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

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Is the U.S. going to attack Iran as many are now suggesting? Latest news indicates that Bush is setting up new bases in Bulgaria and Romania that would host Pentagon war planes that would be used in a first-strike attack on Iran.

Below are quotes Wayne White, who was a top Middle East analyst for the State Department's bureau of intelligence and research until March 2005. (Click on the link in the headline above for the full article.)

"You're talking about a war against Iran" that likely would destabilize the Middle East for years, White told the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington think tank.

"We're not talking about just surgical strikes against an array of targets inside Iran. We're talking about clearing a path to the targets" by taking out much of the Iranian Air Force, Kilo submarines, anti-ship missiles that could target commerce or U.S. warships in the Gulf, and maybe even Iran's ballistic missile capability, White said.

Let's just play a game here for a moment. Imagine you are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Try to think like they do. Iran has lots of oil. You've already invaded Iraq and are building permanent bases there so you can control Iraqi oil. Why not go for the whole enchilada? Who is going to stop you? The Pentagon? No. The Congress? Well, no not them either. An outraged American people? Not likely anytime soon. International opposition? No.

Bush has nothing to lose by invading Iran. He doesn't really care what history says about him anyway. Bush only cares what the oil corporations, the banking corporations, the weapons corporations, the media barons, and the like think of him. And the truth is these interests quite like Bush very much, thank you. He is doing their bidding for them.

Iran can't be allowed to switch from the dollar to the Euro when they sell their oil. Iran can't be allowed to become a regional military power. Iran can't be allowed to have "extraordinary influence" in Iraq. Iran must be destroyed.

But this is crazy I hear you saying. The U.S. can't afford another war! The troops are stretched too thin, the country can't pay for another front in this blitzkrieg.

Well the answer is that like Hitler, Bush must continue to roll the dice. He is so far out on a limb now that he must go for it all or he loses everything. He and the big corporations, who are driving this empire, have got to make their move now or it all comes crashing down around them. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If the U.S. controls all the Middle East oil then they control China, India, Europe and the rest of the world. Insanity you say? Of course it is. These people are so drunk with greed and power they are insane. Which makes them even more dangerous.

So the question is can the impeachment movement and the anti-war movement create enough pressure in the next couple of months that Bush and his Pirate team will be forced to back off?

Don't bank on the Congress, and the Democrats now running for president in 2008, to pull us out of this coming fire. We either do it ourselves now or we all go up in flames.

We've got to escalate our non-violent opposition to endless war now.


Monday, January 29, 2007


I've seen numbers ranging from almost 100,000 to 500,000 peace activists demonstrating in Washington last Saturday. The smaller number, of course is coming from the media, the larger from peace groups.

What is not told in the media is that in addition to the large demo in DC last Saturday there were hundreds of local actions all over the country as well. Here in Maine four buses were sent to DC and on Friday night, before they left Portland, 300 gathered for a send-off rally. Then on Saturday 250 folks gathered again in Portland for another protest. There were 150 activists on a bridge in Ellsworth, Maine as well on Saturday. So I am certain that this played out all over the nation.

While I strongly supported the DC demonstration last weekend I feel that the real anti-war work these days must be done locally and statewide. We've got to mount increasing pressure on our own Congressional delegations to stop voting to fund the occupation of Iraq.

Many people will get on a bus and make a long trip to Washington DC but then once the real work starts back home we never see them again. Many are afraid to be seen protesting on the street in their hometown for fear they will get fired from a job or be identified as a "peacenik". I call these kind of people "out-of-town" activists.

If we can get these folks to stay involved locally then our numbers will double and our level of effectiveness working on our own Congress members will rapidly grow.

Friday, January 26, 2007


By Karl Grossman

China’s successful test of an anti-satellite weapon last week brought me back to a conference I keynoted at the United Nations in Geneva in 1999 on “The Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space.” I was followed by the first secretary of the Chinese delegation to the UN.

As a journalist who has written on this issue, I presented on a screen documents starting with the U.S. Space Command’s Vision For 2020, issued the year before, envisioning U.S. space-based laser weapons zapping targets on Earth by the year 2020. It spoke of the U.S. military “dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect U.S. interests and investment” and “integrating Space Forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict.”

This “pushes us ­- all of us ­- toward war in the heavens,” I said, because “other nations will follow leading to a new arms race and ultimately war in space. This all must be stopped before it gets completely out of hand.”

The Chinese first secretary, Wang Xiaoyu, then declared: “Outer space is the common heritage of human beings. It should be used entirely for peaceful purposes and for the economic, scientific and cultural development of all countries as well as the well-being of mankind. It must not be weaponized and become another arena of the arms race.”

