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

Monday, March 31, 2008


I returned last night from a one day trip to Bethlehem, PA. to speak at annual dinner of LEPOCO which was celebrating its 42nd year of peace work in the former steel town.

Upon arriving at the airport I was taken for a quick drive by the old steel works which has long been closed and is rusting and crumbling like other ancient ruins of industry across the nation. I was told that in the place of the steel mills will soon be a grand casino, which is fitting I guess. Instead of real jobs with steady incomes, workers can go play the slot machines and hope that luck will bring them a quick financial reward. But like most capitalist endeavors, the game is rigged on the side of the house and more financial ruin and poverty for the "player" are the sure result.

My talk to LEPOCO was well received by the 150 there, except for a few who were not happy with my answer to a question about Obama. Just as I had expected, the key questions from the audience were about which of the candidates I would support. I was told Mr. Obama would be in town on Monday and they expect over 2,000 people to greet his call for "change" in America.

I did not bring up Obama or Hillary in the main body of my talk. I did several times of course tell stories about the complicity of both war parties in supporting the development of Star Wars, the occupation of Iraq, and the like. But I knew that it was best to leave their names out of my speech and let the question period surface these issues of "who is the best candidate."

Once asked by someone in the audience about Mr. Change, I did ask the crowd if they were sure they wanted me to actually answer the question. "Are you sure you want to hear what I have to say," I asked. YES they howled. "Ok, but you don't want to get me started!"

I read excerpts from Amy Goodman's Democracy Now interview with journalist Allan Nairn in January, 2008 where they discussed Mr. Obama's top military advisers. One of them Nairn said was "General Merrill McPeak, an Air Force man, who not long after the Dili massacre in East Timor in ’91 that you and I survived, he was—I happened to see on Indonesian TV shortly after that—there was General McPeak overseeing the delivery to Indonesia of U.S. fighter planes."

I told the LEPOCO audience that I knew of this Gen. McPeak too, as I held up my copy of the Space Command's Vision for 2020 which I had earlier referred to in great detail. This Gen. McPeak I told them had once been the commander of the U.S. Space Command........

The last question of the night came from one of the leaders of the group. She asked me who I would vote for. I said I would only answer the question if they understood that I was not telling them who to vote for. I said that voting was a sacred and private act but that I would share with them who I was going to support.

I said I was going to vote for the black [pause] woman [pause] and then went on to talk about this person for quite some time without naming her. As I did this I noticed a woman in the back of the hall holding up her green dinner place mat like a sign over her head. Eventually I mentioned Cynthia McKinney's name.

The bulk of my talk though was about conversion of the military industrial complex and the dire need to transform our declining gas guzzling nation to a solar-wind-rail society which would create jobs and would help reduce the causes of climate change. I stated that the cost of the Iraq occupation in 2007, if the money had been invested back here in the U.S. in sustainable technology development, would have created one million good jobs. I suggested that instead of just standing on the street with our signs that say PEACE on them, that we need to adapt our message to articulate this linkage between growing militarism, economic decline, and offer a positive vision for real job creation at a time when people in places like Bethlehem, PA. are worried about how they will feed their families in the near future.

Today we are preparing to head west to Colorado Springs and then Omaha for two weeks worth of protesting and conference organizing. My next blog entry will give much detail about that.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Yesterday I drove north to speak at the University of Maine in Orono. The Philosophy Department is having a speaker series and my topic was "A Leftist Analysis of Elections". It was fun to prepare for this talk, not one I normally give, and I think it went well. Of course I was critical of the Democrats and Republicans, the two corporate war parties, and read from the 1918 speech by Eugene Debs when he opposed WW I and was later tried and sentenced to 10 years in jail for violating the Sedition Act.

In the speech Debs said, "Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. In the Middle Ages when the feudal lords who inhabited the castles whose towers may still be seen along the Rhine [River in Germany] concluded to enlarge their domains, to increase their power, their prestige and their wealth they declared war upon one another. But they themselves did not go to war any more than the modern feudal lords, the barons of Wall Street go to war.

"The feudal barons of the Middle Ages, the economic predecessors of the capitalists of our day, declared all wars. And their miserable serfs fought all the battles. The poor, ignorant serfs had been taught to revere their masters; to believe that when their masters declared war upon one another, it was their patriotic duty to fall upon one another and to cut one another's throats for the profit and glory of the lords and barons who held them in contempt. And that is war in a nutshell. The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose--especially their lives.

"They have always taught and trained you to believe it to be your patriotic duty to go to war and to have yourselves slaughtered at their command. But in all the history of the world you, the people, have never had a voice in declaring war, and strange as it certainly appears, no war by any nation in any age has ever been declared by the people."

In the morning I will get up early and take the bus from Portland to the Boston airport. From there I will head to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where I will speak at the annual dinner of the peace group called LEPOCO. My talk is advertised as Swords into Plowshares: Transforming the Military Industrial Complex - my favorite topic these days.

Pennsylvania is the state next up to vote in the Democratic party election primary season. So it is likely many of the questions I get after my talk will be focused on the upcoming elections.

I will get home on Sunday evening and will unfortunately miss the next Mainers for Cynthia McKinney meeting and our monthly Addams-Melman House potluck supper - both events scheduled to be held at our house in Bath that day.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Tonight I was invited by some concerned parents to attend a meeting at the nearby Woolwich Central School to discuss a controversial "Adventure Program" being offered by the Maine Army National Guard (MANG).

