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

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Bradley Manning has been found guilty of all charges except the "aiding the enemy" one.

I remember being told in school that democracy only worked if the people had the information about what our government was doing so we could take proper corrective actions and decisions.  The people are supposed to rule.

But as our nation's foreign and military policy has become an extension of global corporate operations those in power are increasingly keeping secrets from us because they know the people would not be happy if we knew the whole sordid story about what is actually going on in our name.

Bradly Manning was acting as a patriot by sharing the gruesome details about what "our" government has been up to.  For that he has been called a traitor and put on trial.  Now he is likely to be sentenced for years to come.

But in my mind Manning is a hero.  He has given his life so that the people can know the truth.  Now it is our turn.  Do we just let Manning's extraordinary act of selflessness and bravery go unrewarded or do we come alive and demand an end to our corporate driven wars and political corruption for resource extraction around the globe?


Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Here are a few odds and ends from my trip to Hawaii, Philippines, and Australia.  The Obama "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific is real, being debated across the Pacific, and is still largely a mystery to the American people.

  • One key strategy of the US is to get the "allies" to pay for as much of the Pentagon pivot into the Asia-Pacific as possible.  That's why we see South Korea building the base on Jeju Island, the Philippines allowing the US to dock ships at Subic Bay for free, and for the Australians to pay for the upgrades at Robertson Barracks in Darwin where 2,500 US Marines will visit on six-month rotations.
  • Even though the US was kicked out of Subic Bay naval base in 1991 a Visiting Forces Agreement in 2002 between the US and the Philippines allows permanent docking rights.  Hundreds of US Special Forces are now in Mindanao as well.
  • Agreements are also now being written to allow Japanese and Australian military forces inside the Philippines thus destroying Filipino sovereignty.
  • Mark Twain wrote about the US-Philippine War in 1900:  "Once I was not anti-imperialist. I thought that the rescue of those [Philippine] islands from the [Spanish] government under which they had suffered for three hundred years was a good business for us to be in. But I had not studied the Paris Treaty. When I found that it made us responsible for the protection of the [Catholic] friars and their property I changed my mind."
  • It is estimated that one million Filipinos died in the early 1900's during the US war. 
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is big in the Philippines.
  • US is also sending rapid deployment forces to Singapore.
  • Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal is bad in that it creates "special tribunals" that can veto national laws, a direct assault to national sovereignty of those who sign it.  The TPP furthers the interests of casino capitalism.
  • An empire (US) falls when it loses control of its backyard like has happened in Latin America.  
  • When our empire falls will we create a new way of organizing our economic system?
  •  The pivot will feature new military strategies that utilize drones, special ops, cyber warfare and missile defense.
  • The US schizophrenia toward China is best illustrated by the word con-gagement.
  • Foreign policy in the US is subservient to military policy.
  • An expanding NATO now is joining the Asia-Pacific pivot by military "partnerships" with Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Singapore.
  • The new military alliance between the US and India breaks the long tradition of India's non-aligned status.  This new alliance is also aimed at China.
  • China's military budget is less than one-tenth of the Pentagon budget.
  • Approximately 50 US bases/facilities are now in Australia.
  • Australia refuses to answer this question:  Can the US forces in Australia be used to attack another country?
  • The ruling Labor Party in Australia used to oppose "missile defense" but not any longer.  They are now going to build four Aegis destroyers (with missile defense interceptors) for their own Navy.
  • US Patriot (PAC-3) missiles deployed in Okinawa use North Korea as pretext but are aimed at China.
  • A US "missile defense" X-band radar is now in Kyoto prefecture in Japan.
  • While the US currently occupies one-third of Guam it wants even more of the island for the military.
  • US weapons sales to Taiwan continue in spite of promises to China that they would stop.
  • US coordinates war exercises with Taiwan and commands the weapons (interoperability) that they sell to them.
  • Since the Obama pivot was announced there has been a 63% increase in US warship visits to Subic Bay.
  • On January 17, 2013 a US mine sweeper got stuck on a coral reef (World Heritage site) in the Philippines.  Several thousand square meters of coral were damaged.
  • The US is powerless to shape geo-political situations, it can destroy but can't create political solutions (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya).
  • US forces in Iraq continue to provide satellite intelligence to Turkey for their war against the Kurds.  In return the US gets bases and a recent "missile defense" deployment site near Syrian border.
  • The US military/corporate empire does not take defeat well and in fact becomes meaner when it does not get its way.
  • If you want peace you have to defeat the current economic system where people are slaves to the resource extraction and corporate production system.
  • Good organizing advice: Make trouble, fail, fight again, fail again....repeat until victory....determination, stubbornness and a bit of luck can go a long way.


Monday, July 29, 2013



I am very impressed to see this protest of folks from the right wing and left wing together in Oklahoma.  They are taking on US Syria policy.  We need more of this.

When I was up in Augusta a couple of months ago for the drone hearings I met a bunch of guys from right wing groups there for gun control hearings.  While we didn't agree on gun control we did find common ground on drone surveillance across Maine.  One of them showed me a bumper sticker that read "Protect my 2nd amendment rights to shoot down drones."

I told one of the guys on that occasion that the corporate oligarchy likes to keep the right and left snarling at each other over social issues which they steal us blind and keep waging wars.  He blew me away when he replied, "You know, we've been saying the same thing at our meetings lately."  Bingo.

If we are ever going to stop the bleeding being inflicted on us globally at the hands of our corporate masters then we've got to join hands across the spectrums.  So good on you Oklahoma for getting us started.  You are more than a fly over state!


