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

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I arrived in Albuquerque, N.M. last night and am at the home of longtime friends Bob Anderson and Jeanne Pahls. As soon as I finish up with this blog entry I'll hop back into the truck for the last leg - an 8 1/2 hour drive to Las Vegas. It's been a long haul - I'm tired of driving!

I was sad to see the emails this morning about Cindy Sheehan quitting the peace movement although I can't say I blame her. She is right to be criticial of those elements in the movement that are slavish to the Democratic Party. When Cindy first got started it appeared to me that the Dems found her useful and wanted to use her to bash Bush. Then when she began to take a position of integrity, calling both parties to blame, the Dems put their dogs on her.

I only wish Cindy would come out and name some names, tell some detailed stories about who some of the worst offenders are. Give a detailed description of those who claim to be peace activists but who ultimately are working for the interests of the Dems. Talk about how the Dems funnel money to those good folks in the "peace movement" who do their bidding for them.

I am absolutely convinced that the Dems have long ago placed people in the peace movement to keep some level of control on the national anti-war message.

The truth is, as the sign in the photo above rightly says, politicians lie. Not just the Republicans are lieing to us. But the Dems are as well.

I am getting a bunch of emails these days asking me "What do we do now that the Dems have given in to Bush?"

My answer is destroy all your illusions that the Dems, or any politician is going to save us.

Get out of bed with the two-party bait and switch, good cop-bad cop game. Be critical of all the political hacks, make strong demands on both parties. And finally, recruit good hearted trusted members of your local peace and justice community and have them run as Independents for Congress and the Senate in the 2008 elections. Use the campaigns to lay out our message. Stop worrying about, "But what if we help the Republican win?" So what.....what is the ultimate difference anyway?

I think Cindy Sheehan was just hitting her stride. She had recently been to South Korea where she met with farmers who were having their land taken so the U.S. military can build a new base. Cindy was connecting the dots in a good way and this began to make her a danger to the Democrats who only wanted her to chant the mantra "Bush is bad......Bush is evil.....Get rid of Bush."

The corporate empire builders in the Democratic Party had to push Sheehan off the stage because they could not have such a public personality holding them equally responsible for Iraq with the 2008 elections looming.

Welcome to democracy in America. Don't let Cindy's work die. Pick up the call and hold both parties responsible for the occupation of Iraq, the expansion of Pax-Americana, and the disinvestment in our own country.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


I am writing from a hotel in Alexandria, Louisiana and am worn out. I slept in the truck last night as I couldn't see paying $135 for a hotel room when I stopped in Ft Walton Beach, Florida around midnight. So I parked the truck in the local Wal-Mart parking lot and actually slept fairly well. The Memorial weekend hotel rates were just too much for my taste.

I had to post today though because I am so damn upset with the game the Democrats just played to deceive all of us when they voted on a procedure that allowed the Republican to win, with significant Dems support, the Iraq occupation funding vote.

In the Washington Post story, linked in the headline above, the Dems bragged how they skillfully pulled the bait and switch off. Ugh.....

Now people like my Congressman Tom Allen will go around talking about how he voted (finally) to cut the funding but the truth is his more important procedural vote was to enable the whole ugly process. Few in the public will know about the deception though. Unless it gets explained to them. That is your job. Click on this link to see how your member of congress voted on the procedural vote.

We can't let these clowns get away with this one.

Watch this bit on Ron Paul as he does an "action" at the recent Republican debate and on Bill Maher show.

I'm making great time on my trip so far. Left my mom's place in Titusville, Florida at noon on Friday and drove to Gainesville and had dinner with some old friends there. Then took off about 6:30 pm and got as far at Ft Walton Beach (in the panhandle). Had hoped to go to the beach today but when I saw late last night what they have done to Okaloosa Island I didn't have it in me to hang around. The once quiet fine white sandy beach community is now overrun with high rise hotels and time share condos. I used to deliver newspapers on this island in 1968 while in high school and there were just a few cottages and a couple apartment buildings there along with the Gulfarium full of dolphins. Very sad but this is Florida these days - totally overrun with a devastated environment.

In the morning I head to Texas and will get a chance to visit my son who goes to college there. Will be great to spend some time with him on my way west.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


In recent days the papers have reported that the troop "surge" in Iraq will essentially double the numbers of U.S. troops there. This comes as more than 70% of the American people want us out of Iraq now.

The Democrats are expected to vote very soon, along with the Rpublicans, to appropriate more money for Bush's occupation. A few Dems will vote against the supplemental but the majority of the Dems will go along to get along. This is what the nation gets as a thank you from the Dems after putting them back into power. They rode the anti-war horse during the 2006 elections and once in control of Congress they have dismounted it and taken the reins of the war horse.

Democratic party leader Nancy Pelosi is calling this sell-out funding vote a "victory" on the path to ending the war. Other Dems are saying this is the best deal they could get. Actually it's really not fair to even call it a deal. The Dems have caved in to Bush. They have even pulled their wimpish "optional" demand for a withdrawal timeline from the Iraq occupation funding bill. They have no fight in them.

