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

With a new administration in Washington it will be a challenge to get the 'liberals' to hold Biden-Harris to the few 'progressive promises' they made during their campaign. Biden is bringing back many of Bush & Obama's neo-cons to head his foreign policy. I'll be on this case without hesitation.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

VANDENBERG MISSILE LAUNCHING BASE

Yesterday’s train ride took me through Vandenberg AFB where the Pentagon launches rockets carrying top-secret military satellites into space. In addition the base also test fires nuclear missiles that hit targets in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Now and then launches from Vandenberg test “missile defense” hit-to-kill technologies.

As the Amtrak train headed north to my destination in San Luis Obispo I saw what others have long described as one of the most beautiful places along the west coast. The military often captures these incredible spots for their bases. They do it because they can I suppose. With the striking ocean views on my left side and beautiful spring wild flowers growing on the green hills to my right I was amazed at the size of Vandenberg. It seems as though the base goes on forever as the occasional lonely launch tower and support buildings are all spaced far apart among the dusty dirt roads that connects these launch pads for war in the heavens.

I thought about the times in the past when peace activists have done back country actions where they tried to enter the massive base launch areas in order to symbolically interrupt these military launches. Recently Vandenberg officials have announced that they will use mini-drones to hover over this vast expanse in order to more closely watch out for such determined protesters.

It's amazingly hypocritical of the U.S. to berate and threaten to attack Iran and North Korea for doing what happens all the time at Vandenberg. No wonder so many around the world detest U.S. nuclear policies.

I arrived in beautiful San Luis Obispo and was picked up by Henriette Groot who I met many years ago in Florida. We have mutual friends in Al and Wendy Geiger in Jacksonville. Henriette, who originally hails from the Netherlands, was one of the first to respond when I emailed my west coast list asking who might be interested in hosting me during this speaking tour.

Henrietta did a fine job of bringing together such diverse groups as Women for Peace, Transition towns, Green Party, and WILPF to co-sponsor my talk last night. (I like it when groups reach out and try to work with others – its something we all need to do a better job at.)

During the question time after my talk two people, including one elected city councilman, objected to my having offered strong critiques of Obama and Secretary of War Leon Panetta. The local official said that Panetta (a “liberal” Democrat) was once the congressman representing this community and that he was a good man. Panetta might be a good man but that doesn’t change the fact that he has alarmingly called any cuts in the gargantuan military budget as a “doomsday mechanism”. Hardly so.

The council man also maintained that the Crown family in Chicago, who gave Obama $500,000 and raised funds for him within the military industrial complex prior to the 2008 election, surely did not have any influence on the president. (The Crown family was then majority stockholders in General Dynamics.) It’s rather hard not to notice that Obama has made the Navy Aegis destroyers, outfitted with missile defense systems, his preferred deployment option as he surrounds Russia and China and restarts the Cold War with his “pivot” into the Asia-Pacific. The Aegis warships are built by General Dynamics at Bath Iron Works in Maine.

One woman who sat in the front row was the first to speak and strongly objected to my “negative” attacks on her president. I told her that I was not telling people who to vote for – voting is a sacred right I said – but I am just telling the story as it is. I told the audience that if George W. Bush was still president and I was reporting these facts the entire bunch of them would be wildly cheering. But when a Democrat comes into office many people suspend critical thinking. After the event was over the woman came up to me and apologized and said she was new to all this and had been shocked by my comments. I told her that her question was appropriate under the circumstances and thanked her for coming.

I write this on the bus from San Luis Obispo to San Jose. From there I jump on the train again for the ride into Berkeley. I do a radio interview at 5:00 on KPFA and then speak tonight at the Unitarian Church.

I’ll keep telling the truth about Obama and his subservience to the corporate military industrial criminal syndicate.

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