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, April 25, 2007


There is a good editorial in my local paper, Times Record, today on the Star Wars issue. Good to see. You can read it by clicking on the link in the headline above.

This morning I got up early and drove to a high school outside of Augusta to speak at a program the school was sponsoring. It's a two-day teen issues event called Love and War and they have many different events planned during the program.

I was on a panel of four veterans who first watched the video Ground Truth with about 100 kids. Then each of us veterans spoke and answered questions. Two of us were against the war in Iraq and two of the guys supported it. The video was all about U.S. GI's talking about how they have been killing civilians in Iraq and when the two pro-war vets got up they called the video one-sided and said that in war sometimes you have to kill civilians. The other anti-war vet and I did a good job I think of laying out the arguments against the war and occupation. The audience seemed to split about 50-50 on the issue. It is quite alarming at how little most of these high school kids know about what is going on - especially when their necks are on the line and they will be paying for it the rest of their lives. We hope some seeds were planted.

The House of Representatives voted 218-208 today on the Iraq occupation supplemental bill conference committee report. Only 13 Democrats voted against it. According to the Washington Post, the bill sets a nonbinding goal of completing the troop pull out by April 1, 2008. Bush says he will veto the bill because it has the withdrawal language but all he has to do is ignore it anyway since it is only advisory.

I listened to some of the debate on C-SPAN and the Democrats were basically saying that their bill would do a better job of administering the occupation than the Republicans will. Not good enough for me.

A rally is planned in Portland and Bangor this Saturday by Win Without War, a Democratic party front group led by former Maine Democratic congressman Tom Andrews. The Democratic Party has been doing robo-calls all day to people in the Portland area begging them to turn out for the rally. At the rally they will attack Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) for supporting the war and absolve our congressman Tom Allen, a Democrat, who has voted eight times now to fund the war. The Democrats are now unveiling a national strategy to attack Republicans for voting wrong on the war while the Dems have just voted to give Bush even more money than he asked for in the remaining months of 2007.
The Washington Post (April 26) ran a story entitled House Passes Iraq Pullout Timetable. They say, "To add pressure for a compromise, a coalition of liberal organizations, working in concert with Democratic leaders in Congress, is planning hundreds of rallies and dozens of news conferences to protest Bush's veto. Americans Against Escalation in Iraq [has anyone heard of this group before?] is organizing what it anticipates will be a historically large outpouring of sentiment against the Iraq war within hours of the president's veto, with news conferences just after the veto and 'signature rallies' -- some of which could draw thousands of people -- the next day in about 50 places represented by fence-sitting Republicans lawmakers."
This new Democratic Party effort in Maine is being organized by two organizations that have not been doing anti-war work in the past. The Maine People's Alliance and the League (formerly called The League of Pissed Off Voters) are both strongly allied to the Maine Democratic Party. Both these groups are now publicly supporting the Democrat's decision to fund the occupation thus cutting the legs out from under the peace community in the state that has been working hard on the war since before it began.

This is an indication that the Democrats are feeling the heat nationally and need some kind of public display of people saying they are the "real peace movement" and that those who have been sitting in the offices of congressional Democrats and criticizing their votes to fund the occupation do not speak for the "peace movement." So in their desperation to create a public relations victory around this Iraq occupation sell-out, the Democrats have just told the peace movement what they think of us. And what makes the Dems think intelligent peace activists will be anxious to support them in the future?
I am convinced that the peace movement has to be able to criticize either party as long as they continue to fund endless war. To make slaves of ourselves to any party, just so we can feel we are close to power, is a bad move.
We should remember that Martin Luther King had to put intense pressure on President John F. Kennedy to get him to support civil rights legislation. King was put under heavy pressure to back off the street protests in the south and let Kennedy take care of things in Washington. King refused and the pressure in the streets payed off in the end.
Politicians always want to relieve the pressure on themselves. The worst thing a movement can do is crawl into bed with either party - especially as we approach the 2008 elections. The Dems want to use the occupation as a hammer on the heads of the Republicans in the race for the White House.
The Democrats don't intend to end this war anytime soon. But they need to appear like they are trying.


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