Lately we've been hearing the words "10 more years" from various sources describing how much longer the U.S. military will have to be in Iraq. I've seen Tony Blair make similar statements. The Dems are working with Bush to ensure that we are so bogged down in Iraq that it will be virtually impossible to get us out. The empire builders want U.S. control of Iraqi oil at all costs.

About the likely U.S. attack of Iran the Dems are silent. On impeachment the leadership of the Dems tell us to forget it. They say this in spite of the fact that 14 state Democratic parties have voted in favor of impeachment. But the Dems don't care what their grassroots base wants. They only listen to their corporate pay masters.

No matter what the people think. Damn public opinion - full speed ahead into disaster!

I leave on Thursday for Florida where I load up a rental truck and drive my mother's belongings to Las Vegas. She is moving out there to live near my sister. I will be gone til June 2. I probably will not have a chance to do a blog while gone although I will try to get in a report from the highway if at all possible.

As I make that long slow drive in that truck I will be doing a lot of thinking about the serious condition of our so-called democracy. Our people's republic is in critical care right now. We face a Congress largely bought and paid for by the weapons, oil, banking, pharmaceutical, and insurance corporations. The people have been cut out of the deal.

While I drive west I'll be thinking about what more I can personally do to stand against this corporate domination of our nation and the world.

How can I work with others to ensure that we don't give up the fight like the Dems have done? We must continue to build national and international resistance to the oligarchy that now controls our world. We must take back control of our governments from the corporations so that we can ensure the future generations have a decent chance of living.

Nothing could be more important.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


When I was a boy my family lived in South Dakota, just near the Black Hills. We arrived at Ellsworth AFB in a blinding blizzard one winter. I became completely mesmerized by Indian history, culture, and religion. I read everything I could get my hands on about the "people" as the Indians called themselves.

Our Sunday drives into the Badlands and the Black Hills, and my hunting trips with my dad into the Black Hills, provided me with up close contact with the land the Lakota called the "paha sapa" - the heart of the Earth.

All of my adult life I have continued to read about Native Americans and I try to return to South Dakota whenever I can. The oldest poster on my wall in my study is one I got in 1980, when my son Julian was in his mothers womb, at the Black Hills International Survival Gathering. The poster says "Don't weep for the earth - fight to save her!" At that time we drove from Florida to the Black Hills to participate in this event that was held just outside the gate of the B-52 bomber base at Ellsworth - the same base I had lived on as a kid. The circle was complete.

A wonderful book I'd highly recommend is Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas by Mari Sandoz. I want to share one story from the book.

After gold was discovered in the Black Hills the U.S. Army was sent in to clear the Indians out of their paha sapa even though they had been promised in a previous treaty that they would "own" this territory as long as the grass grew green. The inevitable battle led to Custer's last stand and the resulting major military campaign to bring the "hostiles" onto reservations in the dusty lands of southwest South Dakota.

Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull held out as long as they could. But the cold winters and diminishing buffalo and other wild game forced them ultimately to surrender. This process literally broke the hearts of the people. The conditions of surrender were that they had to give up their guns and their horses - essentially their very way of life.
The government was to provide them with all they needed from then on. Food, clothes, and even tepees. But they soon found out the promises were not honored. The blankets they were given were so thin they could not keep the people warm at night. The flour had bugs in it and the bacon was rancid. The people could not even go and hunt anymore as their guns and horses were gone. They continued to starve and die. But they honored their word to the white man's government and stayed peaceful.
The weapons contractors, that had grown rich from the Indian wars in the 1860's, were getting restless. This peace with Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull was cutting into their previous enormous profits. So they came up with a plan.
They created a national public relations campaign and had artists create renderings of Crazy Horse on the war path again killing farmers and raping white women and children. These stories were placed in the big newspapers across the country and the public became outraged. Soon the Congress appropriated more funds to return the "hostiles" to the reservation.
In fact, during this campaign of deception, Crazy Horse was sitting in his tepee on the reservation without a gun or horse to his name.
When you think about it the story is virtually the same today in Iraq. The government creates a pubic relations campaign about weapons of mass destruction and then sells the story using the mainstream media to justify a war and make enormous profits for the weapons corporations.
When I was in the Air Force, during the Vietnam War, I learned how they did the same thing to sell that war as I read The Pentagon Papers - the government's own secret history of how they lied to create that war.
The process is again under way today in Asia as we see the U.S. beginning to provoke and demonize China in a new arms race that would bring huge profits to the war industry.
They say that every criminal has an MO - modus operandi - method of operation. When I was young I wanted to be an FBI agent when I grew up so I could fight against organized crime.
Then one day I woke up and realized that the military industrial complex was the essence of organized crime. So I took myself to the peace movement where I could fulfill my boyhood promise to work for "truth, justice, and the American way."
Sometimes I wonder if the fate of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull and the other native people will be the fate of the American people of today as well. In order to pay for endless war the government, clearly under the control of the military industrial complex as former President Dwight Eisenhower warned us, is now moving to destroy social progress in our country as they cut education, health care, and the like. In a way I wonder, are we now being brought onto the reservation too?
Under the New World Order job # 1 of corporate globalization is to maximize profits internationally. Allegiance to country is a thing of the past. Corporations move overseas to seek the lowest wage workers possible. Unemployment grows and the local tax base drys up as jobs leave the U.S. The process of corporate disinvestment in America is underway. The Pentagon says that "security export" will be our role under corporate globalization. Endless war.
What can we learn from the time of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull?
Crazy Horse is remembered for these words: "A very great vision is needed and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky."
What is our vision for the future of North America and for our Mother Earth?