The next day, a vote was to be held on a bill advanced by China and Russia -­ and our neighbor, Canada -­on “banning the test, deployment and use of any weapons, weapons system and their components in outer space.”

On my way to watch the vote, I came upon a high official of the U.S. delegation to the UN. He attended the earlier conference and wasn’t happy with my remarks. He welcomed providing me some “background.” With limits to U.S. power, he explained on the street outside the UN, the U.S. military believes “we can project power from space” and this is why the country is moving in this direction.

As to other nations responding in kind, he said the U.S. military had done analyses and determined China is “30 years behind” in competing with the U.S. militarily in space and Russia “doesn’t have the money” for it.

I recounted my travels in China, observing its technological strength, and noted China’s space prowess. And, I pointed to the enormous space capabilities and economic potential of Russia. A huge, potentially catastrophic miscalculation is being made, I said. We parted in disagreement.

A few hours later, a near-unanimous vote was held on the measure to ban weapons in space. The U.S. voted no and, because consensus was required, it failed.

This was during the Clinton administration. Under President George W. Bush the U.S. stance on space warfare has intensified. As the administration took office, a commission chaired by soon-to-be Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld issued a report proclaiming that “in the coming period the U.S. will conduct operations to, from, in, and through space to support its national interests.” Last October, the administration formally adopted a more aggressive U.S. position in a new U.S. National Space Policy that said the country will “develop and deploy space capabilities that sustain U.S. advantage.” It also said the U.S. “will oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions” its “use of space.”

What, in this context, does the Chinese test signify?

Was it a demonstration showing that China never deserved to be trusted, its words mere rhetoric? Or, does it signify China, pushed by the U.S., indeed starting to respond in kind? Or does it mean, as China is maintaining in the face or international protests, that China is seeking to force the U.S. into negotiations on keeping weapons out of space?

Two things are certain: China is not, as I was told by that U.S. diplomat, “30 years behind” in the military use of space, and there is a very a narrow window available for an international agreement keeping space free of weapons.

The template is the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, a visionary pact developed by the U.S., United Kingdom and Soviet Union to prevent what 40 years ago was already feared as the weaponization of space. It bans nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in space. What China, Russia ­- and our friends to our north, Canada -­ have been doing is trying to broaden that to all weapons.

It’s high time that be done and it must done be soon.

The U.S. has the technology to move into space with weapons. Believing it will end up the only nation up there with arms if it does so is a huge and tragic mistake. China and Russia ­- and who knows what country next ­- will follow us up. And, no nation will have an advantage. Meanwhile, vast amounts of financial resources will need to be expended for space weaponry by the people of these countries­money desperately needed for medical care, education, the environment and all the other great needs on Earth.

The U.S. must join with the nations of the world now on an agreement (that includes a system of verification) providing the heavens not become a place for war.


Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York College at Old Westbury, is the author of Weapons In Space (Seven Stories Press) and The Wrong Stuff (Common Courage Press) and host of the video documentary Nukes In Space: The Nuclearizaton and Weaponization of the Heavens (EnviroVideo).

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


On April 4, 1967 Martin Luther King, while speaking about the Vietnam War said, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Each month the U.S. occupation of Iraq is costing the American taxpayer $8.5 billion. Congress is now poised to appropriate another $100 billion for fiscal year 2007 – on top of the $70 billion they already authorized for this year.

How can we afford health care, education, child care, environmental programs, and the like while spending so much money on this mad war for oil?

While Congress talks about passing non-binding resolutions against the Bush “troop surge” in Iraq they are already committed to an increase in funding for the occupation. How will it ever end unless the people force the politicians to cut the funding?

Please help us by calling our Congressional delegation and urge them to vote NO on more funds for Iraq. They tell us the money is to “support the troops” but we know that the bulk of the money ends up in the coffers of Halliburton, Bechtel, Exxon, Lockheed Martin and other big corporations. Meanwhile the parents of the troops have to purchase body armor and phone cards to send the troops.

Please call:

- Rep. Tom Allen at (207)774-5019
- Sen. Olympia Snowe at (207)874-0883
- Sen. Susan Collins at (207)780-3575

Protests will be held throughout the U.S. in mid-February to call on Congress to vote NO on more Iraq occupation funding. Non-violence training sessions will be held in Portland at the Peace & Justice Center (1 Pleasant St, 4th Floor) on February 10 and 17 from 1-4 pm. Please plan to attend and share this flyer with others.