I made it home at 1:00 am this morning.  I could barely make it up the stairs with my bags.  I slept until 11:00 am and had to get to work doing some legal stuff for my most recent arrest at Hancock Field drone base in Syracuse, New York.  As it is I am late on it anyway.

When I came through passport control upon reentering the US at the Dallas airport yesterday the guy at the booth ran my passport into his computer, marked a big red "I" on my reentry form, and said, "Come with me."  My first thought was here we go again.  The same thing happened to me when I came back from our Global Network conference in Sweden last month.

He took me to a room that was filled with Hispanics waiting permission to enter the US and I saw him put my passport on a shelf in an adjoining room separated by windows.  I only had one hour until my plane left for Boston and I figured I'd miss the plane for sure.

After about 15 minutes I saw one officer grab my passport and go to his computer.  When he approached the window he asked me, "Are you traveling alone?"  Yes, I replied.  "You've got a Protection Order against you.  Are you traveling with the person who has the Protection Order against you?"  No, I said, I am alone.  Again he asked me "Are you traveling with the person who has the Order against you?"  No, I said.  He handed me my passport and I was free to go.

The Order of Protection is from the base commander at Hancock Field in New York.  I got it when arrested there last April.  I can't imagine that I'd be traveling with the base commander.

I've got tons of work to get caught up with.  My desk is piled high with mail, phone calls to return, emails to respond to, new names to enter into our database, and a newsletter to get started with.  It's always tempting to come back and try to do it all at once.

Friday I leave for Washington DC to speak at the 90th anniversary War Resisters League conference called Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities.  I'll be on a panel and hope to show The Ghosts of Jeju documentary film during a workshop session.

It's times like this that I wish we could afford to hire a part-time administrative assistant for me.  But such is life in the peace biz.  We take what we can get and make the best of it.

Needless to say I consider myself very lucky to do this work and to be able to travel and meet such outstanding people around the world.  I give thanks and will hit my work pile with the best I've got - in due time. 


Searching for Occupy met up with Veterans for Peace all across the country. They had plenty to say about War and Peace as well as the War on Mother Earth and all humanity.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Kim Dotcom speaks at the GCSB Rally in Auckland to a crowd of several thousand citizens in Aotea Square. The people are NOT happy about the government's spying and want it STOPPED!

Protests were held all over New Zealand in recent days about their nation's role in facilitating NSA surveillance.



Saturday, July 27, 2013


Yesterday morning Victoria and I joined a protest by the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign in Sydney. We met at a park where people dressed themselves in white with white masks and carried signs calling themselves the Invisibles since the Australian corporate media refuses to cover their protests against the growing militarization of their country.

As we walked in single file through the busy Saturday morning streets leaflets were handed to people, cars honked, a bus driver flashed us the peace sign, and we got a nice reaction from the public. We ended up at city hall and a sound system was waiting for us as more people joined the protest. While waiting I went to the microphone and sang "Gonna lay down my sword and shield, down by the riverside." The others joined in with me.

Eventually I spoke to the assembled (which grew larger as people paused on the side walk to listen) and Victoria followed me to speak. She first sang an indigenous song from Guam and then an elected official from the Green Party made a fine speech as well.

The leaflet that was handed to the public included these words:

More than 80% of Australians want less money spent on the military. About 70% did not want Australia involved in the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. But Liberal and Labor governments ignore our voices for peace and justice.

The Invisibles, dressed in white and masked, symbolise the silent majority. We will not be silenced!

We march to demand:
  • No US Marines in Darwin
  • No US war fighting and spy bases on our land
  • No US drone base on the Cocos Island
  • No more war games intended to teach Aussie soldiers to fight in more shameful US wars
  • No more destruction of our precious environment by military exercises such as the four bombs dropped by US planes in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
  • No increased US warship and military plane visits to Australia
  • A cut to the massive military budget of $25 billion a year
  • Australia must not become a US military base and a launch site for US wars in our region
As former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser said: It's time Australia stood up and learned to be independent.
A send-off dinner for Victoria and I was held later in the evening with a dozen members from various peace groups joining us. We had a lively discussion about non-violence, organizing strategies, Australian politics, and more over fine Middle Eastern food in a basement room of a local Lebanese restaurant.

Today I head to the airport for the long trip home. I fly to Dallas and then to Boston where I catch a bus back to Maine. The trip will take me a full day.

It was a great trip to the Pacific and I am deeply grateful to all of my wonderful hosts in Hawaii, the Philippines and now here in Australia where Denis Doherty and Hannah Middleton saw that Victoria and I were given excellent treatment.


After 60 Years of Suffering, Time to Replace Korean Armistice with Peace Treaty

By Christine Ahn
July 27, 2013

Sixty years ago today, the United States, North Korea and China sat down to sign the Korean Armistice Agreement to "insure a complete cessation of hostilities." Several provisions were to guarantee a peaceful settlement, including a permanent peace agreement, withdrawal of all foreign troops, and no new arms introduced into Korea. Six decades later, none of these have been honored. As such, war, not peace, defines the relationship between Washington and Pyongyang.

Official commemorations are now taking place throughout Korea and United States, mostly honoring veterans who sacrificed their lives to fight the Forgotten War. Missing from this sanctioned remembering are the nearly four million Korean, mostly civilian, lives lost in just three years. Also missing is the central question: what are the costs of maintaining division and a permanent state of war? The costs are indeed enormous.

