Organizing Notes

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

My Photo
Location: Brunswick, ME, United States

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

Sunday, August 31, 2008


When I arrived yesterday in St. Paul, Minnesota I checked my email to read stories about local police raids on homes of protest organizers. The cops came armed with warrants to search for all kinds of illegal stuff, none of which they found. They cuffed folks and put some in jail for the next week, taking them completely out of the loop for the upcoming protests here at the Republican National Convention. This is supposed to be a "liberal" state but the opening round indicates that when it comes to "Homeland Security" anything goes. Watch this video footage for one of the raids.

This morning the local newspaper carried a story about the raids and explanations by the local authorities that they don't want a possible "Battle in Seattle" to hurt the local business communities chance to "showcase" Minneapolis-St. Paul (twin cities) to the world. So business interests come first and civil liberties second - the local courts can sort out the legal details in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead. Right now there is money to be made.

I joined the Veterans for Peace march today from the state capitol that attempted to go near the convention center where the RNC will be meeting. We were not allowed to get very close and at one intersection, about one-quarter of the 400-500 people in the march turned left and headed toward the barricades. I followed this group and watched as about a dozen or so folks went under a fence into the waiting arms of riot squad police. Everyone seemed to handle themselves very nicely. Tons of media, not having much else to do today, swarmed the action at the fences and seemed particularly interested in one white-haired woman who they learned was 78 years old.

Back at the capitol, before the march began, five military helicopters circled overhead a few times as if warning us to be good children or else. Sitting inside the open doorway of each chopper were 5-6 troops in green fatigues seemingly ready to ponce on us if need be. Just another warning to us and the community that the big boys were going to be firmly in charge.

As I was watching the folks crawl under the fence near the convention center I was standing right next to a young conservative couple who were talking with one of the Veterans for Peace guys. The peace vet was explaining why we were there and the conservative, who said he was a vet too, replied that he wanted to see the spaces allowed for protest "get smaller and smaller."

Sadly the right-wing guys wish is coming true. The space for legal protest is diminishing and in fact people are now being arrested in these house raids under the charge of "conspiracy to commit riot" according to the local media. The U.S. foreign policy of "preemptive or preventive strike" is now being applied domestically in the form of "preemptive or preventive arrest" for even planning to hold a peaceful protest.

In my view that is fascism and there is no doubt about it.

Tomorrow an even bigger protest is planned. I'll be there and will let you know how it goes.

Out by the airport there is a big billboard that has been rented by John Stewart's "The Daily Show". I saw it last night, my hosts drove us out to look at it after we had dinner at a local Thai joint. The billboard reads, "Welcome, Rich White Oligarchs".

That says it all.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


I am in the Atlanta airport headed for St. Paul, Minnesota where I will speak at a conference called Peace Island that will run counter to the Republican National Convention.

I flew out of Boston early this morning and am taking the southern route to Minnesota. Just a bit out of the way.

All the news is about McCain's surprise pick of Alaska governor Sarah Palin to be his V-P running mate. This has surely shaken things up. I had known of her after watching her during the Alaska governor race debates on C-SPAN a couple years ago. I noted then that she was smart and well spoken. She is going to spice up what would have been a lackluster McCain campaign. Up to this point there was not much inspiration in the Republican effort. I'm sure many women will give McCain a second look now.

Palin's politics are pretty bad, the media is calling her a reformer, but the truth is she is a conventional Christian fundamentalist right-wing choice. I'd venture to guess she will prove to be a quick study on the issues and a good campaigner.

Friday, August 29, 2008


The Rose Garden set
I watched the Obama speech last night with three other people. Our consensus was that it was a corporate funded display of nationalism and militarism. One housemate remarked that Obama never once talked about our place in the world in a real and holistic way.

The first thing I noticed when Obama approached the podium was that he was wearing the controversial flag pin. Everyone in our small group kept asking, "What is that stage set supposed to be?" Throughout the speech this question kept emerging. I kept responding that it was designed by Hollywood with some purpose in mind, but I could not "pin" it down.

Obama started with the domestic issues. He mentioned in passing that he supported nuclear power and that everyone who does not have health care today (that would be me) would be getting "the same health care that Congress has." I can see the long lines now at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington as those of us without health coverage stand at the locked doors saying, "Mr. Obama sent me."

Obama went on to his foreign policy track and mentioned the obligatory opposition to the war in Iraq and then of course said that he had "Argued for more resources and troops to finish the fight" in Afghanistan. Finish the fight or expand the fight into Pakistan? Small detail - no need to worry.

Obama also said he would "Rebuild our military to meet future conflicts." Just how much will that task cost us at a time when our nation is busted?

He took a rightward turn down the street called nationalism by declaring, "I got news for you John McCain, we all put America first. Our universities and culture are the envy of the world....We must always march ahead.....and never turn back." Wild cheers, just what are those convention delegates and guests thinking?

I have a confession. Watching the cheering crowd, waving their flags, some crying as they listen to Obama, my mind flashes to Hitler's famous speeches before flag waving and cheering hoards. There Hitler told the masses that they were god's chosen people. They were destined to liberate the world to bring them peace and prosperity - or as it is explained these days - freedom. When you are an American it is hard to see this similarity but if you can allow yourself to emotionally detach then you see that despite a few cultural differences, the end result is the same misplaced nationalistic frenzy. How else can you explain that self described "liberals" would cheer the declaration that we are going to send more troops and more military hardware to Afghanistan knowing that just this past week the U.S. military had killed 90 civilians, 50 of them children? "Yes, give me more," they seem to cry to Obama! No reflection allowed, this is a corporate coronation, and you my dear citizen, are a willing victim.

As Obama concluded, a country western song rang out over the stadium sound system with a chorus that went, "Only in America." Yes, I thought, only in America would we find such a corporate funded extravaganza of lights, fireworks, paper streamers, music, flags, color, totally scripted and choreographed. Even the ties of Biden and Obama were planned - Obama with red tie and Biden with blue. Bridging the red state-blue state divide I am sure. Nothing left to chance.

At the end the families of the two conquering candidates came onto the stage for hugs, kisses, and waves and then they moved toward the back of the stage and entered the subtly lit doorway that had a vague familiarity. Then it dawned on me.

The stage set was designed to remind one of the White House - the huge stone pillars of power on each end and in the center what appeared to be the Rose Garden where the president often holds news conferences. And after each news conference is over the president, and his guests, always move behind them to enter the French doors back into the halls of power.

The set was designed to emotionally connect us with the notion that Obama-Biden do indeed fit in the White House, and in our hearts and minds, are already there. They have attained the crest of the mountain. Peace and prosperity are restored in the land.

We can now return to life as normal. All is well at last.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


If you click on the Will Park artwork above you will see Sen. Joe Biden's name near the bottom of the "boys in the band." Will created this one in 2002. Talk about calling it right. You should remember that Biden, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, supported Bush's illegal and immoral attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq.

