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

Friday, July 31, 2015

Supporting the Ukawa Villagers


We had a 12-hour day yesterday as we made the long drive to northern Kyoto prefecture along the beautiful sea coast to Ukawa village where the US has deployed a 'missile defense' (MD) radar aimed at China.  Our group of 50 activists from a dozen countries arrived in time for lunch at a local community center.  We were joined by about 20 members of the village committee who are actively resisting the radar deployment.

After some short speeches of welcome and introduction the village leaders shared their outrage over the base which took land from 50 families in the community.  One woman in her 80's refused to sell and so today immediately next to the base still stands her home and a large area now called the 'Peace garden'.  She intends to give it to the local peace community for an on-going place for protest.

At the end of the meeting with the village committee Global Network board convener Dave Webb presented the villagers with our annual Peace in Space Award.  (The other award this year went to Bob Anderson & Jeanne Pahls from Albuquerque, New Mexico who were unable to come to Japan.)

The small fishing and farming village (the story is so similar to the one on Jeju Island, South Korea where a Navy base is being built to port US warships) has already been impacted by lots of traffic accidents as Army personnel are now recklessly driving the narrow winding roads.  People fear the health affects from the electromagnetic radiation coming from the radar.  They worry about being a prime target since the radar is a key instrument in US preparation for a first-strike attack on China or Russia. (MD only works if used to mop up a retaliatory attack after a Pentagon first-strike).

Following our meeting with the villagers we loaded back on the bus and headed to the local government building which also houses Japanese Ministry of Defense officials.  (More than one person remarked about this unusual 'sharing' of the same building which indicates who has the dominant relationship in the community.)  Two Defense Ministry representatives came outside to receive a letter from Global Network leaders demanding a closure of the base.  The defense officials then took questions from our group for 30 minutes and their responses were the standard 'non-answer' that we've all come to expect.  They were followed by a representative from the local government who also received our letter and then also similarly took questions - also giving us the usual 'non-answers' to our questions.  All-in-all it was a powerful experience to watch our leaders from India, South Korea, the US, Sweden and other countries ask pointed questions or make firm statements to the very nervous Japanese officials.

Once finished with the government bureaucrats we moved to the radar base for an hour protest.  A historic Buddhist temple was our first stop which is now virtually surrounded by the military base barbed wire fences.  We were told that the public now largely avoids the once popular temple because of the extreme noise coming from the generators providing power to the radar.  US Army personnel with machine guns approached us on the other side of the fence as we held our banners near the barbed barrier.  Quite a few of the American GI's came out of various buildings to see our large and colorful peace contingent and as usually happens in these moments the military personnel were seen uncomfortably laughing at us.  They have likely been told by their superiors that we are all Communists and China lovers and to avoid any conversations with us.

The long ride home on the bus gave us time to process the experience from this remarkable day.  For me this is the best part of our annual conference.  When we can go and stand alongside the broken hearted villagers I feel like we have really done something useful.  We made sure to tell them that they are not alone and we pledged to them that we'd share their story widely through the Global Network international community. Ukawa villagers are now part of our growing family.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Report from Kyoto

Our work at the Kyoto Space & Peace International Seminar began in earnest yesterday with excellent talks by several speakers.  We mostly covered the growing US 'missile defense' (MD) deployments in Japan and South Korea and the implications for increased global instability as the Pentagon surrounds China and Russia with these offensive systems.

Global Network board convener Dave Webb (also chairs the UK Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) did a great job with a super illustrative PowerPoint presentation showing how MD works and all the places around the world that the US is deploying the system. Yes it is like a metastasizing cancer.

Also an interesting talk from Swako Maeda on the rapidly expanding Japanese military space program that is being plugged into the overall Pentagon 'Full Spectrum Dominance' operation.

Today we board a bus and drive 2 1/2 hours to the Ukawa village along the coast where the US has recently deployed an MD radar aimed at China (although Pentagon press releases maintain it is aimed at North Korea).  We will hold a protest outside the base and meet with citizens from the small fishing village (population of 1,600) whose life has been turned upside down by this disruptive military base.

On the personal side our 16-year Bath, Maine neighbor Leann, who came on this trip with us, is doing well.  She is making friends with people and yesterday sat through four hours of talks at the seminar. Last night she handed me a birthday card she had made for me that include the following quote:

"At last I think I've discovered the secret: Do whatever your heart leads you to do - but do it?" by Truman X. Jones.