The parents have a daughter in the 7th grade and kids at the school in grades 7-8 will next month be subjected to two days of a program called "Maine Counter Drug Task Force" that is now in its third year of operation. In 2006 the MANG visited 47 schools and had contact with 4,700 kids.

It's a two-stage program. First MANG comes to the school in uniform for a two-day "anti-drug and alcohol" program where they "facilitate" goal setting and talk about why it is bad to hit one another. They ask the kids "Who is out there to support you?" Is it possible that they are planting the seed in the kids minds that the Army will support them when they can't find a job or need to provide for their families?

The second-step is an overnight camp out in rural Maine at a MANG training facility. As the MANG Sergeant showed photos and described the "experience," all I could see was a mini-boot camp where they teach the kids "teamwork" on ropes courses and repelling walls.

The school guidance counselor kept talking about how much fun the kids have and how parents are invited to come along. In past years, to get the schools hooked, MANG said it was all free to the schools. Now the parents are being asked to raise funds for the bus transportation to the boot camp.

I kept thinking about the Pentagon's growing need for access to young minds as they plan endless war and a future of "security export" for our nation. The military knows that because we won't be having industrial jobs anymore in the U.S. working class kids at schools like Woolwich Central School will have no real job future. So the MANG becomes the rich uncle and offers to take the kids away for the weekend for some fun and frolic in the woods. It's all harmless they tell us.

The pump is being primed. Anyone who has any doubts that our culture is being militarized just needs to take one fast look at our schools. And what makes it really sad is that the school administrators and the classroom teachers are also being recruited to serve as agents to funnel working class kids into the war machine.

As local schools face growing fiscal crisis look for the rich uncle, dressed in camouflage fatigues, to come knocking on the school house doors alot more often. After all it's MANG who has access to the big money these days.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


This morning I was planting seeds in little pots with housemate Karen Wainberg. We have a sunny window seat on the first floor where our house plants live during the winter. We've moved them all from their light filled perch and have put the starter pots there so we can get a head start when spring finally comes to Maine.

We still have snow on the frozen ground outside. The weather forecasts more snow this weekend. But we have confidence, the spring will come again....someday, and we intend to be ready.

Yes it is a matter of faith, but a faith informed by experience and by the law of nature. (Which admittedly is now under some adaptation due to climate change.) But still we believe that the ground will at some point thaw and little green things will pop up and flowers will bloom. Even here in Maine.

It is like that in the political world too. Last night I did a radio interview on a progressive show in Connecticut and right afterwards an 82 year old man called to ask to be put on our mailing list. He said his children think he is politically nuts and he knows "no one" who agrees with him politically. "Call me when the revolution starts," he concluded. He is losing faith fast but hangs on just a bit, knowing that his radio brings him voices each week of those out planting seeds.

I have learned over the years that many people plant seeds but few stay with them to water and tend them after they are in the ground. There will be no good garden, or revolution, without this necessary tending of the seeds that we sow.

Fruits come to the gardeners that remain steadfast in nurturing the plants in the garden.

Sunday, March 23, 2008



Reports of a possible U.S. air assault against Iranian nuclear facilities have been circulating in the media for more than a year and a half now. Former CIA agent Philip Giraldi (The American Conservative, 8/1/05), Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh (New Yorker Magazine, 4/17/06) and most recently, investigative reporter Craig Unger in the March 2007 Vanity Fair, have all warned of the White House's plans for an air- and sea-based strike against Iran.

But such an assault has been in the planning since before November 2003, when U.S. Strategic Command near Omaha, Nebraska completed its preparations for waging offensive and preemptive strikes against Iran and North Korea (William Arkin, Washington Post, 5/15/05). Under "CONPLAN 8022" (Contingency Plan 8022), the Omaha-based command center is now commissioned to strike anywhere in the world within minutes of detecting a target deemed a threat to the United States' national security. And the projected attack against Iran--which could well include nuclear as well as conventional weapons--will be planned, launched and coordinated by StratCom.

For over half a century, the seemingly remote Omaha Air Force Base in the American heartland served exclusively as the command center for the U.S.'s nuclear deterrent. After 9/11, however, StratCom underwent a significant transformation of its role and mission, becoming in effect the war room' for waging the White House's "War on Terror." StratCom retained its historic responsibility for overseeing the largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world. But it acquired the additional charges of "full-spectrum global strike" (staging offensive, preemptive attacks); combating weapons of mass destruction; space and computer warfare; ballistic missile defense; and surveillance and reconnaissance (the "warrantless wiretaps" conducted by the National Security Agency, for instance, were a StratCom project).

According to the Vanity Fair article, StratCom could be ready to launch a "massive" aerial attack against the hundreds of nuclear facilities in Iran as soon as the end of this month (February). The possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons to penetrate the reinforced bunkers protecting the Iranian nuclear research facilities is also apparently real.

Today, U.S. Strategic Command in Bellevue, Nebraska (a suburb of Omaha) is the most dangerous place on the face of the earth. To thwart this wrong-headed and potentially catastrophic assault on Iran by StratCom will require nothing less than a mobilization by the world community. The Bush/Cheney Administration must be publicly challenged in the court of world opinion, and international media coverage of StratCom's leading role is integral to rallying opposition.

Can you imagine the public reaction--particularly in the Muslim world--if the war plans taking shape at StratCom were common knowledge?

Here we have the command center for the world's largest nuclear arsenal orchestrating an unprovoked attack (possibly even with nuclear weapons) on a non-nuclear Muslim nation, in order to prevent that country from even developing nuclear power for civilian purposes, for fear it might someday make a bomb.

StratCom's policy promotes a morally repugnant double standard. And it is begging to be turned into a bully pulpit,' from which opponents can expose its hypocritical behavior.