Last night I watched the Joe Biden speech at the Denver Democratic party convention. Throughout his speech Biden would use one line when referring to John McCain, "That's not change, it's more of the same."

Biden's offer of change included the statement that Bush had "failed to face the biggest force facing the 21st century, the emergence of Russia, China, and India as great powers."

Again contrasting Obama from McCain, he boasted that the Obama-Biden team would make Afghanistan a priority - "We need to send two more combat battalions to Afghanistan." The crowd cheered.

Biden accused the Bush team of neglecting Georgia after their attack on the break-a-way provinces South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Biden warned that "We will end that neglect. We will hold Russia accountable for its actions and we will help the people of Georgia rebuild [their military]."

After hearing the Biden speech I can only come to the conclusion that what he offered last night was not real change but more of the same hardball U.S. militarism and empire building. Confronting Russia and China over the world's declining resources is exactly the wrong "strategy".

Biden said nothing about cutting our trillion dollar military budget or converting the military industrial complex so we can deal with the looming effects of global climate change.

That would be real change - just the kind of change we need.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo is a U.S. military base that cost one-half billion dollars to build and was opened in 2000. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have visited the base that many believe serves as Gunatanamo II, where it is used to detain prisoners from the "war on terror" without any legal rights and serves as a strategic outpost to ensure U.S. control of the region. In his latest column for the New Statesman below highly acclaimed journalist John Pilger tells the story about the balkanization of Yugoslavia as a precursor to the war on Iraq and Afghanistan. Note the role of NATO as this was the beginning of the effort to create justification for an expanded military mission for the supposedly "defensive alliance."


"The secrets of the crushing of Yugoslavia are emerging, telling us more about how the modern world is policed. The former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia in The Hague, Carla Del Ponte, this year published her memoir The Hunt: Me and War Criminals. Largely ignored in Britain, the book reveals unpalatable truths about the west's intervention in Kosovo, which has echoes in the Caucasus.

The tribunal was set up and bankrolled principally by the United States. Del Ponte's role was to investigate the crimes committed as Yugoslavia was dismembered in the 1990s. She insisted that this include Nato's 78-day bombing of Serbia and Kosovo in 1999, which killed hundreds of people in hospitals, schools, churches, parks and tele vision studios, and destroyed economic infrastructure. "If I am not willing to [prosecute Nato personnel]," said Del Ponte, "I must give up my mission." It was a sham. Under pressure from Washington and London, an investigation into Nato war crimes was scrapped.

Readers will recall that the justification for the Nato bombing was that the Serbs were committing "genocide" in the secessionist province of Kosovo against ethnic Albanians. David Scheffer, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes, announced that as many as "225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59" may have been murdered. Tony Blair invoked the Holocaust and "the spirit of the Second World War". The west's heroic allies were the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose murderous record was set aside. The British foreign secretary, Robin Cook, told them to call him any time on his mobile phone.

With the Nato bombing over, international teams descended upon Kosovo to exhume the "holocaust". The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing "a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines". A year later, Del Ponte's tribunal announced the final count of the dead in Kosovo: 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the KLA. There was no genocide in Kosovo. The "holocaust" was a lie. The Nato attack had been fraudulent.

That was not all, says Del Ponte in her book: the KLA kidnapped hundreds of Serbs and transported them to Albania, where their kidneys and other body parts were removed; these were then sold for transplant in other countries. She also says there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the Kosovar Albanians for war crimes, but the investigation "was nipped in the bud" so that the tribunal's focus would be on "crimes committed by Serbia". She says the Hague judges were terrified of the Kosovar Albanians - the very people in whose name Nato had attacked Serbia.

Indeed, even as Blair the war leader was on a triumphant tour of "liberated" Kosovo, the KLA was ethnically cleansing more than 200,000 Serbs and Roma from the province. Last February the "international community", led by the US, recognised Kosovo, which has no formal economy and is run, in effect, by criminal gangs that traffic in drugs, contraband and women. But it has one valuable asset: the US military base Camp Bondsteel, described by the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner as "a smaller version of Guantanamo". Del Ponte, a Swiss diplomat, has been told by her own government to stop promoting her book.

Yugoslavia was a uniquely independent and multi-ethnic, if imperfect, federation that stood as a political and economic bridge in the Cold War. This was not acceptable to the expanding European Community, especially newly united Germany, which had begun a drive east to dominate its "natural market" in the Yugoslav pro vinces of Croatia and Slovenia. By the time the Europeans met at Maastricht in 1991, a secret deal had been struck; Germany recognised Croatia, and Yugoslavia was doomed. In Washington, the US ensured that the struggling Yugoslav economy was denied World Bank loans and the defunct Nato was reinvented as an enforcer. At a 1999 Kosovo "peace" conference in France, the Serbs were told to accept occupation by Nato forces and a market economy, or be bombed into submission. It was the perfect precursor to the bloodbaths in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Click on map for larger view
The U.S. and NATO forces have been pounding the hell out of the people in Afghanistan. The bombing campaign is relentless.

Just days ago nearly 100 more innocent civilians were killed, including 50 children and 19 women, when a U.S. led air strike hit them.

It's interesting to see that in Europe the peace movement is becoming increasingly critical of NATO's expanding and lapdog role alongside the U.S. in Central Asia. In Canada the peace movement is extremely outspoken in opposition to their country's role in Afghanistan.

But in the U.S. the peace movement has been slow to speak out against the seven-year war in Afghanistan. One major reason is likely because the Democrats, like their candidate Barack Obama, calls Afghanistan the "right war."

I've previously commented that Zbigniew Brzezinski's book "The Grand Chessboard" lays out the strategy for this part of the world in the coming years. Brzezinski is one of Obama's leading foreign policy advisers. In the book Brzezinski says, "America is now the only global superpower, and Eurasia is the globe's central arena. Hence, what happens to the distribution of power on the Eurasian continent will be of decisive importance to America's global primacy and to America's historical legacy.

"Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multi-cultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat."

Thus we today have the "war on terror" and the comeback of the "Russian bear" as the external threats.

Those only fixated on Iraq, thinking that we can get the U.S. out of that country and the "war" will be over, are in for a big surprise. U.S. policymakers from both corporate parties intend to keep us in the region indefinitely so that they can control the extraction of oil/natural gas and have control over the pipeline routes.

Brzezinski lays out the strategy with these harsh words: "...To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial strategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together."

This is why we need to start paying more attention to Afghanistan and NATO. The plan is to widen the war throughout "Eurasia" and is going to cost a whole bunch of money and many lives. Not to mention likely war with Russia and China at some point.

Begin to recognize the links between the earlier NATO war on Yugoslavia and breaking up of that nation into "pliant" tributaries, something that Sen. Joe Biden calls for today when he suggests balkanizing Iraq into three separate countries. Or the recent building of new U.S. military bases in Romania and Bulgaria or recent NATO base expansion to Russia's borders. Understand that the grand strategy is now underway.

The feel good scene happening in Denver right now belies the coming hammer of reality.

