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. @BruceKGagnon

Saturday, April 05, 2014


A group of a dozen or more will vigil for an hour today during shift change at the gates of Bath Iron Works (BIW) here in Maine.  There are two more Saturdays to go during this series of Lenten vigils led by the Smilin' Trees Disarmament Farm from Hope, Maine.  They are a Catholic Worker related community that has maintained faithful vigils at BIW for many years.

Next Saturday there will be a larger group of us at BIW due to the fact that a ceremony will be held to 'christen' the first Zumwalt stealth destroyer - costing more than $4 billion to build.  Its mission?  To sneak up up to the coast of China and blast them with electromagnetic rail guns and other weapons of destruction.  That's why they call it a 'destroyer'.  It's job is to kill innocent people and bust stuff to pieces. 

Many in our community, even progressives, are reluctant to protest at BIW.  Some think it is futile to protest, nothing will come of it.  Others know someone who works at the shipyard or they fear becoming a 'social outcast' if they protest against such a large employer in a state desperate for jobs.

The jobs issue is what is most important - at least to the workers at BIW and to Maine citizens.  So seeing this reality it becomes inescapable that peace groups must develop an economic analysis and program to deal with the jobs issue if we truly hope to end war.  Saying we are against war is one thing but helping to build the public consciousness, the courage of the people, and the political clout to transform the military industry complex is job #1.

Yesterday a man who has frequent contact with BIW workers asked me if I had any idea just how many people at BIW felt bad about their job.  I said I had an idea but would love to hear more.  He went on to tell me that his many years of intimate contact with shipyard workers indicates to him that large numbers of the 5,500 workforce would rather do something else.  They feel bad about making weapons of war.

On one hand you could say we've won.  The workers largely agree that we should not be making weapons.  OK, so everybody gets that one.  Now what are we going to do about it?

I told the man yesterday that I would hope that all military production workers would begin to see that they have a role and responsibility in helping to make this transition possible.  The workers need to start calling on their unions to be more engaged in the conversion/diversification effort.  They also need to begin speaking out more themselves in the community about their concerns.  They could write letters to local papers, speak up at the dinner table, talk to each other inside the shipyard, and when the politicians come by to shake hands before the next election tell them "We need your help so we can build something good and needed here".  Imagine if a politician heard that 40-50 times in one early morning glad-handing experience.

The workers need to help make this happen.  The greater community must genuinely offer to help otherwise the workers will lose heart if they think no one cares.

Conversion of the war industry would create more jobs with the same amount of money that is now spent building weapons. Those jobs could be building public transit, wind turbines, solar systems, doing home weatherization, hiring teachers, repairing infrastructure and more.

It's the only way we can get out from under this heavy dark cloud of military economy and also deal with climate change.


The economy and security in Afghanistan are on shaky ground in the lead up to the Saturday presidential elections in Afghanistan. Female Associated Press photo-journalist Anja Niedringhaus was killed in eastern Afghanistan Friday by gunmen dressed in police uniforms, while her companion, reporter Kathy Gannon, survived the attack.

With attacks like this ramping up in the past few weeks, the security situation is threatening to deteriorate, while the already shaky economy is slowing further. RT's Lucy Kafanov reports from the streets of Kabul on the worsening economic situation and its impacts on the country.

Friday, April 04, 2014


Martin Luther King's April 4, 1967 speech on America & the Vietnam war.


It's exactly 65 years since the world's largest military alliance was formed. For decades, NATO was the Western world's joint defense against a Cold War enemy. But with those days long gone, are its mission and huge budget still justified?

Thursday, April 03, 2014



The US House of Representatives has approved an aid package to Ukraine, as well as sanctions against Russia. Washington will now give Kiev a one billion dollar loan, as well as pumping more money into what it calls democracy-promoting NGOs. William Engdahl, author of 'Full Spectrum Dominance' joins RT to discuss this.


NASA is freezing virtually all ties with the Russian Space Agency - apparently as part of the White House's response to the absorption of Crimea. Contracts, visits and cooperation are to be stopped...except those related to launches of astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

Since the cancellation of NASA's space shuttle program the US must rely on the Russians for rocket launches to get to the ISS.


Dear Pope Francis,

I sincerely ask for you to visit Gangjeong village on Jeju Island.  I am an old man in my 70s.  I was born in Gangjeong and have never left my home village.  Our village was established about 450 years ago, and is famous for its beautiful nature and fertile land.  But one day, we heard shocking news on TV that our village had been selected as the final location of a naval base.  The decision making process was non-democratic.  It was decided without proper consultation with Gangjeong villagers.  The decision was made in just 13 days.