King concluded his famous Riverside Church speech with these words: “We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world -- a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”

For more information contact: 443-9502 or 772-0680 or

Maine Veterans for Peace * Peace Action Maine * Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space * PeaceWorks * Maine WILPF * Maine Commonwealth * Addams-Melman House

Monday, January 22, 2007

Honoring the Past, Serving the Future

We got all moved in to our new place in Bath yesterday. Karen Wainberg joins MB and I in creating the Addams-Melman House in honor Jane of Addams (founder of WILPF) and Seymour Melman (economist who led the fight for economic conversion while teaching at Columbia University).

Jane Addams (pictured above)was a co-founder of the field of social work, a peace activist during WWI and won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

It is our hope to draw on the spirit of these two great Americans as we move into this next phase of our lives.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


We are seeing a bit of a stirring in Washington DC as the national demo on January 27 approaches and the peace movement escalates (or surges) pressure on Bush and Congress. The Dems are having to come back and reconsider their earlier anemic response to Bush's troop surge plan after they were overwhelmed with calls from back home. The polls are going off the charts as now over 70% of the American people want the troops home. We've still got a long way to go but things are turning.

The carpenter we have hired to work on our new house loves to talk politics. Paul is a working class man of French-Canadian origin who spent his early years drinking and drugging - likely not engaged in politics. His dad worked in the textile mills. He's one of those guys that many people in the peace movement think we need to "educate" about our issues.

I met Paul a couple of years ago when he was hired to do repair work at our place in Brunswick. He does quality work and I noticed he liked to talk about Bush. Soon enough he was sending me emails, most of which were anti-Bush. When we hired him to take down a wall in our new (old 1790) house we learned even more about how engaged he is with what is going on.

He told me the other day he had an argument with a Republican friend of his about the need for Bush to be arrested and thrown in jail. See Paul is a guy who has seen the inside of jail a few times and he knows a bit about the law. He knows that his arrests years ago for a few minor wild nights is nothing compared to what Bush and his pirate crew have done in Iraq. Paul is calling for Bush's impeachment. He is furious about the hypocrisy and double standards at work in America.

Unlike Bush, Paul has to work for a living and spends hours each day doing back breaking work. By the time he is done at the end of the day he is ready for a shower and a rest. He's not likely to attend many demonstrations or evening meetings but he is watching, listening, and speaking out in his own world.

We need to thank the Paul's of the world who are helping us build the peace majority in America. They are a major reason why the Dems are slowly speaking out. People like Paul don't get enough credit.

(Artwork above by Natasha Mayers from Whitefield, Maine)

Sunday, January 14, 2007


I've spent the last few days painting and working on our new house in the nearby town of Bath. Our phone number has changed and we hope to be moving in by Jan 21. It's a big place with 15 rooms and our plan to is have an intentional community evolve from it. Mary Beth, our friend Karen Wainberg, and I have bought the place on Jan 9.

Yesterday we had 10 people come help with the painting. At lunch we all barely filled up the kitchen so we know the place will be just right for having pot luck suppers and the like.

Bath is a wonderful town with a rich history in ship building. Unfortunately now the only kinds of ships they build are Navy destroyers (Aegis) that are being outfitted with Theatre Missile Defense (TMD) systems. Tomorrow we will join a MLK day march over the Bath bridge to remember King. From the bridge we will see the current Aegis being built. People will talk about MLK's dream but won't likely mention military spending.

I saw today in the news that Hillary Clinton had gone to Iraq so that she could get a better understanding of the situation there. She might just try listening to the American people who, now by the number of 70%, want our troops out of there. But Hillary has to go listen to the "boots on the ground" as she plays the game of mind manipulation politics.

Hillary, just say the boots need to come home now.

Say we need to cut the funding.

Remember what MLK said about a nation at war while people at home need jobs, health care, clean water and the like. King said we had lost our soul in Vietnam. It's still lost today in Iraq.

Thursday, January 11, 2007



The military-industrial-complex [would] cause military spending to be driven not by national security needs but by a network of weapons makers, lobbyists and elected officials.

- Dwight D. Eisenhower

There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

- General Smedley D. Butler

Neither the Iraq Study Group nor other establishment critics of the Iraq war are calling for the withdrawal of US troops from that country. To the extent that the Study Group or the new Congress purport to inject some "realism" into the Iraq policy, such projected modifications do not seem to amount to more than changing the drivers of the US war machine without changing its destination, or objectives: control of Iraq's political and economic policies.

In light of fact that by now almost all of the factions of the ruling circles, including the White House and the neoconservative war-mongerers, acknowledge the failure of the Iraq war, why, then, do they balk at the idea of pulling the troops out of that country?

Perhaps the shortest path to a relatively satisfactory answer would be to follow the money. The fact is that not everyone is losing in Iraq. Indeed, while the Bush administration's wars of choice have brought unnecessary death, destruction, and disaster to millions, including many from the Unites States, they have also brought fortunes and prosperity to war profiteers. At the heart of the reluctance to withdraw from Iraq lies the profiteers' unwillingness to give up further fortunes and spoils of war.

