Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Sunday, September 30, 2007


The regular baseball season ended, mercifully, today and my team ended up tied for the third worst record out of both the American and National leagues. My team, the Baltimore Orioles, now have had losing seasons 10 years in a row.

People often ask me how I can go on doing political work, with all the defeats, day in and day out. I tell them that I use baseball as my escape hatch - my way to lose myself a bit from the craziness of this world. But when your team is also losing all the time........

Baseball and life are very similar. If you get a hit in baseball 3 times out of 10 then you are considered a great hitter. You get used to failure. You learn to find joy in the small victories.

When I was a boy I played Little League baseball and I was a catcher. I modeled myself after the famous Italian-American catcher Yogi Berra (New York Yankees) who is best known as the foremost working class baseball philosopher. My favorite of all his sayings is: "You can take them to the ball game but you can't make them go in."

I have used that phrase quite often in my organizing. You can organize campaigns, put the information out there, you can organize protests, you can hold a sit-in at a congressional office - but you can't make the public participate. You have to give up expectation, you have to give up control. You have to learn to be happy batting .300

In Maine most baseball fans love the Boston Red Sox. You see Red Sox hats and T-shirts all over the place. The team Red Sox fans hate most is the New York Yankees - they call them the evil empire because the Yankees have always been good and always have loads of money to buy the best players. Tell me the average person does not understand empire!

When I walk around with my black Baltimore Oriole hat (with the bird logo on it) Red Sox fans don't say anything.....they don't give me a hard time like they would if I wore a Yankee hat. The Orioles are no threat. They probably feel sorry for me.

Sometimes I tell myself that I'm not actually promoting my baseball team with my hat but just promoting the beautiful bird - the Baltimore Oriole.

In the end though winning and losing is just a mind game. It's a distraction from what is really important in life. Can we breath the air? Can we guarantee that our children and grand kids will have a future on this planet? What about the polar bear and the people who live on tiny islands in the Pacific? What is their future after climate change? How can we stop the U.S. drive for endless war?

When it comes to political change in the U.S. today it feels like we are hitting less than .100
How great it would feel if we could hit .300 when it comes to seeking political change.

But I'm not giving up. I've learned over the years that there is always next year. Next spring will bring a new chance to turn things around. As long as I am breathing I will keep taking a swing. Now and then I know we can hit one out of the ballpark.

At the very least I have to keep trying. I have no other choice. Let me lift my head up and keep moving on.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I taped my latest cable TV show today that runs on eight stations in Maine. My show today featured Ed Friedman, chairman of the Friends of Merrymeeting Bay (FOMM), a local environmental group fighting to stop the killing of eels and other fish as they try to navigate Maine's rivers.

Most of the dam owners in Maine, controlled by big corporations, won't spend the money to put in technologies like ladders and other devices to help the eels from being destroyed in the turbines inside the dams. These greedy corporate entities, who use the public rivers for profit without paying "rent" for use of the public waterway, could care less about the consequences of their dams. FOMM has been appealing to the state Department of Environmental Regulation and the governor for a long time but the state government is pretty much under the control of these same greedy corporations. Ed calls it the Department of Economic Regulation.

So the FOMM has gone into court to try to get the judicial system to help with this problem but that door is increasingly closed and locked shut as well. In the meantime, as the eel population diminishes, people fail to see the link to the declining fish populations in the ocean - the eels are a source of food for the larger fish. It's all connected.

Ed says that the 3rd and 6th grade kids get it right away. But the big time boys, the corporate types and the politicians they own, can't see it because they are blinded by their love for the almightly dollar. Or as the Native Americans called it, the green frog skin. The white man is sick and is killing his mother earth.

(Click on the link in the headline above to watch the entire show.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


We had a great rally yesterday in downtown Portland. Excellent speakers, good music, and even poetry from the newly crowned City of Portland poet laureate Martin Steingesser. We handed out 750 leaflets that explained to the public our reasons for protesting and urged folks to call our congressman and urge his support for impeachment.

While people listened we passed around 250 copies of the letter we wanted to deliver to our congressman Tom Allen and asked folks to sign it.

At 1:30 pm we crossed the street and 150 climbed the three flights of stairs to Allen's office and one by one, as you can see in the photo above, they handed their letter to Allen's staff. This process took just over one hour to complete. People very patiently waited in the stairway until it was their turn. The whole thing was very moving and the spirit of the people was magical.

At the end two of our folks read of the names of those who had signed the letters out on the street but could not stay to personally deliver it. In all 250 letters were delivered.

By 2:30 pm about 20 of us settled into Allen's office and began reading the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. One in our group read a detailed list of impeachable offenses committed by Bush-Cheney.

The office officially closed at 5:30 pm and Allen's staff told us we had to leave. We continued with our readings. Then at 6:00 pm the police came and gave us our last warning. At that point those not willing to be arrested left the office and eight of us were then handcuffed and taken down the elevator to the paddy wagon waiting in the street. A good crowd had formed and folks cheered as we were put in the police vehicle.

Our time in jail was short, all but one of us paid the $40 bail bond and were released around 10:00 pm. One person, Kate Chipman, refused to pay the bail and spent the night in jail. I'd venture to guess she will be released from jail today.

As we gathered last night in the jail lobby I noticed one of our group of eight talking with a jail guard in a corner. Come to find out the guard was saying that he completely agreed with us. The guard who released me spent a considerable amount of time talking with me about the declining condition of the nation and I was later to learn that each person that was released by him had a similar experience.

He told me that he was a Republican and had been in the Air Force. I told him I had been the Vice-Chair of the Okaloosa County Florida Young Republican Club in 1968 and had entered the Air Force in 1971. We talked about the true role of the U.S. military today - that of protector of global corporate interests. He said to me, "I don't want to believe you but I think you are right."

One man who spent time in the jail holding cell with us had seen our protest on the jail TV and then when the eight of us were brought into the jail for booking he noticed our bright orange T-shirts and was thrilled to meet us. He told us he was a handy man who lives in Bethel and had been picked up for not paying a 15 year old fine. We spent a good hour talking politics with him and he was adamant in his belief that our American democracy had been hijacked by the corporate interests. He asked if we could send him one of our impeachment T-shirts.

