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....

My Photo
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

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


  Posted by PicasaOn September 11-21 our local peace group in my town of Brunswick will undertake a Fast to Bring the Troops Home Now. I will try to fast for the entire 10 days.

The goal of the fast is to bring the issue of the war, and the hideous cost of the war, before the public in a deeper and sustained way. Our Maine Congressional Delegation has voted six times to enable Bush in his war and occupation of Iraq to the tune of $304 billion. The fast will also say No to a war on Iran and will remind us that until there is justice for everyone around the world there will be no peace for anyone.

We plan to go out each day to our town green and hold signs and pass out literature about the fast. We will do this from noon to 1:00 pm. We will also purchase a 1/2 page advertisement in our local paper explaining why we are fasting. Today I had three of the folks who are going to fast on my cable TV show called This Issue that now plays in six Maine communities.

I will try to give reports on this blog during the fast. It should be a great experience for all of us.

One more thing about the Bush protest last weekend here in Maine. In Tuesday's Portland Press Herald newspaper they had an article about three mountain bikers that were asked to take George W. for a nature ride while he was here. They told the newspaper that they had been warned by the Secret Service not to bring up any political subjects during the ride. They did say though that at one point Bush mentioned the anti-war protest being planned last Saturday in Kennebunkport and his concern that his presence might disrupt people's vacations and his cousin's wedding.

Just goes to show that Bush does pay attention, maybe more than we think. I bet he even went on-line to view the photos of the protest taken by the Associated Press. In case he missed the one above we thought we'd share it here. Next time instead of worrying that his presence might disrupt vacations and weddings we'd like to suggest that he be put in jail for disrupting the lives of 2,636 dead American GI's and 20,000 severely wounded soldiers. And on top of that, don't forget the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people who are now dead as a result of his illegal and immoral war.

Click the link in the headline above for a blistering anti-Bush speech by the Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah - normally a very conservative place.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


  Posted by PicasaI was working late last night trying to get caught up with my e-mails. Having taken the past week to help organize the Kennebunkport protest against Bush set me back a bit. I had to stay up late anyway as I did my third interview on Air America radio in the past week last night. When the harvest comes it seems to be bountiful.

One e-mail in my neglected stack was from my friend Kev who is a great researcher and sends me, and others, lots of important stuff he finds on the Internet. In this case it was the transcript from Democracy Now when they featured a documentary by an Italian filmmaker about new laser weapons the U.S. is using (testing) on the people of Iraq. I went to the July 25 program at the Democracy Now website and watched the full interview and was blown away by it. There is ample evidence that these new laser and directed energy weapons are creating wounds never seen before by doctors during wartime. The film included a clip of Rumsfeld and the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff answering questions about these weapons during a news conference and they very reluctantly admitted the weapons were not only under development but they might be "field tested" at some point.

My friend Bob Anderson, with the group Stop the War Machine in Albuquerque, is on top of this because Kirtland AFB in his community is doing the leading research and development work on lasers. Kirtland is also doing directed energy work there on systems like the "active denial" technology that fires a beam of wave energy at humans. The Pentagon claims it will be used for crowd control.

Also in my e-mail stack is some good news. It appears that Poland and the Czech Republic, because of citizen opposition, are backing away from volunteering to host a U.S. "missile defense" base in their countries. The U.S. wants to put underground silos in Eastern Europe to intercept ballistic missiles. I think they would be used to help surround Russia as the signs are now revealing the U.S. intention to re-create the Cold War containment of Russia. Where then would the U.S. deploy such weapons if turned down by Poland and the Czech Republic you ask? Well, the old standby appears to be jolly old England. Once again America's favorite lap dog, Tony Blair, might come to the rescue. The only problem though is that Blair is nearly ready to be thrown out on his arse by his own Labour Party and this might just be the last straw.

The other emerging U.S. lap dog is Japan in the Asian Pacific. They are now hosting U.S. Navy Aegis ships that are being used to militarily surround China as the Pentagon moves to "contain" them as well. "Missile defense" systems will be deployed throughout Japan and the news reports from Tokyo suggest they are now debating a new first-strike policy against North Korea. Japan is the country that started World War II in the Pacific with its military invasions and occupations of China and Korea and is now being encouraged by the U.S. to pursue such aggressive policies again.

