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 19, 2014


I took the bus early this morning from Portland to Boston in order to get to the Asia-Pacific peace conference being held in Cambridge at the Friends Meeting House.  I will speak on a panel after lunch.

I got here about 30 minutes after the event began and caught the end of speech by Hideki Yoshikawa from Okinawa who was sharing stories about their struggle against expanding US military bases.  Other activists from Korea and China will also be talking. 

Hyun Lee, the Korean activist from New York City, who came to Maine last week to our rally at Bath Iron Works is here.  She, along with Joseph Gerson from the AFSC who organized today's event, also spoke in Orono and Brunswick last week when they came to Maine.

These events in Maine and here are being held in response to the call by the National Working Group for Peace & Demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific for nationwide actions this spring to bring this important issue to the public's attention.

The Obama 'pivot' into the Asia-Pacific to encircle China will be an expensive and provocative undertaking.

I take the bus back to Portland tonight.

Friday, April 18, 2014


Everyone is talking about it
those running the show here
are heavily psychopathic
(Miriam Webster dictionary: "one who has not lost contact
with reality
but who engages in abnormally aggressive and seriously
irresponsible behavior
with little or no
feelings of guilt")

Sounds familiar
their bloodlines
like Forbes
ran drugs during
Opium Wars
pirates did slave trade
sold and still sell weapons
bought up our media
and government
they are MR. BIG

the pirates dug up
Geronimo's skull
grandpa-Bush did the deed
and now the Indian remains
inside the Tomb at Yale

The message from Skull & Bones
to the world is
"we always get you in
the end"
WE always win

Look at Haiti today
they dared long ago
to revolt against
the pirate class
Vietnam was nuked with
Agent Orange
Iraq with DU
the oceans with sonar
the whales cry to us
we turn away
we need the jobs
at the shipyard

the pirates love death
and worship it
they are the evil of
this world

We elect the pirates
and give them power
and glory
and hefty pensions
and 'get out of jail free' cards

They laugh at us
as we mimic their lives
the pirates hold hands
and toast with the sultans
to their ill-gotten
good fortune

But they fear us
they worry to death
that someday the people
will turn
on the

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Click on document for better view and when it appears click again and it will enlarge even more.


As negotiations over the crisis in Ukraine begin in Geneva, tension is rising in the Ukrainian east after security forces killed three pro-Russian protesters, wounded 13 and took 63 captive in the city of Mariupol.

Ukrainian officials said the pro-Russian separatists had attempted to storm a military base. The killings came just after the unraveling of a Ukrainian operation to retake government buildings from pro-Russian separatists. Earlier today, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the authorities in Kiev of plunging the country into an "abyss" and refused to rule out sending forces into Ukraine.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has announced a series of steps to reinforce its presence in eastern Europe. "We will have more planes in the air, more ships on the water and more readiness on the land," Rasmussen said.

Democracy Now is joined by Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University. "We are not at the beginning of a new Cold War, we are well into it," Cohen says, "which alerts us to the fact 'hot war' is imaginable now. It’s unlikely, but it’s conceivable — and if it’s conceivable, something has to be done about it."


Gangjeong village on Jeju Island

The starkness of the times
causing even old warriors
to fall
the suffering can be a load
even on the strongest

For many moons our people
have struggled to survive
been through hell
and back
but we are here


Many of us have fallen
victim to the hype, the pretense,
the flim-flam man,
and the desire to just
be one of the crowd

That's OK

It's just time to move on
to get serious about dealing
with our present
here and now

Feel the spiritual connection
to our relatives,
that is real,
the two-leggeds,
the four-leggeds, the things
that fly, the things that swim,
the water, the air, the earth

All our relatives

We must struggle,
crawl, dribble,
snort, swear, and swim
in order to protect
the future generations
who cry out to us
in our sleep.

Here we are now.....


An example of corporate media promotion of the military industrial complex.

They undercut the actual price of the warship which will be more than $4 billion and they celebrate its provocative mission.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Kiev’s military faced off with protesters in east Ukraine on Wednesday to sort out their differences…and found none. Soldiers appeared reluctant to go into battle against anti-government activists.

When Ukrainian Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) entered downtown Kramatorsk as part of Kiev’s military operation against anti-government protesters in the east of the country, they were stopped in their tracks, surrounded by crowds of local residents.

One YouTube video of what happened next shows a woman coming to a soldier with the reproach: “You are the army, you must protect the people.

We are not going to shoot, we weren’t even going to,” is the soldier’s reply.

Similar conversations could be heard at each of several APCs which entered the city, with locals promising to defend their neighbors, in case the soldiers start a military operation.

Military vehicles parked in downtown Kramatorsk have turned into hotspots for political discussion, with people beside the vehicles trying to get their views through to people on top of the tanks.

Another video features the Kramatorsk crowds loudly chanting “Army with the people” and applauding the soldiers as they were leaving their APCs.

“Guys, we are with you! You are great!” women are heard yelling to the vacating soldiers.

Six Ukrainian military vehicles in Kramatorsk actually switched sides and began flying Russian flags on Wednesday.

