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

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I got home last night near midnight from DC. The meeting I attended in Washington was attended by about 25 key people who have been working on issues in the Asian-Pacific region for some time. There were a number of activists from Korea there as we tried to come up with the best plan to bring the issues of a growing arms race in the region to a wider public.

Today 65% of global military spending comes from the countries now involved in the six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear capability. These countries are North Korea ($5 billion military budget in 2006), South Korea ($22 billion), Russia ($35 billion), China ($50 billion), and the U.S. ($564 billion). So even though these countries talk about peace they are preparing for war - some more than others.

The real question for me is does the U.S. really want peace in the region or are they out to drive this new arms race to increase weapons corporations profits and to surround China militarily in the coming years?

How does the peace movement then develop a campaign that calls on these military powers to draw back from this dangerous military escalation?

The global war system is eating up the resources that are needed to deal with the immediate reality of climate change. Economic conversion of the military industrial complex is not just an imperative in the U.S., it is a global imperative. No country can deal with the coming economic dislocation expected as a result of peak oil and no adequate national or international response to climate change will ever be possible unless we end the dominance of military over industrial production decision making.

It was fitting this morning that MB and I went to the last vigil of the Lenten season at Bath Iron Works in our town. The disarmament vigils began on Ash Wednesday (Feb 6) and have continued each Saturday since - for a total of eight weeks. We gather in front of the plant just before the Saturday shift goes home at noon.

Bath Iron Works builds the Navy Aegis destroyer that is being outfitted with "missile defense" interceptor systems and is being deployed in Australia, Japan, South Korea and very likely Taiwan. These ships, sold to the public as defensive, are in fact the shield in the U.S. first strike system designed to take out China's 20 nukes that are capable of reaching the west coast.

Today I held a sign that said Windmills Not Destroyers. Some of the workers, driving by in a long slow line of traffic, honked or gave the peace sign. Some gave us the finger but most just looked straight ahead with no comment. One man rolled down his window and yelled out "I've got to work."

Many workers do want to build something other than weapons for endless war. But they feel locked in and don't have much hope the peace movement can deliver the muscle to force the conversion of the military production system. What the workers don't yet see is how they must become engaged in the effort to force politicians to appropriate our tax dollars for windmills (and solar and rail and other sustainable technologies) rather than weapons. What they have yet to learn that is converting to peaceful production will in the end create more jobs for them and their neighbors.

In the meantime the challenge will be to build an international consciousness that calls on all nations to convert their weapons production processes. Those running the global war system must be turned out of power if we are to survive as a people on this planet.

Everyone must learn that the growing reliance on military spending is killing all our futures.


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