Then Leann wrote next to those words: "You did it!  You go, man! You do you!"

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Black Lives Matter Confab

Activist and journalist Rosa Clemente discusses The Movement for Black Lives Conference held in Cleveland last weekend.

Inside Ukraine

Former Ukranian MP Oleg Tsarev

Oleg Tsarev on the current situation in the Donbass and in Ukraine

From the editor:  Ex-MP Oleg Tsarev was the last truly “Pro-Eastern” politician in Ukraine who attempted to act through democratic channels, e.g. running in a presidential election against Poroshenko. After he was severely beaten by a nationalist mob in Kiev, he withdrew his candidacy and called on all men of honor to do the same, saying the election is undemocratic and it is illegal to hold one while there is a civil war unfolding. Soon after, his house was burned down, and Kolomoiski (according to Tsarev’s claims and a phone recording) put a price of $1M on his head.

From that point on, he joined the supporters of the Constitution and continued to play a prominent role in the DPR/LPR politics, although not being a military man, his influence diminished once open warfare broke out. Here is a rather interesting (if unproven) recent analysis by him.

Interviewer: Oleg, let’s begin with Ukraine. You have friends who have stayed there, and you have certain exclusive sources who regularly provide you private information. On that basis, what do you think about the situation with the economy of Ukraine, and what are the strategic prospects for the country in the near future?

Oleg Tsarev: The situation is close to catastrophic. But, in general, this does not bother either the Kiev authorities or their bosses from the USA. Americans are actually interested in Ukraine declaring default. Simply because it will be easier and cheaper to buy up the capital assets, and the decreasing standard of living will make more people willing to join the army and serve for the salaries it pays. The army itself, Americans will support, supplying everything needed, including weapons.Judging by the fact that Victoria Nuland personally traveled to Kiev to ensure a vote in the Verkhovna Rada to introduce changes to the Constitution of Ukraine, and that due to her arrival the special status of the “separate regions of Donetsk and Lugansk Oblasts” is included in the primary text of the Constitution, we may infer that in the negotiations between Russia and USA on Iran, they also discussed Ukraine.

Evidently, it was for a good reason that Kerry flew to Moscow on May 12th, and Nuland came there on May 17th. The outlines of the agreements are clear. Russia, the European Union, and now also the USA are forcing Poroshenko to implement the Minsk Accords. In this way, a foundation for political settlement will be laid down. In accordance with the Minsk Accords, the DPR and LPR must re-integrate within Ukraine, and get a special status, similar either to “autonomies” or to subjects in a confederation. The Donbass will have a common economic space with Ukraine, but will preserve the right to make independent decisions on most issues. Kiev’s observance of its obligations to the Donbass will be guaranteed by the armies of the DPR and LPR with all their armament, renamed into “people’s police forces”.

Evidently, in the near future we shall observe the creation of a demilitarized region around Donbass, from which not just heavy artillery but also lightly armed soldiers will be withdrawn. I think that this process will begin as soon as it is tested with the successful example of Shirokino. Clashes and shelling will cease as soon as the soldiers can’t see each other in their rifle sights. The next step will be a general amnesty and lifting the economic blockade of Donbass by Kiev.

The most humiliating thing for the Kiev authorities is that they were not invited to these negotiations conducted by Russia with USA and EU, no one asked their opinion. But with all that, I would not get too hopeful just yet.

The immense numbers of armed paramilitaries consist of radicals, whose life is war and who do not wish to lay down arms. It is also true that the population of Donbass, the majority of them having endured so much at the hands of Kiev during ATO, is not willing to return to Ukraine. From my point of view, the process of reconciling the Donbass with Ukraine can hardly be successful while those who unleashed civil war are still in power. And while people like Poroshenko [President], Yatseniuk [Prime Minister], Turchinov [Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council and supreme nationalist], and Kolomoyskiy [Regional oligarch] are not yet brought to justice for their crimes.

Still unresolved is one of the chief contradictions at the very foundation of the Ukrainian state –a state formed by the Russian and Ukrainian people – that the Russian language is not an official language. Nor it is not possible to call USA a reliable partner. The CIA employees who are controlling the State Security and the Armed Forces of Ukraine are not about to return to the USA. No one is about to give actual control of the country back to the people of Ukraine. Hence, of course, we must do everything we can to stop the bloodshed, but at the same time we need to keep the powder dry.