Pentagon contractors constitute the overwhelming majority of these profiteers. They include not only the giant manufacturing contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing, but also a complex maze of over 100,000 service contractors and sub-contractors such as private army or security corporations and "reconstruction" firms.[1] These contractors of both deconstruction and "reconstruction," whose profits come mainly from the US treasury, have handsomely profited from the Bush administration's wars of choice.

A time-honored proverb maintains that wars abroad are often continuations of wars at home. Accordingly, recent US wars abroad seem to be largely reflections of domestic fights over national resources, or public finance: opponents of social spending are using the escalating Pentagon budget (in combination with drastic tax cuts for the wealthy) as a cynical and roundabout way of redistributing national income in favor of the wealthy. As this combination of increasing military spending and decreasing tax liabilities of the wealthy creates wide gaps in the Federal budget, it then justifies the slashing of non-military public spending-a subtle and insidious policy of reversing the New Deal reforms, a policy that, incidentally, started under President Ronald Reagan.

Meanwhile, the American people are sidetracked into a debate over the grim consequences of a "pre-mature" withdrawal of US troops from Iraq: further deterioration of the raging civil war, the unraveling of the "fledgling democracy," the resultant serious blow to the power and prestige of the United States, and the like.

Such concerns are secondary to the booming business of war profiteers and, more generally, to the lure or the prospects of controlling Iraq's politics and economics. Powerful beneficiaries of war dividends, who are often indistinguishable from the policy makers who pushed for the invasion of Iraq, have been pocketing hundreds of billions of dollars by virtue of war. More than anything else, it is the pursuit and the safeguarding of those plentiful spoils of war that are keeping US troops in Iraq.

(Because the role of oil is discussed extensively by many other researchers and writers, I would focus here on the role of the Pentagon contractors, both as a major driving force to the war on Iraq and a major obstacle in the way of withdrawing from that country.)

The rise of the fortunes of the major Pentagon contractors can be measured, in part, by the growth of the Pentagon budget since President George W. Bush arrived in the White House: it has grown by more than 50 percent, from nearly $300 billion in 2001 to almost $455 billion in 2007. (These figures do not include the Homeland Security budget, which is $33 billion for the 2007 fiscal year alone, and the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are fast approaching $400 billion.)

Large Pentagon contractors have been the main beneficiaries of this windfall. For example, a 2004 study by The Center for Public Integrity revealed that, for the 1998 2003 period, one percent of the biggest contractors won 80 percent of all defense contracting dollars. The top ten got 38 percent of all the money. Lockheed Martin topped the list at $94 billion, Boeing was second with $81 billion, Raytheon was third (just under $40 billion), followed by Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics with nearly $34 billion each.[2]

Fantastic returns to these armaments conglomerates have been reflected in the continuing jump in the value of their shares or stocks in the Wall Street: "Shares of U.S. defense companies, which have nearly trebled since the beginning of the occupation of Iraq, show no signs of slowing down. . . . All the defense companies-with very few exceptions-have been doing extremely well with mostly double-digit earnings growth. . . . The feeling that makers of ships, planes and weapons are just getting into their stride has driven shares of leading Pentagon contractors Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp., and General Dynamics Corp. to all-time highs. . . ."[3]

Major beneficiaries of war dividends include not only the giant manufacturing contractors such as Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, but also a whole host of other war-induced service contractors that have mushroomed around the Pentagon and the Homeland Security apparatus in order to cash in on the Pentagon's spending bonanza.

A highly profitable and fast growing industry that has evolved out of the Pentagon's tendency to shower private contractors with tax-payers' money is based on its increasing practice of the outsourcing of the many of the traditional military services to private businesses. "In 1984, almost two-thirds of [the Pentagon's] contracting budget went for products rather than services. . . . By fiscal year 2003, 56 percent of Defense Department contracts paid for services rather than goods."

What is more, these services are not limited to the relatively simple or routine tasks and responsibilities such food and sanitation services or building maintenance. More importantly, they include "contracts for services that are highly sophisticated, strategic in nature, and closely approaching core functions that for good reason the government used to do on its own. The Pentagon has even hired contractors to advise it on hiring contractors."[4]

Private security contracting, a lucrative and rapidly growing industry, is a good example of the Pentagon's policy of outsourcing. These contractors operate on the periphery of U.S. foreign policy by training foreign "security forces," or by "fighting terrorism." Often these private military corporations are formed by retired Special Forces personnel seeking to market their military expertise to the Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA, or foreign governments.