The most obvious is the threat of war, which would result in 1.5 million casualties within the first 24 hours, according to 1994 Defense Department estimates, well before North Korea possessed nuclear weapons. We came dangerously close this spring after Washington responded to Pyongyang's satellite launch and nuclear weapon test with another round of UN sanctions, followed by nuclear capable B-2 stealth bombers and nuclear power submarines equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles. Washington was "within an inch of war almost every day," said former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Another major casualty are the millions of families separated by the DMZ, who by no choice of their own, are unable to see, embrace or communicate with their loved ones.

Unending war means bolstering up militaries to prepare for war. In 2012, the United States spent nearly $665 billion on its military, South Korea $32 billion, and North Korea $6 billion. North Korea recently acknowledged how they had "to divert large human and material resources to bolstering up the armed forces though they should have been directed to the economic development and improvement of people's living standard."

North Koreans are also struggling with food and energy shortages because of another weapon of war: U.S.-led sanctions, which have for the past 60 years had deleterious effects on the daily life of North Koreans. On his last trip to North Korea, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter remarked how "sanctions have deprived the North Korean people from adequate access to trade and commerce which has been devastating to their economy" and that "the people suffer the most and the leaders suffer the least."

The costs are also of repression on both sides of the DMZ in the name of national security. Every government, including the United States, justifies violating human rights on the grounds of national security, whether it is the NSA's spying program or systematic torture of prisoners at Guantanamo. We often point to North Korea's prison camps, but rarely do we critique South Korea's antiquated Cold War-era National Security Law, which is still used to silence and imprison political dissidents.

The partition, however, has very real consequences for North Korean women who make up the majority of migrants leaving North Korea due to poverty and hunger. According to estimates by aid workers, 80 to 90 percent of North Korean female refugees are trafficked and survivors of sexual violence. One 19-year old North Korean woman recently shared among a circle of women her experience of being raped four times during her journey to Seoul: once by the Korean-Chinese man who promised her work; twice by a Chinese man who hid her from authorities; third by a South Korean man who smuggled her into Seoul; and a fourth time by a South Korean agent.

The Korean War lives on. For six decades, the Korean peninsula has been marked by tragedy and war, a pawn on a global chessboard determining its fate. Yet much of this human suffering could be resolved through one action: replace the armistice with a peace treaty. In June, Pyongyang requested direct talks with Washington, but the Obama administration has not yet responded, even though there is a wide political spectrum of U.S. voices calling for peace with North Korea, including former U.S. ambassadors to South Korea from both political parties.

In Korean culture, 60 years represents an entire lifetime. It's time to end 60 years of war and hostility and begin a new lifetime of peace, reconciliation, and hopefully, reunification. Central is replacing the Korean Armistice Agreement with a permanent peace treaty.

-  Christine Ahn is a founding board member of the Korea Policy Institute and the National Campaign to End the Korean War.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


With Washington refocusing its forces to the Asia-Pacific region, the US Naval Base on the small island of Guam is preparing for the arrival of 5,000 more troops and their dependents.

The goal is to turn Guam, an unincorporated territory of the US in the western Pacific Ocean, into a regional security hub by integrating the US Air Force and Navy.

The move is seen as a bid to counter what are perceived by the US and its allies as challenges to the freedom and security of the region.

However, many of the locals feel there are other ways their island can prosper, and that growth should not happen at any cost, particularly at the expense of their environment.

Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas reports from Guam.


This motion passed this morning in Melbourne:

The Victorian Trades Hall Executive is concerned with the recently announced expansion of US military bases and stationing of US Marines in Darwin in Australia and Asia-Pacific.

We are concerned that Australia's foreign policies, the armed forces and military infrastructure, are being deeply integrated into the US global military operations.

We are concerned that Pine Gap [US NSA listening post in Australia) and other joint US bases in Australia are being used in extensive electronic surveillance and gathering of information on people and other countries for the purpose of launching wars.

The VTHC-executive supports an independent Australian foreign policy that builds peace and friendship with people and countries in our region.


Last night Victoria and I spoke to more than 50 folks (a very diverse group) at the historic Trades Hall in Melbourne.  The Trades Hall was built in 1859 by workers as a rallying point for the labor movement, following the successful Eight Hour Day campaign of 1856.

I was here 10 years ago when the Global Network held our annual space organizing conference in this magnificent building.

Our talk was expertly facilitated by Richard Tanter from The Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability.  He is an expert on the Australian military and the growing US military presence in this country.  He also showed himself to be quite up-to-date on US military space policy.

This morning Victoria and I were interviewed on a progressive radio station.

Following the radio show we were brought back to Trades Hall to meet with the 15 members of the Executive Committee of the Victoria Trades Hall Council.  The listened attentively to each of us and then passed a motion calling on their country to stay neutral and independent during this US pivot into the region.  Once I get a copy of the motion I'll post it here on the blog along with a photo of this beautiful Trades Hall.

It's cold and wet here, quite a change from the heat of Darwin, Manila, and Hawaii.  I had to borrow a coat from my host Nic Maclellan who is an expert researcher and journalist on Pacific issues.  Nic and I met some years ago (neither of us can remember where or when) but he has been on our mailing list for a long time and follows the work of the Global Network closely.  We've been having some great discussions about the "pivot" and it is great to get his informed perspective on things.  He also made a fine bowl of tomato soup for lunch when we arrived yesterday from Darwin.  Just what the doctor ordered on a cold day.

We have a lunch meeting with various activists (including some who could not make it to our talk last night).  Victoria and I fly out tonight to Sydney which will be my last stop before heading home.


Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner is a poet from Marshall Islands in the Pacific.

