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

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

THAT IS GOOD ORGANIZING!

Last night I attended a public meeting at town hall here in Brunswick concerning the possible closure of the Naval Air Station Brunswick (NASB). The Navy base is on the base closure list as the Pentagon tries to reign in its over extended and bloated budget which now consumes 50% of every federal tax dollar. The town has created a volunteer task force, made up mostly of retired Navy officers, to lobby the Pentagon to keep NASB open. The task force made its first public presentation last night, trying to offer its best justification for ensuring NASB's survival.

During the cold war NASB was a submarine detection base, using its reconnaissance and surveillance EP-3 planes to detect enemy subs trying to sneak attack the U.S. -- which of course never happened. (Lately they have been flying temporary duty missions over Iraq calling in airstrikes on Iraqi insurgents. But its a long way to fly from Maine to Iraq and costly to keep up over time.) Now the task force has come up with a new mission for the base. They stated that each year over 60 million shipping containers come into New England ports and one of them might have a weapon of mass destruction inside. NASB is the "only place that can get to them" the chair of the task force reported. During the question period I got up and said I was a bit confused. Are you saying that Navy personnel from NASB would inspect the cargo containers I asked? No, no the task force members replied. With our planes we can monitor the Atlantic ocean and ensure that if any ship approaching our ports stopped off shore and tried to pull a switch-er-oo, moving a WMD from one ship to another, NASB could catch them. There. That was it. Osama now must have a Navy. That is the justification for keeping this base open and everyone should now stand up and cheer. I didn't.

This is corruption. It is corruption of the truth and corruption of the public spirit. It is what glosses over, or hides, America's addiction to military spending. Our community leaders know better than to buy this line but they want to keep the dollars flowing into Maine -- like a junkies needle in the arm. Forget that the money could be used for other, better purposes like health care or education or creating new sustainable technology industries.

Another example of this corruption is the failure of this week's "missile defense" test, the second mishap in a row. Each test cost taxpayers $85 million - so that is $170 million just flushed down the sewer. Of course the big weapons corporations made money on the deal. But what did the tax payers get for THEIR $170 million? NOTHING.

Mary Beth, in responding to my first blog post, did a great job of answering yesterday's question - what are we to do? She went right out and stood up before 26 Maine state legislators, who are preparing to cut early childhood services due to FISCAL RESTRAINTS, and spoke the dirty truth. The meeting room at the capitol was packed with crying parents pleading not to defund their childrens services. Service providers made the case for the good their agencies do. Cut someone else but not us! Mary Beth told the politicians that there is lots of money out there but that the military has control of most of it. She mentioned Star Wars and cluster bombs. She told them that they needed to speak out against this militarization of our resources. $9 billion is missing in Iraq she said. What could we do with $9 billion? We don't need to pit one social service against the other. My god, they are turning us into a pack of wolves. Good on you Mary Beth. Someone needs to find the courage to stand up and point out the obvious. Now that is good organizing!

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