For example, MPRI, one of the largest and most active of these firms, which "has trained militaries throughout the world under contract to the Pentagon," was founded by former Army Chief of Staff Carl Vuono and seven other retired generals. The fortunes of these military training contractors, or modern-day mercenary companies, like those of the manufacturers of military hardware, have skyrocketed by virtue of heightened war and militarism under President George W. Bush. For example, "The per share price of stocks in L3 Communications, which owns MPRI, has more than doubled."[5]

As the Pentagon's manufacturing contractors such as Lockheed Martin make fortunes through the production of the means of death and destruction, they also create profit opportunities for service contractors such as Halliburton that, like vultures, follow the plumes of the smoke of deconstruction and set up shop for "reconstruction."

For example, in the same month (October 2006) that the US forces lost a record number of soldiers in Iraq, and the Iraqi citizens lost many more, Halliburton announced that its third quarter revenue had risen by 19 percent to $5.8 billion. This prompted Dave Lesar, the company's chairman, president and CEO, to declare, "This was an exceptional quarter for Halliburton."

Jeff Tilley, an analyst who does research for Halliburton, likewise pointed out, "Iraq was better than expected. . . . Overall, there is nothing really to question or be skeptical about. I think the results are very good."

This led many critics to point out scornfully that when around the same time Vice President Dick Cheney told Rush Limbaugh that "if you look at the overall situation [in Iraq] they're doing remarkably well," he must have been talking about Halliburton.[6]

The service and "rebuilding" contractors are frequently called "reconstruction rackets" not only because they obtain generous and often no-bid contracts from their policy-making accomplices, but also because they habitually shirk on their contracts and skimp on what they promise to do. For example, an investigative on-the-ground report from Iraq, sponsored by the Institute for Southern Studies and titled "New Investigation Reveals Reconstruction Racket," showed that despite "billions of dollars spent, key pieces of Iraq's infrastructure-power plants, telephone exchanges, and sewage and sanitation systems-have either not been repaired, or have been fixed so poorly that they don't function."

The report, carried out by Pratap Chatterjee and Herbert Docena and published in the Institutes' Publication Southern Exposure, further revealed that the giant Pentagon contractor Bechtel "has been given tens of millions to repair Iraq's schools. Yet many haven't been touched, and several schools that Bechtel claims to have repaired are in shambles. One 'repaired' school was overflowing with unflushed sewage."

The report also showed that out of a $2.2 billion "reconstruction" contract with Halliburton, the company spent only 10 percent on "community needs-the rest being spent on servicing U.S. troops and rebuilding oil pipelines. Halliburton has also spent over $40 million in the unsuccessful search for weapons of mass destruction."[7]

The spoils of war and devastation in Iraq have been so attractive that an an extremely large number of war profiteers have set up shop in that country in order to participate in the booty: "There are about 100,000 government contractors operating in Iraq, not counting subcontractors, a total that is approaching the size of the U.S. military force there, according to the military's first census of the growing population of civilians operating in the battlefield," reported The Washington Post in its 5 December 2006 issue.

The report, prepared by Renae Merle, further points out, "In addition to about 140,000 U.S. troops, Iraq is now filled with a hodgepodge of contractors. DynCorp International has about 1,500 employees in Iraq, including about 700 helping train the police force. Blackwater USA has more than 1,000 employees in the country, most of them providing private security. . . . MPRI, a unit of L-3 Communications, has about 500 employees working on 12 contracts, including providing mentors to the Iraqi Defense Ministry for strategic planning, budgeting and establishing its public affairs office. Titan, another L-3 division, has 6,500 linguists in the country."[8]

The fact that powerful beneficiaries of war dividends flourish in an atmosphere of war and international convulsion should not come as a surprise to anyone. What is surprising is that, in the context of the recent US wars of choice, these beneficiaries have also acquired the power of promoting wars, often by manufacturing "external threats to our national interest." In other words, profit-driven beneficiaries of war have also evolved as war makers, or contributors to war making.[9]

The following is a sample of such unsavory business political relationships, as reported by Walter F. Roche and Ken Silverstein in a 14 July 2004 Los Angeles Times article, titled "Advocates of War Now Profit from Iraq's Reconstruction:"

o Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey is a prominent example of the phenomenon, mixing his business interests with what he contends are the country's strategic interests.

o Neil Livingstone, a former Senate aide who has served as a Pentagon and State Department advisor and issued repeated public calls for Hussein's overthrow. He heads a Washington-based firm, GlobalOptions, Inc. that provides contacts and consulting services to companies doing business in Iraq.

o Randy Scheunemann, a former Rumsfeld advisor who helped draft the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 authorizing $98 million in U.S. aid to Iraqi exile groups. He was the founding president of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. Now he's helping former Soviet Bloc states win business there.