Unfortunately, I think woes and problems will plague my long-suffering homeland for a long time. Not long ago, an acquaintance who is a leader of an NGO in Dnepropetrovsk came to me and told me that they brought him to the Security Service [building], and among many other questions, they asked him questions about me.

The questions were about the period when I was engaged in politics in Dnepropetrovsk. At a meeting there was a man who remained silent and only listened to the answers, but when his phone rang, he began to talk on the phone in pure English. I am convinced that no matter how the conflict in Donbass develops, the Americans will do everything they can to keep Ukraine under their control.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Arrived in Kyoto - Video from Ukraine Teach-In

This video above is the longer version of our Ukraine Teach-In last Friday night in Bath, Maine.

We arrived in Kyoto, Japan last night after two very long flights and then two train rides.

We take a city tour of Kyoto (city of temples) this morning and then our Global Network conference begins this evening.

I'll post here as I can.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

They Give Life

The land of Old Faithful wasn’t always so lush. Two decades ago, Yellowstone National Park was the victim of defoliation, erosion and an unbalanced ecosystem. But in 1995, everything changed.

Closing Words From Ukraine Teach-In

Our friend Martha Spiess filmed the Ukraine Teach-In here in Bath, Maine last Friday night.  She is still working on the video of the event.

She quickly though posted this bit from the closing of the event where I read a letter from a Ukrainian citizen living in Odessa.  I'd asked this person to send a short report that I could share at the event.

Rearming Japan - No War with China, No More Hiroshima-Nagasaki, Defend Article 9

Four of us from Maine (Mary Beth Sullivan, Leann Moran, Jason Rawn, and me) are making our journey today to Boston and then we fly on to Japan very early on Monday morning.  (Mainer Regis Tremblay has already arrived in Japan heading to Okinawa.)  All of us will meet in Kyoto for the Global Network's 23rd annual space organizing conference there which begins on July 29 til Aug 2.

The US has deployed a 'missile defense' radar aimed at China in the Kyoto prefecture and the local activists opposing that base invited us to meet in their community.  Global Network members are coming from around the world for the event.

Peace protests are happening all over Japan these days. The Japanese people are furious over heavy handed tactics by the right-wing Shinzo Abe government as it follows orders from Washington to destroy Article 9 of the Japanese constitution which forbids offensive warfare.

The US has made Japan a 'partner' of the cancerous NATO alliance which is being turned into a global war machine to stomp on those around the world who dare resist submitting to the control of corporate (bankster) capitalism.  Countries that are reluctant to surrender their resources and economies to western control are being taken down as we've recently seen in Libya (which has the largest supply of oil on the African continent).

The Japanese people understand that the US wants regime change in Beijing. Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Guam, Taiwan and more are being further militarized to create an offensive threat to China.  This means a strong possibility of war with China (and Russia) and the Japanese people (thank god) are not interested in going through that madness again.  They know something about what a nuclear attack feels like.  No more Hiroshima and Nagasaki!

After the Global Network conference in Kyoto is over many of us will move on to Hiroshima for the days of events to remember the US atomic bombing of that city on August 6 - seventy years ago.

The US likes to lecture North Korea and Iran about the evils of nuclear weapons but in fact our nation is the only one to have ever used such a 'god awful' weapon.  Add in the despicable US use of biological weapons during the Korean war when the Pentagon spread bubonic plague, smallpox, and anthrax over North Korea - utilizing the expertise of former Japanese imperial Army bio-specialists.  I wrote about this a few years ago and it seems like a good time to replay that ugly story.  Here it is:

I first wrote this blog entry in 2006 after reading an amazing book called “A Plague Upon Humanity” by Daniel Barenblatt. It tells the story of the hidden history of Japan’s biological warfare program before and during WW II.  Since we are remembering the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki this week I thought we also should remember the origins of another weapon of mass destruction - biological weapons.

Barenblatt begins by revealing how Japan created a phony pretext in order to start the Manchurian war. In September 1931 Japanese army engineers secretly blew up the Japanese-owned South Manchurian Railway near Shenyang. The Japanese government then immediately blamed the explosion upon Chinese soldiers garrisoned nearby. Japan then attacked the Chinese troops, sleeping in their barracks at the time. A war was underway.