Under international law, were the United States again to launch an unprovoked attack against a Muslim nation-- as it did with Iraq--it would be acting illegally. But if the U.S. were also to use tactical nuclear weapons on Iran, it would be only the second time in over 61 years that a nuclear weapon has been used militarily. And on each of those occasions, it will have been the United States that used them.

The role and mission of StratCom has changed so dramatically in the past five years that most of the world has little idea of what is currently going on there.

Tim Rinne is State Coordinator, Nebraskans for Peace, the oldest statewide Peace & Justice organization in the United States, and has been working for more than 35 years to alert the public about U.S. Strategic Command.
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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.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I am in the airport preparing to board a plane for Washington DC to attend a meeting that is going to form a new coalition to work on Asian-Pacific issues. As I've written on this blog many times, the U.S. is arming itself to the teeth in order to surround and control China in the coming years.

This reality is now causing virtually all other nations in the region to up-arm themselves in response and the concerns are growing about the obvious implications.

The peace movement has not had much of a Asian-Pacific focus (due in large part to being quite bushed with the Iraq occupation) so the new coalition hopes to be able to begin to bring some consciousness and organizing to this neglected part of the world.

Because of U.S. "missile defense" deployments in Japan and Australia, and Navy Aegis destroyers being outfitted with these systems, the Global Network for many years has been on this case. It is important though that others like Joseph Gerson (AFSC) and John Feffer (Foreign Policy in Focus), who have also long been key voices on Asian-Pacific issues, have a chance to bring their leadership on the region to a larger body. The Global Network will enthusiastically be a part of this effort.

The meeting will last two days beginning with an educational forum this evening and strategy sessions on Friday.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


It's an old story in America. During the civil war the weapons corporations delivered inferior rifles to the soldiers of the Union army and they maximized their profits. We see the same thing happening today in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I was watching CNN this morning and they had one of their top reporters on a quiet and deserted avenue in Baghdad reporting how calm everything was. In the distance you could see military vehicles blocking traffic from entering the street. The reporter was dressed in green military fatigues and a green military hat with CNN's logo on it. There is no pretense now. The corporate reporters have essentially been inducted into the military. They are mouth pieces for the military industrial complex. Forget their role as monitors of power - the checks and balances have all been rubbed out.

CNN reported that as we now enter this 6th year of Iraq occupation up to 90,000 Iraqi people have been killed. Forget the numbers of 1.2 million Iraqi deaths that we hear from British medical sources. Forget similar numbers from Iraqi medical sources. We are seeing the white washing of the numbers by the corporate dominated media.

Just as I had feared, as the Winter Soldier hearings began, there was only spotty publicity about them in the corporate controlled media. There were a few stories here and there but not anything near the earth shattering coverage of Obama's "wayward" pastor who told the truth when he said 9-11 was the "chickens coming home to roost."

Fox News has just reported that "Sixteen Democratic members of the [Congressional] Out of Iraq Caucus stepped up to defend Hillary Clinton’s record on the Iraq war, issuing an open letter Tuesday asserting Clinton is the ideal candidate to bring the war to a 'responsible' end."

What the hell does "responsible" mean?

Names like Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, California Rep. Lynn Woolsey and California Rep. Maxine Waters are saying Hillary is going to best end the occupation. Don't believe it. Don't believe it for a minute.

I saw Hillary in Iraq a couple of years ago on Faze the Nation (CBS) with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) saying, "The American people need to relax. We've been in Korea for 50 years. We're going to be in Iraq for a long time." Sen. Graham turned to the cameras in that moment and said, "I don't often agree with Hillary on much, but on this I agree with her."

This same Sen. Lindsey Graham was just in Iraq with Sen. John McCain and Sen. Joe Lieberman. During this trip the three were saying we have to stay in Iraq, that Iran is a trouble maker and has to be dealt with, and that we need more money to keep the occupation going.

What is the difference here between these two war parties? Truthfully, what is the god-damned difference?

How can the Out of Iraq Caucus throw in with Hillary knowing her real position? How can we let the Out of Iraq Caucus betray the peace movement in this way and continue to look to them for leadership? Don't we know that the only leadership that will stop this cycle of endless war is those of us on the streets all across this worn out nation?

I know it all looks pretty damn bleak.....who can we trust and who can we turn to in these bad times?

Well the answer is us.....we need each other and we need to turn to people who we know have been there on the street with us and who will remain on the street with us. That is the answer, that is the litmus test.

Make a personal pledge, a personal promise as we wearily step into this 6th year of occupation. "I will not be fooled and led by these corrupt corporate controlled politicians. I will work and trust my peers who have shown their determination to end this madness by being there on the streets for the past five years. These are our leaders. These are our spokespersons."

We are a military totalitarian dictatorship dressed up in three-piece suits posing as the world's greatest democracy. It's all lies. It's "friendly fascism" pure and simple - a wedding of the corporations and the government.

The politicians in the war parties be damned.

Monday, March 17, 2008


If you look closely at the photo above, of a protest in Minneapolis last weekend, (click on it for a larger version) you will see a banner near the back that says Money for schools not for war.

This is a message that should be appearing everywhere these days. Other similar slogans in our marches and vigils should be Money for jobs not for war, Health care not warfare, Convert the military industrial complex, We can't eat Star Wars, Build mass transit not endless war, We can't live in a bomb, and so on.

The peace movement is doing a pretty poor job of connecting the occupation of Iraq, now costing us $12 billion a month, to the public's concern about a declining economy, jobs moving overseas, and cutbacks in social spending.