o Margaret Bartel, who managed federal money channeled to Chalabi's exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, including funds for its prewar intelligence program on Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction. She now heads a Washington-area consulting firm helping would-be investors find Iraqi partners.

o K. Riva Levinson, a Washington lobbyist and public relations specialist who received federal funds to drum up prewar support for the Iraqi National Congress. She has close ties to Bartel and now helps companies open doors in Iraq, in part through her contacts with the Iraqi National Congress.

o Joe M. Allbaugh, who managed President Bush's 2000 campaign for the White House and later headed the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Edward Rogers Jr., an aide to the first President Bush, recently helped set up New Bridge Strategies and Diligence, LLC to promote business in postwar Iraq.[10]

There are strong indications that these dubious relationships represent more than simple cases of sporadic or unrelated instances of some unscruplulous or rogue elements. Evidence shows that contracts for the "reconstruction" of Iraq were drawn long before the invasion and deconstruction of that country had started. In a fascinating report for The Nation magazine, titled "The Rise of Disaster Capitalism," Naomi Klein describes such long-projected "rebuilding" schemes as follows:

"Last summer, in the lull of the August media doze, the Bush Administration's doctrine of preventive war took a major leap forward. On August 5, 2004, the White House created the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, headed by former US Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual. Its mandate is to draw up elaborate 'post-conflict' plans for up to twenty-five countries that are not, as of yet, in conflict. According to Pascual, it will also be able to coordinate three full-scale reconstruction operations in different countries 'at the same time,' each lasting 'five to seven years.'"[11]

Here we get a glimpse of the real reasons or forces behind the Bush administration's preemptive wars. As Klein puts it, "a government devoted to perpetual pre-emptive deconstruction now has a standing office of perpetual pre-emptive reconstruction." Klein also documents how (through Pascual's office) contractors drew "reconstruction" plans in close collaboration with various government agencies and how, at times, contracts were actually pre-approved and paper work completed long before an actual military strike:

"In close cooperation with the National Intelligence Council, Pascual's office keeps 'high risk' countries on a 'watch list' and assembles rapid-response teams ready to engage in prewar planning and to 'mobilize and deploy quickly' after a conflict has gone down. The teams are made up of private companies, nongovernmental organizations and members of think tanks-some, Pascual told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in October, will have 'pre-completed' contracts to rebuild countries that are not yet broken. Doing this paperwork in advance could 'cut off three to six months in your response time.'"

No business model or entrepreneurial paradigm can adequately capture the nature of this kind of scheming and profiteering. Not even illicit businesses based on rent-seeking, corruption or theft can sufficiently describe the kind of nefarious business interests that lurk behind the Bush administration's preemptive wars. Only a calculated imperial or colonial kind of exploitation, albeit a new form of colonialism or imperialism, can capture the essence of the war profiteering associated with the recent US wars of aggression. As Shalmali Guttal, a Bangalore-based researcher put it, "We used to have vulgar colonialism. Now we have sophisticated colonialism, and they call it 'reconstruction.'"[12]

Classical colonial or imperial powers roamed on the periphery of the capitalist center, "discovered" new territories, and drained them off of their riches and resources. Today there are no new places in our planet to be "discovered." But there are many vulnerable sovereign countries whose governments can be overthrown, their infrastructures smashed to the ground, and fortunes made as a result (of both destruction and "reconstruction). And herein lies the genius of a parasitically efficient market mechanism, as well as a major driving force behind the Bush administration's unprovoked unilateral wars of choice.

Not only does the new form of imperial or colonial aggression, driven largely by the powerful interests that are vested in the armaments industries and other war-based businesses, bring calamity to the vanquished, but it is also detrimental and burdensome to the victor, namely, the imperium and its citizens. Contrary to the external military operations of past empires, which usually brought benefits not only to the imperial ruling classes but also (through "trickle-down" effects) to their citizens, U.S. military expeditions and operations of late are not justifiable even on the grounds of national economic gains.

Indeed, escalating US military expansions and aggressions have become ever more wasteful and cost-inefficient as they are hollowing out the public treasury, undermining social spending, and accumulating national debt. Viewed in this light, the new form of imperialism can perhaps be called "parasitic" imperialism.

War profiteering is, of course, not new; it has always existed in the course of the history of warfare. What makes war profiteering in the context of the recent US wars of choice unique and extremely dangerous to world peace and stability, however, is the fact that it has become a major driving force behind war and militarism.