Kathy writes, "During the period from June 30, 1946, to August 18, 1958, the United States conducted 67 nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands, all of which were considered atmospheric. The most powerful of those tests was the 'Bravo' shot, a 15 megaton device detonated on March 1, 1954, at Bikini atoll. The US continues to deny responsibility while many more Marshallese continue to die due to cancer and other radiation related illnesses."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Holding banner at the front gate of Robertson Army Barracks in Darwin where Obama intends to deploy 2,500 US Marines.  Who does the US need to protect Australia from or is this purely Pentagon power projection?

Denis Doherty runs interference as private security guard at Shoal Bay Satellite Receiving Station base tried to block our banner

I arrived in Darwin, on the north coast of Australia, yesterday afternoon.  This is where Obama has announced that over 2,500 US Marines would be sent as part of the "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific.

Joining me here was Denis Doherty (who I was with in the Philippines and hails from Sydney) and Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero from Guam.

Last night a public meeting was held at a local pub and just over 30 people turned out in this military town to hear us speak.  You can see the video clips of our talks here

The last person on the video is a woman who asked to recite a poem about Obama's visit to Darwin that was pure joy to listen to.  

Today our hosts took us to visit the front gates of two local bases that are involved in US war operations.  Robertson Barracks is the place where the US Marines will be sent.  Major upgrades are underway at the base in order to accommodate the additional soldiers.  The Australian government claims that the Marines stationed there will help to "deepen interoperability" between their forces and the US military.

The second base we visited is called Shoal Bay which is an important satellite interception station used by the NSA's ECHELON surveillance system - part of the program exposed by Edward Snowden that is collecting millions of phone, fax, and email communications from this part of the world.

When we arrived at the front gate of Shoal Bay, hidden along a lonely dusty road in a wooded area, a woman security guard came out of the shack to see what we were doing.  I announced that we were from the NSA and wondered if Edward Snowden was there.  She didn't look amused and immediately turned away.

Later in the day, after lunch, while at the home of one of Darwin's local activists we got a call from the guy who had driven us to the two bases.  He reported that the Australian Federal Police had just called and asked who was the person that said he was from the NSA.  Clearly anyone mentioning the NSA and Edward Snowden deserves to be checked out!

Early Thursday morning Victoria and I board a plane and head to Melbourne where we will speak.


For a response to President Obama’s comments on the acquittal of George Zimmerman and racism in the United States, Democracy Now is joined by Dr. Cornel West, professor at Union Theological Seminary and author of numerous books.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Sebago Tar Sands Demonstration from Regis Tremblay on Vimeo.

On Saturday, July 20, 2013, 350 Maine conducted a wonderful "teach-in" at Sebago Lake to inform the public about the dangers of fossil fuels, and specifically Tar-sands. The Canadians want to reverse the flow of the Portland to Montreal pipeline to move filthy, dirty Tar-sands oil down through Maine, 500 feet from Sebago Lake, to Portland to be shipped to China and other places. 200 people took part in the festivities and street (lake) theater. founder, Bill McKibben spoke to the crowd and took part in the activities. The band, Melodeego entertained with eco-relevant songs, featuring "They Are Digging Us a Hole."


By David Swanson

Copperhead was a name for Northern Democrats opposed to the Civil War. Now it's also the name of a remarkable new film: This is not the first film about a family opposed to the Civil War. Many will probably recall the 1965 film Shenandoah starring Jimmy Stewart. But Copperhead is the one to see.
This is a war movie that neither sanitizes war nor pornographies it. This is a war movie set far away from the war, in upstate New York to be precise -- just as all of our wars today are far away from all 50 states. It's an unpredictable movie, an engaging movie, a personal drama that makes the Civil War and the politics surrounding it more comprehensible than a gazillion tours of battlefields or hours of PBS specials.

We come, through this film, to understand the viewpoint of a man, and others like him, who opposed slavery but believed the cure of war to be worse than the disease. Here was a man of principle and courage who saw better than others what war would mean, and who opposed it. Here was someone opposing President Lincoln's assault on the Bill of Rights as he was engaged in it, not just centuries later as Lincoln's example is used to justify similar abuses.

Copperhead does a remarkable job of bringing us to understand the mindset of the copperheads, these opponents of mass-killing who found themselves accused of "aiding the enemy." And yet I wish this film went one step further. I wish it addressed directly the inevitable audience response that -- reasonable as the copperheads may have seemed at the time -- the war proponents were eventually proved right by the ending of slavery.

But the copperheads never claimed the war couldn't end slavery, only that slavery should be ended without war, as it had been in other countries and would go on to be in still more. Today we have more African Americans in prisons, jails, and under the supervision of the U.S. justice system than were enslaved in the United States in 1850. If we were to wake up tomorrow and discover that everybody was suddenly appropriately outraged by this horror, would a helpful proposal be for us to gather in some large fields and kill each other off by the hundreds of thousands? Of course not! What would that have to do with prison reform or with prison abolition? And what did it have to do with slavery abolition?

Anti-slavery activists in the U.K. had already been somewhat disappointed when Parliament had chosen to compensate slave owners for the liberation of their slaves. The slaves themselves were, of course, not compensated. They had little but hard times ahead. But the compensation of slave owners offered a model that might have served the United States better than bloody civil war.

During the American revolutionary war, the British had recruited slaves to fight on their side by promising them freedom. After the war, slave owners, including George Washington, demanded their slaves back. A British commander, General Sir Guy Carleton, refused. Thousands of freed slaves were transported from New York to Nova Scotia to avoid their re-enslavement. But Carleton did promise to compensate the slaves' owners, and Washington settled for that. So, it was good enough for George Washington!