By now people get the "No more blood for oil message." They've heard that slogan for five years. What are we saying today that is relevant to their lives?

Joanne Sheehan, regional organizer for the War Resisters League, arrived at our house last night for a meeting that we held about converting the military industrial complex. We are now doing preparations for a long-term campaign in our region of Maine about the need to transform Bath Iron Works from building destroyers (outfitted with "missile defense systems") to build rail, solar, windmills and/or other sustainable technologies. Our point is that research shows that spending money on weapons production creates less jobs than if we invested in any other kind of peaceful production.

Joanne worked on economic conversion issues in southern Connecticut where she lives back in the early 1990's when the issue was big in the peace movement. At the time the Cold War was ending and people all over the country began talking about the peace dividend and started thinking about converting military production facilities. Even the International Association of Machinists, which represents many of the military production workers, was a leader at that time in the peace-labor efforts to bring conversion into reality. The reason that conversion did not survive the George H. W. Bush Panama and the Persian Gulf invasions was because we didn't do a good enough job of getting the peace movement to internalize the issue as essential to our being able to stop endless war.

Weapons are presently the #1 industrial export product of the U.S. Today many local communities are economically dependent on military production. If we don't talk about economic conversion how will we ever end war?

Now is the moment that the public is really casting about for answers. They fear the economic future more than they fear "terrorism." They know that jobs are becoming scarce and that opportunities for their children are drying up. Many are very responsive to talk about converting from a war economy to peaceful production. Many understand conversion means good and reliable jobs, a cleaner environment, and a more humane foreign policy that ends the need to wage war for oil.

But is the peace movement talking about this? Is the peace community offering a transformative economic vision that builds a peace-labor-environmental-social justice movement alliance? Sadly the answer is no. By and large the peace movement is saying the same things we were saying five years ago - Bring the troops home now. That just does not cut it.

We all need to stretch ourselves and begin to incorporate a positive vision of an economy that creates jobs and lessens the need for endless war. We've got to begin to link with the average American citizen who is worried about losing their home, paying for education, buying food, keeping the heat on, and holding onto their jobs. We've got to begin to talk about how military spending is killing their future and our nation.

All of our local peace and justice groups should take this 5th year of Iraq occupation as an opportunity to organize local meetings to discuss making our opposition to endless war relevant to our fellow citizens.

I'm afraid if we delay doing so we will be on the streets five years from now still holding signs that say No more blood for oil - Bring the troops home now!

Friday, March 14, 2008


The Winter Soldier hearings began last night just outside of Washington. I've monitored the major corporate media today for some word about the testimonies by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) but have seen virtually nothing.

Instead anyone watching the news today was subjected to a full plate of Obama-bashing. The "latest news" is the 2001 sermon by Obama's Chicago church pastor who linked the 9-11 attacks in America to what the U.S. has been doing to other countries around the world. This truth telling by the pastor has now been denounced by Obama who is being forced to bend down and grovel on his knees if he wishes to be allowed to continue his run for the presidency.

So here we have hundreds of young GI's, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, telling their stories on this 5th year of the occupation of Iraq. They are talking about the killings of innocent people. They are telling about their officers condoning, and in fact, ordering them to kill civilians. But we are not allowed to hear these stories in the "embedded media".

So you will have to listen to these IVAW hearings via the web site of the organization. Unfortunately few people will ever know they are happening.

Sixteen of us went out on the street today in the small business district in my town of Bath. We held signs and handed out about 100 leaflets alerting people to the Winter Soldier hearings. We will do the same again tomorrow at 1:00 pm.

All across the nation this weekend people will be standing on the street trying to help illuminate the work of IVAW and the rest of the peace movement. It is something we must do over and over again. We must become the media ourselves as our "free press" in America is no longer free. It has been beaten into submission just like they are now doing to the people in Iraq.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I was in the supermarket today and at the checkout counter there were several of the tabloids with articles about Obama with big headlines about gay sex, Muslim controversies, and Oprah being upset about something connected to him.

I have long predicted that Hillary would get the Democratic party nomination. With Obama now gaining control of the nomination race, the right-wing elements of the Democratic party are fighting back and we are seeing the unleashing of their mean spirited nature.

Obama would never have been allowed to get as far as he did unless the power structure felt comfortable with him. Anyone that doubts that only needs to recall how Dennis Kucinich was not allowed into his own party debates and how John Edwards was continually vilified for being the "angry man" by the media when he talked about the need to fight against corporate power.

But something went wrong along the way. Obama was not supposed to jump ahead of Hillary. He was to come in a safe second place and then become Hillary's vice-presidential running mate and bring the energy from his campaign to bear on her behalf and help get her elected president.

Now that the energy of Obama's "hope campaign" have gotten out of hand the power elite are getting worried that they will lose control. So now they must begin the destruction of Obama. If that means that Sen. John McCain wins the national election in November of 2008, then so be it they would say. There is too much at stake for them to risk the presidency to an upstart.

Let's be honest here. Obama did all he could to show the power structure that he would play ball with them. He went to Connecticut before the 2006 congressional elections and backed right-wing Sen. Joe Lieberman for reelection against the insurgent anti-war candidate Ned Lamont. If that wasn't enough he has Zbigniew Brzezinski (Jimmy Carter's National Security Council chair and the person who ran the U.S. campaign to arm and train the Taliban in Afghanistan) as one of his top advisers. He has gone to AIPAC and pledged his loyalty to Israel. On and on it goes.