For those who say that civil disobedience is a waste of time these jail interactions last night made it all worth while.

This morning we leave for Bangor where our friends from the north in Maine will be doing a similar action at the office of Rep. Mike Michaud, Maine's other Democratic party congressman. He too refuses to support impeachment.

The leadership of the national Democratic Party have told their members in Congress to refuse to budge on impeachment.

It is our job to apply the pressure on them. As we read the Constitution yesterday in Tom Allen's office we came to the conclusion that our members of Congress have the obligation to pursue impeachment. And we concluded that the citizens are also obligated to demand impeachment as well.

We either live by the rule of law or we do not. Tom Allen applies the law to eight of us for sitting in his office. But he refuses to apply the law to Bush-Cheney when they shred the Constitution. That kind of double-standard can not pass.

(See the video from our action by clicking on the link in the headline above.)

Monday, September 24, 2007


Democrats are blocking efforts to impeach Bush-Cheney. They want to keep the crooks around through the 2008 election figuring that having them in place will ensure that Hillary Clinton wins the White House and that they can widen their control over the Senate and the House of Representatives. So when the Dems say impeachment is a "distraction" they mean it. Impeachment is a distraction from their cynical plan to ride the public's intense dislike of Bush-Cheney to power.

This is a despicable strategy as it ensures that the worst administration in the nation's history will be be allowed to continue to work their evil ways for some time to come. We all know that the American people are now being prepared for the Iran attack. What are the Dems going to do about that? Nothing. Let Bush-Cheney play it out the Dems say. If more people (American GI's and innocent Iranians or Iraqi's) die then no big deal. Political power for the Dems is job # 1.

I've long ago reached the end of my rope with the Democratic Party. I am now totally committed to supporting any and all opposition to the Dems on every level in 2008. In my free time I will be supporting any Independent or Green candidate willing to stand against the pitiful Dems who claim to be anti-war candidates but keep enabling the Bush pirate team's occupation of Iraq.

I've got to stand up even more and speak out even louder. I've got to be counted in this historic moment as our Constitution is being torn to shreds while the Dems cower in the corner of the Capitol building in Washington. I am very clear that if we are to be "saved" it will not be by a politician. It is now completely up to the people to save us from this slide. We either do it or we don't. I don't ever want it to be said that I was sitting on my ass during the most important moment in our country's history.

So tomorrow I will join a group of people who will deliver letters to our "liberal" Democratic Party Congressman calling on him to support impeachment. Some of us will sit-in Tom Allen's office demanding that he support impeachment. He's already made it clear that he is not going to support impeachment - even though he has told several key impeachment activists in the state that he believes Bush-Cheney "have committed" multiple impeachable offenses.

But Tom Allen has gotten his marching orders from the national party and he is running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Sen. Susan Collins (Republican). Allen's strategy is to move toward the middle. He has a yellow stripe down the center of his back. He will talk a good peace game but fail to deliver.

I am not so desperate that I will just vote for anyone. I've worked as an activist way too long to give my sacred vote to any slimy politician who says one thing and does another.

No one wants to get arrested. No one wants to go to jail. But sometimes you have to stand up and be real. I feel that I have no other choice. I can't wait for everyone else to turn things around. I have to act now, while I still can.

(Click on image for larger version)

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Yesterday we went to the Common Ground Fair up in Unity, Maine. There were so many people there you could barely move. It is put on each year by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.

This year we only went for the Saturday, in the past we always camped out at the event and stayed the whole weekend. But we took a neighbor kid with us and thought it best to just do the one day.

Usually we volunteer at the Peace Action Maine pea soup booth and at other organization tables. Yesterday we spent our time at the fair through the eyes of an eight year old, taking turns following her around to the various sights and sounds that grabbed her short attention spam.

The animals (ox, cows, horses, mules, sheep, goats, chickens and rabbits) were one area that we visited several times. We also spent considerable time in the children's area watching our young friend make a hat and then she participated in the kids parade through the fair. Our little neighbor friend dressed as a cat in the parade.

My favorite stop was the sheep dog demonstration pictured above. We got quite a show of how border collies shepherd the sheep around just by glaring at them. It was quite wonderful to see.

In between my shifts doing child care I rested at the tables of Maine Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out talking with fellow activists.

After about seven hours we decided to head home. We stopped in Augusta for dinner at a Chinese restaurant because our friend wanted to eat there. By the time we left and were on the highway heading home we found her fast asleep in the back seat of the car.

It was a wonderful day and our little friend told us that it was "the best day of her life."

Can't beat that. The fair is something special for sure.

Friday, September 21, 2007


The dollar is collapsing. The Euro and the Canadian dollar have now pulled even in value with the U.S. dollar. The American economy is now on its slide into oblivion.

You can't spend $10 billion a month on the occupation of Iraq and not have a dramatic impact on the U.S. economy. You can't ignore education funding, health care, infrastructure repair and not have a significant impact on the economy. You can't ignore the need for a real energy policy, that would dramatically reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, and not see an impact in the economy. You can't allow virtually your entire manufacturing base to leave the country without seeing a huge impact on the economy.

This economic slide is quite evident when you spend several hours on the street as I have done this week. You see the growing evidence of two Americas. On the street you see the reality of a whole generation of young people with no jobs, no future, no purpose in life, no hope, and feeling no need to finish school. Why bother with high school? There are no real jobs when you graduate so you might as well go have some fun now.

What happens to a nation when legions of young people feel they have no future?

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I was back on the street again today in Portland handing out leaflets about the upcoming Sept 25 rally and sit-in calling on our Congressman to support the impeachment resolution in the House of Representatives.

Today was better than two days ago. I had many more meaningful discussions with people during the time I was there. Over and over again I heard very sympathetic people tell me "the system is broken. There is nothing we can do. Neither party will listen to us."