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Something is happening in Bath that I don't understand. Ever since Mary Beth and I moved to Maine we've attended every "christening" of an Aegis destroyer at Bath Iron Works (BIW). The first time I was ever there the chief of police approached me and introduced himself and sort of welcomed me - in a warm and polite manner. I always like to stand in the same spot, on the side of the street closest to the Iron Works gate that people attending the event use to enter. I never had any trouble being there.

But a new police chief has taken over. The last two times I came to a BIW protest and went to my usual spot I was immediately approached by an officer of the law who got in my face like a boot camp drill instructor telling me I have to move across the street to the "designated" protest area. Each time I've tried to explain that this is public right-a-way and that I know I have the legal right to be here. I tell them I am not looking to get arrested but that if they want to take me to trial then we can let the courts decide my fate. Last time, and again today, after about 15-20 minutes of this game the police backed off.

My friend Mary Donnelly and her husband Mike, who live on Peaks Island, immediately came and joined me as the policeman got into my face. A woman cop then proceeded to launch into Mary as you can see in the photo above. We considered it bullying and I told the woman cop that very thing after she decided to stand right in front of my sign after the Lt. in charge of their police detail eventually called the charade off. After a minute or so the Lt. told the woman cop to move away from my sign as well.

The rest of the day was fairly "uneventful" as we held our signs, sang songs, and heard speeches from many of the folks assembled using the portable sound system supplied by Maine Veterans for Peace that was the lead organizing group for the day.

I don't know if the new police chief has anything to do with the fact that the last two vigils have been the time when the police department came right at us. Maybe there is no relationship there. Maybe it is just a coincidence. But I want to find out.

On Monday I intend to call and seek an appointment with the Bath Police Department Chief of Police. I've asked Jack Bussell, from Veterans for Peace, to come along. And former State Representative Maria Holt, who was in the state house for many years representing the people of Bath, asked me if she could come along. Maria attends all of these "christening" demonstrations and was there again today. It will be good to have her with us to meet the Chief of Police.

During my speech at the demo I spoke about the military role of the Aegis destroyer. I shared a message from activists protesting at the Port of Nagoya, Japan today as a U.S. Aegis destroyer was "visiting" there.

I also shared a message from national media activist David Barsamian that said, "It was an Aegis destroyer USS Vincennes which shot down the Iranian civilian jetliner on July 31, 1988 killing all 290 passengers. The Captain of the Vincennes was later given a medal. The plane was flying in international airspace and posed no danger whatsoever to the U.S. ship which was on 'routine' maneuvers in the Persian Gulf."

The sign I was holding today said - Our Tax $$ for Peaceful Production.

We need to convert the military industrial complex. Build rail not destroyers.

Friday, May 18, 2007


You'd think that Jesus Christ himself was going to be in Bath, Maine on Saturday morning. The Navy, and Bath Iron Works, will be holding another "christening" of an Aegis destroyer. Funny how I have a hard time reconciling the words Christ and destroyer but I know that I am just "old school".

In our local paper yesterday they ran a story announcing the event and I was taken aback with the opening line in the article, "One needn't look farther than the main stage at Saturday morning's christening ceremony at Bath Iron Works to see that Navy ships do more than wage war."

Now what could this spin be I found myself wondering? So I read on.

It seems that some 24 years ago "more than 100 Vietnamese refugees adrift in the South China Sea in a small open boat with a failed motor" were plucked from the ocean by a U.S. Navy destroyer. Thus the image created in the article is that while these ships might be called "destroyers" they are in fact out doing some level of "humanitarian" work around the world.

Sadly this is not true at all.

In fact these Navy Aegis destroyers are the ships that launched the first cruise missile volley in the U.S. "shock and awe" attack on Iraq in 2003. I know this because Mary Beth and I have made friends with a former Naval officer who was the officer on the deck of the very Aegis ship that fired the first cruise missile in that attack. This officer now suffers from PTSD.

We know that these same Aegis destroyers are now being deployed in the Persian Gulf in anticipation of a U.S. attack on Iran. We know that U.S. naval officers, in charge of cruise missile targeting, met with Israel military officials last summer to select targets for a U.S.-Israel attack on Iran.

These Naval destroyers are also now being outfitted with "theatre missile defense" (TMD) systems and are being deployed just off the coast of China. The military mission of these ships is to hit Chinese nuclear missiles after they have been fired in response to a U.S. first strike attack on China.

Oh, you say, the U.S. would never launch a pre-emptive first strike attack on another nation! That would be in violation of international law.

But in fact the U.S. Space Command has been war gaming such a first strike attack on China for the past several years. Set in the year 2016 the Pentagon initiates the attack on China using the military space plane, now under development. The role of the Aegis destroyer, outfitted with the TMD interceptors, is to knock out any remaining Chinese nukes that could still get off the ground after the initial U.S. attack. (Remember that today the Chinese military only has 20 nuclear missiles capable of hitting the continental U.S.) So the Aegis ships would not have to "destroy" very many of China's missiles to make it a successful operation.