But Hillary (and Bill) have shown by their deeds that they can be trusted to do the bidding of the corporate empire builders. They have shown that they will betray their Democratic party base on issues like NAFTA, health care, Star Wars, and the terrible sanctions of Iraq that left over 500,000 children dead during the Clinton administration. Obama has yet to fully prove his allegiance to the power elite. Best he stand as an apprentice behind the master for awhile.

So now Obama is being sent a signal. Relent and agree to become Hillary's V-P or sit stubbornly and watch your campaign be destroyed before your very eyes. The Democrats are now showing the world that they work much like Bush and the crazy Republicans do.

Aspiring Democrats have to show their loyalty to the system first. That is the number one requirement for "success" in American politics. If you refuse then expect to see yourself trashed in the supermarket checkout lines.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Mary Beth left early this morning for the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) Winter Soldier hearings with our friend Becky Farley. Becky was a Lt. in the Navy and was the officer on the deck of the Aegis cruiser that fired the first cruise missiles in the 2003 shock and awe invasion of Iraq. Becky has been suffering from the experience and for a long time did not want to talk publicly about it. But the call for Iraq and Afghanistan GI's to come to DC for Winter Soldier inspired her to step forward.

This morning, on the way north, they stopped in Portland to tape an interview on Maine Public radio. Then they took a bus to Boston where they will switch to a train to DC. The Winter Soldier hearings will run from March 13-16 in the DC area. If you don't get Free Speech TV (which will be airing the hearings live) then you can listen over the Internet. Check this link at IVAW website for more details:

Last night we went to Portland for a candidates forum sponsored by Maine Veterans for Peace, the Global Network, and ten other peace groups in Maine's first congressional district. We had all six of the Democratic party candidates who are running for the seat at the event. About 150 people were there throughout the three-hour event.

None of the candidates stood above the rest but I'd say that three did do better than the others. Mike Brennan, Mark Lawrence, and Chellie Pingree each had excellent moments. Brennan called for a 10% cut in military spending (still far too low considering that Bush has increased military spending by 50% during his time in office) and promised to call for conversion of the military industrial complex with the funds cut. Lawrence is strong on impeachment and made the case several times that we'd never get out of the Middle East until we develop a real energy policy at home. Pingree spoke out against any war with Iran although she did use the expression "we need to reinvest in our military" which could likely mean major increases in military spending over time.

Ethan Strimling, a state senator from Portland, who is good on impeachment, was the only one of the six who refused to comment on the Israeli-Palestinian question from the audience. He is also proposing a bill to have Maine disinvest from Iran and has used some provocative language to describe Iran. Many fear that he is under the sway of AIPAC.

In the end I came away from the forum with a couple thoughts. One is that there will probably be some improvement after this election in our congressional representation over what we have now - Rep. Tom Allen who has continually voted to fund the Iraq occupation and refuses to consider impeachment or single-payer health care. (Most of the six last night support single-payer.)

Second, I can see that none of the Democrats are really willing to take on the concept of empire. The Democratic party is committed to U.S. "global dominance" and none of them were willing to even address the issue last night when Mary Beth offered them the chance by asking them "What are you going to do about it?")

For me it reenforces my decision to register as a Green and to support Cynthia McKinney for president. It is abundantly clear that we need an outside political force to speak truth to power and to organize new political structures that give more electoral options to a public who have become increasingly discouraged with the Democratic party.

To their credit, Chellie Pingree and Mark Lawrence both admitted last night that their party was not listening to the public and had not delivered the kind of opposition that they had promised the nation before the last election. Sadly, I have little confidence that the Democrats will do much to confront the real challenges facing America after the 2008 election.

Without taking on the idea of U.S. military global dominance, and the economic consequences of preparation for endless war, the Democrats will have little to offer the public outside of flowery rhetoric. Unless the military budget is dramatically scaled back, by say 60-75%, there will be no money for health care, education, or funding of new sustainable technologies to help us reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and effectively deal with climate change.

We need real jobs in America and military spending eats up funds that could be used to create good jobs doing the things we need to repair our declining human and physical infrastructure.

The days of being able to afford guns and butter are over. The candidates last night didn't have the courage to say that in public.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was in Washington today negotiating with George W. Bush about the deployment of U.S. "missile defense" interceptors in their country. Bush is itching to get the deal done before he leaves office so the plan can be set in concrete.

Poland has upped the ante, likely recognizing that Bush is so anxious. They are asking for "assistance" in upgrading their military in return for agreeing to allow the U.S. base. Looks like Bush will probably give them what they want. The weapons corporations won't mind a bit more military welfare for Poland.

The public in Poland, by at least 50% according to recent polls, is opposed to the deal. They realize that this "missile defense" is just part of the U.S. effort to encircle Russia. Russia has announced that once the interceptors are put under ground in Poland that they will target the base with their nuclear weapons. Poland, which fought hard to get out of the middle of the last Cold War, will be thrown right back into one.

Of course this new arms race in Europe, just like the one the U.S. is creating in the Asian-Pacific, is right on Bush/Cheney's schedule. The more countries build "missile defense" systems, then the more nuclear weapons will have to be built to overwhelm the "defenses." Then more defenses need to be built and on and on the story goes. Profits will be huge for the aerospace industry.

Poland and the Czech Republic (they are to get the Star Wars radar facility even though 70% of their public says NO) are being used by the Americans. Bush/Cheney know that Poland and the Czech Republic want to be part of the expanding European Union economy. So the U.S. is leveraging this desire on their part to force them into becoming outposts for U.S. corporate empire. It's a dirty trick and is now driving a reinvigoration of the peace movement throughout Europe.