I did have the usual business suit types fly by me in a huff telling me to get screwed or that they loved Bush. These kinds of folks are invested in the system. At some level they are making money these days as profits from the war and oil corporations are shared with them.

Several young people stopped to talk with me today. One young man who was turned down from joining the Coast Guard, because of a felony conviction, said the Army has waived his conviction and will take him. He only wants money for college. He said he is against the Iraq occupation and wished us success. I told him to be careful that the Army does not steal his soul. He took my hand, and my leaflet, as he left.

Another young guy, who is 18 years old, said he didn't care about all this stuff. "I'm having enough trouble just taking care of myself," he told me. I reminded him that we all need to take care of each other. He still blew me off. It was only when I told him that a British polling agency has determined that more than one million Iraqi citizens have died as a result of the Iraq war that he paused. I asked him how many more people should we let Bush kill?

I found that when I added the phrase "Bush wants to attack Iran next" people would take notice. Even those who did not want the leaflet would momentarily pause. In their hearts they can feel it coming and they know that the madness will only get worse.

After mentioning Iran I would ask them a simple question: "What does it say about us American people that we've killed one million Iraqi people and now we want to attack Iran?" Several people, at first cynical and negative, would linger and talk more with me and I could see life again in their eyes.

I am utterly convinced that many people are shutting down their hearts in order to not have to deal with all of this. Asking them about Iran today seemed to bring some of them back near to reality.

But then the question remains: The system is broken...what can we really do?

Capitalism lives and thrives on endless war and control and domination of resources and markets around the world. We can replace one politician with another but then how do we really change the system?

Impeachment is important, an important first step if we are to honor the Constitution. If we are to pretend we have a democracy then we must hold Bush-Cheney and their pirate crew accountable. But beyond that we have to change the system. That means acknowledging that capitalism is a death system - chewing up the planet, driving the Mother Earth to death.

How do we talk with the public about this? How do we talk about a sustainable culture that protects the future generations on this planet? How can we get folks to open their hearts again?

(Click on the photo above to read the T-shirts).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I was in Portland today handing out leaflets advertising our upcoming rally and office sit-in of our Congressman's office. On September 25 we are going to hand out leaflets from noon to 1:00 pm and then have a rally before moving into the office of Rep. Tom Allen. The Maine Campaign to Impeach will ask people to sign a letter outlining the impeachable offenses that Bush-Cheney have committed and then go up to his office to deliver the letter to Allen's staff. Some of us will then stay in his office until Allen agrees to support the impeachment of these two crooks.

Rep. Allen has been visited by numerous people from all over the state who have outlined for him the entire impeachment case. Allen has over and over again acknowledged that Bush-Cheney have committed impeachable offenses. But, like the rest of the sad sack Democratic Party, Allen refuses to support impeachment because it would be a "distraction" from the serious business of America. Yeah, like planning an attack on Iran which Allen has been silent about as well.

Today one woman on the street flashed me a sympathetic look but said, "I can't take your leaflet because I work for the federal government." What?

I told her that reminded me of the Soviet Union where one had to suspend their right of citizenship. She wasn't the only job scared Mainer I met today while leafleting. There are legions of them.

We are in big trouble if people feel that they can't have an opinion on controversial political issues because of their job. That, my friends, is a form of slavery!

I just watched a video of a student at the University of Florida, in Gainesville, who was cuffed and tasered for asking a question at a forum today where Sen. John Kerry was speaking.

Hello....anyone paying attention here? Is this not Nazi Germany where the police stand behind the microphone and haul off people who linger too long with their question or ask a question that the thought police deem unworthy?

Our constitution is being shredded right before our eyes. The Dems, as today in the case of John Kerry, just keep droning on as people are hauled away for asking if it is true that he belongs to the Yale University secret club called Skull and Bones. (Both Kerry and the Bush klan are members of Skull and Bones.)

This whole society is getting very unreal......

Monday, September 17, 2007


The people in the Czech Republic (photo above from a recent protest in Prague) are overwhelmingly opposed to the coming U.S. deployment of a Star Wars radar in their country. Similarly the people of Poland oppose the U.S. plan to put ten "missile defense" interceptors in their country. Both countries now have right-wing governments who have crawled into the U.S. "orbit" and are ignoring their own people's demands.

On September 13 Central European Social Democrat parties (Germany, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia) met and rejected the U.S. deployment plan saying it threatened to bring about a new arms race.

But of course there was a fly in the ointment. A visiting senior U.S. Democrat said her party was behind the project.

"We wanted to come today to make very clear that we are very supportive... of missile defense," Ellen Tauscher, chairwoman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, said after meeting Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra in Prague.

She added that she hoped negotiations [that would seal the deployment deal] with the Czechs and the Poles would be concluded soon.

Rep. Tauscher (from Walnut Creek, California) is a tool of the military industrial complex. Just a few months ago she led an effort to reject the recommendations of a House of Representatives sub-committee that had suggested serious cuts in the "Missile Defense Agency" research and development budget for fiscal year 2008.

She, and Rep. 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 the highly controversial European missile defense plan.

Her job in attending the meeting of Central European Social Democrats last week was a preemptive strike. The Democrats, who are likely to take the White House back in 2008, are letting the world know that they are committed partners to the Bush program of expanded U.S. global military empire and development of U.S. preemptive first-strike technology. The Democratic Party, under the control of the military industrial complex, are out trying to damper down any opposition to "missile defense". They have essentially become the agents, or sales people, for the weapons industry.

Russia knows that the U.S. is out to militarily surround them with these deployments in Poland and the Czech Republic in addition to the present campaign of NATO expansion into Central and Eastern Europe.

Vladimir Putin's recent comments should be heard by everyone paying attention to this new powder keg issue: "Once the missile defense system is put in place it will work automatically with the entire nuclear capability of the U.S. It will be an integral part of the U.S. nuclear capability....An arms race is unfolding. Was it we who withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty? We already told [Bush] two years ago, don't do this; you don't need to do this. What are you doing? You are destroying the system of international security....Of course we have to respond to it."

