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, ME, 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. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Sunday, January 15, 2006


The photo above is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), a pilot less plane that can fly for hours over the battle space and is equipped with cameras and weapons. UAV's allow the military to see the ground in "real time" because they feed back pictures via satellites in split second time to people sitting at computer screens back in the U.S. at bases like Nellis AFB in Nevada.

The U.S. is using UAV's in Afghanistan and Iraq and just two days ago a similar UAV, called the Predator, was used by the CIA over Pakistan to hit a small village where an al-Qaida leader was suspected to have been. As it turns out the missile from the UAV instead killed 17 people, including six women and six children.

Tens of thousands of Pakistanis held a protest following this incident near the remote village that was hit. Of course U.S. officials defended the strike, as they always do, and promised an investigation. As usual the investigation will show that all "normal procedures" were followed and no one will be held responsible.

A Pakistani senior minister was quoted as saying that "those who were killed were all innocent permanent residents of the village."

This kind of accidental UAV bombing is becoming a regular occurrence in Afghanistan and Iraq. When you have the people far removed from the battlefield, essentially playing with lives like a video game, there are going to be many tragic accidents like this.

One thing I can't help but wonder is why does the CIA now have its own air force of UAV's that they routinely use to attack people with? The CIA, because it is a secret outfit, is even less accountable than the Pentagon is. How will Congress, that has very little information about what the top secret CIA actually does, be able to monitor their bombings or any "investigation" that they will or will not undertake?

It is becoming ever more clear that the implementation of foreign policy today in the U.S. is totally removed from the grasp of the people. The citizens are paying for all these new generations of weapons and our Congress keeps appropriating the money for anything the Pentagon wants. But the citizenry falls further and further behind in actually having any influence with what is done in our name. How can we let that stand?

Our local peace group held a frigid vigil this morning as the local Catholic and Episcopal churches let out. In the wind and snow 12 of us stood and held our signs trying to tug on the heart-strings of those leaving their weekly worship of the prince of peace. Some of them just passed us by as if we were the devil himself. Following the vigil we gathered inside the nearby Unitarian Church basement to watch a 15-minute film about the U.S. total destruction of Falleujah, Iraq. A city the size of Cincinnati, Ohio destroyed and hundreds of thousands driven from their homes. Untold thousands killed, the refugees now still living in tent cities with the children suffering from severe illnesses due to lack of clean water, medical care or decent food. Think of the suffering this population will go through after their exposure to Depleted Uranium dust that they have inhaled following the destruction of their city.

In November the media in Italy released the story that the U.S. had used white phosphorous on the civilian populace there. A U.S. veteran of the Iraq war told Italian correspondent Sigfrido Ranucci this: "I received the order to use caution because we had used white phosphorus on Falleujah. In military slag it is called 'Willy Pete'. Phosphorus burns the human body on contact--it even melts it right down to the bone."

As we approach the national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. what comes to mind is his famous speech "Beyond Vietnam" in April, 1967. In it Dr. King said, "They must see Americans as strange liberators.....Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs.....Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call "fortified hamlets." The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these. Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These, too, are our brothers."

King continued, "Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now.....As we counsel young men concerning military service, we must clarify for them our nation's role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection.....We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.....The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.....I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin, we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."

As we think of Dr. King let us remember Iraq and those we've just killed in Pakistan. What is the state of the soul of America today? What are we each to do about it?


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