The original British abolitionists, including Thomas Clarkson, greatly influenced Americans like William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass. But few picked up on the idea of compensated emancipation, which had not originated with the abolitionists. Elihu Burritt was an exception. From 1856 to 1860 he promoted a plan to prevent a U.S. civil war through compensated emancipation, or the purchase and liberation of slaves by the government, following the example that the English had set in the West Indies. Burritt traveled constantly, all over the country, speaking. He organized a mass convention that was held in Cleveland. He lined up prominent supporters. He edited newsletters. He behaved, in other words, like Clarkson and many an activist since.

And Burritt was right. Britain had freed its slaves without a civil war or a slave rebellion on the scale that was possible. Russia had freed its serfs without a war. Slave owners in the U.S. South would almost certainly have preferred a pile of money to five years of hell, the deaths of loved ones, the burning and destruction of their property, and the uncompensated emancipation that followed, not to mention the century and a half of bitter resentment that followed that. And not only the slave owners would have preferred the way of peace; it's not as if they did the killing and dying.


It was a hot day in Manila yesterday as I spent several hours marching with Bayan (diverse coalition of groups that coordinated the protest).

In the first photo above you can find me on the left side near the front of the march.  A couple of hours later I was invited to speak to the crowd about the US "pivot" in the region.

The march and rally took place on the 16-lane Commonwealth Avenue that leads to the Filipino Congress building.  Groups applied to hold the rally near the Congress as the president was delivering his SONA (State of the nation address) but the courts backed the police who had denied the permits.

In the top photo you can see a tree-lined median strip separating the two sides of the avenue.  At one point the march broke through the razor wire blockade along the median strip and took control of both sides of the highway.  This continued for about two hours but eventually more police moved in with water cannons and night sticks and began cracking heads.  I saw some who had been beaten and were bleeding quite profusely.

It was predominately a young crowd and people lined the route watching from their homes and various stores along the long highway.  The marchers were protesting the privatization of everything from water to public services.  They demanded jobs and of course were vigorous in their opposition to the governments stated desire to make major increases in military spending - to modernize the military by buying weapons likely from the US.

After my talk at the rally I had to make my way and get ready to head to the airport.  (That took 90 minutes in the massive traffic jams that are characteristic of Manila.)

Corazon was in a coffee shop while waiting for me and saw the chief of the cops sitting there coordinating the protest operation of more than 9,000 police.  At one point she heard him yell into a phone "Maximum tolerance, maximum tolerance."  President Aquino didn't want to have too much police violence spoil his day in the sun.  There were tons of media covering the event.

As we made the drive to the airport Cora kept giving me a running translation of Aquino's SONA that was airing on the car radio.  Some of his comments were really stupid such as when he was talking about energy.  He mentioned alternative energy but only in a way to negate it as he said, "What do you do when there is no wind?  What do you do when there is no sun?"

He talked about the police for more than 20 minutes and called for the purchase of 74,000 more guns for the police forces.   

Lots of "public-private partnership" talk came out of Aquino's mouth as he clearly is a promoter of the corporate agenda of neo-liberalism.

I had a great experience in the Philippines and I must thanks those at the Ban the Bases Now conference and Cora for the great job of hosting me during my week there.

I am typing this from Darwin, Australia as we prepare for a talk tonight.  I'll be joined by Denis Doherty (who was also in the Philippines) and a young woman activist from Guam who will be speaking in Darwin, Melbourne, and Sydney with me.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


US warship being serviced yesterday at the former US Navy base at Subic Bay

My wonderful host and guide Corazon Fabros organized another great day for me on Sunday.  Five of us loaded into a van and headed northwest towards the beautiful green mountains near the former US Navy base at Subic Bay.

Once on the MacArthur Highway we again passed miles of rice paddies and I saw many workers planting the rice in the wet fields.  As we got further into the rural areas thatched roof houses became more common alongside those with the rusty tin roofs.

I learned that the Catholic Church currently owns many of the rice fields.  One veteran activist told me that after the US defeated Spain and took control of the Philippines in 1902; one negotiated point was that the Catholic Church could hold onto their vast land holdings they had obtained during Spain’s 300-year rule.

The US had replaced one colonizer with another.

Writer Mark Twain was one of the most prominent opponents of the Philippine-American War and an outspoken anti-imperialist - an aspect of his biography that is rarely mentioned in high school English classes.  In 1901 he wrote about the US-Philippine war: “There must be two Americas: one that sets the captive free, and one that takes a once-captive's new freedom away from him, and picks a quarrel with him with nothing to found it on; then kills him to get his land.”

The US bases at Subic and Clark were finally returned to the Philippines in 1991 when a majority in the Filipino Senate voted to force the Americans out.  By 1992 the US was gone.  But things are rapidly changing back to the old ways.

Today, under Obama’s “pivot” of 60% of US military forces into this region, the port at Subic Bay is getting up to five US Navy warships a week making port calls under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the two countries.  During an interview with a newspaper reporter while visiting Subic he told me that the VFA allows the US to even avoid paying any docking fees.  In a way it’s a better deal, he said, than when the US had to maintain the huge Navy base at Subic.

An American ship maintenance corporation is now permanently stationed at Subic to service the US destroyers, supply ships, and frigates that are regularly arriving.  Just last November there was big controversy after one US warship dumped human waste into the bay rather than pay to have their on-board sewage tanks emptied.  Fortunately they got caught.

During our tour of the enormous former Navy base at Subic our guide, a long time security official at the port, took us to the far side of the bay to see the former Naval runway that will soon be buzzing again with US military aircraft. 