Monday, August 25, 2008


The Democratic national convention (DNC) begins today and many are getting excited and hopeful about Obama's new pick for V-P, Sen. Joe Biden. They both spoke in Springfield, Illinois on Saturday (subtly bringing back memories of honest Abe Lincoln).

I've been a close follower of Joe Biden's career for many years. I'll never forget watching him on C-SPAN deliver a speech in 2000 at the time of the DNC in Los Angeles that chose Al Gore for president. Biden was speaking to a Jewish organization during a pre-convention luncheon and he talked about "missile defense". The first half of his speech was an articulate and fascinating overview of why "missile defense" was dangerous and destabilizing. Then he stopped mid-stream and switched horses. The second half of his speech was a defense of U.S. participation in "missile defense" and the need for U.S. military space technology superiority. I was momentarily stunned but then recovered after reminding myself that this is what the Democrats do. They play both sides of the street. They have the anti-war rhetoric down to an art but then they walk away from that position by climbing onto the war horse and riding off with the sheriff's posse.

You might have heard that Dick Cheney will be heading to Georgia this week to help stoke the fires of war on Russia's border. And if that is not enough the media is reporting that, "NATO says it is holding long-planned exercises, involving US, German, Spanish and Polish vessels, in the Black Sea and that this is not linked to the conflict in Georgia. The exercises, which will include visits in Bulgaria and Romania, began on Thursday and are due to end on September 10."

Count on the U.S. quickly rebuilding Georgia's military and continual U.S. military maneuvers in this part of the world. The intent of these will be to constantly pressure Russia while, after each military "training exercise," loads of military hardware will be left in the region for future operations against Russia.

Sen. Biden recently went to Georgia himself to beat the war drums and threaten Russia with "consequences" if they don't leave Georgia alone. "When Congress reconvenes, I intend to work with the administration to seek Congressional approval for $1 billion in emergency assistance for Georgia, with a substantial down payment on that aid to be included in the Congress' next supplemental spending bill," Biden said.

So it appears that "Honest Obama" will continue the provocative military encirclement of Russia if he is allowed to win the presidency.

One final note: I must acknowledge that I had predicted the Democratic party race wrong. Many months ago I said Hillary Clinton would win the Dems presidential nomination and would pick Obama as V-P.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


We just learned this morning that our dear friend Dennis Apel has had a heart attack and is in critical care at a hospital in Santa Maria, California.

Dennis and his wife Tensie have for a long time run a Catholic Worker house in the farm worker town of Santa Maria, very near Vandenberg AFB where Star Wars systems are regularly launched.

Dennis has been arrested many times for his acts of non-violent civil disobedience at the base and spent many nights in jail. You might notice the black cloth covering the base name on the stone wall in the background. Since Dennis poured his blood on the wall, just after the U.S. "shock and awe" attack on Iraq in 2003, the base now covers up their name each time a protest is held.

Just months ago Dennis invited me, along with John Dear, to come to California to speak in Santa Barbara at the annual gathering of west coast Catholic Worker activists. And then just a couple days ago I got an email from him saying he was going to organize a protest at Vandenberg during Keep Space for Peace Week.

Dennis and Tensie have created a health clinic in Santa Maria so that immigrant farm workers can get medical attention. They have fully embraced the teachings of the non-violent Jesus - take care of the poor and confront the war makers in a spirit of love.

I am hoping that Dennis will fully recover. I ask you to please include him in your thoughts or prayers. Dennis is a good man - a good husband, father, friend, and activist. He deserves to live. A nicer guy does not exist.

Friday, August 22, 2008


The photo above is a make shift hospital in a school basement in Tskhinvali, South Ossetia after Georgia's military attack that killed around 2,000 people on August 7.

The media in the U.S. are now using the Russian response to Georgia's attack to justify the deployment of "missile defense" systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. Like many corporate media outlets across the country the Portland Press Herald today editorializes, "Where once displeasing Moscow would seem a strong argument against deployment, now there's reason to create a negative consequence for Russia's behavior.....for now, missile defense has a purpose -- if not strategically, then at least diplomatically."

So as we search for the reasons why Washington and Georgia would launch such an attack, knowing just how Russia would have to respond, we find another piece of the puzzle.


The Reuters news agency reported on August 20 that the cost of these deployments should be over "$4 billion though cost overruns typical in nearly every U.S. defense program could easily drive the price higher."

Indeed virtually every space technology program under development today is 100-200-300% over budget. The aerospace industry stands to turn some great profit as a result of this U.S.-Georgia provocation and Russian response.

Reuters also reported that "Chicago-based Boeing Corporation, prime contractor for the U.S. ground-based missile defense system, will supply the rockets to be placed in Poland, but the Army Corps of Engineers will manage construction of the site.

"Boeing had no immediate comment on the potential value of the deal, but said in a statement that it would work closely with the U.S. military and its industry partners to extend missile defense capability to Europe.

"Waltham, Massachusetts-based Raytheon Corporation built the powerful X-band radar now based in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, which will be moved to the Czech Republic.

"Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin said its system to integrate separate missile defense elements and provide a common view of the 'battlespace', known as Command, Control, Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC), would play a key role in the European missile defense site."

So the truth is that all the big boys will get into the game. It's a win-win for the corporations. The oil boys protect their pipeline through Georgia. The weapons boys get a new and expanding Eastern and Central European market. The politicians get a new Cold War to foment about. The media gets a new whipping boy (Russia) to punish that will help keep the American public's eye off the real prize - the complete dissolution of the economy and our constitutional democracy.

Not a bad return for a couple days work you must admit. The ruling class really knows how to spin the yarn.

A friend wrote me this morning that "I'm thinking of organizing a conference on planning life in Maine in a post-peak-oil, post-constitutional U.S. society."

So that's what it's coming down to? Would you call that resignation or just good planning?

Thursday, August 21, 2008


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.
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

Wednesday, August 20, 2008



Saturday, September 6
Brunswick Mall Gazebo to Naval Air Station Main Gate
March begins at 9:30 am, Rally at Noon

Because our sons [and daughters] adore their plastic missile launchers, electronic space bazookas, neutron death-ray guns, a decade down the pike it won't prove difficult to trick them out in combat boots & camouflage fatigues, rouse them with a frenzy of parades, the heady rhetoric of country, camaraderie & God, the drum & bugle & the sudden thunder of the cannon as they march into Hell singing. Which is the order of things. Obedient to a fault, the people will do as they are told. However dispirited by grief at the graves of their fallen, the mother returns at last to her loom, the father to his lathe, & the inconsolable widow home to raise sons ardent for the next imperial bloodbath; Ilium. Thermopylae. Verdun. Pork Chop Hill.