I can tell you what the U.S. is doing. It is creating a new arms race that will benefit the aerospace industry. The goal is to bring on-line new high-tech space weapons technology that will ultimately give the Pentagon the ability to "control and dominate" space and the Earth below. And the Democrats? Their job is to help keep the program funded and alive. They continue to show who their real masters are. They do not work for you and me.

The Democrats are working for the interests of corporate globalization. The New World Order has fully taken control of both political parties in the U.S.

If we want to stop a new and deadly arms race the peace movement in the U.S. must abandon any illusion that the Democrats will save us in 2008.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


We had about 75 folks yesterday participate in the two-mile march from downtown Brunswick to the Naval Air Station in the rain. As time went on the rain got worse and by the time of our rally at the front gate it was pouring. No one left.

The speeches by Linda Chase and Sandy Bodamer, mothers of soldiers in Iraq, were very moving presentations. They shared their enormous suffering with us. Linda said it was her first speech ever. Betty Burkes, the former national president of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom was splendid as she warmed our hearts. Veterans for Peace member Dud Hendrick started off the rally with an impassioned review of U.S. empire - 800 outposts of militarism and endless war around the globe. And Doug Rawlings, Vietnam vet, ended with griping poetry from a guy who has seen war face up.

It was disappointing that more people did not come and march with us in the rain. I don't understand how folks can allow some rain to stop them from turning out when we are in the middle of a genocidal war in Iraq and soon to attack Iran.

I was proud of those who did turn out yesterday. They are real war resisters and I could see the fierce determination in their faces as they laughed and cried during the rally at the gate. As Betty Burkes said, "Thanks for the rain. We need it. I am so glad that I drove up from Cambridge, Massachusetts to be with you today."

One friend, Sung-Hee Choi who is from South Korea, took the bus from New York City where she now lives and teaches art. She was coming to the demonstration come hell or high water. Now that is dedication.

We are witnessing the last days of a dying democracy. Fascism is now on the climb. Some are watching from the sidelines. Others are in the mix. I was proud to stand in the rain with those of courage and principle.

Here is the full speech by Dud Hendrick:

Speech at BLUE ANGELS II Demonstration

Brunswick Naval Air Station — September 15, 2007

By Dud Hendrick (Deer Isle)

There is something wonderful and affirming to be in the company of people of conscience who recognize that our country is being taken in a terrible direction, vastly different from that which we would wish America to be. I believe we are here holding ourselves accountable.

And, we are screaming for our so-called leadership to be held accountable. Since 9/11 when so many called for sanity, diplomacy, and a measured response the U.S. has resolutely followed another, most insane path.

This administration must be held accountable if we are to bring our ship of state under a moral compass. Just as we must demand more from our leaders so must we demand more of our media. It is the constant denial of reality by both that is so disabling and dispiriting.

Chalmers Johnson, the author of Blowback and other important works, has exposed the magnitude of the enormous U.S. military empire and its impact. He reports that we have probably well over 800 foreign military bases. At least one U.S. base is located in 39 countries and we have military personnel in over 140 countries. 325 installations in Germany. 103 in South Korea, and 73 in Japan.

This U.S. military presence is not a footprint so much as it is a goliath with muck-filled boots which it tracks all over the world. In my penchant for hyperbole I’ve taken to arguing that America treats the world as it’s sandbox, more aptly, its litterbox, and we don’t mind shitting in it. Our military empire begs the question, “Are we really more secure?” In answering I join Osama Bin Laden and I join Ward Churchill. The chickens will come home to roost. How can Americans believe they won’t?

Consider there are on-going protests against the U.S. military in the Philippines, Okinawa, South Korea, Guam, the Marshall Islands, Ecuador, Greenland, Australia, Diego Garcia, Scotland, Poland, and Czechoslavakia—by no means an exhaustive list. This very weekend there is an enormous gathering in Vicenza, Italy convening to protest American bases around the world and the expansion of one in particular in that city.

If we are looking for Al Qaeda sympathizers, what makes us think we’d have trouble finding them among the Greenland Inuits, who, in 1953, on 4 days notice were relocated from ancestral grounds to make way for Thule AFB, among the Chagos islanders whose pet dogs were gassed and they, themselves, deported by the U.S. and U.K. in 19961, to accommodate the massive Diego Garcia air base from which daily sorties are flown to bomb Afghanistan and Iraq and where prisoners are taken for “interrogations” beyond the prying eyes of any human rights watch group, among the South Korean farmers whose lands have been taken to make way for golf courses and other support amenities for U.S. military personnel, among the Okinawans who are protesting the construction of an American base that will intrude on the coral reef habitat of the dugong and three species of endangered sea turtles, or among the Australians who are enraged with the so-called Talisman Saber war games where in May and June Aussie and American aviators bombed the hell out of the pristine Shoalwater area close by the Great Barrier Reef.

For other America-hating Al Qaeda recruits we can consider the victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam, the victims of our land-mines in Southeast Asia, the cancer victims of the Marshall Islands where high levels of contamination are still found in the soils and food chain a legacy of the atomic bombing of the fifties and sixties. Or the cancer victims of the bombing range in Vieques, Puerto Rico. How ‘bout the civilian victims of John McCain’s bombing of Hanoi? An act, the consequences of which, remain a mystery to the Presidential candidate.

That brings me to this celebration we witness today. As these instruments of death roar thru the heavens there’s no question in my mind who is on the side of the angels. I can’t see much about the Blue Angels to celebrate. They represent the crème de la crème of that world. Members of the same fraternity, the same culture, the same religion, as it were, that took McCain over Hanoi, that brought the incineration of over 200,000 men, women and children to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the same fraternity that brought 10-15 million bomb craters to Vietnam a reminder of which can be found in a laboratory clinic in Saigon where sit row after row of jars filled with deformed aborted and full-term fetuses. The same fraternity whose members, while playing in the skies above the Italian alps in their multi-million dollar toys managed to slice through a ski-lift cable sending 20 vacationers to their deaths—in the grand scheme of things a minor incident, yet another token symbol of the pervasive impact of U.S. military endeavors around the world.