Gureombi Rock is like a mother's arms to us.  It has been over two years that we could not sleep because of the sound of the sacred rock being blasted, destroyed, and the noises of the base construction everyday, night and day. The state is supposed to keep the life and property of the people, but this government has totally devastated this hundred-of-years-old peaceful village.  Residents and peace defenders are crying for peace and justice.

Dear Pope Francis!  The villagers of Gangjeong do not oppose national security.  We oppose the naval base project because we want to preserve our community so that people can live here happily from generation to generation.

There are several reasons why we oppose this naval base project.  Not even one hearing about the national project took place.  The land was taken away from the residents without agreement.  This absurd national project has been implemented violently and non-democratically.

Gangjeong is located at the southern part of Jeju Island and is famous for its high waves and strong tidal current.  In 2012, seven caisson structures to be used for building a breakwater of the naval base were destroyed due to typhoon.  This is but one example of why Gangjeong is not an appropriate place to build a naval base.

The construction site, Gureombi Rock and Gangjeong's coastal water, are designated an "Absolute Preservation Area" and are home to various endangered species like the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin and red-foot crab.  Jeju is designated as a Biosphere Reserve, World Natural Heritage Site, and Global Geo Park by UNESCO.

This base will be an outpost of the US military to target China.  With the US Pivot to Asia, Korea will be pulled into conflicts between the US and China.

Holy Father, everyday here has been like a war during the past seven years.  Help this old man see my village peaceful and beautiful again.  Please visit Gangjeong and hold the tired hands of the people longing for justice and a humane society.

By Yoon Sang-Hyo
Gangjeong villager

* You too can send a message to Pope Francis asking him to visit Jeju by going here

Current status of oppression in Gangjeong village

* 202,620 Police officers have been used to suppress the villagers from August 2011 to August 2013
* 649 People have been arrested for non-violent protest against the Navy base since April 2007
* 600 People have been put on trial
* 500 million KRW (won) in fines have been levied against peaceful protesters ($472,590 USD)
* 38 People imprisoned since April 2007

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


Obama's proposed allocation of $1.16 trillion in discretionary spending for fiscal year 2015.

Discretionary spending, which accounts for 29 percent of the president's proposed 2015 budget, does not include earned-benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare. Rather, it includes programs whose funding levels are set each year by lawmakers during the appropriations process, including the military, education, job training, and the environment.


Russia has the world's largest supply of natural gas.

America and the EU's top diplomats have met to brainstorm over how to break Europe's dependence on Russian energy. There were few concrete solutions, though the US again offered to ship US gas across the Atlantic. But as RT's Peter Oliver reports, that's easier said than done.


On the 28th of March, 2014, at about 4 p.m., the Afghan Peace Volunteers heard a loud explosion in the vicinity of their community home. It was the start of an attack on a guesthouse of Roots of Peace, a foreign-run NGO located nearby. For the rest of the evening and night, they anxiously waited for the sound of rocket fire and firing to stop. It was reported that a 10 year old girl, and the four assailants, were killed.

Zekerullah's father had asked that Zekerullah travel back to Bamiyan to be with his family till after the elections.

We had been thinking about an appropriate response to the violence perpetrated by the Taliban, other militia, the Afghan government, and the U.S./NATO coalition of 50 countries.

So, on the 31st of March 2014, in building alternatives and saying 'no' to all violence and all forms of war-making, a few of us went to a local park in the area of the attack, and there, we planted some trees.

Love and thanks,

Hakim, Ali, Abdulhai, Ghulamai, Zekerullah, Barath, Faiz, Raz and the Afghan Peace Volunteers


We get so tangled up
in the flags
and corporate logos
they become our connection
mentally and spiritually

We lose sight of the mother
where does the water go when it rains?
why is the wind blowing harder these days?
what do I really need to live?

We have so much stuff
sold to us by the shops
that have become distribution systems
for the corporations 
that keep grinding out more plastic
and other crap
for us to buy
on our maxed out credit cards

La famiglia
the family system
is being ripped to pieces
human to human connection squashed
local cultures must be destroyed
in order for the people to submit
to corporate rule

It's the new brand of feudalism
and fascism
a toxic match for sure
but this time you get color TV
and a phone linked to NSA
by expensive military satellites
that we pay so handsomely for

I ask myself
what can I do today
to stand in resistance
to the death merchants
who kill people
and cultures
and our Mother Earth?