Near this spot, where we saw monkeys and fruit bats hanging from the trees in the thick jungle, were more than 300 weapons bunkers that the US had used to store their nuclear weapons and other ordinance.  One of the former bunkers has been converted into “Bob’s Bunker Restaurant” and we couldn’t help but stop in to take a look.  Just inside the door was an orange steel drum marked “Agent Orange” that is used to hold the menus.  Just a reminder of the massive toxic legacy the US left in Subic Bay after 50 years of occupation.

Our next stop was to pick up three activists near the former US Clark Air Force Base that left a similar calling card – massive toxic contamination – so much so that children and adults were catching cancers and other diseases at alarming rates during the years of US control. 

Today Clark has been converted into an international airport and foreign investors are moving in big time to build casinos, call centers, plastic and steel factories, and garment and electronics factories – all in pursuit of cheap labor.

I learned that the average monthly wage at a call center is about $500.  At wages like that you can see why the greedy corporations have left the US and moved overseas.  Even Korean corporations like Samsung are exiting their countries due to the presence of strong unions and setting up profit-enhancing production in the Philippines.

It was just getting dark as we headed back toward Quezon City last night.  As we approached the urban center we noticed an incredibly long line of police trucks, full of well-equipped men, stopped at a highway tollbooth.  I asked Cora what was going on.  She replied that police are being brought in from the outside provinces for the big protest that is set on Monday in Manila.  President Benigno Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) will be delivered then and the police will set up along the highway to turn activists away who try to come to the protest from the rural areas.  They will be easily identified she said because they will be riding in the converted “jeep” taxi vehicles that are seen all over the country crammed full of people.

The Filipino judicial system has denied the request of the protest organizers to have a permit to rally near the Congress building where the speech will be given.  Instead the march and rally will have to be held in the middle of the hot paved street that leads toward the government center – but we will be kept a good distance away.

Cora also told me that the presidential address would be a high fashion show.  The wives of the elite will present themselves to the nation in their most expensive gowns and jewelry.  They consider themselves royalty and have used their powers to keep the unruly rabble far away while they celebrate their control over “democracy”.

The protest march will be addressing the growing economic disparity between rich and poor.  The protest will also highlight the return of colonial status for the Philippines as the US military returns to Subic and drags the Filipino people into the coming US conflict with China.  The US wants the Philippines to spend more on “modernization” of its military so that it can be “interoperable” with US forces. 

In this age of space satellite directed high-tech war that means that the US would ultimately control the military forces of the Philippines.  (The Filipino military has no satellite capability to direct the "modern" weapons they would purchase from the US.)  The days of Filipino national sovereignty will be over if the US can pull this charade off. 

During my time here I’ve tried to plant some seeds about how the US Space Command coordinates all warfare on the planet on behalf of the corporate interests.  Activists and organizers have appreciated the information.  They seem to understand the connection.

Time will tell if the people here can hold onto their democracy – what little of it that still exists.    


Saturday, July 20, 2013


나는 강정간다... from DH song on Vimeo.
Director Song Dong-Hyo's latest short film "I'm Going to Gangjeong" (Jeju Island) showing the Grand March for Peace and Life 2012. 
The march this year will be from July 29 to August 3.
Noted filmmaker Oliver Stone will meet the march on August 3.


I did three talks yesterday to just over 50 people in three separate groups in Manila and Quezon City.  They were students, teachers, labor organizers, and from women’s groups.  It about wore me out but I enjoyed the day very much.

It was so reassuring to find that these folks were interested in hearing about space issues and my take on the Pentagon “pivot” into the Asia-Pacific.

At each meeting I handed out information about Keep Space for Peace Week (October 5-12) and was happy to hear real interest in organizing some events in Manila during that time.

This morning Corazon takes me for a tour of the former US Navy base at Subic and the former airbase at Clark.  Along the way I am supposed to do one more newspaper and TV interview as well.

On Monday is the huge protest March in Manila in conjunction with President Benigno Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).  Acquino, from a rich land holding family, is a classic neo-liberal politician doing the bidding of the corporate entities that control the Filipino government.

There will be two rallies and I believe I will be speaking at each one.  More on all that later.


Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. He has written nine books, including "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle" (2009), "I Don't Believe in Atheists" (2008) and the best-selling "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" (2008). His book "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Denis Doherty (Australia) and I were on a commercial station TV show last night for a 45 minute interview about the Obama "pivot" into Asia-Pacific.  The award-winning show reaches a regional audience in the Luzon area.

We had to drive about an hour to reach the studio through city traffic and then the major highway connecting Manila and the Subic Bay region.  Along the way we passed miles of rice fields.  There is great poverty in many parts of Manila as people live in make shift cardboard shacks with rusty tin roofs.  Just across the street from one such place was a golf course surrounded by a tall fence.  So the rich and poor exist along side each other here.

The Philippines is under great pressure to increase their military spending to buy US weapons systems which would then make their military "interoperable" with Pentagon forces.  In the age of high-tech satellite driven war that would mean the US would essentially control the Filipino military.  So one way you can think of it is that the US is getting other countries like Philippines and South Korea to help pay for the expansion of the US war machine.

Two days ago I read an article in a local newspaper that reported a new "coalition" was forming to advocate for the Filipino government to expand its military spending.   One of the groups listed in the new coalition was a global warming group which made me sick to see.

I can promise you that any hopes of successfully dealing with climate change will be smashed by global increases in military spending.  It's going to come down to this - either we convert the military industrial complex now to sustainable production (solar, wind, mass transit, etc) or we bake together sitting inside our tanks, warships, Humvees and the like.


‘America has no functioning democracy’

Former US President Jimmy Carter lambasted US intelligence methods as undemocratic and described Edward Snowden’s NSA leak as “beneficial” for the country.