This is key to an understanding of why the US ruling elite is reluctant to pull US troops out of Iraq. The reluctance or "difficulty" of leaving Iraq stems not so much from pulling 140,000 troops out of that country as it is from pulling out more than 100,000 contractors. As Josh Mitteldorf of the University of Arizona recently put it, "There are a lot of contractors making a fortune and we don't want that money tap turned off, even though it is borrowed money, which our children and grandchildren will have to repay."[13]

It follows that US troops will not be withdrawn from Iraq as long as antiwar voices are not raised beyond the premises and parameters of the official narrative or justification of the war: terrorism, democracy, civil war, stability, human rights, and the like. Antiwar forces need to extricate themselves from the largely diversionary and constraining debate over these secondary issues, and raise public consciousness of the scandalous economic interests that drive the war.

It is crucially important that public attention is shifted away from the confining official narrative of the war, parroted by the corporate media and political pundits, to the economic crimes that have been committed because of this war, both in Iraq and here in the United States. It is time to make a moral case for restoring Iraqi oil and other assets to the Iraqis. It is also time to make a moral case against the war profiteers' plundering of our treasury, or tax dollars. To paraphrase the late General Smedley D. Butler, most wars could easily be ended-they might not even be started-if profits are taken out of them.[14]

Ismael Hossein-zadeh is a professor of economics at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. He is the author of the newly published book, The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism His Web page is


1. Renae Merle, "Census Counts 100,000 Contractors in Iraq," Washington Post (December 5, 2006).

2. The Center for Public Integrity, "Report Finds $362 Billion in No-Bid Contracts at the Pentagon" (September 29, 2004).

3. Bill Rigby, "Defense stocks may jump higher with big profits," Reuter (April 12, 2006),

4. The Center for Public Integrity, "Outsourcing the Pentagon" (September 29, 2004).

5. Esther Schrader, "Companies Capitalize on War on Terror," Los Angeles Times (14 April 2002)

6. Steve Young, "What Is Bad for America Is Good for Halliburton . . . Just Ask the Vice President," (23 October 2006),

7. "War Profiteering," by Source Watch (a project of the Center for Media & Democracy).

8. Renae Merle, "Census Counts 100,000 Contractors in Iraq," Washington Post (December 5, 2006),

9. William D. Hartung, How Much Are You Making on the War, Daddy? (New York: Nation Books, 2003); Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2004); Ismael Hossein-zadeh, The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (New York & London: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2006).

10. "War Profiteering," by Source Watch (a project of the Center for Media & Democracy).

11. Naomi Klein, "The Rise of Disaster Capitalism," The Nation (May 2, 2005).

12. As quoted in Klein, "The Rise of Disaster Capitalism."

13. Josh Mitteldorf, "Why we're not getting out of Iraq," Op Ed News (December 8, 2006),
14. Smedley D. Butler, War Is a Racket (Los Angeles: Feral House, 1935 [2003]).

Monday, January 08, 2007


I spoke to the West Palm Beach, Florida group called Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF) today. I flew down to Florida last Saturday, after an anti-war meeting in Portland, Maine. I stopped for a short visit with my mother who lives in Titusville, right near the Kennedy Space Center. Then this morning I drove south in a rental car to West Palm.

There was a nice crowd at the event today and my talk, "The Necessity of Conversion of the Military Industrial Complex", was well received. The folks bought up all the new DVD's of my talk that I brought along. Snowshoe Films produced the DVD from my talk at the Chautauqua Institution in New York last July where I delivered a similar speech.

My old friend Will Van Natta, a local lifeguard, was in attendance today and brought three Canadians he met on the beach to the event. Will swam 13 miles in the Atlantic Ocean in 1997 to protest the launch of the Cassini plutonium probe. It was good to see him, and many other old friends, again today.

I speak to another group of friends tomorrow in Delray Beach. I've been a frequent guest of the Citizens for Social Responsibility over the years. I've spoken to their group at least 15 times and they remain a dedicated organization focused on peace issues. At one time they drew 400 people to a monthly meeting but now their ageing membership has dwindled.

In my talk today I hit the Democrats hard. In recent days I've become furious when listening to Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) say that the U.S. Senate had no power to do anything about Bush's occupation of Iraq. Biden, who is running for president in 2008, has been in the Congress for more than 30 years and he well knows that it is the Congress that has the power of the purse. They appropriate the funds for Bush's war!

But Biden, and most of the Democrats, are playing this rope-a-dope game where they say that this madness in Iraq is all Bush's fault as they look to the 2008 elections. Their strategy is to let thing get worse so that they take back the White House in the next election.

The big problem with that kind of game playing though is that we are spending $8.5 billion a month on the occupation and our country is broke. Flat out busted broke. Two years more of this will destroy us for sure. And how many more GI's and innocent Iraqi people will be killed in that time? And how many more cases of PTSD will there be after 2008? This Democrat strategy is morally bankrupt.

