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: Brunswick, 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.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Int’l peace delegation to tour Russia on ‘bridge-building mission’



By Mike Kuhlenbeck
April 17, 2019
Workers World

The Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space (GN) is organizing a delegation to Russia to help “build a peace bridge between people of their nations” from April 25 to May 10.

Twenty-four peace activists from Canada, England, Nepal, Sweden and the U.S. will participate in a “bridge-building mission.” Most of the group will be members of GN and Veterans For Peace.

GN Coordinator Bruce K. Gagnon said, “Our primary goal is to stand against the constant demonization of Russia, which is being used to justify U.S.-NATO military expansion up to Russian borders.”

Members of the delegation are scheduled to arrive in Moscow April 25. They will fly to Crimea on April 30 and then to St. Petersburg on May 5. They will meet with experts to discuss such topics as culture, economics, foreign policy, military policy and more. 

Chair Dave Webb of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (U.K.) said in a statement, “We want to see and hear for ourselves what Russia is really like.

“We want to meet with Russian citizens, teachers, students, political leaders, journalists and others in order to listen and ask questions, so we get unfiltered information.”

GN was founded in 1992 to “stop the militarization of space” and has around 150 affiliated organizations. The idea for the tour originated last spring in Oxford, England, at the GN annual meeting, which takes place in a different country each year.

Hostility to USSR and Russia

Hostility against the Soviet Union was a keystone in U.S. political life. As journalist Louise Bryant wrote in 1918, “We have here in America an all-too-obvious and objectionable prejudice against Russia,” one that was “born of fear.” U.S. hostility has now returned, despite the downfall of the USSR and the restoration of capitalism in Russia.

The U.S. government and its NATO allies have now ratcheted up tensions with Russia through sanctions, arming nations such as Ukraine (where a Russophobic regime was elevated into power by a U.S.-backed coup in 2014), saber-rattling rhetoric on the world stage and other means of intimidation.

According to an April 5 GN news release, “Not since the height of the Cold War in the 1980s have tensions been so great between Russia and the U.S. Washington now regularly blames Russia for nearly every ill in the world.”

Continuing down the dangerous path of his predecessors, the administration of Donald Trump has further endangered the world by pulling out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Swedish Peace Council vice chair Agneta Norberg, another delegation member, said, “The U.S. has 1,000 military bases around the world and a dozen nuclear-armed Trident submarines patrolling. We are trapped in a very dangerous situation, and none of the presidents seem to understand the danger.”

Hostility to Russia and its people is widespread, not just in the West but also in Asian-Pacific NATO partner countries like Japan and Australia.

Norberg said the U.S. is “twisting the arms” of countries such as Sweden and Finland to join “an ever-expanding NATO and allow war games and bases aimed at Russia onto our lands.”

Gagnon dispels the myth of NATO being a defensive alliance. “The U.S. used NATO to attack Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and more. The U.S. wants to turn NATO into a ‘global alliance’ and is signing up ‘partner’ nations in South America and the Asia-Pacific.”

According to Gagnon, “The U.S. finds it difficult to get many of its regime-change wars supported at the United Nations and, thus, is attempting to have an expanding and aggressive NATO replace the U.N. as endless-war supporter.”

It should be noted that while U.S. military coffers continue to swell (with a budget of $716 billion for 2019), Russia’s military budget ($66.3 billion last year) has been reduced in the last couple of years, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Gagnon said, “We should recognize that the corporate-dominated media has one intention — to justify the military encirclement of Russia and China. This obviously benefits the weapons production corporations and the politicians they control in Congress.”

The delegation will make its findings available to the public in the near future.

Gagnon said one of the hopes for the tour is to “make friends with the Russian people, who are not our enemies.”

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