Carter lashed out at the US political system when the issue of the previously top-secret NSA surveillance program was touched upon at the Atlantic Bridge meeting on Tuesday in Atlanta, Georgia.

America has no functioning democracy at this moment,” Carter said, according to Der Spiegel.

He also believes the spying-scandal is undermining democracy around the world, as people become increasingly suspicious of US internet platforms, such as Google and Facebook. While such mediums have normally been associated with freedom of speech and have recently become a major driving force behind emerging democratic movements, fallout from the NSA spying scandal has dented their credibility.

It’s not the first time Carter has criticized US intelligence policies. In a previous interview with  CNN, he said the NSA leaks signified that “the invasion of human rights and American privacy has gone too far.” He added that although Snowden violated US law, he may have ultimately done good for the country.

I think that the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive, so I think that the bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial.”

Jimmy Carter was President of the United States from 1977 to 1981. After leaving office, he founded the Carter Center, an NGO advocating human rights. The ex-president’s human rights credentials won him Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

Carter has frequently criticized his successors in the White House. Last year, he condemned the Obama administration for the use of drone attacks in his article “A Cruel and Unusual Record” published in the New York Times.


Today is media day for me in Quezon City, Philippines.  Veteran Filipino activist Corazon Fabros took me this morning to a "media forum" which is a weekly gathering of journalists who discuss a particular topic.  Fifty TV/radio/newspaper journalists came to hear me discuss Obama's "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific and its implications for their nation.  It was great fun and they really understand things quite well and see grave dangers in the US military "coming back" into their nation.

Following that I did an interview for a local TV station and next I do a print media interview over lunch.  Later in the day are two more TV interviews - one of which is a one-hour live show.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Today is the final day of the conference in Manila.  It's been a very good event and I've met some great folks and learned alot.  The Ban the Bases Now movement is strong around the globe as it takes on the important task of dismantling empire.  All the activist stories from various countries began with US corporate attempts to control land and resources.  Peasants in the Philippines lost their lands to the building of US bases many years ago.  Then they forced the US to close its bases in 1991 - a great victory for national sovereignty. 

But the US is coming back.  In a local paper yesterday was a headline "US may fund AFP facilities" that reported "Washington and Manila have expanded talks on military cooperation to include possible US funding to build facilities and the storage of US humanitarian and disaster relief supplies."  The rest of the article belies that opening fact these "storage" facilities would essentially be another of the growing US "lily pad" bases where they pre-position military hardware to be used in the event of war fighting.  

Later in the same article they acknowledge this contradiction when they report, "The two countries have been in talks since 2011 for 'joint use' of civilian and military facilities in the former US colony."  In other words the US military is coming back full bore to the Philippines in Obama's "pivot" into the region to encircle China.  The talk of "humanitarian and disaster relief" is pure public relations.  The Filipino anti-bases movement is not buying the line.

We showed the new documentary The Ghosts of Jeju to the conference yesterday and it was well received.  At breakfast this morning one Filipino activist summed it up when she said she loved "the music, the history, and the scenes of resistance to the Navy base on Jeju Island."  I handed out dozens of copies of the video to people from various countries who are eager to take the film home for sharing with others.  The Jeju struggle has become a prominent story in the global anti-bases movement.

I stay here in Manila tonight and in the morning move to Quezon City for three days of media interviews and talks.  The schedule put together by Corazon Fabros looks quite hectic but exciting.  I met Corazon years ago when we were on a speaking tour of South Korea organized by Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi who now heads up the international organizing team on Jeju Island.


Luke Rudkowski talks to Mark McGowan, the Artist Taxi Driver about the various projects he has done over the years. Mark begins with a story about a trip to America where he crawled through the streets of NYC on President's Day with a George W. Bush mask on and a sign that read "Kick My Ass." Mark discuss his views on using art and direct action instead of protesting as a way to make people think.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Political activists protesting the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial began a sit-in Tuesday in Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s office, vowing not to leave until the governor returns to Tallahassee and addresses their concerns.

The protesters, a group of students known as the "Dream Defenders," filled the governor’s office at the Capitol, saying they want a special session of the Legislature to address Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which was passed in 2005.

Monday, July 15, 2013


On my last day in Kauai, Hawaii the local peace folks organized a picnic at the beach.  Here we are holding a sign from Okinawa where they are protesting the deployment of US Osprey aircraft.  The woman (marine biologist) in the middle of the back row with her hands in a circle had just returned from a trip to Okinawa where she helped build support to stop the US construction of a Marine airbase runway out into the ocean that will destroy a coral reef.

The folks in Kauai were great and treated me so kindly. 


I arrived in Manila last night about dinner time.  Organizers of the conference I am attending from July 16-18, called US Strategic Pivot to Asia Pacific, US Militarism, Intervention and War, had someone pick me up at the airport and take me to an interesting hotel where folks arriving were put in a room with six bunk beds.  Then this morning we moved to a hotel in another part of the city where the conference is set to begin.

So far I've noticed that folks are here from Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Lebanon, Puerto Rico, Columbia, India, Kurdistan, South Korea, Germany, Malaysia, Canada, Hong Kong, US and of course the Philippines.  I'm sure I am missing some countries.

Sung-Hee Choi from South Korea is here representing the Gangjeong village resistance on Jeju Island and Dennis Doherty from Australia (his wife Dr. Hannah Middleton serves on the Global Network board of directors) is here as well.  They are the only two folks here who I already know.

After the conference long-time Filipino activist friend Corazon Fabros will organize some speaking and meetings for me with students and media.  Above is one event she has set up.

