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. @BruceKGagnon

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Also see Encircling Russia, Targeting China, NATO'S True Role in US Grand Strategy by Diana Johnstone

Friday, November 19, 2010


Cold War Atomic Craziness

by Karl Grossman

On Long Island [New York], where I live, a bill was recently passed by the Suffolk County Legislature providing for prisoner labor to sort metal which has piled up at the former BOMARC base in Westhampton.

The legislature's presiding officer said that Suffolk County could make millions of dollars by selling the metal as scrap.

The base was transferred to the county after its closing and has been used as a firing range for police, an impoundment yard for vehicles and for storage of old equipment and county records.

To get some background on the BOMARC base, I went to Google, putting in the words BOMARC and Suffolk. Among the first websites listed was that of the New York State Military Museum which related: "BOMARC, the missile site in Westhampton was operated by the 6th Air Defense Missile Squadron of the USAF Air Defense Command. It was operational with the first version of the BOMARC missile, the BOMARC A, from 1959 through 1964. The base has 56 missile shelters. Each missile was armed with a 10-kiloton nuclear warhead."

What was that? "Each missile was armed with a 10-kiloton nuclear warhead." The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima had the TNT equivalent of 13 kilotons.

There were further details on other websites. They told of how the mission of the BOMARC base in Westhampton—and BOMARC bases set up all over the nation—was to blast Soviet bombers from the sky. Why use nuclear-tipped missiles? That way a direct hit need not be made. Once a BOMARC missile came close to the Soviet bombers, the atomic weapon on its tip would be detonated and destroy not one but part of a formation of bombers.

A November 21, 1958 front-page article in the New York Times (downloadable from the New York Times' online archive) was headlined: "Riverhead Missile Base to Get Bomarcs With Nuclear Warheads by '60." It began: "The Suffolk Bomarc Base, ninety miles east of New York City, will be equipped with anti-aircraft missiles carrying nuclear warheads. The missiles, which have a range up to 250 miles, will be launchable from the site near Riverhead, L.I." There would be 56 Bomarc missiles "at the ready." The article spoke of there being, a day earlier, a "press conference by Army and civilian engineers" and "Air Force and Boeing Airplane Company specialists" at which these "experts confirmed that the Bomarc base would soon be fully operational atomically." The story further noted: "No special provisions have been made for atomic hazards; they are not needed, the engineers said."

Curiosity led me to information on the Nike bases I knew were set up on Long Island around the same time. BOMARC was an Air Force project and its acronym combined the names of its developers: BO for Boeing and MARC for Michigan Aerospace Research Center. Nike was an Army missile program and named for the mythical Greek goddess of victory.

There are numerous websites about the Nike bases established on Long Island and elsewhere in the U.S. and how the Nike Hercules model was nuclear-tipped—with bases on Long Island armed with nuclear-tipped Nikes including those in Rocky Point, Amityville, Lido Beach, Oyster Bay and Lloyd Harbor. While a main reason for the BOMARC base in Westhampton was to intercept Soviet bombers headed to New York City, the Nike bases were primarily set up to defend facilities on Long Island considered strategic, among them, according to the New York State Military Museum website, Brookhaven National Laboratory and military industrial facilities including the then Grumman Corp. and Republic Aviation factories.

There were three types of Nike nuclear tips: "low-yield" 3-kiloton; "medium yield" 20-kiloton; and "high yield" 30-kiloton

I put together an article for Long Island newspapers on the metal scavenging project at the ex-BOMARC base and referred to some of the history of nuclear-tipped missiles on Long Island. Editors inquired: how could this be? If these nuclear-tipped missiles were detonated over and around Long Island, wouldn't there be impacts to people on the ground? Absolutely. We would have had warheads with vast explosive power—comparable to and greater than the Hiroshima atomic bomb—detonating all around us, spreading deadly radioactive fall-out.

With all the violence of recent years—and our concerns of violence ahead—we should give thanks that somehow we got through this Cold War atomic nightmare.


Thursday, November 18, 2010


Protests are continuing in Haiti over the cholera outbreak that has now killed more than 1,100 people and infected some 17,000. On Wednesday, residents in the city of Cap-Haitien clashed with U.N. troops for the third consecutive day. Crowds have taken to the streets expressing anger at the Haitian government and the United Nations for failing to contain the disease.


At the exact same time that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was publicly slamming Democrats for their call for a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, he was privately begging President George W. Bush to bring some troops home in hopes of retaining control of the U.S. Congress in the days before the 2006 midterm elections.

This has come to light via a passage in Bush's new book, Decision Points. McConnell has not denied the allegation, and the Senator's hometown paper, the Louisville Courier-Journal, decries the story as "contemptible hypocrisy and obsessive partisanship that have come to mark the senator's time in office."

It goes to show that the peace movement was having a major impact on the national scene at that time. Should we not take that as an indication that our movement should re-engage and push harder now to Bring Our War $$ Home?


Video report from Tom Weis who is riding his "rocket trike" across the country to Washington DC. Tom is spreading the word about a sustainable energy future and is featuring various positive actions that local communities are taking to build a new infrastructure not dependent on fossil fuels and cars.

Tom began the ride in Colorado and he is now in Ohio.