The U.S., always on the side of the angels.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


  Posted by PicasaIt was a great day yesterday in Kennebunkport as 700 folks turned out to protest Bush's visit to Maine. The crowd was focused and determined as we walked 4 1/2 miles through the Republican dominated vacation community. As we marched through the heart of downtown scores of people came out to the street to watch us pass and hear us chant "Cut the funding for the war, bring the troops home now." We made the point over and over again that the Congress is complicit in this war by agreeing to every Bush-funding request that has now come to over $304 billion.

One of my favorite moments during the day was seeing a leather clad expensive car pass by and the aging wealthy couple in the car, husband giving us thumbs down and the pearl-laden wife giving us the peace sign. At one point mid-way through the march a good-looking young man rode up to me on his bike. He told me he was a Republican politician from New Hampshire who was in town for the Bush family wedding and had come to the rally before the march began and appreciated my speech where I said the Repubs and Dems were equally to blame for the war. He said he was too against the war. (See the article linked in the headline above for the full story.)

As we approached the Bush family compound at Walkers Point the place was crawling with national and international media. We stopped at the check point and I lead the crowd in again chanting "Cut the funding for the war, bring the troops home now."

I was very intentionally trying to focus on that message. Bush will not be running for election again. At this point if we want to stop the war the action is with the Congress. Bush is not going to change his mind. He said again this past week that he would never bring the troops home during his time in office. I take him at his word on that point.

If we want to stop the war then we must focus our organizing on Congress. With the Congressional mid-term elections coming up in November the peace movement must increase pressure on Congress to cut the funding. The Dems, who many in the peace movement support, must be strongly challenged to stop voting to fund the war.

The peace movement must be able to be publicly critical of both the Repubs and Dems for their role in the war. Unless we do this across the nation, in a coordinated and sustained way, the war and occupation of Iraq will never end. As Hillary Clinton said last year on CBS's Sunday TV program, ‘Faze the Nation’, "The American people need to relax. We are going to be in Iraq for a long time. We've been in Korea for 50 years."

As your peace group meets in coming months to discuss strategy for the fall, please bring this question into your deliberations. How can we best mount pressure on the Congress to immediately end the occupation of Iraq? Not in 2007 and certainly not in 50 more years. We must leave Iraq now!

Friday, August 25, 2006


  Posted by PicasaGeorge W. Bush arrived in Maine yesterday. His first stop was a private meeting with families of five Maine service members who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. One was an anti-war widow who told Bush that she objected to his war. "I said it's time to stop the bleeding," said Hildi Halley, whose husband died in Afghanistan. "It's time to swallow our pride and find a solution," she told him.

Halley said Bush responded by saying "there was no point in us having a philosophical discussion about the pros and cons of the war." Enough said. He used the families to show he could tear-up and was a compassionate conservative. If anyone has any objections to the war - keep them to yourself and your next meeting of the Maine Philosophical Society. The man is a prince.

It looks like we will have a good crowd out in Kennebunkport for the protest on Saturday. I went down there yesterday with Mary Beth and we met with Jamilla El-Shafei who is coordinating the protest. She set up a meeting with the Kennebunkport chief of police who took us on a ride of the four-mile peace march route that we have planned. The march will take us directly to the Bush family Walker Point compound. The K'port is loaded with Republicans, fancy multi-million dollar homes, snazzy cars, expensive shops and all the rest. The ocean is crawling with Coast Guard cutters off the point and Homeland Security types in their blue blazers are everywhere as well. Funny things are stuck in their ears.

We are hearing from folks all over the place who say they are coming to the march so we expect a good crowd. (Get details from the link in the headline above.)

I will be wearing my Veterans for Peace shirt and our Maine chapter will be in charge of peacekeeping for the event.

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


  Posted by PicasaHelp welcome George W. Bush to Kennebunkport, Maine on Saturday, August 26 with a protest march against the war and the $304 billion that has been spent on it so far.

