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, November 12, 2006


Yesterday in Portland over 100 members and supporters of Maine Veterans for Peace (VfP)participated in the annual parade through the heart of town. For the past 15 years VfP has participated in the parade.

This year though the American Legion, that organizes the parade each year, tried to keep our VfP chapter out of the event, largely due to our active and intense opposition to the war and occupation of Iraq. The American Legion said that if VfP was participating they had been told by other pro-war American Legion chapters in the area that they would refuse to be in the parade.

Our VfP chapter went public through the local media with our intention to continue participation and a series of letters to the editor brought the debate to the larger community. Eventually the city of Portland had to get involved and through their intervention the American Legion had to back down.

As usual our VfP delegation, mostly dressed in black, was the largest contingent in the parade. The small American Legion delegations were mixed into the parade as they normally are each carrying flags and rifles and busting out of their old military uniforms that long ago did not fit them properly. Other less controversial entrants in the parade were high school marching bands, clowns, unicyclists, fire trucks, Army vehicles and the like.

Following the parade a dull and lifeless rally was held at Monument Square where politicians and a few pro-war vets spoke. Our just reelected Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) talked about his pride in our troops who are "protecting our interests" overseas. As he spoke our 100 strong VfP contingent stood just opposite him, many of the members having been active supporters of his opponent Dexter Kamilewicz, an Independent who got 22,689 votes for 8%, in last week's voting. Dexter stood with us, dressed in black as well, as a reminder that we would not let off with our pressure to bring the troops home now. Rep. Allen says he is against the war but has voted 7 times to the tune of $354 billion to enable Bush to build permanent bases in Iraq and keep this insane war going.

Following the official rally, after a 10-minute wait, VfP was given the podium for our own rally where Maine VfP President Doug Rawlings spoke. The local paper today reported that Doug said, "We are not here, as some of our detractors claim, to disrespect America. We're here in the name of decency and humanity....Let us leave here today with the understanding that war itself is evil." Not reported in the paper were Doug's words calling for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and a cut in funding for the war. (The photo above was also in the Sunday paper.)

Last night I read that the Bush administration is going to ask for a $160 billion supplemental to fund the war for the remainder of 2007. This would be the largest appropriation for the war to-date! It is clear that Bush is coming right out of the starting blocks and will call the Democrats bluff to see if they will take responsibility and help "manage" the war creating even more "bi-partisan" support for the occupation. From what we have heard so far from our congressman, and most of the Democratic party leadership, they would likely support such a request.

As we walked the length of the parade route yesterday we got an excellent reception from the crowd lined up along the street. It is clear that the people are tired of the war and are looking for a way out. Knowing this, the peace movement should feel emboldened to continue to escalate the pressure on Congress before even more lives are lost in Iraq.


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