These Aegis naval ships are now being sold to, or deployed, in Japan, South Korea, Australia and eventually Taiwan as the U.S. attempts to "contain" China. This aggressive, and provocative, military operation will create a new arms race in the region. Japanese and South Korean peace groups are very concerned about these plans and frequently protest the presence of these ships in their ports.

Maine Veterans for Peace and the Global Network will be organizing a protest vigil at the "Christening" in Bath on Saturday morning. We will be there to call for the conversion of Bath Iron Works. Why can't public transit rail cars be built by BIW workers instead of more war ships?

I wonder what Jesus would say?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Global warming is on the minds of people all over the planet. They are talking about how strange their weather is these days. Severe fluctuations are causing new weather patterns alien to communities worldwide. Obviously, the growth in greenhouse gases is a primary reason for global warming.

Our lifestyle, especially in the U.S. with less than 5% of the world’s population, is a major contributor as we produce 25% of global carbon emissions.

But few ever ask what role the U.S. military plays in contributing to global warming. And as people like Al Gore and other environmentalists look for solutions, rarely is the Pentagon mentioned as a polluter and a place that we can look to for change if life is to survive on our mother Earth.

The Pentagon has been studying, and testing, the idea of using weather modification as a battlefield weapon for many years. Can we begin to talk about what impact weather modification experimentation could be having on our planet already?

In a recent article called What’s Possible in the Military Sector? Greater Than 100% Reduction in Greenhouse Gases, Green Party activist Don Fitz says “The military is the only sector of the economy where emissions of greenhouse gases can be reduced by greater than 100%…..Regular economic activity of the military is not exactly small. According to the February 2007 Energy Bulletin, the Pentagon is the single largest consumer of oil in the world. Only 35 countries consume more oil.”

Fitz continues, “This domination of industrial activity by the military is often referred to as the ‘permanent war economy.’ There is an even more insidious meaning to the phrase. That is the need of the military to have ever-shorter periods of time between wars. The only way to have a true test of a weapon is to use it against people…..Military spending is like a cancer which has metastasized throughout the body politic, with every congressional district demanding its place at the trough.”

Many environmental groups are working on solutions to global warming. One for example is the Apollo Alliance, which is calling for the creation of a new economy – a new industrial policy that moves toward building alternative sustainable technologies. Uniting labor and environmental groups, who usually are on opposite sides of the fence, the Apollo Alliance is showing that a new environmental policy can also create good jobs which is something the labor movement and low-income communities can get excited about.

But there is just one huge concern. Where will be funds come from to invest in this new industrial policy?

When the military industrial complex is soaking up over 50% of every American tax dollar, where will the funds come from to create the investment for this new industrial infrastructure? Space technology development will only exacerbate this trend as the Pentagon brags that Star Wars will be the largest industrial project in the history of the planet Earth.

Major private corporate industrial investment is leaving the country like rats off a sinking ship. Corporate disinvestment in U.S. industry is the reality today.

Most politicians understand this new reality very well. They know that weapons production is currently the number one industrial export product of the U.S. They know that major industrial job creation is largely coming from the Pentagon. Thus most politicians, from both parties, want to continue to support the military industrial complex gravy train for their communities.

Across the nation colleges and universities are turning to the Pentagon for greater research funding as Congress and successive administrations have cut back on scientific research and development investment. As this trend worsens we find growing evidence that engineering, computer science, astronomy, mathematics, and other departments are becoming “militarized” in order to maintain funding levels. Student protests against campus weapons research have been growing in recent years at places like the University of Hawaii, University of New Mexico, University of Oregon, and UC Berkeley.

It is abundantly clear that no real alternative sustainable technology investment will be possible on the scale needed to avert catastrophic global warming without conversion of the military industrial complex. It is imperative that the peace movement, environmental movement, social justice movement, and labor movements create a unifying vision and political demand calling on Congress to use our hard-earned tax dollars for conversion of the military industrial complex.

We must do as the old saying goes – follow the money. And increasingly the money in the U.S. today is in weapons production. By converting the military we can make large strides to dealing with greenhouse gases, create new sustainable industries and stop our free fall into endless war.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


In the House of Representatives last week Democratic Party Congress members lead the way to approve money for Star Wars research and development programs in the fiscal year 2008 budget.

Rejecting the recommendations from a sub-committee, Representatives Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) and Rick Larsen (D-WA) restored $150 million to Pentagon boost phase missile defense programs, $48 million for future missile defense systems, including space sensors, $12 million more for sea-based sensors and language to allow $160 million for a highly controversial European missile defense site.

Joyfully cheering these moves to ensure continuation of space weapons research and development programs, a pro-space warfare organization called Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA) reported in an email that, "This shift of priorities from last week's initial Strategic Subcommittee's markup shows a bipartisan movement accepted by a Democratic Majority to put forward systems to address future threats and to continue to invest into our countries most advanced boost phase missile defense system, the Air Borne Laser. "

The MDAA is a very active proponent of space weapons technology development and is led by Riki Ellison, a former professional football player with the San Francisco 49ers. Ellison is particularly excited about the development of sea-based Aegis destroyers mounted with theatre missile defense systems that will be deployed in the Asian-Pacific region to surround China.