In the end social spending will have to be cut in Poland and the Czech Republic as they get dragged into Star Wars. In the end their people will reject being drawn into this new arms race. Organizing is well underway now in both countries to oppose these plans.

At the Global Network's annual space organizing conference in Omaha on April 11-13 we will have key activists from Poland and the Czech Republic with us. We in the U.S. must do all we can to expand our relationships with peace activists from other nations. As the U.S. empire globalizes militarism, our response must be to globalize the non-violent movement to resist endless war.

In recent days an open letter to Donald Tusk has been widely distributed that was signed by many key leaders in the U.S. peace movement. To add your name or organization, go directly to the statement at:

Sunday, March 09, 2008


We hosted a meeting at our house today where we formed a committee to support Cynthia McKinney's run for president. I will be volunteering in this effort in my free time. Below are the meeting minutes I sent around after the meeting.

A meeting was held on March 9 to form a committee called Mainers for Cynthia McKinney to support the former Georgia Congresswoman's run for president of the U.S. as the Green Party nominee.

Nine people met at the Addams-Melman House in Bath (about a dozen more had sent their interest and best wishes and were not able to come). The meeting was facilitated by Bruce Gagnon.

Cynthia McKinney is now in the process of campaigning to win the Green Party nomination. In Maine many county-wide caucus events have been held with more scheduled this month. So far McKinney is leading in Maine with about 60% of the vote. Nationally McKinney is doing well as Green caucus events are still underway. The Maine Green Independent Party (MGIP) convention will be held in May (either the 10th or the 18th) to formalize Maine's choice. The national Green Party convention will be in Chicago July 10-13 where the party nominee will be ultimately chosen. The national party nominee will automatically be on the Maine election ballot in November, 2008.

During the meeting a brainstorming session was held to come up with key priorities for our committee to begin working on. Some items will be acted on immediately and others later on.

They include:

* Local meetings (we encourage town/county Cynthia McKinney support groups to form that would then feed into the statewide campaign committee.
* News release to announce the formation of Mainers for Cynthia McKinney will be sent out following the MGIP final tabulation and public release of winner of Maine Green presidential caucus.
* Organize a Maine speaking tour for Cynthia (end of April was suggested date). (Jacqui Devaneau and Jon Olsen)
* Identify artists around the state who would like to help support Cynthia. (Bruce)
* Develop a media plan for when Cynthia comes to Maine and beyond.
* Develop a Mainers for Cynthia McKinney brochure by April 13 to hand out at progressive events around the state. (Bill Grubb & Jon)
* Develop creative advertising plans.
* Find someone to develop a web site for Mainers for Cynthia McKinney. (Bruce)
* Investigate interest at colleges and universities for Cynthia to speak.
* Identify local Maine issues that Cynthia should address when she comes to Maine (cuts in social spending in Augusta, etc).
* Identify well known people nationally who are supporting Cynthia and invite them to speak in Hip hop artist Head Roc. (Anna Trevorrow)
* Get banner made with Mainers for Cynthia McKinney on it.
* Encourage people to begin writing local letters to editor now that introduce Cynthia's campaign to the public.

In order to qualify for federal campaign matching funds Cynthia must get at least $5,000 in donations from 20 states. Many states are well on their way to reaching this goal. Maine so far has donated about $1,000 to Cynthia's campaign. People are urged to make a donation ASAP and can do so via Cynthia's web site. Help us get Cynthia to that $5,000 figure! We will organize additional campaign fundraising events in the future.

The MGIP will be allotted 44 delegates to the national convention in July. Each delegate can carry one proxy with them so we need at least 22 Greens to attend the convention in July to ensure Cynthia gets the nomination. We are presently looking for Maine Greens to go to the convention and also raising funds to help cover convention expenses. If you are interested in either of these please contact Jacqui Devaneau at 934-1911 or

Jacqui has contacted the McKinney campaign headquarters and offered to serve as Maine volunteer coordinator as the national office is contacted by people in Maine. We will also put Jacqui's phone and email address on the brochure being created as the point of contact.

Several key events are happening in coming months that are relevant to our efforts to promote Cynthia. They are:

* April 13 showing of Cynthia's film American Blackout in Portland at the Meg Perry Center (644 Congress). This is a fundraiser for Chicago Green convention trip.

*May 2 showing of American Blackout at Addams-Melman House in Bath (212 Centre St.) Potluck supper and fundraiser for Chicago Green convention trip. Begins at 6:30pm.

Next meeting of the Mainers for Cynthia McKinney will be held on Sunday, March 30 at the Addams-Melman House (AMH) in Bath from noon to 2:30 pm. Following that meeting is the regular monthly pot luck supper at the AMH from 3-5 pm to which all are also invited.

The meeting ended with a reminder that Cynthia McKinney provides the progressive community with a unique opportunity to unite people of color and white activists who are unhappy with the current mainstream corporate political parties. We need a strong voice in the national elections to ensure that our opposition to the Iraq occupation, our demands for social justice, and more remain in front of the nation.

Please feel free to join with us and to offer us any advice or skills you may have.


Bruce K. Gagnon
(207) 443-9502

Saturday, March 08, 2008


Israel's continued pounding of Gaza must stop and the peace movement in the U.S. needs to begin to strongly speak out against the destruction of the Palestinian people.

Israel and the U.S. have consistently used the excuse that the 2006 election of Hamas put a "terrorist" government in charge of the Palestinian people. But the truth is that the U.S. and Israel began attacking the Hamas government from their first day after winning the election. The peace process never stood a chance because the Bush administration then provoked a civil war between the victorious Hamas and the losing Fatah. Instead of losing the election, Hamas ended up seizing control of Gaza and Israel has been on the attack ever since. In recent weeks well over 125 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed.