Here is the plan:

10:00 am begin parking at the Kennebunk High School on Fletcher Street. Will then be shuttled to assembly site.

11:15 am March from the assembly site (Consolidated School at 25 School Street in Kennebunkport) through the town of Kennebunkport.

Rally afterwards at 23 Pleasant Street in Kennebunk. Bring your own lunch and water. Rain or shine.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


  Posted by PicasaGeorge W. Bush is coming to Maine for a family wedding. A protest is being planned by Maine and New Hampshire peace activists.

Originally word was that he was coming the weekend of Sept 2-3 but it looks like the Bush disinformation team pulled a fast one and the real date is Aug 26-27. So a protest that had been originally scheduled for Sept 2 has now been changed to Aug 26 in Kennebunkport.

All out to hail the king of madness and mayhem. His war is making the rich richer and the rest of us are in big trouble. Could this be the reason Bush says he won't be bringing the troops home during his administration?

Stock prices up:

- General Dynamics from $27.53 to $69.93 (July 2003-July 2006)
- Lockheed Martin $52 to $75 (July 2003-July 2006)
- Boeing $33 to $77 (July 2003-July 2006)
- ExxonMobil $36 to $65 (July 2003-July 2006)
- Chevron $36 to $66 (July 2003-July 2006)
- Halliburton $22 to $74 (July 2003-July 2006)
- Fluor $34 to $87 (July 2003-July 2006)

Thursday, August 17, 2006


  Posted by PicasaThis report covers the period of August 9-13 as I traveled to Seattle, Washington to attend and speak at the national Veterans for Peace Convention.

I traveled with my friend Doug Rawlings who is president of the Maine Veterans for Peace, Chapter 001. Doug lives in Chesterville and works for the University of Maine in Farmington. We began our trip early in the morning (getting up at 3:45 am) and Mary Beth drove us to Portland where we caught a bus to the Boston airport. From there we flew to Las Vegas (what an ugly airport, full of slot machines and not much else) and then landed in Seattle by about 5:30 pm. We were picked up at the airport by fellow veteran Bob Beveridge who lives in Seattle. Bob used to fly B-52 nuclear bombers for the Air Force during the Cold War and decided he didn't feel good about that line of work. He later became an Episcopal minister and retired in Seattle where he abd his wife Berta live upstairs from his son's winery.

Bob took Doug and me directly to the Veterans for Peace (VfP) convention that was being held at the University of Washington. We attended the opening reception and after a short visit there I was ready to get to bed. Bob took me to his house but Doug stayed for the poetry reading that was to happen that evening. He ended up getting to read his anti-war poetry by about 11:30 pm - by then I was in dreamland.

The VfP convention officially began on August 10 with a powerful speech by Iraq war resister Camilo Mejia. Camilo did one tour in Iraq which broke his heart and when ordered to return he refused to go. VfP national president David Cline, when introducing Mejia, told the story about being with him the day he turned himself in as a war resister at his Army base. Cline said a group of supporters stood outside the base with Mejia and watched him make the "lonely walk" toward the front gate. Cline recalled thinking that Mejia showed much courage as he walked toward an unknown future. Mejia was ultimately sentenced to one year in prison, reduction in rank, forfeiture of 2/3 pay for one year, and a bad conduct discharge. During his talk at the convention Mejia spoke out for the need for the peace movement to speak out strongly in support of the Lebanese people who at that moment were being pummeled by Israeli bombs.

Outside the student union, where the VfP convention took place, there were almost 2,600 crosses set up in the lawn in a temporary version of Arlington West to remember the American soldiers who had been killed in Iraq. One morning while entering the student union I ran into Cindy Sheehan and she gave me a big hug as she does with nearly every person she meets. She had just returned from her trip to Jordan to meet with Iraqi parliamentarians who wanted to share with her, and other women who had been fasting against the war, their plans for a peaceful end to the madness. Cindy was supposed to address the convention that evening but by that time she had taken ill from the strain of the fast and intense travel schedule. We heard the next day that she had been taken to the hospital in Texas and ordered by doctors to eat.