"Memorial Day" by Steve Kowit from The First Noble Truth. © University of Tampa Press, 2007

Maine Veterans for Peace-Chapter 001 865-0655 or 443-9502

Co-Sponsors: Americans Who Tell The Truth * Augusta Women in Black * Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats * Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space * Greater Brunswick PeaceWorks * Maine Indymedia * Maine Peace Works * Maine WILPF * Martha’s Vineyard Peace Council * Midcoast Peace & Justice Group * Peace Action Maine * Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine * Radio Free Maine * Solidarity of Maine * Sound Ecology Radio Show * Veterans for Peace-Chapter 003 * Veterans for Peace-Smedley Butler Brigade * Vietnam Veterans Against the War

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


When you have "freedom" on your side you can do whatever you wish. The U.S. can use force in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Panama, Iran, Yugoslavia, etc. because we "value life" while terrorists and Russians don't. Freedom means free to impose capitalist "free market" solutions in order to bring "stability" to the world. Anyone who stands in the way of "freedom" must be destroyed.

Here are a few interesting and contradictory quotes that reveal the U.S. (and its allied lap dogs) hypocrisy and double-standards at work:

  • US vice-president Dick Cheney, faithfully echoed by Gordon Brown and David Miliband [in Britain], declared that "Russian aggression must not go unanswered". George Bush denounced Russia for having "invaded a sovereign neighbouring state" and threatening "a democratic government". Such an action, he insisted, "is unacceptable in the 21st century".

  • George W Bush, speaking in Washington accused Russian President Dmitry Medvedev of "bullying" his neighbours and said the tactics were working against Russia's interests on the international stage.

  • NATO allies on August 19 accused Russia of using "disproportionate" force in its military conflict with Georgia. "We are gravely concerned by the humanitarian situation," a statement issued by the 26 NATO countries said. "We stress the urgency of swift, complete and good faith implementations of the [withdrawal] agreement," the NATO statement said. " . . . Military action must cease definitively and military forces must return to their positions held prior to the outbreak of hostilities."

  • "Well, I just know that the Russian president said several days ago Russian military operations would stop. They didn't," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "This time I hope he means it. You know the word of the Russian president needs to be upheld by his forces."

  • At an emergency meeting at the NATO headquarters, the allies planned to send a message of support to Georgia. "The first priority is to provide practical and political support to Georgia," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on arrival at the NATO foreign ministers meeting. He said the allies must "ensure Russia does not learn the wrong lessons from the events of the last two weeks. Force cannot be the basis for the demarcation of new lines around Russia."

  • The Bush White House Press spokesperson, Dana Perino stated, officially, "We believe that missile defense is a substantial contribution to NATO's collective security."

  • At the White House, the press secretary, Dana M. Perino, confirmed that senior officials had initialed the [Poland 'missile defense'] agreement. "In no way is the president's plan for missile defense aimed at Russia," she said. "In fact, it's just not even logically possible for it to be aimed at Russia, given how Russia could overwhelm it. The purpose of missile defense is to protect our European allies from any rogue threats, such as a missile from Iran."

  • Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk had insisted the United States provide more military cooperation in return for consent to host 10 interceptor rockets at a base in northern Poland. Washington says the interceptors and a radar in the Czech Republic will form part of a global shield protecting the United States and its allies from long-range missiles that could in the future be fired by Iran or groups such as al-Qaeda. "We have crossed the Rubicon," Tusk said just before the deal was signed. "We have finally got understanding of our point of view that Poland, being a crucial partner in NATO and an important friend and ally of the United States, must also be safe."

  • However, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told the BBC's World Tonight programme that the timing of the deal had nothing to do with the hostilities [between Georgia-Russia]. "We agreed this negotiating phase a week ago, which was... before the events in Georgia, and because of the U.S. calendar there was some urgency," he said. "But, what is crucial, and what decided the success of the talks over the last couple of days, was that the U.S. offered us new proposals."

Welcome to the New World Odor.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I've been closely following Nancy Pelosi's book tour protests at the After Downing Street web site during the last two weeks. You know the story, Pelosi says that she was not aware of any Bush-Cheney impeachable offenses. So activists have been showing up at her events trying to present her with Rep. Dennis Kucinich's list of 35 offenses but Pelosi has had security not allow people to bring any paperwork or signs or banners near any of her book promos. (Homeland Security of course, protecting the Speaker of the House from random acts of terrorism - stuff like that.)

But people have gotten creative. They bought her books and put messages on the inside of the book covers and open them just as they approach her for an autograph. Needless to say Queen Nancy is not pleased about this. She got a real hard time recently at an event in California and plaintively cried out to the audience, "I used to be an activist." Operative words here - used to be.

I can use those words too. I "used to be" a Democrat but then I wised up. I "used to" think we had a democracy but now I know we have an oligarchy. I "used to be" naive but then I opened by eyes and say things the way they really are - I used my nose and smelled the rotten cheese.

Helping to further throw me over the top was this video that landed in my inbox this morning about children in Falleujah, Iraq that have been born with deformities in the last couple of years. These deformities are likely the result of exposure to depleted uranium and other toxic residues from military ordinance. If these are not criminal, if they are not absolute examples of "impeachable offenses," then we should just rip up and burn the U.S. Constitution right now on the spot.

But I know why Pelosi does not want to recognize these war crimes. She can't because the Demo-rats are complicit in these crimes. Let me say it again - the Demo-rats are complicit in these crimes for funding this madness, for enabling Bush, for encouraging him, for excusing him, and in recent months for giving him even more money than he requested to pay for the Iraq occupation through 2009. And they are now complicit for refusing to investigate his (their) war crimes.

People tell me that the Demo-rats (Obama) would be better than Bush. How can they be better when they have already abundantly proven that they are made of the same corrupt criminal cloth? And these excusers of the Demo-rat crimes want me to put this cloth around my shoulders and wear it - to own it. Never! Not as long as I still have a soul.

My respect and admiration goes out to the Pelosi impeachment chasers who relentlessly pursue her with the unbridled truth. And my congratulations to Cindy Sheehan who is now on the ballot in San Francisco to run for Congress against Pelosi.

Pelosi might "used to" have been an activist. But today she is a war criminal and there is no doubt about it. Pelosi and Bush - I want to hear them try to defend themselves against the evidence of these children's deformities and the broken hearts of their parents. Let them both stand trial before a jury of Iraqi mothers.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


For those of us living in Maine, the Navy's Aegis destroyer program is something we often think about. These ships are built at Bath Iron Works (BIW) and once or twice a year a new Aegis is "Christened". Each time Maine Veterans for Peace organizes a protest at the ceremony that usually draws several thousand workers, Navy personnel, and politicians from both the Republican and Democratic party who come to give their blessings to the new ship. BIW is the largest employer in Maine, outside of the state government, and the politicians pride themselves in securing as many of these ship construction contracts as possible - considering they cost over $1 billion each.

The most important thing to know about Aegis though is its military mission. These ships are outfitted with nuclear-capable cruise missiles and were the first weapons fired in the 2003 U.S. "shock and awe" invasion of Iraq. Any U.S. full-scale attack on Iran will likely begin from an Aegis destroyer.