In the April edition of Vanity Fair, an article called The Gaza Bombshell by David Rose, tells the story of the real Bush plan for "peace".

"Within the Bush administration, the Palestinian policy set off a furious debate. One of its critics is David Wurmser, the avowed neoconservative, who resigned as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief Middle East adviser in July 2007, a month after the Gaza coup."

"Wurmser accuses the Bush administration of 'engaging in a dirty war in an effort to provide a corrupt dictatorship [led by Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas] with victory.' He believes that Hamas had no intention of taking Gaza until Fatah forced its hand. 'It looks to me that what happened wasn’t so much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was pre-empted before it could happen,' Wurmser says."

"The botched plan has rendered the dream of Middle East peace more remote than ever, but what really galls neocons such as Wurmser is the hypocrisy it exposed. 'There is a stunning disconnect between the president’s call for Middle East democracy and this policy,' he says. 'It directly contradicts it.' "

I believe it is just one more example of the Bush pirate team sabotaging the possibility of peace. That is their modus operandi. It's what they did in Iraq, have done in Palestine, intend to do in Iran, and are now doing in North Korea. If your agenda is endless war and increased Pentagon spending then you cannot allow any peace negotiation process to succeed. It is dark and it is the way of the American empire today. My guess is before Bush is done we will see him expand the war in the Middle East and make an even bigger mess.

If we had a real opposition party in the U.S. Bush's crew would be thrown in jail for what they have done over and again to destroy world peace. But in our two-party collaborative model of empire building it is routine for the Democrats to sit back and nibble at the edges as chaos ensues. That only leaves the public to intervene on the side of humanity and sanity. We'd best get on the stick before it is too late.

Friday, March 07, 2008

( Click on map to enlarge)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


People from the South Korean peace movement have been protesting this week against U.S. and South Korean combined war exercises called Key Resolve-Foal Eagle. The U.S. Pacific Command conducts these exercises to rehearse the implementation of Operational Plan 5027 (OPLAN 5027). The Plan's goal is to occupy North Korea, change the North Korean regime, and destroy the North Korean Peoples Army.

It has been reported that 27,000 U.S. troops and the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier are involved in the war game.

The South Korean peace group called SPARK (a Global Network affiliate) says, "We think these aggressive, first-strike rehearsal exercises work against peaceful efforts to reduce tension on the Korean peninsula, such as the 6-Party Talks and the current visit of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra to Pyongyang, North Korea."

There is little doubt that the U.S. is dramatically escalating tensions in the Asian-Pacific region. Current U.S. Naval presence is being doubled by expanding operations in Guam, Australia, South Korea and Japan. Not only is the U.S. encircling North Korea but the new military strategy also calls for the surrounding of China as well.

China has a fossil fuel dependent economy and imports 80% of its oil through the Taiwan Straits. Thus they have a high need to be able to keep that pathway open and free so oil tankers can move easily to port. The Pentagon is now developing a military strategy to enable the U.S. to choke off China's oil imports by controlling the Taiwan Straits. By doing this the U.S. feels they would essentially control China by holding the keys to its economic engine.

Like any country would, China is now expanding its ability to keep the Taiwan Straits open. As China expands its military operations in that area the U.S. declares that they are preparing to attack Taiwan and this justifies even more Pentagon spending in the region as the U.S. says "we must protect Taiwan from Chinese aggression."

China is not likely to invade Taiwan since they have now developed huge economic ties with each other. Nor is China likely to attack the U.S., one of their best markets, especially as they today only have 20 nuclear missiles capable of hitting the west coast of the continental U.S. Of course the U.S. now has more than 10,000 nuclear weapons in our own "arsenal of hypocrisy."

Conversely, the U.S. Navy is now deploying Aegis destroyers all along the coast of China and these ships are outfitted with "missile defense" systems that would be used to pick off any Chinese nuclear missiles that were launched in retaliation after a U.S. first-strike attack. Each year for the past several years the Space Command has been computer war gaming a first-strike attack on China. Set in the year 2016 the Pentagon launches a devastating attack on China using as its first weapon the military space plane that is now under development and would fly to the other side of the world in just two hours.

A Pentagon report came out this week declaring that China was undertaking a massive military buildup and is preparing to "develop the ability to attack an adversary's space assets."

China's military budget is now less than $60 billion a year. Compare that with the current U.S. military budget of $650 billion a year. Then factor in the $30 billion a year in the Pentagon's secret "black budget" which is used for high-tech space weapons development that Congress is not even allowed to know about. Then add in the NSA, NRO, DoE, NASA and other budgets that have military applications and the true figure of U.S. military spending is nearly $1 trillion a year.

China is hardly a threat to the U.S. today. But it is true that as China sees the U.S. dramatically expanding its own military presence in the Asian-Pacific they are indeed upgrading their ability to defend their nation. Imagine if China was now building bases in Canada and Mexico and deploying ships off the east and west coasts of the U.S. Wouldn't the American public become alarmed? When the U.S. does the same to China isn't it then logical that China will respond?

Of course the true winner in all of this military expansion is the military industrial complex. They understand that a new arms race in the Asian-Pacific will ensure that an arms race in space will follow as China launches more military satellites to coordinate their growing military.

Huge profits are to be made from this new arms race. The American and Chinese people and taxpayers are the sure losers.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


I got home late last night after three grueling flights. The LaGuardia airport in New York is a mess and it's hard to move from one terminal to the other. My foot print is tired today.