Global Network and WILPF member Carol Urner joined Jackie Cabasso of Western States Legal Foundation (a GN affiliate) and led a workshop called "Eliminating Weapons of Terror from U.S. Foreign Policy" during the convention. Jackie talked about the hypocritical attitude of the U.S. as it lectures the rest of the world about WMD's while it builds new generations of nuclear weapons. Carol did a presentation about plans for weapons in space and put up the Global Network's website on the huge screen above the speakers platform. On the GN's homepage at this moment is a photo of George W. Bush with a huge cannon protruding from his groin. It got quite a laugh from those attending the workshop. Carol ended her presentation with an appeal for groups to help promote Keep Space for Peace Week on October 1-8. The week of local actions is being co-sponsored by the GN and WILPF and Carol is a key organizer.

The convention ended with an exciting banquet on August 12 that was attended by over 500 people. I was deeply honored to have been invited to be one of the speakers at the dinner. I am told that VfP members from the Seattle area, who heard me speak the year before while on a tour of their region, made the invitation happen. When I began speaking I asked Maine VfP president Doug Rawlings to stand and told the story how he had been at the founding meeting of national VfP in 1986 when five veterans got together in a Denny's restaurant in Lewiston, Maine. The rest of my talk I devoted to calling for a cut-off in funding for the war if we ever hoped to end the insane occupation of Iraq. I also appealed for a nationwide effort to begin talking about the need to convert the military industrial complex in order to end our addiction to war and violence. Jobs, I told the audience, are diminishing in my state and around the country, and increasingly, many people are finding that weapons production is the best paying opportunity for work. How can we ever end war when growing numbers of our citizens depend on endless war in order to feed their families?

After I spoke, I was thrilled to hear Army Lt. Ehren Watada speak to the assembled. He is the first officer to refuse to go to Iraq. About 50 Iraq war veterans lined up behind him on the stage as he made his dignified and heartrending speech. "I refuse to be silent any longer. I refuse to watch families torn apart, while the President tells us to 'stay the course.' . . . I refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression. I wanted to be there for my fellow troops. But the best way was not to help drop artillery and cause more death and destruction. It is to help oppose this war and end it so that all soldiers can come home," Watada said.

Watada's speech for me was the highlight of the convention. This remarkable young man, with his quiet certitude, represented the turning away from war that is now sweeping the U.S. military. As he finished the audience stood and cheered for this young officer and all the other courageous young veterans who have now experienced more death and destruction than anyone should at any age.

It was an honor to be part of another VfP convention, but this one was the best one yet.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


 So far it appears that the ceasefire in Lebanon is holding. I fear that the U.S. and Israel have more cards up their sleeve but for now I hope I am wrong. It is good to see the Lebanese people returning to the southern part of the country although they don't have much to return to. Roads, bridges, homes are largely gone. It will be hard for them to recover.

Let the world speak out to keep the guns of war at bay. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 14, 2006


 I got back home late last night from the Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle. It was a long flight to Boston and then the bus to Portland. Mary Beth was waiting there to give Doug Rawlings (Maine VfP chapter president) and me a ride home. Doug still had to make the drive further north to Chesterville.

Slept in a bit this morning and then began to wade through the many e-mails. One email had a CNN interview link with New Yorker magazine write Seymour Hersch about how the U.S. had been working with Israel well in advance of their shock and awe bombing of Lebanon. It had all been planned and was just waiting for the right "incident" to be put into motion. The Bush team saw the Israeli bombing of Lebanon as a field test for the eventual bombing of Iran. I'm certain both the Bush pirate crew and Israel are now just "waiting" for the right incident to justify the attack on Syria and/or Iran.

Also across my e-mail today was an AP story from July 29 that reports, "U.S. citizens suspected of terror ties might be detained indefinitely and barred from access to civilian courts under legislation proposed by the Bush administration, say legal experts reviewing an early version of the bill. A 32-page draft measure is intended to authorize the Pentagon’s tribunal system, established shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks to detain and prosecute detainees captured in the war on terror. The tribunal system was thrown out last month by the Supreme Court. Administration officials, who declined to comment on the draft, said the proposal was still under discussion and no final decisions had been made."