The Pentagon recently announced they would soon begin to build a missile defense base on Guam, a U.S. military colony now undergoing major expansion with new runways for advanced bombers, new deployments of cruise missiles, and 8,000 new troops relocated from Japan. Activists in Guam have been undertaking major organizing efforts to get the U.S. out of their nation - the U.S. military now controls more than 1/3 of the island.

Activists in Poland and the Czech Republic have also been very busy of late protesting the U.S. plan to put 10 missile defense interceptors in Poland and a new Star Wars radar facility in the Czech Republic. The Pentagon is saying these facilities would be used to protect Europe and the U.S. from a nuclear attack by Iran - which has no nuclear weapons today. But the truth is these bases, along with others planned in Georgia and Azerbaijan, will be used to tighten the military noose around Russia's neck as NATO and the U.S. military surround her.

Following an International Conference against the Militarization of Europe last week in Prague, a statement was released by the participants. It said, in part, that "We voice our protest against the plans of the Bush administration to install a 'national missile defense system' for the U.S. on the territory of the Czech Republic and Poland . Most people in the Czech Republic and Poland, as well as in the rest of Europe, reject plans to host this system. We reject the official reasons given for the NMD project as mere pretexts."

"The realisation of the U.S. plan will not lead to enhanced security. On the contrary - it will lead to new dangers and insecurities."

"Although it is described as 'defensive', in reality it will allow the United States to attack other countries without fear of retaliation. It will also put 'host' countries on the front line in future U.S. wars."

Disguised as "missile defense" the Pentagon's Star Wars program is all about offense and global control and domination. The planned deployments in Europe are just one more piece in the military space architecture that would give the U.S. "full spectrum dominance." Last October the Bush administration released its new National Space Policy that essentially gave the Pentagon a green light to move ahead with deployments of space war-fighting technologies.

The Air Force Space Command's Strategic Master Plan: FY06 and Beyond says, "Air Force Space Command will deploy a new generation of responsive space access, prompt global strike, and space superiority capabilities.....Our vision calls for prompt global strike space systems with the capability to directly apply force from or through space against terrestrial targets."

Russia and China understand that they are now viewed as the "enemy". A recent poll showed that 74% of the people in Russia have a "negative view of the U.S. missile defense system." On May 9 Russian President Vladimir Putin made a statement at a Victory Day parade on Red Square that left little doubt he was criticizing the United States for ''disrespect for human life, claims to global exclusiveness and dictate, just as it was in the time of the Third Reich.''

Following Putin's speech Sergei Markov, of the Moscow-based Institute for Political Research, expanded on the theme when he said, ''After the Cold War ended, the United States has initiated a new arms race,'' fueling nuclear ambitions of many nations worldwide.

''If a nation doesn't have nuclear weapons, it risks being bombed like Yugoslavia or Iraq,'' he said. ''And if it does have nuclear weapons like North Korea, it faces no such threat.''

Russia knows that U.S. deployments of missile defense systems are not intended to knock out Iranian nukes. Instead they are part of a U.S. first strike system now under development that is being supported by both Republican and Democrat party members of Congress.

In a recent article Conn Hallinan, an analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, writes "Anti-ballistic missile systems (ABM) have a dark secret: They are not supposed to stop all-out missile attacks, just mop up the few retaliatory enemy missiles that manage to survive a first strike. First strikes - called 'counterpoint' attacks in bloodless vocabulary of nuclear war - are a central component in U.S. nuclear doctrine."

"If you are sitting in Moscow or Beijing and adding up the ABMs, the new warheads, and the growing ring of bases on your borders, you have little choice but to react. Imagine the U.S. response if the Russians and the Chinese were to deploy similar systems in Canada, Mexico and Cuba."

A new arms race is well underway with the U.S., once again, leading the pack. The aggressive first strike space domination program stands to benefit the weapons industry and global corporations who are now moving to extract diminishing supplies of oil and other precious resources around the world. The cost will be further expansion of a militarized society in the U.S., cutbacks in social spending worldwide, and more instability for the people of the world.

One key way to prevent this new arms race is to call upon the U.S. Congress to convert the growing military industrial complex to peaceful and environmentally sustainable production.

Republicans and Democrats now support the expansion of the U.S. military empire. Both parties must be challenged to give up dreams of American exceptionalism and global dominance. In order to make this happen the peace movement worldwide must challenge the growing corporate domination of our governments.

Friday, May 11, 2007


The world won't miss Tony Blair.

I heard a story on BBC radio the other day by an old college friend of Blair's. She said one day, years after they had finished school, Blair told her "I'm joining the Labor Party."

She said she was surprised because he had not been a political person, and certainly not a Socialist. At the time Labor meant Socialism in Britain.

Blair, like Bush, is an opportunist who has done the bidding of the corporate interests.

Maybe someday the citizens of the world will stop being fooled by these kids of wealth and privilege who pretend to care about the public.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


George W. met yesterday with a dozen moderate Republican leaders who are growing increasingly worried about losing their congressional seats over the occupation of Iraq. They said they'd give him three months to turn things around in Iraq.