Aegis ships are also a key component in the Pentagon's new Star Wars program. They are now outfitted with "missile defense" systems and we are told their job is to hit "rogue state" nuclear missiles being sent toward the U.S. in the "midcourse" of their flight.

The Navy is doubling its deployments in the Asian-Pacific region and using the Aegis destroyers to help surround China who admittedly has 20 nuclear missiles capable of hitting the west coast of the U.S. The mission of Aegis would be to help "take out" any Chinese nuclear missiles that were fired after a U.S. first-strike attack. In fact the Pentagon's Space Command has been war gaming such an attack on China, set in the year 2016, for the past couple of years.

Missile defense, whether deployed under ground in Poland or on Aegis ships at sea, is all about "full spectrum dominance." The Pentagon has been given the job by the Congress to develop space technologies that will allow the U.S. to "prevail" in conflict at all levels - on the earth, at sea, in the air, and in space.

George W. Bush used a falling National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) spy satellite, with toxic hydrazine on-board, to justify a February 2008 U.S. anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon test. It was the Aegis "missile defense" system that was used to knock-out the wayward satellite and signal to Russia and China that the military had mastered the ability to destroy orbiting satellites from the earth. This was an important benchmark in the plan to move the arms race into space. You can watch the Missile Defense Agency's own promotional video of this test at Wired News.

The Aegis destroyer is not about protecting the U.S. from anyone. October 18 will be the next "Christening" of another Aegis in Bath, Maine and once again Veterans for Peace will organize a
protest march on that day.

Recent studies at UMASS-Amherst show that when you spend $1 billion on military production about 8,555 jobs are created. But when that same amount of taxpayer dollars are invested in home weatherization we get 12,804 jobs, or building mass transit systems 19,795 jobs are the result. Thus, on October 18, Maine Veterans for Peace will be calling for the conversion of BIW to sustainable technology development.

This October 18 event, coming on the heels of the Global Network's Keep Space for Peace Week, will feature a current BIW worker as a speaker. This worker will say what is on the mind of many workers at the Aegis production facility - we'd rather be building something that is good for the environment and good for the country rather than things whose only purpose is to destroy and create an arms race in space.

Friday, August 15, 2008


I hear that John McCain is talking to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili daily. I'm sure he is advising him to heat up the rhetoric with Russia as much as possible. It's now been confirmed that one of McCain's top advisers was a recent (as of last March) lobbyist for Georgia. So the ties are there which indicates to me that this whole Georgian attack on Russian peace keeping troops, who were legally in the autonomous areas of Abkhaza and South Ossetia, could have been set up as a U.S. election spectacle to try to give McCain a leg up.

I watched Saakashvili on CNN News tonight talking all kinds of trash about Russia accusing them of genocide, of having made the first move (which we know is just the opposite of what really happened), of having used Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in their attack on Georgia which is of course nonsense, and a whole lot more.

The American corporate media is repeating these lies and distortions without question. Mary Beth's sister-in-law, who lives in Arizona, called tonight wanting to get her views on this whole situation. She told Mary Beth that the news has completely confused her. No surprise there. The fact that she called, a woman who has no interest in virtually any political issue, does at least show that some number of people out there in TV land are not swallowing the whole bit.

They also reported on CNN that McCain is sending right-wingers Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to Georgia in the coming days to "access the situation" and to give Saakashvili assurances that a McCain administration would protect them from, as the Georgian president called Russia tonight, the "evil" people.

Added to all that of course is the Poland-U.S. agreement yesterday to allow 10 "missile defense" interceptors into their country. We are told they have nothing to do with Russia, that they would be used to intercept non-existent Iranian missiles. But the Russians are not stupid, they know that current U.S. policy is to militarily surround them.

And so the new Cold War is on. All that is needed now is to get the American people back into the Cold War mentality. It's called a 1-2 punch. Make the people afraid of terrorism and now the Russians again. It's a winning ticket for the military industrial complex.

Hope you like the taste of bombs.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Click on art for best view

Last night my friend Will Park in Florida sent me his latest art work. He had a strong reaction to the article I sent around the other day about U.S. military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) pilots feeling stress as they sit at their computers flying the Predator drones that attack people in Afghanistan and Iraq. These pilots seem to have something about weddings because they often have bombed them via space link - likely they see it as a good chance to "take out" alot of people all at once.

I'm going to put this piece of art, along with another one Will recently did called "Torture," in my book which features many of his illustrations from over a 20-year period. I've just today sent my publisher three more chapters to add to my book since I've run out of them again and need to reorder more anyway. Might as well keep it updated and fresh with each new order.

Will has done some remarkable work for the Global Network, and before that the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice, over the years. Anytime I needed a cartoon for the newsletter or a good graphic for a leaflet or poster he would come up with a winner. It's been a wonderful collaboration. Will has long been an accomplished artist and he does the artwork for the American Bar Association's Litigation journal.

We are cleaning up the house today and preparing for our new housemate Maureen Block who will move in this weekend. She will be joining our Addams-Melman House community that now numbers four people - soon to be five. She is an artist, a gardener, a great activist and organizer, and a true wonderful spirit. We are thrilled to have her joining us. Even our nine-year old neighbor girl, who often hangs out here, is helping make space for Maureen and is excited about the new addition to our intentional family.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


NASA's new Constellation launch vehicle. The program has funding and safety issues

This trip report covers the period of August 8-10 as I traveled to Toronto, Canada to speak at the 33rd annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki Day Peace Commemoration and Lantern Ceremony. The event was organized by the Hiroshima Day Coalition which is made up of many key groups in Toronto and throughout Canada.

My host for the weekend was Dr. Barbara Birkett, a member of the Hiroshima Day Coalition, and a leader in the group called Physicians for Global Survival. After picking me up at the Toronto airport she took me to her home in nearby Oakville for a dinner party with local leaders of the Oakville peace community. Her husband Richard, the cook in the family I was told, made a wonderful meal.

On Saturday, August 9 Barbara took me to the Toronto city hall at noon so we could be present when the local media came to film the Hiroshima/Nagasaki photo exhibit in the rotunda of the building. The photo exhibit had been there all week and many people, who had come to city hall for other business, were able to see the vivid story of the U.S. atomic bombing and the aftermath in the two cities.

Later in the afternoon a film showing was held inside city hall where several award winning anti-nuclear documentaries were made available to the public. The formal program began at 6:30 pm in the middle of an exciting thunder and lightening storm. Originally the ceremony was to be held in the Peace Garden that adjoins the city hall grounds but due to the storm the program was moved under the huge overhang of the city hall building.

Earlier in the day a man was passing out an Opinion piece just published in the Halifax Chronicle Herald by Tamara Lorincz entitled "Canada should not abet erosion of international nuclear restraints." Tamara is a member of the Halifax Peace Coalition and a board member of the Global Network. In the op-ed Tamara writes that under "the controversial US-India Nuclear Co-operation deal" Canada's "uranium could be used to expand and modernize India's nuclear weapons." India will not now sign nor ratify the UN's Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Tamara rightly asks in the piece, "How can Canada give support for India's civilian nuclear program but condemn that of Iran, a party to the NPT?....Canada's reversal has also compromised our commitment to nuclear weapons non-proliferation."