Tuesday, April 01, 2014


New NATO military bases could be about to appear on Russia's borders with eastern Europe. Foreign Ministers from the Alliance are discussing whether to bolster their presence following the crisis in Ukraine. It will put pressure on Moscow - which has kept its own military movements within Russia's borders.


The latest edition of This Issue features Doug Rawlings from Veterans for Peace (VFP). He shares his story of transformation into a peace activist while serving in Vietnam and the contemporary effort by the government to whitewash the Vietnam story and VFP's planned response.  
Rawlings also discusses the US 'pivot' into the Asia-Pacific, Ukraine, and the upcoming April 12 VFP rally at BIW during the 'christening' of the new Zumwalt stealth destroyer.


Some voices from around the globe:

  • We should never forget the Big Picture; as with the NSA Orwellian-panopticon complex, this [Ukraine] is most of all about the application of the Pentagon's Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine, which implies encirclement of Russia (via NATO), coupled with the pivot-style encirclement of China. And the overarching logic remains the same; this is The Empire of Chaos in action. (Pepe Escobar Asia Times)
  • Australians prefer to see the isolated and exotic city of Darwin through stories about cyclones, crocodiles, Aboriginal art, spicy market food and unlimited road speeds; a place that lets you go to the supermarket in bare feet and look normal. This way, we don’t have to notice the most significant militarisation effort in Australia’s post-war history, which is happening under our noses. The militarisation of the north is unknown to most of us and thanks to this ignorance, the new Cold War brewing in the Asia Pacific region, and Darwin’s place in it, is rarely being debated... In 2012, US president Barrack Obama hailed "the next proud chapter in our alliance", announcing that up to 2,500 US Marine Corp personnel would permanently rotate through Darwin. The city is now a "lily pad" (the base America has when it doesn’t need to build a mini-city, just permanent access to a subordinate state’s geographic and strategic resources), adding to the largest empire of "not-really-bases" the world has ever known.... In allowing Australia’s foreign policy interests to be played out of sight, out of mind, in a town that also hides its own nature from itself, we avoid debating difficult questions. What does being a subordinate ally to a military force clinging to its global primacy commit us to? What are our liabilities and responsibilities? At what point do Australian sovereign interests diverge from America’s security objectives? And what are we prepared to do about it? (Tess Lea The Guardian
  • A Ukrainian NATO membership would endow radical nationalists with the ability to launch provocations against Russia and to invoke article five of the alliance in case of a Russian response. It would lead to exactly that direct, conventional confrontation, that NATO wants to avoid because it has become unfeasible. (Dr. Christof Lehman NSNBC)
  • Last year, according to AFRICOM commander General David Rodriguez, the U.S. military carried out a total of 546 “activities” on the continent -- a catch-all term for everything the military does in Africa.  In other words, it averages about one and a half missions a day.  This represents a 217% increase in operations, programs, and exercises since the command was established in 2008. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month, Rodriguez noted that the 10 exercises, 55 operations, and 481 security cooperation activities made AFRICOM “an extremely active geographic command.”  But exactly what the command is “active” in doing is often far from clear. (Nick Turse Truthout) 
  •  DoD’s overall five-year spending outlook is $115 billion above federal spending caps, meaning it would need to be heavily modified or cut if sequestration remains in 2016 and beyond. Of DoD’s 63 major weapons programs, funding for space-related efforts is projected to increase the most, showing a 4 percent average annual growth rate through the next five years, according to the VisualDoD data. Byron Callan, an analyst with Capital Alpha Partners, noted that there also could be additional space funding within DoD’s classified [black] budget coffers. (Defense News) 
  • The US is prepared to plunge Europe into a war with Russia in order for Washington to preserve its hegemony over the transatlantic axis. The key issues are the prevention of Russia and Europe developing closer trade and political ties – stemming primarily from a vast trade in energy fuels; and, secondly, the survival of the American dollar as the world’s reserve currency. So vital are these issues for continued American hegemony that Washington is prepared to sacrifice millions of lives in a war between Russia and its so-called transatlantic European 'ally' [NATO]. (Finian Cunningham NSNBC

Monday, March 31, 2014


US-NATO worked together in the cold, harsh environment of northern Norway as part of exercise Cold Response 2014. Altogether more than 16,000 sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines representing 15 nations participated in the exercise.

Check out the map and see what country borders Norway at the north.

