - $$$$ comes first, everyone and everything else around you should be subordinated in order for you to make even more $$$$.  It's a sickness and most of us have some level of contamination inside us.
  • Trump is calling out Germany for buying fossil fuels from Russia.  The US oil companies want Europe to buy more expensive fuels from them. (Imagine the cost of shipping fracked gas from America to Berlin.)  In addition is the fervent wish of these oil mobsters to force regime change in Moscow.  They want to break Russia up into constituent pieces just like the US-NATO did to Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and tried to do in Syria.   Those that border the Arctic Ocean are going to have prime access to vast supplies of fossil fuels as the ice melts due to climate change.  Check out a map - it's amazing how long Russia's Arctic border is.  This is also why Putin is being demonized. 
  • I've been working on getting caught up with all my administrative tasks before my surgery next Monday.  I've asked that people send me healing thoughts at 8:00 am.  I will likely be in the hospital 2-3 days and then home.  A half-dozen friends have recently had similar knee surgery and have given me much appreciated advice - mostly about staying committed to the exercises that are required to regain mobility.  I'm ready to go.
Bruce

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Ed Schultz - Presente!



MSNBC won’t tell you that they fired Ed Schultz for wanting to cover Bernie Sanders & tell the truth about the TPP.

You can hear Ed himself talk about why he was fired by MSNBC at 7:14 into the video.  It's quite illuminating to hear.

Guam: a U.S. colony



Guam has the largest percentage of people that serve in the U.S. military, but they can't even vote for president. That's messed up! Many people on Guam say their days as a U.S. territory need to end.

The US has several bases on Guam and is demanding even more island land for expansion of bases and also areas for war exercises which is helping to inflame anger toward the military.

Guam is called the 'tip of the spear' by the Pentagon as they use North Korea to justify their aggressive military encirclement of China and Russia in the region.

Guam would be a prime target in any war with China and Russia.  The people there are aware of that reality as well. 

Monday, July 09, 2018

Israel must be sanctioned for its illegal acts



It's pure evil - mean spiritedness - and to think U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing this 'crap' while our schools, roads, bridges, mental health programs, sewer & water systems, and much more are collapsing here at home.....

Israel sells weapons to Nazis in Ukraine, kills Palestinians like they are flies, truly interferes in U.S. elections (just ask former Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney) and nobody says a mumbling word!

How about that they steal land from the Palestinians and Syrians and routinely attack Syria violating international law?

Now why is that?  Why does the corporate media not report stories like these?  Why does Congress not hold hearings about how our tax dollars are being spent by Israel for illegal and immoral purposes?

Could the power of AIPAC be so great that Congress is intimidated by the Israeli lobby?

When the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement got so strong some states even passed laws trying to make it illegal to criticize Israel?  How could that happen in a so-called 'free nation'?

Israel is a pirate, renegade nation that has forgotten its own tragic history of the Holocaust.  Israel treats the Palestinians similar to how the Nazis treated the Jews during WW II.  Israel is clearly committing genocide against the Palestinian people. (There are many ways to commit genocide. My dictionary defines the word as: the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group.)

Israel must be condemned and economically sanctioned by the United Nations for their outrageous and illegal behaviors.

Bruce

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Finally word is spreading about Nazi death squads in Ukraine



A shocking new report in the Electronic Intifada reveals that Ukrainian neo-Nazis are using Israeli weapons to fight Russia. Journalist Max Blumenthal discusses the SS-wearing Azov Battalion, a neo-Nazi militia that uses Hitlerian symbols and is embedded in the National Guard of Ukraine, which also receives support from the US and Canada.

See an article on this subject in the Israeli newspaper HAARETZ here  

Sunday song