Pakistan sits and watches the U.S. and Canada help India build more nuclear weapons so they will turn to China to get help with their nuclear program. Thus an already volatile region of the world edges even closer to nuclear war. The U.S. of course uses these mounting tensions to prove that "missile defense" is needed in the region which only helps escalate the already dangerous situation.

I made sure to mention Tamara's op-ed key points in my speech as I wondered out loud if the Canadian government was now becoming a junior member of the U.S. program of "security export." Even though we were told that Canada's previous Liberal government had rejected participation in "missile defense," I told the assembled, we now know that Industry Canada was in fact funding research and development for Canadian aerospace corporations to participate in the U.S. Star Wars program as is happening in so many other allied countries around the world. The U.S. government, I said, is telling Canadian aerospace to get their government "on-side" because "you don't want to get left behind this new technological curve do you?"

As I do in all my talks I ended with a call for participation in the conversion of the global war machine. The fact is that the Conservative government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is steadily increasing Canada's military budget and cutbacks in their social programs are now the result.

While in Toronto I learned about the developing Georgia-Russia conflict. It was interesting to see the difference in Canadian and U.S. newspaper coverage of the issue as I made my way home on August 10. Canadian newspapers gave more context to the crisis. The Toronto paper I read on the plane home shared Russian concerns about NATO expansion to their borders and also mentioned that oil and natural gas pipelines in the region were a key reason for the growing U.S.-Russian conflict. When I picked up U.S. newspapers in the Newark, New Jersey airport they mentioned neither of those two important background points. U.S. papers largely made the story into the aggressive Russian bear once again on the loose conquering innocent people - the U.S. must do something to stop these nasty Russians. Of course very few U.S. newspapers mentioned the fact that Georgia had initiated the attack on Russian peacekeepers in the independent territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia along the Georgian-Russia border. Information is everything.

One other trip home observation. On the plane I was reading the Continental airlines magazine and found an article called "Out of This World" about a NASA astronaut talking about the space agency's new "Constellation Program" that is "devoted to developing the vehicles that the agency hopes will one day enable astronauts to visit Mars and the asteroid belt, and possibly travel even farther." The Constellation Program funding is now a serious question as the U.S. budget deficit grows. In the article astronaut John Grunsfeld says, "Everybody believes NASA should bring people to Mars, build colonies on the moon. I think that's the vision everybody has for space."

Everybody? Does Mr. Grunsfeld and NASA exaggerate just a bit? Are they trying to create the public perception that there are no critics of the space program - everyone agrees? It just goes to show how the aerospace industry uses every media outlet they can to shape public opinion. Say it and it becomes true NASA knows.

The Associated Press reported on August 12 that "NASA is not properly emphasizing safety in its design of a new spaceship and its return-to-the-moon program faces money, morale and leadership problems." The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel cites "surprising anxiety among NASA employees" about the Constellation program and says the project "lacks clear direction."

In spite of that news I'm sure "everybody" agrees that we should give NASA all the money they want! The Florida Today newspaper reports that on a recent trip to the space coast, Barack Obama told NASA employees that he has changed his mind and now supports full funding for the Constellation program.

My next trip takes me to St. Paul, Minnesota on August 30-Sept 2 to speak at the Peace Island Conference at Concordia University that will serve as a positive alternative to the Republican National Convention also being held in the city at the same time.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I spent a good deal of yesterday continuing to read various articles and reports out of Georgia. Some old sage once said we learn world geography by tracking American wars - or in this case American proxy wars. I am as certain as I can be that this is a proxy war. The U.S. and Israel have been arming Georgia heavily in recent years. The U.S. and Israel have been sending military advisers to Georgia. There is no doubt in my mind that the U.S. has been, at the very least, "encouraging" Georgia to make a grab for the independent territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia knowing that by doing so they would very well provoke Russia to respond. I am convinced the U.S. wants to confront Russia militarily and if they can get someone else to do it then why not. It's the cold war strategy come back to life.

The corporate media in the U.S. is having a field day promoting Russian aggression against Goergia. One very interesting CNN-TV story detailed Russian destruction of the Georgian city of Gori but then the camera man who took the footage said the film he took was actually of Georgian destruction of Russian peacekeeper forces in Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia. You can see why the American people are so often confused and misinformed. We are being led with rings in our noses into a new protracted war.

Watch it for yourself at:

A distant cousin of mine who lives in Massachusetts wrote me saying that when she went to work yesterday the folks there were convinced that Russia had bombed the American state of Georgia. "Why do we bother?" she asked.

Below is a really fine summary I read late last night that I wanted to share. I think it really lays out the key points in this whole situation.

By Patrick Schoenfelder

Marching through Georgia

Maybe everyone is already up to speed on this, but if you are depending on the usual drumbeat of warlike bluster from the mainstream media (in the words of Paul Krugman, "real mean don't think things through") you are missing most of the news.

Therefore, a brief memo:

South Ossetia and Abkhazia are small areas on the border between Georgia and Russia where the majority of residents belong to ethnic groups other than Georgian. During the Soviet era, both of them were semi-autonomous areas under Soviet control.

In 1990, after Georgia became independent, Georgia claimed both areas as part of Georgia.

Russia opposed this claim as did residents of the areas, and Russia forced Georgia at gunpoint to allow autonomy to both regions in 1992, and both regions have been acting as de facto independent countries since then.

Peacekeepers from Russia commissioned by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have been stationed in both countries since then.

After the so-called Rose Revolution and the overthrow of Edward Shevardnadze in 2003 it became a policy of the Georgian government to repudiate the independence of both regions and to work for re-establishment of Georgian control.

In 2006, a referendum was held under OSCE supervision with 34 observers from Poland, Germany, Austria, and Sweden. The referendum drew a 95% turnout and voted 99% in favor of full independence.

Georgia rejected the results, claiming that ethnic Georgians were intimidated out of voting, and arguing that the Russian peacekeepers actually were supporting the Ossetians.

Meanwhile, Georgia developed a close relationship with the Bush administration and cultivated a relationship with the EU, beginning application for membership in both the EU and in NATO. Georgia has the third largest number of troops in Iraq, after the US and Britain. The US has supplied the Georgian army with a large amount of war material.

In mid-July of this year, the US military held a joint war games training exercise in Georgia with the Georgian military.

The US left a number of "military advisers" in Georgia after the exercise.

On August 7, the Georgian army invaded South Ossetia in force, advancing rapidly across the area and killing both Ossetian soldiers and Russian peacekeepers.

On August 8, the Russians moved a large force into South Ossetia, including use of airpower for bombing and support. The Georgian army was rapidly crushed and began to retreat into Georgia. The Russians continued to pursue them into Georgia and used artillery and planes to bombard both military and civilian targets in Georgia as they advanced. They also declared that Georgian troops stationed in Abkhazia must leave or surrender, and sent troops into Abkhazia as well.