Celebrate the Blue Angels? I’d far rather celebrate our real heroes---Ehren Watada, Camilo Mejia, Adam Kokesh, Kelly Dougherty, Perry O’Brien, and Brian Clement. Young men and women, Iraqi Veterans Against the War, who, from within the culture of the beast itself were able to find moral clarity. They are our real heroes.

Whenever, I find my commitment waning or my focus drifting I consider the personal tragedies inflicted by the indiscriminate nature of our own brand of terrorism. I think of Ali, whose iconic photo taken after he lost his arms, his parents, and 16 family members to U.S. bombing in 2003, symbolized collateral damage. And I think of an image Kathy Kelly left seared in my memory when she spoke here two years ago. You recall—the armless mother, another victim of U.S. bombs who had to have friends hold her nursing child to her breast. These mutilations are crimes, our country is committing them, and as citizens in this country, we share a responsibility to stop them. We are all complicit!

I believe America’s so-called leaders, in particular, have forsaken their humanity. They frame the discussion and the media, their co-conspirator, doesn’t broaden the conversation, lest the interests of the corporate masters be betrayed. As Scott Ritter has recently so eloquently written, we should be asking, “Why are American’s continuing to die and kill in Iraq?” Most American’s know that this is a resource war. The Iraqi Oil laws, the so-called benchmark, make that abundantly clear. The Republicans and the Democrats are two sides of the same coin. They are all part of the corrupted system that is beholden to the corporate elite interests and nothing is going to change unless the American people wake up and demand change. No one in the hearings in Congress exploring the merits of the surge asked Petraeus just what in the hell are we doing in Iraq. They do not want us there!

Which brings me to my final elaboration of accountability. The interest on the Hill and in the media in impeachment might seem tepid, but that also is a measure of the corporate control of our democracy. I am convinced that the people want impeachment investigations. You just have to look beyond the mainstream media.

We all heard the reasons trotted out by the resisting Democratic leadership. Altogether, it adds up to a singular message—the Democratic leadership believes that pursuing impeachment would not benefit the outlook for the party in the 2008 elections. We must convince them that the opposite is true. Failure to demand accountability is not acceptable. Failure to protect the Constitution is not leadership. Being an enabler by giving Bush and friends a pass is a violation of their oath to uphold the Constitution.

If you and I, and Code Pink, and Military Farmilies Who Speak Out, and IVAW, and ANSWER, and United for P&J, and the Global Network don’t speak out then it all becomes part of an acceptable environment. We, in effect, tell Tom Allen, and Mike Michaud, and Nancy Pelosi, and John Conyers, and the world that this is what America is and does. The Green Zone is what America is, the hideously offensive embassy with hundreds of non-Arab speaking employees is us, the bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan that take 100 civilian lives each day—those, too, are okay. A recent report from Oxfam states that 70% of Iraqis no longer have access to drinking water, 50% are under-nourished, 50 % are living in abject poverty. All that is okay, too. And it’s okay that there has been an out-migration of 2 million and another 2 million have been internally displaced. It also becomes okay that the Iraqis will have the revenues of 15% of the oil fields. After all, the major corporate thieves will have to squabble over the production rights of the remaining 85% of the fields if the Iraqi politicians would just get off their asses and meet those benchmarks.

As you have heard, on September 25th and 26th, a week from next Tuesday and Wednesday, citizens will press a call on Congressman Allen’s office in Portland and Congressman Michaud’s office in Bangor to make statements calling for their support of impeachment. Our goal is to have over 150 citizens packing the Congressmen’s respective offices. We need you to be among them. We must tell them that Maine citizens demand a different direction. Let Allen know his political ambitions are over unless he calls for impeachment and unless he stops funding this war. Remind Michaud that impeachment is a morality issue and demanding it is a matter of integrity and a matter of accountability.

The Constitution can be saved only if our elected officials are made to hear the people. The stakes are no less than that.

Friday, September 14, 2007


This report covers the period of August 28 - September 10 as I traveled to England, Wales, and Scotland for a speaking tour.

I was picked up in the Manchester, England airport by Dave Webb who serves as the chairperson of the Global Network and also for the Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). Dave is a professor of Engineering at Leeds Metropolitan University and is now, to his great delight, teaching a peace studies class at the school. It was Dave who initiated and coordinated my speaking tour. In addition to all the rest he is doing in his busy life, Dave also serves as the web master for the Global Network's website.

My first talk was in Hebden Bridge, a beautiful hilly town in Yorkshire, that was once a major textile manufacturing site. Before the talk Dave and I walked along the canals that run through the community and he showed me the ancient locks that are still used to raise and lower boats. Helen John and Sylvia Boyes came to hear me speak. They both go on trial soon for walking onto the U.S. spy base at Menwith Hill (in Yorkshire) in violation of the new "anti-terrorism" law. They face one year in jail.

On August 31 Dave and I took the train to London and stayed the night in the home of Bruce Kent and his wife Valerie. Bruce is a renowned peace campaigner in Britain and former clergyman. The next day we attended a day long conference hosted by national CND entitled "Missile Defense: U.S. Plans to Divide Europe and Surround Russia". The event was attended by key activists from throughout Europe including key leaders from the movements in Poland and the Czech Republic that are organizing to oppose the Bush administrations plan to deploy "missile defense" interceptors and radar facilities in their countries. The mayor of the small village of Brdy in the Czech Republic, the place where the Pentagon wants to deploy the Star Wars radar, reported that everyone except one person in his community had voted against the radar in a recent referendum. He has now formed a "league of mayors" in his region and already 85 have signed up. I addressed the conference on the current U.S. military strategy of "preemptive attack" and "space control and domination" and then also facilitated a workshop, along with Menwith Hill peace campaigner Lindis Percy. You can read the conference statement at this link:

That evening I was escorted on the train to Oxford by Gawain Little and the next day spoke at an event in the Oxford City Hall. The Lord Mayor of Oxford showed up during the question and answer period of my talk and afterward he and I were taken 30 miles from Oxford to a U.S. high-tech space military communications relay base called RAF Croughton. There the Lord Mayor and I planted a tree in preparation for Keep Space for Peace Week that this year will run from October 4-13. Local organizers wanted to use the tree planting as a news story to promote awareness about the space week protest planned at Croughton.