All the talk these days is about benchmarks. Chief among those benchmarks for the Iraqi government to cross is the "hydro-carbon law". Translation into real language - the Iraqi's must quickly pass the law giving U.S. and British oil companies control of their oil resources.

In a new article Rolling Stone reports, "The law, endorsed here by the Democrats, is an unusually vicious piece of legislation, an open blueprint for colonial robbery of the Iraqi nation......It allows foreign companies to take advantage of Iraqi oil fields by allowing regions to pair up with foreigners using what are known as 'production-sharing agreements' or PSAs, which guarantee investing companies large shares of the profits for decades into the future. The law also makes it impossible for the Iraqi state to regulate levels of oil production (seriously undermining OPEC), allows oil companies to repatriate profits, and would also allow companies to hire foreign workers to man facilities. Add all the measures up and the Hydrocarbon law not only takes control of the oil industry away from the Iraqi state, but virtually guarantees that the state will profit very little from future oil exploitation."

Yesterday I read another very interesting article [click on link in above headline] giving the low-down on the growing conflict within the Iraqi parliament.

The article reports, "The continuing occupation of Iraq and the allocation of Iraq's resources -- especially its massive oil and natural gas deposits -- are the defining issues that now separate an increasingly restless bloc of nationalists in the Iraqi parliament from the administration of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose government is dominated by Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish separatists."

"By 'separatists,' we mean groups who oppose a unified Iraq with a strong central government.....favor partitioning Iraq into three autonomous regions with strong local governments and a weak central administration in Baghdad. (The partition plan is also favored by several congressional Democrats, notably Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware.)"

"Iraq's separatists also oppose setting a timetable for ending the U.S. occupation, preferring the addition of more American troops to secure their regime. They favor privatizing Iraq's oil and gas and decentralizing petroleum operations and revenue distribution."

"But public opinion is squarely with Iraq's nationalists. According to a poll by the University of Maryland's Project on International Public Policy Attitudes, majorities of all three of Iraq's major ethno-sectarian groups support a unified Iraq with a strong central government. For at least two years, poll after poll has shown that large majorities of Iraqis of all ethnicity's and sects want the United States to set a timeline for withdrawal, even though (in the case of Baghdad residents), they expect the security situation to deteriorate in the short term as a result."

One Iraqi nationalist member of Parliament said, "We're afraid the U.S. will make us pass this new oil law through intimidation and threatening. We don't want it to pass, and we know it'll make things worse, but we're afraid to rise up and block it, because we don't want to be bombed and arrested the next day."

So the picture is made clearer for us now. Much of the violence in Iraq is not over religion, though that is how our corporate dominated media portray it, but in fact is between the separatists (supported by the U.S. military) and those nationalists who dare to say that Iraqi oil should remain in the hands of the people of Iraq.

So when the Democrats say that Bush has not done enough to get the Iraqi parliament to pass "benchmarks" what they are really saying is that Bush must speed up the process of destroying the nationalist Iraqi leaders so that the separatist Iraqis can push through the "hydro-carbon law" which the oil corporations are eagerly lobbying for.

Right now the nationalist group has a slight control of the Iraqi parliament but the fact they fear for their lives indicates they know that the U.S. military, working hand-in-hand with the Iraqi separatists, makes their lives very insecure.

These are the kinds of details the peace movement must help the public begin to understand if we have any hope to bringing true peace and justice to Iraq.

The peace movement must also begin to see how the Democrats are playing the "benchmarks" game as a way to line up behind the oil corporation interests in Iraq while at the same time appearing to be "against" the war.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


I've got a few questions on my mind today. Maybe someone can help me out with them.

Why are local police departments all over the U.S. arming themselves like they are preparing for an invasion of the body snatchers? Where are they getting the funds to pay for this expensive offensive military war fighting hardware? Homeland security?

Who are they expecting to use this equipment on? Are they expecting some kind of mass citizens revolt sometime soon?

Would police departments use this equipment on the local citizenry in their communities if the folks turned out in mass in a revolt against the government?

Have the local police moved from traffic, chasing petty criminals, and removing cats from trees into the role of local militia? With the National Guard in most states now tied up in Iraq is the government converting the local cops into the new National Guard?

Just wondering....................

Sunday, May 06, 2007


The photo above is of South Korean peace activists holding a protest during the recent U.S.-South Korean military exercises in their country. The U.S. is now expanding military bases, taking over farm lands in South Korea, and dramatically increasing its military presence throughout the Asian-Pacific region. The island of Guam is now undergoing major military expansion of U.S. operations there. All of this is intended to surround, and ultimately provoke, the Chinese government to enter into an escalating arms race. U.S. military industrial complex is counting on major profits from the process. The Democrats are silent about this military strategy.

Italian activists are also outraged and organizing opposition to U.S. plans to expand its military base in Vicenza. In February 200,000 Italians protested in Vicenza against the base expansion. The Democrats in Congress, with the exception of a few like Rep. Dennis Kucinich, are silent about this.