See his video blog here

You can sign his on-line petition here

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Bowles (left) and Simpson (middle) scheme with Obama to destroy social progress

The more I think about Obama's deficit reduction commission the madder I get. I was talking with one person the other day about the proposal to raise the retirement age to 69 and the guy said it was fine because we are all living longer than ever.

What he didn't say, and likely didn't know, is that there is a class analysis to this increase in life span in America. It is the wealthy and the white-collar workers who are living longer. People who sit behind desks, paper pushers and money changers with good health care policies, are the ones who grow older. But working class people - construction workers, janitors, factory workers, maids, cooks, truck drivers, farmers and farm workers die younger. Their bodies wear out from a lifetime of hard work and a 69 year old retirement age is a death sentence for them.

The reality is that Obama's "commission" is nothing more than an attempt by the rich and powerful to sentence the working class to a lifetime of drudgery - a return to feudalism.

But who can be surprised by this? The co-chairs of this phony commission are former Bill Clinton adviser Erskine Bowles and former senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.). Bowles is a Wall Street corporate Democrat and right-winger Simpson is the long-time buddy and political ally of George H. W. Bush. The arrogant Simpson sent an e-mail around this past summer complaining that the government is "like a milk cow with 310 million tits!"

The truth is that the rich don't mind a suckling tit, they just don't want anyone else crowding them as they feast away on the government's breast.

The job of these two guys is to prepare the American people for the collapse of social progress by keeping a steady drumbeat of worry about the deficit. Will they suggest that we end the war in Afghanistan and stop flushing $8 billion a month down a rate hole? Will they suggest taxing the rich and ending corporate welfare? No they won't.

In fact the Washington Post has reported that the staff for the "commission" are being paid by big time corporate entities that have long advocated for destroying the "entitlement programs" which officially are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and what is left of the welfare program. The Post says:

For example, the salaries of two senior [commission] staffers, Marc Goldwein and Ed Lorenzen, are paid by private groups that have previously advocated cuts to entitlement programs. Lorenzen is paid by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, while Goldwein is paid by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which is also partly funded by the Peterson group.

We'd better begin to inject some serious class consciousness into our organizing if we hope to prevent the total dismantling of social progress. There is a class war going on in America and it is coming from the top and Obama is helping to lead it against the very people who voted him into office.

Recent polls reveal that the public does not support the destruction of the "entitlement programs" and wants the rich to pay more in taxes. But don't expect this commission to reflect those views. Obama, always the magician, has willingly empowered another slight-of-hand game that will take from the poor and give to the already fattened rich.

Once again I say to my fellow citizens - it is time to rattle your chains.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Even though the train carrying nuclear waste has completed its journey the German anti-nuclear movement deserves great credit and recognition for their tremendous effort to slow the shipment. In doing so they have alerted the world to the issue and pumped life back into a sagging anti-nuclear power movement worldwide.

The German government had previously promised that they would move away from nuclear power but this shipment belies that pledge.

The resurrection of the German anti-nuclear movement, which was huge during the early 1980's and gave life to the Green Party, is a good sign for all of us.

This non-violent and determined movement in Germany should be a reminder to all of us that the tides of resistance ebb and flow much like the oceans. Our job as activists is to keep building, even during the times of low tide, so that when the need arises the movements can spring to life again.


Voters in southern Sudan have begun the registration process for next year's referendum in which the south will seek independence.

In addition to the broader referendum, a small region called Abyei, which sits astride the oil-rich border between the south and north, will vote to decide which part it wants to join.

There are already fears that the sharing of oil wealth may create trouble between the north and the south.

The Unity State, which is also rich in oil reserves, borders northern Sudan, and is a potential flashpoint.

Monday, November 15, 2010



Final pot luck supper in Portland - many Italian dishes, I called it "Little Italy"
Closing circle after reaching Portland

Buddhist nun Jun-san and Brother Kato during a break
Veteran Bob Lezer carrying the sacred banner the last leg into Portland

Veteran Russ Christianson (right) walking after serious dental surgery

Making sure every car possible reads our message

I worked five hours in yard today catching up with winter preparation. It was good to be outside even if it was a damp and cloudy day. I picked up fallen twigs and cut up tree limbs after our recent storm (housemate Laurie had already done alot of it) and I bagged up some leaves to stuff under one raised part of the house that is exposed to the cold. I borrowed a neighbors mulching mower and cut up most of the leaves in the yard so they can fertilize the grass. My body needed the exercise and my mind needed a break.

I found myself thinking of the peace walk often throughout the recent days. I can still hear the Buddhist chants and drum and can still feel the weariness that comes from such a long trek. As I write this I am the only one in our house and all is very quiet but part of me misses the community that forms on such walks. My sentimental side is always challenged in these moments after such a big project is completed and the world moves on to other more pressing matters. My heart is slow to follow......

Tomorrow I am right back into the fray with two radio interviews, one from Vermont and the other from California. On Wednesday I do an interview via Skype from England and then on Friday I drive to Cape Cod, Massachusetts to speak after a showing of the new documentary Pax Americana and the Weaponization of Space.

I want to personally thank everyone who helped us make this a special event. Whether you walked, feed people, or provided home hospitality, your contribution made a difference to us all.

Sunday, November 14, 2010