Organizing Notes

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

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

WINDMILLS OR WEAPONS


This morning I got a news release in my email from Herb Hoffman who is the Independent candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Maine. I've previously reported on the Maine Democratic party efforts to keep him off the ballot. Just today we learned that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear his appeal so it is not yet known what options he might pursue next such as running as a write-in candidate. Hoffman clearly shows in the release below that he understands the importance of conversion of the military industrial complex as a positive alternative program for job creation and as a way to deal with climate change. It's good to see someone running for office make these important connections.
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Press Release

Despite their attempts to highlight their differences, it appears two of the three candidates running for U.S. Senate in Maine -- Republican Susan Collins and Democrat Tom Allen -- are in agreement on a very significant issue.

And, as with many other significant issues facing the country today, independent U.S. Senate candidate Herbert Hoffman is on the other side.

Hoffman noted that both Collins and Allen favor building more military destroyers, at a cost of billions of dollars each, ships which are basically designed to be weapons of mass destruction. They differ only on which type of destroyer they prefer to be built at Bath Iron Works (BIW), the General Dynamics facility in Bath, Maine.

A major plank of the Hoffman for Senate campaign is the conversion of a war based economy to a peace time economy.

Senator Collins is pleased the Navy has reversed its recent decision and plans to restart the Zumwalt class (DDG-1000) destroyer program. The Navy's original decision, "could have created a devastating gap" in BIW's work production schedule, according to Collins.

Congressman Allen has similar concerns about jobs, though he seems to favor another class of destroyer, the Arleigh Burke (DDG-51), more commonly known as the Aegis. Allen seemed to be pleased that the workload at BIW will remain stable no matter which destroyer is built.

What is clear, Hoffman said, is that while both Collins and Allen are concerned about preserving jobs at the General Dynamics shipyard in Bath, they apparently have little or no concern that the products produced, at great taxpayer expense, are designed specifically to destroy lives.

"I have neither heard nor read any expression by either Collins or Allen during this controversy about their desire to see the conversion of BIW from a war industry to a peace industry," said Hoffman.

It was widely reported, according to Hoffman, that when Senators Collins and Olympia Snowe met with the BIW President in the latter part of July, their concern was determining what the shipyard needed for destroyer orders to keep its employees working. Winslow Wheeler of the Center for Defense noted, "Some of the confusion over what ships are needed suggests that something is totally out of control."

It would appear, Hoffman said, that keeping jobs by propping up a weapons industry despite the actual defense requests is more important to Maine's federal lawmakers than spending taxpayers' money on the actual needs of the country.

While he likewise wants to keep the experienced and skilled work force at BIW active and employed, Hoffman pointed out that "a job welding a fitting on a generator or fabricating a blade for a windmill designed to produce wind power is still a job and one which is more rewarding for the future of this country."

Hoffman, a long-time advocate of military conversion, added: "The continued production of machines of war has a limited future in terms of enhancing the quality of life for the average American citizen - or the average citizen of Maine. Empires built on military strength, nations which rely on the military/industrial complex for producing their GDP, have a long history of failure."

"The United States is clearly going in this direction and it is essential to reverse course for this nation's survival," Hoffman said.

"Plans for wind farms in Aroostook County and on the offshore islands are very much in the news this week," said Hoffman, "and the machinery to produce this energy in Maine - hundreds of windmills planned for Maine alone - will be imported from Europe."

Noting that both of his opponents are currently members of Congress, Hoffman said, "Our current Maine federal officeholders should be advocating for peace-time conversion at BIW. BIW has the skilled work force and the tools for a smooth conversion to producing windmills, not machines of war; to producing vehicles for mass transportation, not weapons for mass destruction."

Hoffman also urged General Dynamics to get ahead of the curve, and to consider diversifying its product line, even without federal pressure on its bottom line.

"With the recent skyrocketing price of oil, and the resulting push for us as a nation to become energy self-sufficient, General Dynamics should be able to see the handwriting on the wall," Hoffman said. "It has an opportunity here to be on the cutting edge of military conversion to home-grown energy production, an opportunity I urge them to act upon."

Herbert Hoffman

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