In our local Portland, Maine newspaper today the editorial page editor explained why the paper had last week announced they decided to come out against the war in Iraq after long supporting Bush's shameful and illegal occupation. The editor said, "We've not renounced our belief in American exceptionalism. Speaking for myself, I've withdrawn my support for the war for pragmatic reasons, not because my underlying world view has changed. I believe we should use our strength as the world's only military superpower with great caution, but I do believe we should use it.....Our nation has a unique role in the world, and with it come unique responsibilities and unique privilege."

In other words he supports U.S. empire and all that comes with it. The bases, the killing, the domination of cultures is all acceptable. In this case he is "withdrawing" his support for Bush's Iraq operation primarily because "this war has been mismanaged by the president to the point where turning things around is impossible."

This is largely the Democratic Party position as well. The war is not necessarily bad, the U.S. has the right and responsibility to take out anyone that we decide should be eliminated, but it must be handled well so that world opinion and the American people do not turn against the policy. In this case Bush and his crew "mismanaged" the operation. It reminds me of the 2004 debates between Bush and John Kerry when Kerry said he'd do a better job of "killing terrorists" than Bush would and that he'd spend "$100 billion more on the military" than Bush would. Kerry would do the war/occupation better than the Republicans.

The New York Times ran a story yesterday called With New Clout, Antiwar Groups Push Democrats. In the first sentence of the story the Times reports that, "Every morning, representatives from a cluster of antiwar groups gather for a conference call with Democratic leadership staff members in the House and the Senate."

The "anti-war" groups the article refers to are not your standard, every-day peace group, that have long been working to end the war. They are talking about more recently formed groups, funded with more than $7.1 million since January, to go out and take control of the anti-war message and to capture the bulk of mainstream media coverage about the anti-war movement. Thus groups like Win Without War, Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, National Security Network, MoveOn, and others are being heavily funded by foundations close to the Democratic Party and are being largely directed by Democratic Party strategists.

The Times reports, Rodell Mollineau, a spokesman for Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office, "said the coalition amplifies what Democrats are trying to do in Washington to end the war." “It helps us reverberate a unified message outside the Beltway.” “These groups give voice to a message we’re trying to get outside.”

The unified message that the Democrat leaders are talking about is that the mess in Iraq is all the fault of George W. Bush and the Republicans in Congress. This theme is now dominating the work coming out of these Democratic Party front groups and their job is to make sure that no one points any fingers of responsibility at the Democrats in Congress who continue to fund the occupation. We are not supposed to talk about that unsettling fact.

To their credit the Times did mention that there is currently some controversy surrounding this Democratic led effort. “There’s a dividing line between those groups who feel the most important thing is to be clear on bringing the troops home as soon as possible, and the groups that feel that unity within the Democratic Party is most important and the most important thing is for the Democrats to win the White House,” said Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of Code Pink, an antiwar group that is not part of the alliance. “So the groups who feel the most important thing is to win the White House would naturally be more inclined to listening to Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she says the only way we can get a vote through is if we water it down.”

When Tom Andrews, a former Democratic congressman from Maine and the national director of Win Without War, recently came to our state to organize protests in Bangor and Portland he made no attempt to contact one existing peace group in Maine. Now isn't that a bit strange? You go into a state to organize protests against the war and you don't contact the major groups - Peace Action Maine nor Maine Veterans for Peace. Neither were invited to be part of the organizing, to offer a speaker, to help with planning, nothing. Same story with a whole host of local peace groups as well.

Instead Andrews contacted the Maine People's Alliance (MPA) which does not do anti-war work and had them serve as his base to organize the events. MPA works on social justice issues at the state level. They are strongly linked to the Democratic Party. Andrews also had the Maine Democratic Party send out emails on his behalf and then did expensive robo-calls to people in the Portland area - likely with lists provided by the Democrats and their allied organizations.

Why this particular strategy by Andrews and Win Without War? Could it be because the two rallies he organized were done in order to attack Sen. Susan Collins, our Republican senator? Andrews blistered Collins for supporting Bush's war and for voting against the Democratic Party bill calling for an "optimal" withdrawal from Iraq.

Andrews did not contact existing peace groups in Maine because he knew that our work in the state has been bi-partisan in recent years. We have been critical of our two Republican senators for their positions on the occupation. We've occupied their offices. We've been arrested in their offices. But we've also been critical of our Democratic Congressman Tom Allen who has voted eight times to fund Bush's occupation of Iraq. But Andrews does not want to talk about that fact because Rep. Tom Allen is now planning to run against Sen. Susan Collins in the next election. Thus the only politician that can be criticized publicly, according to the strategy coming out of the Democrats in Washington, is the Republican.

This is a contemptuous rewriting of reality for purely political purposes. It is arrogant and must be publicly challenged - something I have been doing in recent weeks. Sadly some loyal Democrats have accused me, as you can imagine they would, of "attacking" other peace activists. But the truth is that I have not attacked any person or any organization. In fact, all I have done is to talk publicly about the blatant manipulation that is now going on of the peace movement and the public for purely political purposes. When you come into a state and sweep aside existing groups and the work of dedicated activists you can't be shocked when they take offense and speak up.

Frankly, I see little difference between U.S. imperialism around the world and the arrogant political imperialism of Democratic Party operatives who are well-funded and well-connected and who believe that the world is their oyster. They believe that because they have been anointed by the powerful elites within the Democratic Party they can push people aside with impunity. Like the citizens of Iraq, Guam, South Korea, or Italy one is not supposed to speak out when they are being taken over by the privileged American elites.