Many of the folks in the audience today are loyal Democrats and I could tell some of them did not want to hear the truth about their party. They feel a degree of powerlessness when it comes to moving the Democrats to action but would rather just hope for the best.

It is hard to imagine that we have to take on Bush, the Republicans and the Democrats as well. But that is the reality of our time, sad to say. The best thing we can do is get to work before things get much worse.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


The photo above is of George W. Bush and oil company executives. It is a telling picture that shows the connection between big oil and the mythology that "our interests" around the world are the same interests of the American people. They are not.

Many years ago I figured out just who the power boys were talking about when they used those familiar words - our interests. Many Americans still fall for the line. It's our job to help people learn to separate fact from fiction.

It's not just Bush that uses those words. Most Democratic Party politicians use the same language to describe the U.S. military and economic empire. Sadly most Democrats agree with Bush on the idea of the U.S. controlling the resources and markets around the world. The Dems just say they will do a better job of running the empire. They will be more inclusive they say - giving a piece of the action to other elites around the globe. They will do a better job of killing terrorists than Bush because they will work in cooperation with those same elites from other countries.

Why is it then that many Americans, even people in the peace movement, keep supporting the Dems when the facts are that they are destroying our country in order to keep the empire functioning? Could it be that people don't want to face the truth? Why not?

I think one key answer is that most peace activists, for example, lead very middle class lives. They go out on the streets and protest but are unwilling to take steps into non-violent civil disobedience because they don't want to put their comfortable lives in jeopardy.

During the early 60's Civil Rights movement, black activists were not sure if they would be killed or not as they moved into active non-violent resistance against segregation and repression. They had reached the point where they decided they had no choice but to stick their necks out and do something that would end their historic nightmare.

So today as we face the nightmare in Iraq we see our Congress prepared in the next few months to give another $150 billion to Bush to fund the occupation. Most activists say they are against this. They might stand on the street with a sign. They might even write a letter to the editor. But as plans are now being set to hold non-violent occupations of Congressional offices in protest of the continued funding for the occupation, many of these same people say no. I won't risk arrest.

The American people are responsible for the carnage going on in Iraq today. We started it and are now funding the occupation to the tune of $8.5 billion a month. It will not end until the American people force the Congress to pull the plug on the funds.

But how will this ever come to pass if the peace movement, and their allies, remain unwilling to do the necessary non-violent resistance that will spark the end to this immoral and illegal occupation?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


I never liked Saddam. Still don't. I know that he was working for the CIA back in his early days and that the U.S. gave Saddam all the names of Iraqi communists and had him kill them. He was our boy.

As UK journalist Robert Fisk says, "We've shut him up. The moment Saddam's hooded executioner pulled the lever of the trapdoor in Baghdad yesterday morning, Washington's secrets were safe. The shameless, outrageous, covert military support which the United States - and Britain - gave to Saddam for more than a decade remains the one terrible story which our presidents and prime ministers do not want the world to remember. And now Saddam, who knew the full extent of that Western support - given to him while he was perpetrating some of the worst atrocities since the Second World War - is dead."

When I saw the pictures of Saddam on TV, with the noose around his neck, I had a sick feeling come over me. All I could think about was that the U.S. had just taken us back further into the dark ages.

Today we read that Saddam was killed on the first day of the Muslim holy days and the outrage around the world is quite severe. My belief is that Bush and his team made the clear decision to string Saddam up during these holy days knowing that it would cause further instability throughout the Middle East.

See, I believe that the Bush pirates want more instability in Iraq and beyond because only then can they begin to try to justify the on-going occupation of Iraq. If they had made all the "right decisions" in the first place, and Iraq today was a model of stability, there would be no excuse for permanent bases there.

And I am convinced to my core that permanent occupation and control of the oil fields is what this is all about.

So those who claim Bush and his team are incompetant and the like are way off the mark. In a sad and sick kind of way, Bush and crew are darkly competant - having created just the nightmarish chaos they intended in the first place.

We've all heard that the generals warned Bush that they needed more troops early on in order to create stability. When Bush and Cheney ignored this expert military advise they knew what would be the result. And it was just what they wanted.

And now today, when Bush has Saddam hung with masked oppositionists cheering his death Bush knows this would further widen the divide inside Iraq and only fuel the already raging civil war.

The reality is America is being controlled by some sick bastards who are not only ruining Iraq but setting us back 50 years here at home as well.

We'd better wake up and smell the coffee. Bush and Cheney are evil if anyone ever was. We need to escalate the calls for impeachment now. Two more years of this insanity will be too much even for us to handle.