Around 60 crew members of Ukrainian armored vehicles sent to Kramatorsk for carrying out the military operation against anti-government protesters, have switched sides and joined the local self-defense squads, according to RIA Novosti, citing the self-defense leadership.

We’ve seen here, that these are neither separatists nor terrorists, but ordinary local residents, with whom we are not going to go to battle,” one of the defected soldiers said.

All of the troops who decided to side with the self-defense come from the Dnepropetrovsk region, neighboring with the Donetsk one.

This YouTube video shows an encounter where some of the Ukrainian military vehicles raise Russian flags, while others raise the flags of the Donetsk People’s Republic that the supporters of federalization want to establish. The crowd reacted with loud cheers.

The soldiers and civilians started fraternizing very quickly and soon were joking about “coming for a visit without weapons next time.” Many of the soldiers put on St. George’s ribbons, the traditional Russian emblem used to commemorate the Soviet Union’s fight against Nazism in World War II.

Tuesday, when the military operation against anti-government protesters in the east was launched, was not as peaceful.

According to activists, four people were killed and two others injured when troops seized an airfield in Kramatorsk, which had earlier been controlled by protesters. 


  • It took me 12 hours to get home yesterday from Toronto.  Time has new meaning as travel becomes even more problematic.... airline corporations are cutting corners and wild weather is disrupting schedules. 

  • My hosts in Toronto were long-time activists Judy and Jim Deutsch.  Jim was a radical student at Columbia University during the 60's student occupation of the administration building.  He was there when Columbia Professor Seymour Melman (father of economic conversion) crawled through the window in an attempt to join with the students.  Apparently Melman’s self-intro was poorly received and some shouted him down.  Melman crawled back out the window. Judy is one of the leaders of Science for Peace at the University of Toronto where she teaches in addition to a full schedule of local organizing.  On Sunday night they organized a dinner party where about 15 people (including some students) sat around and talked about growing fascism and what we should do in response.  It was a stimulating discussion.  No easy answers were found... just recognition that we must do the hard work of local-regional-national-international grassroots organizing.  We all agreed that there is way too much solo-silo organizing - alot of this has to do with organizational egos, power, money, media contacts, etc.  Also was agreed that governments, political parties, and foundations fund some "progressive" groups to keep them toeing the line.  These kinds of things happen in Maine and across the nation.  In Canada some groups get government money and spout the party line on militarism. 

  • People in Toronto are worried about the possible reelection of their crazy, spoiled Mayor Rob Ford. The crack smokin, arm swinging, bad mouth rich boy wears a Maple Leafs hockey jersey to keep the working class fans in check.  In the end Ford does the work of the oligarchy by introducing austerity and making the political scene toxic that discourages public participation.  It is the same story with our right wing gutter-mouth Gov. Paul LePage here in Maine.  He won in a three-way race with 38% of the vote but is up for reelection in November.  At this moment he is behind his Democrat challenger in the polls.
  • Getting into Canada was easy this time.  Sometimes I breeze through and other times I've been pulled aside to discuss my history of non-violent civil disobedience that is logged into the computer.  But interestingly the last three times I've come back from international trips I've been pulled into another room for questioning by the US Customs & Immigration.  Yesterday on my return there was a replay of this game.  I get quizzed particularly about my recent arrest at the Hancock Airfield in Syracuse, New York that has been turned into a drone base.  (I am still waiting for my trial date.) They also bring up my "Order of Protection" (sort of ban-and-bar letter from the base) except it also says that I must:
"Refrain from assault, stalking, harassment, aggravated harassment, menacing, reckless endangerment, strangulation, criminal obstruction of breathing or circulation, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, forcible touching, intimidation, threats or any criminal offense or interference with the victim.... members of family, household...”

  • Who is the order protecting?   Col. Greg A. Semmel, the commander of the base... so US Customs & Immigration asks me if I am traveling with Mr. Semmel?  I told them I'd not know the man if I stumbled into him.  I've come to the conclusion that the purpose of these little interrogations is just to remind me that MR. BIG knows who I am and has his electronic eye on me.  

  • One older man in Toronto, a long-time activist that I've met in the past, told our Sunday night dinner party that he was depressed by the current state of politics.  He sees the writing on the wall.  I told him I get depressed as well.  Everyone does.  I think it is hardest though for white middle class folks who have tasted elements of the success mythology.  For them acknowledging the 'dream' is a manipulation comes hard.  Social control is strong in the human community.  Indigenous people, people of color and the multi-generational poor have long been singing the blues.  Time for white folks to learn the blues.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Rick Rozoff, internationally recognized critic of NATO, spoke on April 12, 2014 at a Chicago teach-in titled "Stop U.S./NATO's New Cold War Over Ukraine."

He described the geo-political background to the current crisis resulting from the recent right-wing coup of the Kiev government in Ukraine and U.S./NATO sable-rattling. The key to understanding the present situation is to look at the historically aggressive objectives of NATO.

"The Ukrainian crisis is simply the pretext for the U.S. and its NATO allies of moving more military equipment up to the Russian besiege (it). And there's only one reason you besiege a country -- either to starve it out or to attack it. And nothing less severe is at stake right now."