The photo above is from a Global Network member who was at the protest on Sunday in Vandenberg. Three folks are being arrested for crossing the line onto the base when they tried to invite the military personnel to themselves cross the line and join with us in calling for an end to the planning and preparation for space war that goes on inside Vandenberg.

You will notice in the photo several people with cameras in civilian clothes. These are not all reporters. Many of them are military security who pose as civilians and then move through the crowd and take photos of us. These are the people who say they are fighting for freedom and democracy but then are doing what all dictatorships do - they are trying to intimidate the pro-democracy activists.

About an hour after I posted my last blog, where I was critical of security at the Vandenberg demo, I am told a call came to our house back in Maine. One of the neighborhood kids, a nine year old who was visiting, answered the phone and a voice said: "Bruce Gagnon you are a moron! A total moron. If you don't like this country, you should leave it!"

Needless to say the nine year old was stunned and very upset. By the time Mary Beth got to the phone the caller had hung up.

We know that many military and aerospace corporate people read this blog. Tell me, how much courage does it take to call and yell at a nine year old child who knows nothing about any of these issues? How much courage and conviction does this caller have that they can't contact me directly and tell me on the phone or in person what they think of me or my work? And do it by first introducing themselves so I know just who it is that I am speaking to?

So to the caller out there I say this: Leave the little kids alone. But if you have something to say to me do it directly and have the guts to call and first tell me your name. Otherwise I am left to wonder who the real moron is?

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Last night I spoke, along with Rev. John Dear and two others, at a church in Santa Barbara. I sold 11 books which is twice the amount I usually sell at such an event so I'd say it went pretty well.

Today we had a bus take us to Vandenberg AFB, about an hour drive north, where over 150 people gathered to protest the 25th anniversary of missile testing protest at the base. A second bus came up from Los Angeles, organized by the L.A. Catholic Worker house. Three people from the Catholic Worker community in California were arrested for walking over the line onto the base.

It's been a few years since I have been back to Vandenberg for a demonstration. I was arrested there myself in 2000 and got two years of supervised probation for trying to deliver a letter to the base commander that outlined our opposition to the base's role in moving the arms race into space. On that particular day there were about 25 folks arrested.

They have made some changes since I was last there. Now they cover the signs on the fancy stone wall that displays the base name. They put up temporary fencing all along the front of the base to make it hard for us to gather people - we had to string out in a long line with just a narrow patch of grass to stand on. They had an unmanned aerial vehicle flying overhead sending back "real time" surveillance data as if we were a grave danger to the nation. I'm sure the "brass" inside enjoyed watching our die-in via the surveillance plane.

After things were over we crossed the street back to the local elementary school where our cars and buses were parked. For just a moment Dennis Apel, the host organizer for the weekend who runs the Guadalupe Catholic Worker house in a nearby town, tried to gather us in a big circle to close the action. A host of military police quickly stormed into the middle of the circle and told us we had to disband and leave immediately.

We of course were doing no harm and the military was purely just doing an exercise in displaying their vast and arrogant powers. The sad thing is that we were much too quick to comply with their demands. As people were dispersing I made my way toward the Major in charge of the security team and asked him "who do you think you are?" He quickly scurried away like a rat running from a garbage can in a dark alley when a light was shined on it.

I then told the assembled security team that it was impossible to serve two masters at once. I said that "you have to either serve the constitution that gives us the right to peacefully assemble or you have to serve the military industrial complex." They all immediately turned away.

While the military likes to beat their chest alot about fighting for democracy to "protect our freedoms", they in fact are slowly but surely squeezing us into our little "protest zones" and those boxes are getting smaller and smaller each year. I am quite fed up with complying with their game playing and intend to keep telling them so. When you do speak that truth to them they run away fast because they know that what they are doing is shameful and downright wrong.

I have to be up early in the morning to catch a 6:00 am flight back east. Once again the three airport trip will take 12 hours. It will be a long day.

But this was a magical weekend and I was joyfully honored to be in the same place as these wonderful activists who call themselves the Pacific Life Community.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


I got to Santa Barbara Thursday night after 12 hours of traveling through three airports. I almost missed my connection in Dallas, made it with only five minutes to spare, but my two pieces of luggage did not arrive with me. Finally this afternoon they caught up with me and all is well.

I spent the night at the home of Mary Becker who lives by the ocean and I had a 45 minute walk today on the beach as the tide began to come in, lapping at my feet. Surfers were riding the waves just off shore and the mountains, nearby in the west, were a beautiful site as I walked.

This evening the Pacific Life Community retreat began with a supper at the Las Casa de Maria Retreat Center. It's a beautiful 26-acre site with orange trees, beautiful vegetation, and a stream running through it. After dinner we had introductions of the Catholic worker communities from places like Los Angeles, Spokane, and Vancouver in Canada. The stars of the evening though were the Mormon Workers from Utah, a group of young people who have started an activist publication and are exploring the opening of a community of hospitality for the poor like the more traditional Catholic worker communities.

In the morning we meet again for more sharing and then just before lunch John Dear and I will speak about the things we have seen and heard as we both travel. In the evening we all board a bus and go to a local church where John and I will do a more formal presentation to the greater community.

Jackie Hudson, one of the Dominican plowshares nuns who recently spent a couple years in jail for a disarmament action, is here from the Ground Zero community that regularly protests at the Bangor submarine base in Washington.

There are some real great folks here, people who have long been resisting war and offering hospitality and care to the poor. I am lucky to have been invited to gather with such souls.