Organizing Notes

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

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Location: Brunswick, ME, United States

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

Sunday, August 02, 2009


After checking out of my hotel today I crossed under the busy street and walked around the Hiroshima castle for an hour. I climbed the steps to the top of it, each floor served as a museum illustrating how the castle had once served as a fortress for local warlords. The castle was destroyed by the US atomic bombing in 1945 and was finally rebuilt in 1958.

I tried to check into my new hotel at noon but was told I could not get in until 4:00 pm. So what to do with four hours on about the hottest day I seen since I got to Japan? And not a cloud in the sky. I walked around for about an hour and stepped into a local grocery store and took my time in the frozen food section as a way to cool off. Eventually I found a tiny Chinese restaurant and went inside for a lunch of fried rice and the most appreciated iced tea I've ever had. I tried to eat very slowly which for me is a real chore.

I spent another hour sitting on a shaded park bench near a busy intersection watching the city life pass me by. I saw the Pizza-La delivery motor scooters shoot by, and their competitors from Pizza-California as well. Young women with super-spiked high heels riding bicycles, small cars and big vans zoomed by, and post WW II cable cars rattled down the main street. I studied the city map and found the new Mazda Zoom-Zoom municipal baseball stadium which Mayor Akiba mentioned to me just last night as one of his latest achievements. He said the Mazda family is very proud of their team, even though the Hiroshima Carps are doing quite poorly in the standings. I told him my Baltimore Orioles are suffering the same fate.

I thought of going to the peace museum park but I'd just been there the other day for an extensive tour and it was much too far to walk on this hot day.

Eventually, after two and one-half hours of wandering around I returned to the hotel and asked if there was some place I could go and sit with my computer. They don't seem to have a lobby in this hotel, unlike the last one I stayed in which had a huge lobby, so the front desk sent me up to room 203 which appears to be in the middle of being cleaned so I connected my laptop to their Ethernet line and here I am. A refugee from Hiroshima heat.

Mary Beth sent me an email from home telling me that Veterans for Peace had about 30 people at the Bath Iron Works shipyard today to protest the "Christening" of another Aegis destroyer. The Aegis is enshrined and Mainers have little idea what its true military role is, and most could care less. All they want to know is how many jobs are created at the shipyard.

Here are Mary Beth's words from her speech at the protest:

“Christening” the DDG-109 Jason Dunham
August 1, 2009

Two Days Ago, aegis destroyers were used in a “Missile Defense” test off the shores of Hawaii.

Here is how a group called the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance describes it:

“…on a breezy warm afternoon, the USS Hopper (DDG 70) destroyer…successfully tracked, discriminated and intercepted a… ballistic missile target in its ascent phase. Time of interception was… 3 minutes after the target missile was launched… “

The press release continues: “The ascent phase intercept is a concept of striking a missile after its initial boost phase as it continues to climb to its apogee, and that is what the current [Obama] administration… [is] emphasizing as one of the [Missile Defense Agency’s] future growth areas.”

The press release then goes on to tell us that we need to be afraid of Iran and North Korea. It does not tell us how expensive this test cost. The last figure I heard for similar tests was about $100 million. Nor does it identify the companies that will reap the financial profits from this test.

Let me translate this important event.

Imagine, if you will, a sword and a shield. Imagine that the United States decides it wants the resources of a given country somewhere in the world –– a country that might be rich in natural gas, or oil for example…. Let’s say that the U.S. once again implements its First Strike Policy and begins a “shock and awe” campaign upon that other country. The U.S., with its Aegis Destroyers, is building the capacity to not only use the sword of the first strike, but also to put up the shield of missile defense – shooting out of the sky any retaliatory strike a nation might be foolish enough to attempt.

This gives us the capacity for Total Control and Domination. There is no nation state, anywhere in the world, which can compete with that level of military power.

To build this military empire, America has given over our tax dollars, and our industrial base. Every state in the nation and most Congressional Districts in the nation have citizens employed building something to contribute to this military empire. In fact, the US industrial base has become devoted to build the weapons and all the accoutrements of a military empire. Tell me, what other industrial products do we make in this country anymore?

And our military empire has spread its wings to impose a military presence in – oh – something like 1,000 military bases in foreign countries around the world.

So let’s look at this nation – our home – that has built and spread its military power throughout the world. What is the moral compass we use to judge the worthiness of such a nation to control and dominate the world’s resources?

Yes, this is the nation that pulverized and then invaded Iraq. That war was sold to the American people based on a lie. The US military, then and now, insists it does not count civilian casualties who die by the machines that are the fruits of the labor of American citizens. So we are left with estimates of Iraqi deaths that range from 600,000 to 1.3 million. The 5 million Iraqi refugees and displaced persons are not ever mentioned.

And still, America goes shopping.

We invade Afghanistan; we escalate the war; we build machines that require humans in American desserts to control the joy-sticks that control the weapons discharged by what we call “unmanned aerial vehicles.” Americans are relieved that US pilots are not at risk of being shot down. We take no notice of the young people who spend an 8 hour day wreaking havoc and destruction of another people, another country. We expect them to go home to their children at night unaffected by the consequences of the damage they have done.

Some years ago now, Dexter and Gretchen Kamilewicz organized the viewing of a video in the basement of the Brunswick UU Church one Sunday morning. We watched in horror as the images of the total destruction of the town of Fallujah in Iraq were revealed to us. So you can imagine my shock to hear a friendly reporter on National Public Radio this week tell the story of the new video game that is about to be released. Yes, it’s true – The Battle of Fallujah will soon be played by the young people in our country – the sounds, the fury, the killing, the civilian deaths, the total destruction of a once rich and vibrant town can be enjoyed in every American living room, over and over again, just for the thrill of it. KACHING! Mayhem continues making profit while recruiting our young to sociopathic killing.

This is the nation that should have total control and domination of the world and it’s resources??

My friends, we are here holding signs because we know we are better than all this. We have a vision of the way life must become that is full of light and love and healing. We feel the pain of a mother earth that is crying out for our focused attention. We know we must address climate change. We are still in the first decade of this new Century, and we know that the work going on out there in communities around the world to change the direction of our planet is absolutely thrilling.

When we turn our attention to 2050, we are not imagining how wars will be fought – not at all! Rather, we see with clarity that if we don’t figure out how to cooperate on this planet, humans may not survive to see the end of this century!

We must commit our life energy to building the new – building the alternative – right here in the shadow of the fading empire.

We must communicate quite boldly to our entire Congressional Delegation that we DO NOT WANT any more DOD money in this state. We DO NOT want our neighbors building the machinery of the military empire. We INSIST that we replace those jobs with the building of the renewable energy infrastructure that is ESSENTIAL if we are to maintain life on this planet for the next 100 years.

Let me say this again: we need to articulate clearly to our congressional delegation that we want an END to DOD contracts in Maine. No more resources to support the building of naval destroyers; rifles; bullets; tanks. We don’t want to test DRONES in our neighborhoods.

And we don’t want to manufacture even those benign sounding fancy military TENTS that Rep. Michaud is proud of building in the second district. The military tents built in Maine today will be used in Afghanistan tomorrow, and Africa in twenty years for the next Military Empire Enterprise. The young people these tents purport to “protect” will suffer for life from doing battle in a foreign country. There has to be another way.

Let’s be clear: Any penny spent on researching, building, maintaining the mechanics of the military empire is a penny taken from the visionaries we need to create a sustainable future.

Convert the military industrial complex. Use the talent and skill of American workers in every local community in this country to build the infrastructure we need in every neighborhood to curtail the catastrophe of global climate change.

Thank you for listening.


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