Next I took the train to Cardiff in Wales and spoke that evening at the Temple of Peace which is used by many non-governmental organizations as offices and meeting space. Stephen Thomas, the director of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs which is housed inside the Temple of Peace, took me to dinner at a wonderful Turkish restaurant before my talk. Stephen was a delightful and thoughtful man and his quiet humor easily won me over.

My next day was spent in the hands of a kind Quaker couple in Bridgend, Wales. Pete Thompson and his wife Ann took me for a picnic lunch at the seaside and then a wonderful walk along the towering cliffs overlooking the water. That evening I spoke at the Quaker Meeting House in their community.

The next leg of the trip was to Aberystwyth, Wales which sits right along the Cardigan Bay. I was driven to Aberystwyth by CND Cymru (Wales) worker Jill Gough who clearly explained to me the fierce Wales independent streak and corrected my use of the words "United Kingdom" and "Great Britain." We are not "united" she said and we don't think Britain is "great." If you are referring to England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland then call it "Britain" she instructed me. Jill also delighted in sharing wonderful stories about the amazing Welsh country side - pointing out the working class mining communities and the magical mountains and rivers
When we arrived in Aberystwyth Jill took me to the home of Lotte Reimer and her husband Kelvin Mason. They live in a beautiful stone farm house by the incredible cliffs overlooking the water. Lotte took us for a walk through the rolling hills, watching our step as we went to avoid the sheep droppings that were as plentiful as the wooly creatures. That evening my talked was welcomed by a political community choir called Coe Gobaith that was singing as people entered the hall where I was to speak. Their rendition of Finlandia brought tears to my eyes as they sung the words:

This is my song, Oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
Oh hear my song, oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.

I knew this group in Aberystwyth was a special bunch because afterwards about 30 of the nearly 100 who had attended my talk went to a near-by pub for a beer and more discussion. Beautiful Welsh folk music could be heard from a corner of the pub. Lotte and Kelvin are leading activists in the peace and environmental movement. They had recently helped to organize "Climate Camp" near Heathrow airport in London where 1,500 activists gathered for training and a series of non-violent actions at various key targets. They used "clowning" as a way to bring a lighter side to the protests and publish a local newsletter called the Cambrian Snooze.

Next I spoke in Oswestry, which sits right on the border of Wales and England and from there was taken back to Leeds by my old friend Jo Berry from Liverpool and her husband Bill. Jo, on a previous visit to Liverpool, had made sure that I went on the Magical Mystery Tour that retraces the roots of The Beatles.

On September 7 Dave Webb took me to RAF Fylingdales in the North York Moor national park. We were joined by local activist Jackie Fearnley and the three of us went for a pre-arranged meeting with the commander of Fylingdales. Fylingdales has been the site of a U.S. early warning radar for the past 44 years and is now being upgraded for Star Wars. Commander Nick Loveday gave us a tour of the facility as well as a 40-minute PowerPoint briefing on the history and current role of the facility. Similar U.S. radar bases are also located at Beale AFB, California, Clear AFS, Alaska, Cape Cod AFS, Massachusetts, and Thule Air Base, Greenland. All of them are being upgraded for a role in Star Wars. Other U.S. and NATO radars are also to be brought on-line for the space weapons warfare program.

Our meeting with the commander was quite cordial and I was surprised to learn that she was going to come to listen to my talk later that evening in the nearby seaside town of Whitby. So indeed later that night the commander did show up and took notes while I spoke. After my talk she was asked by one man in the audience for her reaction to what I had to say. Her answer was, "I did not hear anything I disagree with, but I did not agree with everything he said." I think that meant that she had no disagreement factually with anything I said but then did not necessarily agree with my political analysis of what is going on. Fair enough.

My last stop was Scotland - the British Faslane Trident nuclear submarine base. Dave drove us the five hours north to the base, just west of Glasgow. For the past year there has been a campaign underway at the base called Faslane 365. The goal has been to have daily protests and non-violent civil disobedience actions to highlight the current plans of the British government to upgrade the Trident nuclear missile. So far 950 people have been arrested. Dave and I had been invited to come and do a Global Network day at the base to highlight the connection to U.S. plans to move the arms race into space. After speaking to assembled supporters we both took our Global Network banner that said Keep Space for Peace on it and we blocked the entrance to the base briefly halting traffic. We were quickly handcuffed and removed from the area and taken to the jail in Clydebank some 30 minutes away. This being a Saturday we were told we'd be in jail until Monday which created a problem for me as I was to fly home early Monday morning from Manchester, some seven hours away. I told the jailers of my dilemma and as a result we only spent one night in jail as we were released before noon on Sunday.

After a quick meal prepared by Faslane 365 organizers Dave and I were off in his car back to Leeds. We hoped to make it back in time to hear Cynthia McKinney speak at Leeds Metropolitan University that evening. We made it and Cynthia was surprised to hear me call her name when she entered the hall as we had just had a series of email exchanges the week before and neither of us knew that we'd run into each other in Leeds. At that time Cynthia was considering seeking the Green Party presidential nomination in 2008 but just days ago she decided not to run. A severe disappointment for me.

This was an exciting, whirlwind trip and one that I will long remember for its wonderful walks, beautiful sites, and making contact with dedicated activists. I am grateful to Dave and CND for having me come to Britain and to all who hosted me.

One last thought. After each of my talks people would ask me what the peace movement was doing in the U.S. to oppose the occupation of Iraq and the likely attack on Iran. They said they did not get any real information about our movement, just as we in the U.S. don't hear much about the movements in Britain. I told them to regularly check the web site called AfterDowningStreet.Org This site has become one of my favorite sources to monitor the grassroots movement in the U.S. around Iraq and impeachment of Bush-Cheney. I check it several times a day. Please do the same.