Sunday, July 14, 2013



This verdict makes me sick but comes as no real surprise.  I lived in Central Florida for 20 years and can tell you it is one hell of a racist community.

Zimmerman is one sick dude and should be in prison.  My heart breaks for the family of Trayvon Martin.

This cannot be called justice by any measure of the word.


Activists in Manila denounce Philippine government's plans to grant U.S. troops greater access to the country's military facilities.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


I spoke last night at the library here on Kauai, Hawaii which is home to the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF).  It is the world's largest instrumented multi-environmental range capable of supported surface, subsurface, air, and space operations simultaneously. There are over 1,100 square miles of instrumented underwater range and over 42,000 square miles of controlled airspace.

From this location dummy missiles are launched as targets that are then intercepted by Navy Aegis destroyers located offshore.  I told the audience last evening that since the Aegis warships, with their interceptor missiles, are built in my hometown of Bath I feel a special connection to the activists here on Kauai.  Then after the Aegis practice their "missile defense" (MD) interceptions here they will move on to ports near China like the one being built on Jeju Island, South Korea.

Just yesterday I read that the Obama team will be paying Spain $260 million to allow these same Aegis warships to port there as the US also expands operations to surround Russia.

I'm on a mission to follow these Aegis interceptors where ever they go so that local activists, and the broader public, can begin to see and understand just how aggressive this Pentagon program of encirclement really is.  It's a dangerous and provocative program that gets virtually no coverage in the mainstream media.

People have been really good to me since I arrived here the other day.  They got me on the local radio station to talk about what is really going on at PMRF so that we can deflate the myth that these MD testing programs are defensive.

They've also taken me swimming twice and I got a really bad sunburn my first day so I've been lathering up with aloe gell ever since.

Today, my last day here, I will be taken snorkeling by Katherine Muzik who is a scientist who specializes in coral reefs.  She just returned last night from 10 days in Okinawa where she was giving help to activists there who are trying to block the construction of a US Marine base runway out into the ocean that would destroy the last remaining living coral reef in that beleaguered place.  (Okinawa is loaded with US military bases and the people are fed up with it and demanding they be removed.)  Katherine has also been very helpful spreading word about the soft coral reefs just off Gangjeong village on Jeju Island that will be destroyed by the dredging now happening there as they build the Navy base.

The US military has a voracious appetite for the most beautiful and pristine spots in the world.  The Pentagon has an addiction for destruction and we all must do what we can to help defend these sacred places.

Today is my last day here on Kauai.  The local peace folks are holding a picnic on the beach this afternoon in my honor so after my snorkeling I'll go there and try to stay out of the sun.

The spirit of aloha - love and connection to mind and heart - is very strong here.  I will carry it with me as my trip continues.

Friday, July 12, 2013


Whistleblowing website Wikileaks has released Edward Snowden's statement to human rights groups in Moscow. In it the former NSA contractor asks for assistance in getting asylum in Russia until he can legally travel to Latin America. The White House said Friday that Russia granting political asylum to Edward Snowden would be on par with providing the National Security Agency leaker with a "propaganda platform" to further harm the United States.


Former Republican Rep. Ron Paul from Texas defends Edward Snowden.
CNN: "Ron Paul, you are a supporter of Edward Snowden and his actions. Why?"

RP: "Because he's done a great service. He's telling he truth. This is what we are starved for. The American people are starved for the truth. And when you have a dictatorship or an authoritarian government, truth becomes treasonous."

Thursday, July 11, 2013


The experimental X-47B drone has successfully landed on a US Navy aircraft carrier for the first time. This means the US can now launch drones overseas without needing to use bases in other countries. The unmanned X-47B aircraft, which is a prototype drone the size of a fighter jet developed by the American defense technology company Northrop Grumman, took off from a naval air station in Maryland on Wednesday. The drone then landed on the USS George H.W. Bush off the coast of Virginia.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


I am sitting in a very busy Los Angeles airport waiting for my flight to Kauai, Hawaii.  The waiting line for some food is more than 30 minutes - I'd highly recommend more than one restaurant in this section of the airport.  Talk about a monopoly.

I'm going back to Kauai for two reasons (was here for meeting in February 2012).  First it's sort of a half-way point for my trip to the Philippines and Australia so I can break up that long journey.  Secondly, and most importantly, the Pentagon has an ever expanding "missile defense" test range on Kauai.  They launch dummy warheads from there and Navy Aegis destroyers (in photo above) park offshore and fire their "interceptor" missiles in an attempt to hit the dummy missiles.  This testing program has met with more success than some other "missile defense" programs. This particular system is a key element in the US military first-strike program.

These same interceptors, called Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), have also been used by the US to knock a satellite out of space proving their capability as anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon.

You can imagine that Russia and China are not thrilled that these warships are cruising in their backyards.

More ports of call are needed for this growing class of warships thus the US has pressured the South Korean government to build the Navy base on Jeju Island and the Pentagon is negotiating with Vietnam, the Philippines and other Pacific nations to allow these ships back into their ports.

There is a peace group on Kauai and they are concerned about the missile test range on their beautiful island.  Monsanto is also very busy on Kauai as well developing GMO food products.  So there is a corporate military occupation of this garden paradise.

The peace group will show the Ghosts of Jeju documentary film and I will speak afterwards while I am on Kauai.  I want to keep reminding folks about the importance of this missile test range that the Obama administration is now upgrading as they are planning to use the SM-3 interceptors on ground-based launch platforms that will be deployed in Romania as part of the US encirclement of Russia.  They are calling it Aegis-ashore so the key role of Kauai can't be underscored.

While I'm on Kauai I do intend to dive into the ocean once or twice as well.