But the days of American exceptionalism are over. People are reacting around the world to arrogant imperialism. They are reacting in Maine and across America as the Democrats try to take over the peace movement for their 2008 electoral purposes.

In the end the Democrats will fail in their conquering mission. The peace movement belongs to no political party. It belongs to the hard-working local activists who stand on street corners day in and day out and who have built the political outrage against the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


Just back from my trip to New York City. I took the train from Portland to New York. The ride was relaxing and I got a lot of reading done. I'm currently reading a book called Hope Against Hope about Stalin's extermination of legions of Soviet citizens including the poet Osip Mandelstam. The story is written by Mandelstam's wife Nadezhda. One very important message I take from the book is the human ability to ignore reality - to turn away from the evil that is swirling all around us. To pretend that it does not exist. To refuse to take responsibility for the actions of one's government.

I did two talks on May 3 in New York City, the first was organized by Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF) and was held just across the street from the U.N. The U.N. is now hosting a large gathering of NGO's to talk about environment and sustainable development. Edel Havin Beukes, a WILPF member from Norway, wanted to have the space issue considered as part of the environmental portion of the U.N. meeting so asked me to focus on that in my talk. She, and Carol Urner from Oregon and also a WILPF member, organized the meeting and got some of the delegates to the U.N. meeting to come hear my talk. Edel and Carol were both at our Global Network annual meeting in Germany in April and the idea for me to come to New York grew out of that event.

Following that meeting Edel took me across the street to the U.N. and had a BBC World Service reporter interview me. The reporter, from Ethiopia, was assigned to write for a publication called Outreach Issues that is being produced daily during the NGO meeting. It appears the publication was being funded in part by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and thus Edel was connected to it and could make the interview possible. Edel said the publication was being read by all the NGO delegates so our message of space and the environment was able to go out to a larger audience.

Global Network member Sung-Hee Choi from South Korea, who is an artist and teacher now living in New York City, also came to the meeting. [Sung-Hee took the photo above.] She has been coming to our annual GN meetings for the past few years and has been very helpful in getting our space issues translated into Korean and distributed in her country. Sung-Hee accompanied me to all of my talks while I was in New York and looked out for me as best she could, making sure I did not get lost.

My second talk that day was hosted by Code Pink New York at the offices of United for Peace & Justice. Anne Gibbons had become interested in the space issue after watching our video Arsenal of Hypocrisy and apparently is a regular reader of my blog. Anne decided to invite key leaders from her group and other peace groups to a dinner meeting so folks could meet me and hear an outline of our work on space. Her hope was that following that meeting there would then be the energy to create an opportunity for me to speak to a larger gathering of activists in New York. The meeting went really well and after my talk I had a wonderful exchange with the group. We talked about space, Iraq, the coming 2008 elections, political strategy and even organizing philosophy.

The folks had a wonderful spirit and I am hopeful that it will be arranged for me to return to New York with our Global Network message in the near future.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


This picture above was painted by an Iraqi kid. It was one in a series of pieces of art I saw the other day about how kids are feeling in Iraq about the U.S. occupation. The sadness and feeling of despair rips at my heart. The piercing eye speaks directly to me about what is real and what is a lie about our heartless occupation. I have to use the word "our" because it is American tax dollars paying for the madness. What are we doing to end it? Talking about the "showdown" between a Congressional bill that funds the war with imaginary withdrawal time lines and Bush's threat to veto it? It's all a public relations spectacle. The image above is real.

Many people are buzzing about the recent Democratic Party debate in South Carolina. I missed the debate but last night Mary Beth and I watched a compilation of Sen. Mike Gravel's performance in the debate. (If you click on the link above you can watch it.)

Gravel was a two-term senator from Alaska who helped lead the fight to end the funding for the Vietnam war. He also was a key figure in helping Daniel Ellsberg leak The Pentagon Papers to the media back in the early 1970's.

Gravel was quite passionate in the debate and after it was over I read a Washington Post columnist, in a piece called Winners and Losers, say that Hillary and Obama had won the debate and that Gravel should not be allowed in any other debates after his striking performance in South Carolina. Since then Gravel was told he'd not be invited to speak in a coming New Hampshire debate but the fierce response from new Gravel supporters across the country seems to have blocked the attempt to censor him.

People are looking for honesty and passion and it looks like Gravel might have just upped the ante in the Democratic contest. It's good to see.

I will be leaving early in the morning on the train for New York City where I will be speaking on Thursday at an event being organized by WILPF and the Norwegian Forum for Environment & Development. It will be held just across the street from the U.N. at 777 UN Plaza from 1-3 pm. The event will be called "Weapons in Space or Life on Earth, The Choice is Ours." Other speakers will be Carol Urner from WILPF and Frida Berrigan from the World Policy Institute.

Following that event I've been invited to speak at an anti-war meeting hosted by Codepink New York City. Then Friday morning I jump on the train and head home again.

This weekend we will be working in the yard at our house to begin getting ready to plant our vegetable garden. The weather is finally turning to spring here so we need to get things going since our growing season is so short.

Hope you all have a good weekend.