My next trip will be during Keep Space for Peace Week as I go to Omaha, Nebraska from October 4-12 to participate in protests around StratCom. The Global Network affiliate group Nebraskans for Peace is organizing a series of events during that week that will include their annual conference, lectures, and protests.

Please consider organizing a local event in your community during our space week of events next month.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


The Navy's Blue Angels just flew very low and loudly over our neighborhood in Bath. We are told they are doing practice runs but in fact they are really promoting the coming air show. They are trying to stir the community to come see the show.

My first thought was of the many innocent people in Iraq who have grown to fear those sounds daily since the U.S. "shock and awe" invasion of Iraq. To them they are not the sounds of "freedom" but are instead the horrifying sounds of bombs falling and more deaths in their already chaotic neighborhoods.

The coming Veterans for Peace demonstration in Brunswick this Saturday has already begun to create debate in the community as letters to the editor and op-eds have been flying back and forth for weeks in the local Times Record. Karen Wainberg told us just minutes ago about a man she was speaking with on the phone who reported that while at a meeting in his office today the planes had flown overhead and there was a positive reaction by one person but he did not seem to share the joy of the "Angels."

I went for a haircut today from my dear friend Maria Holt in Bath who has been fighting cancer for the past year or so and is fighting depression. She won't be able to come to the demonstration on Saturday but asked me to take a painting of a real angel, dressed in blue, to the event on her behalf. She said the painting that she did was copied from a famous painting. The coming demonstration is already stirring hearts.

One woman called today to find out how much the Blue Angels air show will cost the taxpayers. She was concerned about the waste of national resources. Her heart was stirring.

It is my hope that people who want to end this military madness will have the courage to come and march with Veterans for Peace on Saturday. We will gather on the Brunswick Mall, near the gazebo, and begin the march at 9:00 am. At noon we will hold a rally at the front gate of the Brunswick Naval Air Station and hear from two women whose hearts are daily in pain as their sons now serve in Iraq. We will hear from the incomparable Betty Burkes who has served as the national president of Women's International League for Peace & Freedom. We will hear Maine VfP member Dud Hendrick talk about the U.S. military empire and from Vietnam veteran and poet Doug Rawlings. They will all stir our hearts.

While on my recent trip to England, Wales, and Scotland each of my talks ended with someone in the audience asking me the same questions. "What are people in the U.S. doing to end the occupation of Iraq? Are you people going to invade Iran as well?"

It is true that the whole world is watching us. They are wondering when the American people will begin stirring and move to stop the insanity of endless war.

The protest in Brunswick on September 15 would be a good opportunity for us to show that we do care. It would be a good chance for us to show that our hearts are stirred by the enormous suffering of the people in Iraq.

What a safe place we live in. We can march to the Navy base gates while the "Gods of Metal" fly overhead. We are lucky that they won't drop bombs on us. Others in the world are not so lucky.

Real angels don't drop bombs!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Just got home yesterday from the Britain trip and have to admit I am just a bit worn out. Had my plane cancelled in Toronto that was to get me back to Boston so by the time I got there it was too late to catch the bus back to Maine. I had to spend the night in Boston and got back home near noon yesterday. Have been unpacking today and going through hundreds of emails as you can imagine.

The photo above is our meeting with British Commander Nick Loveday at the U.S.-RAF Fylingdales space radar facility in the Moors national park in northern England. Alongside me is Dave Webb (GN Chairperson) and Jackie Fearnley (an activist who lives in the village nearest the base). Cmdr. Loveday gave us a tour of the facility and did a 40-minute presentation on the role of the facility. It's been open for 44 years and was initially a early warning radar base to pick up any Soviet nuclear missiles. Now it is being upgraded for participation in the U.S. "missile defense" scheme. Similar U.S. radar bases like this are also located at Beale AFB, California, Clear AFS, Alaska, Cape Cod AFS, Massachusetts, and Thule Air Base, Greenland. All of them are being upgraded for a role in Star Wars. Other U.S. and NATO radars are also to be brought on-line for space weapons warfare program.

Our meeting with the commander was quite cordial and I was surprised to learn that she was going to come to listen to my talk later that evening (September 7) in the nearby seaside town of Whitby. So indeed later that night the commander did show up and took notes while I spoke. After my talk she was asked by one man in the audience for her reaction to what I had to say. Her answer was, "I did not hear anything I disagree with, but I did not agree with everything he said." I think that meant that she had no disagreement factually with anything I said but then did not necessarily agree with my political analysis of what is going on. Fair enough.

Actually it was good to have the honest and fair dialogue with the commander. She is in a way just doing her job and we commend her for seeing us as equals and not some wild crazy protesters who are the "enemy." That is progress.

Our real disagreement is with the politicians and the aerospace industry who are making the decisions to move the arms race into space. Maybe some people in the military are also concerned about this coming arms race? It would be nice to have them become more vocal about their concerns. After all, when you join the military you really do so because you want to protect your country and the people of your country. At some point, if you see that the leaders of your nation (like George W. Bush and former Prime Minister Tony Blair) are leading you to ruin it is your duty to speak out.

Coming out of WW II it was called Nuremberg Law. It is the duty of a soldier to speak out when they recognize their country is on the wrong course. It is wrong to follow orders that run against maintaining global peace.

(Click on the photo above for a better view of the radar.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Building united opposition to US Missile Defence

Saturday 1st September 2007

United in our commitment to a peaceful future, we recognise that the United States Missile Defence programme is a significant threat to global security and stability. We reject the US Government’s argument that the system is defensive. On the contrary, this system will allow the US to attack another state without fear of retaliation, and is already leading to a new nuclear arms race. The system will undermine international commitments and treaties on nuclear non-proliferation, arms control and space security. It is already provoking a new Cold War, and will jeopardise the security of people in Europe and across the world.

All Governments supporting US Missile Defence, by hosting radar, missile and intelligence bases on their soil, are putting their populations on the front line of attack in future US wars.