Listen to one of the NATO brass say it's time we came home from Afghanistan and war-gamed something closer to home - now who could that be?


Maybe Luxembourg...


One of the really big stories from last week not covered in the US media.

US-NATO are working overtime trying to come up with a way to a justify full-blown attack on Syria.  Turkey is a NATO member, if Turkey gets attacked then NATO comes to the rescue.  Clean and simple, right?

But oops they got caught.....


  • Even though it is officially spring in Maine we still have winter.  Just this morning a cold wind blown sleet storm hit us.  People here complain about the weather all the time but rarely a mumbling word about climate change is heard.

  • Yesterday I read a disgusting Op-Ed by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times.  He went for a ride on a nuclear submarine under the Arctic Ice to promote that new "field of conflict" to the American consumers.  He wrote:

I had spent the night on the sub as part of a group accompanying Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations, who was observing the Navy’s submarine arctic warfare exercise.
 But this wasn’t tourism. Climate scientists predict that if warming trends continue, the Arctic’s ice cap will melt enough that — in this century — it will become a navigable ocean for commercial shipping year round, and for mineral and oil exploration. Russia has already made extensive claims to the Arctic, based on the reach of its continental shelf, beyond the usual 12 miles from its coastline; these are in dispute. To prepare for whatever unfolds here, though, the U.S. Navy keeps honing its Arctic submarine skills, including, on our trip, test-firing a virtual torpedo at a virtual enemy sub, studying how differences in water temperatures and the mix of freshwater from melted ice and saltwater affect undersea weapons and the sounds a sub makes (vital for knowing how to hide), as well as mapping the Arctic’s seabed topography.

“In our lifetime, what was [in effect] land and prohibitive to navigate or explore, is becoming an ocean, and we’d better understand it,” noted Admiral Greenert. “We need to be sure that our sensors, weapons and people are proficient in this part of the world,” so that we can “own the undersea domain and get anywhere there.” Because if the Arctic does open up for shipping, it offers a much shorter route from the Atlantic to the Pacific than through the Panama Canal, saving huge amounts of time and fuel.

You learn a lot on a trip like this, starting with the fact that I’m not claustrophobic. Sleeping in the middle rack of three stacked beds, appropriately called coffins, I now know that.

  • Notice that Friedman didn't linger long after the bomb was dropped by the Admiral.  Friedman's job is not to analyze the fact that the US intends to "own the undersea domain".  His job was to plant the seed in the fertile soil of mindless patriotism and feel-good-isms that the corporate media specialize in.

  • The message is clear.  The oil-i-garchy doesn't intend to debate this one... they are going to make a grab for the resources under the melting Arctic ice.  They are quite fine with the whole idea of climate change.  They are going to make big money and fly off to Mars or some fancy space hotel with organic gardens.  Fuck the rest of us.
  • One big problem of course is Russia.  They have a huge land mass bordering the Arctic regions.  The US-NATO are thus preparing militarily for that 'problem'.

  • Now is our moment for reality check.  Obama and the Democrats won't save us on this one.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014


MB and I just watched this film.  It's a great one and we highly recommend it.

Legendary New York disc jockey Bob Fass revolutionized late night FM radio by serving as a cultural hub for music, politics and audience participation for nearly 50 years. Long before today's innovations in social media, Fass utilized the airwaves for mobilization, encouraging luminaries and ordinary listeners to talk openly, taking the program in surprising directions.


Burn baby burn
the flames leap into the sky
day or night
feel the heat
see the light

We keep burning the bridges
and villages
and hardening hearts
burn baby burn

When George Washington's army
entered the country of the Six Nations (Iroquois)
the Seneca called him Hanadaguyus
means “Town Destroyer”
the name destroyer still lives
sailing the empire's sea lanes
burn baby burn

Wounded Knee,
Philippines, Korea,
Dominican Republic, Panama
Nicaragua, El Salvador,
Granada, Haiti
Afghanistan, Iraq again
Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria, Pakistan,
burn baby burn

The flame of 'exceptionalism'
and arrogance
never goes out
it just moves on to another village
burn baby burn

We are burning our bridges
isolated from the true spirit
of humanity
once linked to our earth mother
our connection is broken
and charred

Don't tell me this!
Don't force my eyes onto these flames!
There is a cost to knowing
and a bigger cost to acting
Leave me in my 'innocent' state

Yes my soul hurts
but I can manage
by staying in the shadows
while the fires rage
burn baby burn