I am convinced that the Bush team will try some bold stroke before the November mid-term elections that will give them the "excuse" to declare martial law and suspend the election. (I hope like hell I am dead wrong on this but the evidence seems to be lining up.) They don't want to take a chance and lose the Senate or the House in an open election. They have the power now and don't intend to give it up. They want to bring "democracy" to the Middle East. Of course what that really means is that they want to "control and dominate" the Middle East so they can control the flow of oil from that region. By doing that they then would have leverage over Europe and China.

These folks in power are sick mad men and women who will do anything to keep control. We had better stop harboring illusions that they are anything other than three-piece suit fascists and begin to act accordingly.
 Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 11, 2006


The local newspaper in Seattle today ran a big story about the young GI's who belong to IVAW (Iraq Veterans Against the War) that are at the Veterans for Peace convention. Jane Fonda showed up yesterday with a group of them. Two of them spoke yesterday in a plenary and two more sang anti-war songs they have written. They represent a real surge in activism for Veterans for Peace.

Also in today's article are interviews with two GI's who are now AWOL from the Army. One of them turned himself in this morning at 9:00 am at the convention. An Arlington West display has been set up just outside the student union building at the Univ of Washington (the site of the VfP convention). They held the news conference there this morning, among the rows of crosses with the names of more than 2,500 dead American soldiers killed in Iraq.

There are now thousands of GI's who have deserted the military, refusing to go to Iraq. Mostly working class, many of these soldiers have already done one tour in Iraq and don't want to go back.

I can't help but wonder what the connection of the new London terrorist story is to the defeat of Joe Lieberman. Another article in the paper today says the Republicans knew about this story days before the arrests were made and that V-P Cheney had held an unusual media event a couple days ago referring to the fact that the Dems were being taken over by people (on the left) who would not be tough on terrorism. I look for many more of these kinds of "preemptive arrests" in the months leading up to the elections.

With this London story all over the news, the Israeli/U.S. destruction of Lebanon is also removed from the front pages for a few days.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Multiple military sources have told the Global Network that Pentagon personnel responsible for selecting targets for cruise missile first strike attacks have been sent to Israel.

This indicates that U.S. and Israeli military strategists are now likely meeting to plan a joint attack on Syria and/or Iran.

The Persian Gulf war and the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq both began with cruise missile attacks by the U.S. from Naval ships. U.S. military satellites were used to guide the missiles to their targets.

It would be wise to recognize that Bush has decided to expand the current war and chaos into the entire Middle East region. The implications for the U.S. will be enormous.

Israel's recent bombing of Lebanon near the Syrian border indicate to me that they are trying to draw a response from Syria. So far Syria has not responded. Look for more such efforts by Israel and the U.S. to provoke Syria.

I would highly recommend local peace groups call on their members of Congress and demand they speak out against a further widening of this already insane war.

More and larger public protests should be organized immediately.

Friday, August 04, 2006


  Posted by PicasaThe Pentagon is complaining that they are running out of money. Congress has just agreed to give them $500 billion for 2007 but that is not enough. Because of the war in Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq, the military says they need another $52 billion to "reset forces to full readiness." Translation is they need to replace their broken and worn out stuff. Production lines must be ramped up to keep the military industrial complex wheels turning. (See the linked article by clicking on the headline above for more Pentagon poor-mouthing details.)

The news today out of the Middle East is not good. Pentagon brass, testifying before Congress yesterday, acknowledge that civil war in Iraq "may" be happening. I thought it had been going on for the past year or so but what do I know. I just see the bloody pictures on TV. My Congressman says if the U.S. withdraws from Iraq there will be a civil war. So it is good, he says, that we should stay and keep things peaceful.