We the participants in the London Conference:

• Call on all Governments to reject the system and its facilities, and for the peoples of all countries to lobby their Governments to withdraw support.
• Call for increased campaigning at bases and facilities linked to Missile Defence, and for support to be given to campaigners resisting the development of Missile Defence sites in their countries.
• Commit ourselves to exposing US Missile Defence as a destabilising provocation, contributing to the danger of war and nuclear weapons use, and to raising public awareness of this major threat to our security.

We will work together, building a global, united campaign, to prevent this threat to world peace.

Conference signatories:

Kate Hudson, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, UK
Ivona Novomestska, Ne Zekladnam (No to Bases), Czech Republic
Filip Ilkowski, Stop Wojnie, (Stop War), Poland
Yves-Jean Gallas, Le Mouvement de la paix, France
Peter Richter, German Peace Council
Bruce Gagnon, Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, US
Pol d’Huyvetter, Mayors for Peace
Helen John, Menwith Hill Women’s Peace Camp(aign)
Lindis Percy, Campaign for the Accountability of US Bases, UK
Andrew Murray, Stop the War Coalition, UK
George Woods, NEC, National Union for Students, UK
Professor Dave Webb
Dr Ian Davis
Dr Elaheh Rostami-Povey

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Dave Webb (Chair of the Global Network) and I were arrested yesterday for blocking the entrance to the British Faslane Trident nuclear base in Scotland as part of the year-long Faslane 365 campaign against the government's decision to build a new generation of nuclear weapons.

Dave drove us to Scotland, a five-hour ride, from Leeds early Saturday morning. After speaking to those assembled at the gate we held our banner directly in front of the gate blocking traffice from coming or going into the base. We were taken to a nearby jail in Clydebank and held over night and released at 10am this morning. Normally if people are arrested on the weekends they are detained until Monday but we told the police I was set to fly back to Maine on Monday morning from Manchester so they let us out early.

We drove back Leeds just in time to go and listen to a talk by former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney who just happened to be speaking in Leeds this evening. Cynthia and I had just exchanged emails a few days ago so she was quite surprised to see me in the audience.

Below is the news release issued about the arrests:


Contact: Brian Larkin 07760 401267
Dave Webb 07717 606189

U.S. peace activist Bruce Gagnon and British activist Dave Webb were arrested today blockading the entrance to the Faslane Trident nuclear submarine base in Scotland. Gagnon is the Coordinator of the Global Network against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space and lives in Maine in the U.S. Dave Webb is the chairperson of Yorkshire CND and also chairs the Global Network.

Gagnon has been on a speaking tour in England, Wales, and Scotland for the last 10 days talking about the nuclear hypocrisy of the U.S. as it lectures the restof the world about the evils of WMD while at the same time building new generations of nukes and now planning to move the arms race into space.

“It’s clear to me that the U.S. and Britain should be held to the same standard they are claiming that Iran should be held to. If Iran should not have nuclearweapons then why should the U.S. and Britain be jointly building new generationsof nuclear warheads,” Gagnon said.

Dave Webb said, “It’s time for people to make a stand and show where their priorities lie. Do we really need nuclear weapons when there are so many other real problemswe need to solve together?”

The protest is part of the ongoing yearlong Faslane365 blockade and brings the total number of arrests at Faslane since October 2006 to 944. People from at least twelve countries including Japan, Australia and the United States as well as several European countries have travelled to Faslane to participate in the protests.

There will be a Big Blockade of the Faslane base on 1st of October with more thana thousand expected to attend.

For further information on Global Network see For further information on Faslane 365 see

Monday, September 03, 2007


I just arrived in Cardiff, Wales on the train from Oxford where I spoke yesterday. I'm sitting at a computer inside the Temple of Peace, where I speak tonight, and have some extra time on my hands. Thought I'd update the blog.

In the picture above I've just planted two baby oak trees along with the Lord Mayor of Oxford, John Tanner. Just behind us, over his right shoulder, you can barely see three round radomes at the U.S. military communications base at Croughton, about 30 miles outside of Oxford.

Following my talk yesterday at Oxford City Hall, we were driven out to the base to plant the tree in preparation for Keep Space for Peace Week. Peace activists from the Oxford region will hold an action at Croughton on October 13 during our annual week of local protests calling for an end to plans to move the arms race into space.

The U.S. military uses the Croughton base to relay military communications, via satellite, throughout all of Europe and parts of western Asia. Thus the Croughton base is involved in helping to direct military efforts in Europe to support the Iraq occupation and any attack of Iran that might soon happen.

On Saturday I participated in the excellent "missile defense" conference put on by CND in London. Two people from the Czech Republic and one activist from Poland were there reporting on their vibrant campaigns to keep U.S. bases out of their countries. One of the Czech speakers was mayor of the village where the Pentagon wants to place a radar facility and he reported that he and other mayors have just created a "league" of mayors from their country who oppose the radar and they have already signed 85 of them up. Everyone at the event agreed that "missile defense" deployments in those two countries has absolutely nothing to do with Iranian missiles and is instead part of the U.S. effort to military surround Russia and give the U.S. first-strike advantage.

It was interesting to hear the folks at the London confab lovingly compete with each other to see which country was the #1 "lap dog" of the U.S. Tony Blair always could claim that distinction but now activists from other countries like Australia, Germany, and even France made claim that their government was in the "favored," and most subservient, position of being the top U.S. poodle. It made for some good laughs but also reminded all of us that corporate globalization also means corporate takeover of democracies everywhere.

The thing most on my mind today is the story that appeared in the Sunday Times about U.S. plans for a three-day bombing campaign of all Iranian military targets - opening the door to hell. I closely read the piece by former CIA agent Ray McGovern urging American activists to step up resistance immediately as we are running out of time. I fully agree.

I do talks for the next three days in Wales before moving toward Scotland and the Faslane Trident base.

You can only imagine that the U.S.'s image is now lower than ever with everyone I've met. And well deservedly so.

More later.