Early on Japan set up a biological warfare (BW) unit led by Shiro Ishii. BW units were established throughout Manchuria and China in Japanese army occupied territory. At these locations Chinese freedom fighters and civilians were used as lab rats and were given lethal doses of bubonic plague, cholera, smallpox, typhus and typhoid. Bodies of infected prisoners were cut open, often while people still lived, to study the effects of the biological contamination. Japan’s BW program used infected rats and fleas, dropped from airplanes, to spread the deadly diseases killing entire Chinese villages. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Chinese civilians were killed by Japan.

As WW II widened throughout the Pacific, Japan took their BW campaign to Japanese occupied islands. Japan also sent disease laden animals into Russia in hopes of spreading disease into that country. American prisoners of war were experimented on in Japanese labs as well.

Following Japanese surrender at the end of WW II one would have thought that these crimes against humanity would have been exposed and punished, similar to Nazi war crimes at the Nuremberg trials. But this was not the case. General Douglas MacArthur made a deal with Japan’s chief BW expert, Shiro Ishii, protecting him from prosecution by literally covering up the entire BW story. Ishii and his BW team gave their expertise to the U.S. According to Barenblatt, “Not only did they escape war crimes proceedings and public scrutiny by virtue of their cooperation with the U.S. occupation authorities, they also became prominent public health officials and respected academic figures in Japanese university and government circles. A few became quite wealthy as executives of pharmaceutical companies.”

The Soviet Union knew about Japan’s BW program and in late 1949 called for Ishii to be apprehended and tried by the U.S. occupation forces in Japan as the ringleader of the secret Japanese program. In response, Gen. MacArthur’s office in Tokyo denounced the Soviet charges of Japanese biological warfare and the U.S. cover-up as evidence of communist propaganda.

In fact on March 13, 1948 the U.S. War Department cabled instructions to Gen. MacArthur in Japan to give “immunity” to Japanese BW operatives. “Information retained from Ishii and associates may be retained in intelligence channels,” the instructions concluded.

There were war crimes trials in Japan after WW II. B.V.A. Roling, the last surviving judge from the Tokyo trials, who represented the Netherlands on the international tribunal, learned of this American deception many years later. “As one of the judges in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, it is a bitter experience for me to be informed now that centrally ordered Japanese war criminality of the most disgusting kind was kept secret from the Court by the U.S. government,” Roling wrote. The U.S. should be “ashamed because of the fact they withheld information from the Court with respect to the biological experiments of the Japanese in Manchuria on Chinese and American prisoners of war,” he said.

In the 1950’s Ishii was secretly taken to the U.S. to lecture at Fort Detrick, MD on how to best conduct germ warfare. And as the Korean War heated up, Ishii was used by the U.S. to advise on how to spread deadly disease in that war against North Korean and Chinese forces. North Korea, China and the Soviet Union all claimed in 1951-52 that the U.S. Pentagon was using germ warfare on a large scale in the Korean War.

The Chinese showed footage and photographs of metallic U.S. shells that snapped open upon hitting the ground, releasing a swarming cargo of insects that unleashed bubonic plague, smallpox, and anthrax. This method of delivery had been a favorite of Japan’s BW program.

Barenblatt notes that an international scientific investigating team, headed by a highly noted British biochemist from Cambridge University, did research in Korea and issued a report saying that sudden appearances of insects and spiders, of species not normally known in the region, in winter, and in association with the dropping of strange containers and objects by U.S. military planes were evidence of bio-warfare. Lab tests performed on fleas discovered in such unusual circumstances, positively showed the presence of bubonic plague bacteria.

In some cases, U.S. military jets, usually F-86 fighters, had flown over Korea dropping masses of fowl feathers tainted with anthrax.

In 1956 American journalist John Powell was charged with 13 counts of sedition for trying to expose the U.S. BW campaign in Korea. In 1953 former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover brought Powell before congressional committees charging him with “un-American activities.” Years later, in the 1980’s, Powell’s story was finally aired in an article in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

So as we today hear China warning about the re-arming of Japan, with full support and encouragement of the U.S., can we not see some historical precedent for their worry? Both Japan and the U.S. have shown, since WW II, that they will use extreme measures to subdue Korea and China in the quest for control and domination of the Asia-Pacific. As the U.S. today doubles its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, can there be any doubt that China and Korea have not forgotten the stories of the past? Stories that to most Americans are unknown and long covered up.

Sunday Song