The Russians at this point seem to be determined to remove the Georgian leadership and establish independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The extent to which they will occupy or establish control in Georgia proper, and for how long, is not clear.

The Georgians, after starting the war, probably partly at the urging of the US, are now screaming for peace.

The US and the Europeans, while expressing dismay ("I am shocked, shocked I say!") have exactly zero ability to do anything about the situation, since the area is well within Russian sphere of influence and away from any means of support (think of a US military action in Mexico.) They are hanging the Georgians out to dry (think of the Kurds under Reagan and Bush the elder.)

The Russians have been pointing out the similarity with Kosovo and US activity there. They have also pointed out that the US is in no position to complain about superpower military intervention or occupation of any place, given their record over the last eight years.

The possibility of any meaningful economic or other sanctions against the Russians is slight, since Russia is the number one supplier of oil and natural gas to Europe and an important trading partner, and the Russian bloc has the second largest oil reserve in the world (perhaps even the first, depending on the results of exploration in the Caspian region) and is a huge supplier of mineral resources from metals to diamonds.

IMPORTANT BLOOD FOR OIL FOOTNOTE: The largest pipeline between the Black Sea and Caspian oil fields and Europe and the only one not completely under Russian control is the 1 million barrel a day capacity BP line that passes through Georgia and parts of Abkhazia. Both the Russians and the Georgians would benefit hugely from ability to control this pipeline. Some observers suggest that war efforts on both sides are related partly to the issue of this pipeline.

For a Russian take on the news watch this broadcast:

Monday, August 11, 2008


I must admit that I am not an expert on the Georgia-Russia conflict that is now underway. But I have been following issues there for some time and have learned to see some linkages between what is going on in places like Poland, Czech Republic, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, China, and the Georgia-Russia crisis.

So here are some random, and not so random, observations and quotes that I think might give us all something to ponder.

* It's all about oil and natural gas. Russia has the world's largest supply of natural gas and Iran has the world's second largest supply. There is much oil and natural gas up in the Caspian Sea region. Which ever country controls this part of the world will have a jump start in controlling the keys to the world's economic engine for the foreseeable future.

* The expanding economy of China has tremendous need for energy. China now imports much of its oil via sea (thru the Taiwan Straits) and the U.S. has in recent years doubled its naval presence in this region pursuing the ability to "choke off" China's ability to import oil. China is looking for alternative, land routes, to transmit oil thus pipelines through Central Asia become crucial. U.S. permanent bases in Afghanistan and attempts to put military bases in other Central Asian countries is in large part an attempt to create the ability to control these pipeline routes. F. William Engdahl, author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, maintains that, "Washington is out to deny China east land access to either Russia, the Middle East or to the oil and gas fields of the Caspian Sea."

Engdahl goes on to say, "A close look at the map of Eurasia begins to suggest what is so vital for China and therefore for Washington's future domination of Eurasia. The goal is not only strategic encirclement of Russia through a series of NATO bases ranging from Camp Bond Steel in Kosovo to Poland, to Georgia, possibly Ukraine and White Russia, which would enable NATO to control energy ties between Russia and the European Union."

"Washington policy now encompasses a series of 'democratic' or soft coup projects which would strategically cut China off from access to the vital oil and gas reserves of the Caspian including Kazakhstan. The earlier Asian Great Silk Road trade routes went through Tashkent in Uzbekistan and Almaty in Kazakhstan for geographically obvious reasons, in a region surrounded by major mountain ranges. Geopolitical control of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan would enable control of any potential pipeline routes between China and Central Asia just as the encirclement of Russia controls pipeline and other ties between it and western Europe, China, India and the Mideast."

* Some years ago I read the book called The Grand Chessboard by Zbigniew Brzezinski which I recently wrote about in relation to his being a chief foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama. Brzezinski has been critical of the Bush administration for invading Iraq essentially saying that it was the wrong war. Brzezinski has long maintained that Russia and China were the targets that had to be militarily contained if the U.S. hoped to continue its role as chief superpower of the world. He says, "Eurasia is the world's axial super continent. A power that dominated Eurasia would exercise decisive influence over two of the world's three most economically productive regions, Western Europe and East Asia. A glance at the map also suggests that a country dominant in Eurasia would almost automatically control the Middle East and Africa. With Eurasia now serving as the decisive geopolitical chessboard, it no longer suffices to fashion one policy for Europe and another for Asia.....Eurasia accounts for 75% of the world's population, 60% of its GNP, and 75% of its energy resources. Collectively, Eurasia's potential power overshadows even America's."

* In 2005 the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline opened. It cost $3.6 billion and was funded by British Petroleum (BP) in a consortium including Unocal of the U.S. and Turkish Petroleum, and others. With the fall of the Soviet Union a scramble ensued for political and economic control of this part of the world. Georgia is on the pipeline route. Russia was opposed to this pipeline route. Brzezinski was a consultant to BP during the Bill Clinton era and urged Washington to back the project whose route would circumvent Russia.

Brzezinski also serves on the board of the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce that includes people like Tim Cejka (President of ExxonMobil Exploration); Henry Kissinger; James Baker III (who in 2003 went to Georgia to tell them President Shevardnadze that Washington wanted him to step down so U.S.-trained Mikhail Shaakashvili could replace him as president); Brent Scowcroft (former Bush I national security adviser); and Dick Cheney (who served on the board before becoming Bush II's V-P).

The U.S. has long been involved in supporting "freedom movements" throughout this region that have been attempting to replace Russian influence with U.S. corporate control. The CIA, National Endowment for Democracy (board members include former neo-conservative congressman Vin Weber and General Wesley Clark), and Freedom House (includes Zbigniew Brzezinski, former CIA director James Woolsey, and Obama foreign policy adviser Anthony Lake) have been key funders and supporters of placing politicians in power throughout Central Asia that would play ball with "our side".

* Now all of this hardball politics is to be expected. The U.S., Russia, and China all want control of this part of the world. OK, nothing new there. But the current Georgia-Russia conflict indicates that things are moving to a new dangerous stage of development. Very recently the U.S. and Georgia held military maneuvers in the now disputed territories. Russia countered with military maneuvers of its own. Russia is feeling threatened by expanding U.S. bases in Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic. Added to that are NATO attempts to put bases in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia and possibly even Georgia - all along or very near Russia's border.

* None of this is about the good guys versus the bad guys. It is power bloc politics and when the shooting starts it is civilians who die and their communities get destroyed. Big money is at stake and big money does not mind killing innocent people who stand in the way of "progress". For the peace movement we must first understand some of the history, and also understand the "chess" game now underway. We must not have illusions that this is about "democracy" and must denounce the military and corporate agenda of the players involved. For us in the U.S. we must also remove our blinders and see that both parties (Republican and Democrat) share a bi-partisan history and agenda of advancing corporate interests in this part of the world. Obama's advisers, just like McCain's (one of his top advisers was recently a lobbyist for the current government in Georgia) are thick in this stew.