Israel continues to rampage throughout Lebanon, now bombing Christian areas north of Beirut. Please help me out here. I thought Israel was going after Hizbullah targets.....why the Christians? Or is it possible to consider that Israel wants to destroy all of Lebanon. Why would Israel want to do that? Why would Israel want to make an enemy out of Christian Lebanese who have no love for Hizbullah? I am wondering if the American people are yet beginning to reevaluate our long-time financial and military support for Israel? Israel is way out of control. (Read the reports from Gush Shalom, the leaders of active anti-war opposition in Israel, to hear how they think Israel is on a suicidal course.)

The reports out of Lebanon now say that 530 people have been killed since Israel began their bombing campaign, with 454 of that number of dead being civilians. One million Lebanese are now refugees, one-quarter of the entire population. Collective punishment of civilian people is illegal under international law. Why does the U.N. remain so quiet? I sent a letter to Secretary General Kofi Annan a couple days ago asking him that very question.

What happens to the Lebanese people when you bomb their country back to the stone age? What happens when you create a massive refugee crisis and international aid organizations cannot bring them supplies because roads and bridges are destroyed?
Harbors are blockaded by Israel's navy so supplies cannot be brought in by sea. Would you call this genocide?

And just in case we have all forgotten Gaza, the other front in Israel's version of "shock and awe", there are now 175 dead people since Isreal's re-occupation of those Palestinian lands.

Back home in the USA the neo-cons are only thinking about one thing. How can they widen this war into Syria and Iran? Watch Fox News for the details.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


  Posted by PicasaMaine’s Republican Senator Susan Collins has just sent around a news release proudly proclaiming that she has helped to bring big money to our state. She says the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved, for fiscal year 2007, $3.4 billion for DDX destroyer ships at Bath Iron Works and an additional $50 million for smaller military contracts sprinkled throughout the state.

This is the industrial policy of America today. Weapons production. It is our #1 industrial export product. And when weapons are your # 1 industrial export product, what is your global marketing strategy for that product line? That’s right, endless war.

Our Congress should be fighting to bring funding to our states to build rail systems, solar and windmills. At a time when we are told that we are now having the hottest summer in the recorded history of the U.S., does it not make sense that the taxpayers should be demanding that OUR TAX DOLLARS be used to expand the production of sustainable technologies? What does more military production do to alleviate global warming? How will we be able to get to work when gas hits $4, $5, $6, $7 a gallon if we don’t have public transit?

Think of the jobs created by building the industrial capacity to put a solar system on every house and business in the U.S.! Think of the jobs created if we built a world-class rail system connecting every corner of the country. Imagine how many people could be employed while building windmill farms all across the nation.

Why don’t the peace movement, the environmental movement, and the labor movements get together and create a unified demand to convert the military-industrial complex to peaceful production? Imagine the legs that could be put under the political demand for conversion if we did come together with such a coordinated national positive campaign?

What are we waiting for? We will never end war as long as making weapons for endless war employs growing numbers of people in the U.S. This is the direction that the corporate militarists are taking our nation as they now determine that “security export” will be our role in the New World Order. What does it do to the soul of our nation when we have to make weapons of destruction in order to employ people so they can feed their families?

Today the U.S. is feverishly resupplying Israel with new orders to replace the bombs, bullets, tanks shells and other weapons they are using to destroy Lebanon. All the while people work overtime at military production sites to keep up with the orders for more weapons. An endless cycle of death and destruction. Can military production workers be proud of their work? Hardly. But it’s a job.

The idea of moving the arms race into space, what the Pentagon says will be the largest industrial project in the history of the planet Earth, has the weapons industry drooling. Again, how will we ever end war as long as we allow a new arms race into the heavens happen?

The Congress is complicit in the disinvestment in American peacetime industry. We don’t make hardly anything in this country anymore. Look in any Wal-Mart store and see for yourself. But what we do make is weapons.

We must demand over and over again that we want OUR TAX DOLLARS to be used for peaceful and sustainable production. We can’t end global warming by building weapons so that we can grab the diminishing supplies of the world’s oil and natural gas. We must convert the military industrial complex.

Trains not tanks. Windmills not Star Wars. Solar power not fighter planes and new generations of naval destroyers.

We need life not death for our children and grandchildren.

Help us make this demand public.