Organizing Notes

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

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Planes inside hangers at Kunsan AFB
Screaming planes overhead
Drying fish at the end of the Kunsan AFB runway

Father Moon is a 73 year-old retired Catholic priest who move to Gunsan 10 years ago in order to build resistance around the expansion of the US Air Force Base in the city. The base, called Kunsan AFB, served as a Japanese airfield during the time of their colonization of Korea. Gunsan is located along the southwest coast of South Korea, as close to China as one can get.

Today the base hosts 58 F-16's and will soon see two Apache helicopter units move here from another base farther north. F-15's from Idaho and also here on temporary duty and 16 Patriot missile batteries are located on the base as part of the US Missile Defense expansion in this region.

Fr. Moon has a long gray flowing beard and walks with a cane. He has a bad knee after being roughed up by the national police at one of the many protests he has attended over the years. He has spent a couple of years in prison, like so many of the most dedicated South Korean activists have, but he sheds no tears over his time in jail. He remarks with a laugh that he liked being in jail because he could read so many books. I gave him one of mine and signed it with the words, "For your jail reading library."

These days Fr. Moon is spending alot of time away from his work against expansion of Kunsan AFB because he feels the need to stand with the suffering widows in the Yongsan neighborhood of Seoul. He is largely responsible for bringing many Catholic priests and nuns into that struggle and for helping to encourage many other progressive organizations to get involved.

I asked Fr. Moon to give me some words for other activists and this is what he said:

It is one Earth - we must have peace amongst all the villages of the Earth - we must show solidarity with all who are suffering, open our hearts to people like those at Yongsan. We must show concern, participation, and solidarity.

The US Air Force is now building three new eight story barracks on the Kunsan base. Six villages of 547 households will be lost to the base expansion by 2013. It is obvious that big plans are being made here. I asked Fr. Moon who the enemy is for such a massive base expansion. He answered: China.

Along the outer fence line of the base I could see one housing area for the American base families who are essentially moving onto the land that was once lived on by fishermen and rice farmers. Visible as we drove around the base was the "Haven Baptist Church". My first thought when I saw the church is the growing fundamentilization of those in the military today. They are being told they are on a mission from God to bring true religion to the world. Knowing that God is on their side makes it easier to kill anyone who gets in the way.

We went to a red-colored marshland yesterday at one end of the 4 kilometer base runway which is located next to the sea. Here fishermen and their wives were drying small fish on netting raised off the ground on saw-horses. Just above our heads roared 4 F-16's and one F-15 as they took off from the base. We had to cover our ears and I could feel the vibrations of the plane inside my body. Think of living with this everyday of your life.

Once a year one of the planes crash.

Fr. Moon told me that police call him the "gangster". They do that because he refuses to give in to the corruption of policy and spirit inside his nation. The people of South Korea are being told to submit to US military authority and to the corporate driven consumer culture that now rules South Korea. But he is unrelenting in his resistance and for that he is seen by the "authorities" as an outlaw. It was an honor to meet this outlaw and to call him a friend. He is a role model for all self-respecting people.


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