* In the end the peace movement must recognize that this current fighting could trigger protracted war and the only question becomes which weapons get used? Does the U.S. decide it must "come to the aid of it's ally Georgia"? Is an attack on Iran somehow connected to this widening war for oil? Are nuclear weapons on the table? None of us has all the answers but it is imperative that we begin asking these hard questions and learn as quickly as possible as much as we can about the region.

* Lastly, need I remind anyone, that any protracted warfare in this region will be directed by space satellite technology. Space control and domination gives the U.S. the leg-up in any superpower struggle for control of oil and natural gas.

Friday, August 08, 2008


Bill-Hillary Clinton are back in the news. Bill for giving Obama a very chilly half-hearted semi-endorsement this past week. The question to Bill: "Is Obama qualified to be president?" His answer was generally, well .........? (One should remember that Bill, as Governor of Arkansas was not the world's most experienced candidate for president either.) Hillary was pulling back just a bit in recent days as she postures for a bigger role in the upcoming Democratic Party convention. They find letting go hard to do.

A question about the Dems convention: Will anti-war and impeachment protesters be shuffled off into bantustans?

I am convinced it was not supposed to end this way. Hillary was supposed to be the presidential candidate and Obama the V-P. But things got out of hand and look at the mess the Dems have now.

I leave for Toronto this morning to speak at the annual Nagasaki day event there. (How is that for smooth transitions?)

I've been to Toronto once before - it's a very international city. Many flavors of people there. Their pro baseball team is not doing so well this year. My Orioles are just below them in the standings - in last place.

It's raining again here - about the 19th time in last 20 days. When I get home on Sunday it'll be time to start working on the ark. All the animals in the neighborhood are lining up outside the door already. They know what's coming next.

One more thing on animals. I've not seen one bird at my feeder in recent months. I've bought the very best in seeds for them. I know that their populations are declining. It worrys me.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


* Ron Suskind's new book, The Way of the World, is causing quite a stir and resulting in the impeachment word being used more frequently on network TV these days. His book shares more inside scoop on Bush-Cheney lies and deception in order to drag us into war.

* Mary Beth is getting rave reviews for her speech in New York city the other night. It's been posted on quite a few websites around the globe. Last night she spoke in Great Neck, NY and tonight she goes to Staten Island for a talk.

* The Army's recruiting scandal is heating up as young high school kids who decide they don't want to join the military are being threatened by desperate recruiters. This has been going on for years but recent public revelations are giving the recruiting machine a well-deserved black eye. There have even been instances where recruiters have locked kids in hotel rooms refusing to let them out unless they agree to join. That is kidnapping but somehow the military is not punished.

* Thanks to the Internet and Comedy Central shows like John Stewart's Daily Show and The Colbert Report the public is developing a sound bullshit meter to help us separate wheat from chaff. It never fails to astound me how, in spite of endless right-wing talk radio and corporate dominated news reporting on the primary network TV stations, folks are still able to figure out that we are being taken for a long bad ride. The people ain't stupid.

* The photo above comes from a little shoe shop in a Portland, Maine mini-mall where we last sat in the office of Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) calling on her to vote against any more funding for the Iraq occupation. Twice we ended up sitting all-night long. Collins is running for reelection and didn't want the bad publicity from having us arrested. This small shoe shop keeper, just across the way, asked us for one of our signs to put in his store while we were there. Imagine the surprise of Collins staffers when they left their office and saw that sign.......

* Just to be fair and bi-partisan, Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) who is running against Susan Collins for her Senate seat, is happy these days after the Maine Supreme Court ruled that Independent candidate Herb Hoffman can't be on the November ballot. Hoffman's lawyers are now taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court saying that, "The Maine Law Court has construed and applied Maine law in a manner that not only tramples upon the federal constitutional rights of Mr. Hoffman, but also on the rights of the thousands of Maine voters who validly signed his petitions, and the rights of other members of the electorate who seek to engage in political expression or association through the nomination of non-party candidates to federal or state office."

I am one of those who have had their vote taken from them and will keep you posted on this important story about the loss of democracy in Maine. The Maine Supreme Court basically threw out Hoffman's signatures because they said he had to witness each and every one of them for them to be legal.

Hoffman's response is as follows: "But I guess it was OK for Democrat Tom Allen to do it back in February. We've examined the petitions Rep. Allen filed this year. More than 97 % of them were collected on caucus day. The confusion - and in some cases pure bedlam - that prevailed at the Democratic caucuses this year [because of the huge turnout due to the Obama phenomenon] has been widely documented. Just a cursory examination of the Allen petitions shows numerous instances indicating many of the signatures may not have been properly witnessed under this new standard.

"Had the Law Court subjected the Allen petitions to the same standard as were ours," Hoffman said, "there is a very good possibility that Rep. Allen would have been denied ballot access as well."

* Yes the signs of rebellion are everywhere. Just don't let it get hijacked by the politicians - of any party.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Today marks the 63rd year that the Japanese people have asked the world to remember the day that the U.S. military dropped the first atomic bomb.

Each year the Japanese, and people from all over the world, journey to Hiroshima. On the trains they come from all over their nation, folding paper cranes and forming long flowing wreaths of them that they place all over the city. They make their way to the Hiroshima bomb museum where mothers tell the stories of the atrocity to their young children. While there in 1985 I saw this very scene and I was reduced to tears.

The atomic age is a story about civilian suffering at the hands of the military. Modern warfare largely kills innocent people. Women, old people, and children who are not dressed in uniforms nor carrying weapons are the ones who are killed today in war. How can any military profess honor in battle and victory when we know that virtually all high-technology weapons are indeed weapons of mass destruction?

How can any country, especially the U.S. government, claim that its nuclear weapons are good and necessary while maintaining that other countries are evil for possessing the same?

Historian Gar Alperovitz's research on the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki shows that Japan had already lost the war by August, 1945. Alperovitz quotes Navy Admiral William Leahy, the senior military officer in the U.S. as well as chief of staff to President Harry Truman, as saying, "It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons...My own feeling is that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages."

The use of the atomic and hydrogen bombs signaled the start of the Cold War. The bombs were dropped as a military experiment and to show the Soviet Union that our post World War II foreign policy would be centered around the bomb. The nuclear arms race had begun and it continues, fully apace, to this day.

We must always remember the August 6th and 9th "barbaric" attacks by the U.S. on the Japanese people and we must vow to resist our military nuclear policy to ensure these ungodly weapons are never used again.

There can be no security in nuclear weapons or war of any kind. War today must be abolished or it will certainly abolish us. Each of us, just like in the time of slavery, have a moral obligation to the current and future generations that nuclear weapons be outlawed.

We have a moral obligation to abolish war and instead use the vast global resources wasted on killing to give life and ensure that all the people of the world can live in peace. There can be no more important task for any of us - especially those of us who have brought children into this world.