Rozoff also noted the presence of the warship USS Donald Cook in the Black Sea -- and which has as of this writing been reported on corporate media, with cued vexation, as having been buzzed by a Russian fighter jet. "It's the third guided missile warship from the United States to go into the Black Sea since the crisis in the Ukraine. There is a convention in 1936 called the Montreux Convention that expressly prohibits war ships of a certain size or larger to go into the Black Sea or to stay there over a limited period of time. The U.S. is in clear violation of that Convention and Russian political figures have notified them of that."

"There is no way of exaggerating the severity of what we're facing right now." Rozoff warns. "I applaud everyone's efforts in building an anti-war movement. It has never been more necessary than it is right now."

Important Update: After receiving this video link from my friend Rick in Chicago he wrote me the following.....

Thanks, Bruce.
As I was speaking some 50 Ukrainian-American extremists began attacking the building we were in, pounding on the glass doors and trying to assualt all of us inside. They had to be dispersed by the police.
Maidan Square-type violence on the streets of Chicago.



I am at the airport in Toronto and it is snowing outside.  The previous two days here it was quite warm.

I began my talk last night at the University of Toronto by saying that everywhere I go these days people talk about how their weather is messed up.  The corporate war on the planet is being felt.

I spoke along with Richard Sanders who works for the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade in Ottawa.  His talk was about the myths that exist inside the Canadian peace movement about their country. Instead of being the neutral peacekeepers they like to pretend to be, Canada has been a loyal NATO 'partner' along with the US in the attacks and occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan and more.  Canada played a key military role in the ouster of the democratically elected Aristide government in Haiti.

He also showed how some "progressive NGO's" in Canada get money from the government and then promote the "responsibility to protect" (R2P) mantra that is increasingly used by US-NATO to justify military intervention and occupation.

Sanders also reported on Canada's growing role as 'partner' in US weapons manufacturing as they make many of the high-tech parts for the Pentagon's war machine, including military space systems.

In my talk I reminded the audience that Canada has appropriated $25 billion for building new warships (the largest military appropriation in Canadian history).  These armed combat vessels, being built at the Irving shipyard in Halifax, Nova Scotia (with the help of Lockheed Martin), will be used in the Arctic as the US-NATO juggernaut challenges Russia for dominance in that region.

At the end of March Maine's Sen. Angus King (Independent) took a ride on a US Navy nuclear submarine under the melting Arctic ice.  King reported that 40% of the ice in the Arctic has already melted away and that this accelerating process will allow the extraction of oil and natural gas by the fossil fuel corporations.

Also on that same sub ride was New York Times colmnist Thomas Friedman who later reported that Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations, told him, "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."

What they wish to "own" includes 90 billion barrels of oil, 1,669 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.  This is all spelled out in a new document called the "US Navy Arctic Roadmap: 2014-2030".

In other words the Pentagon has a plan to serve as the primary resource extraction service for corporate globalization.  And if that means even more conflict with Russia (which has the largest Arctic border) then so be it.

So as we are connecting the dots between growing militarism and climate change the whole Arctic zone issue should now be included in the equation. 


Monday, April 14, 2014


A top Obama admin official says Washington is considering arming Ukrainian govt forces. RT's Gayane Chichakyan has the details. To find out more about this development, Nebojsa Malic a foreign affairs expert and historian joins us live.

Can't ask it often enough - what if Russia was arming people on our Canadian or Mexican borders?


Today is the Global Day of Action on Military Spending.  Events are being held all over the planet to call for an end to militarism and for global disarmament.

Money for human and environmental needs not war.

You can find much more about this here

Sunday, April 13, 2014



Video by Regis Tremblay from our protest yesterday at Bath Iron Works.  We had 100 folks from all over Maine show up. 

We kept our eyes peeled for Jesus Christ but did not see him - we think it must have been an impostor who went inside the shipyard and did the 'christening'.

I flew early this morning (Sunday) from Portland to Toronto, Canada where I will speak tomorrow at the university.  On the plane I sat next to a Navy man and noticed that he was typing an email to someone about having been at the 'christening' ceremony in Bath.  I told him I was the person that organized the protest and said we were particularly upset about the use of the word 'christening'.  I asked him if he really thought Jesus would bless a warship.  He refused to answer.

I also noticed that he had been typing about the Aegis Ashore 'missile defense' (MD) testing program now underway on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.  He said the testing program was going well.  I know that Obama has announced that the MD interceptors being tested there will be deployed in Romania, and likely other NATO countries, within range of Russia.  I asked him if he thought it was provocative to militarily surround Russia.  He replied that we have to be "proactive".  Provocative or proactive?

The one thing he kept saying is "It's a great country we live in where people can disagree."  I always see that remark as sort of a default phrase used by people with little imagination or courage to have a real discussion.  After all, if we are such a great country, and what the Pentagon is doing is so great, then why not defend it.  Make your case.

The Navy man did say he was stationed in San Diego which is the home for the Pacific fleet.  It's already been announced that the new Zumwalt destroyer will be ported there and sent into the Asia-Pacific to sneak up on China.  The Navy man would call it "proactive" but I'd call it provocative and clearly part of the dangerous US first-strike attack strategy now being developed.