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

Monday, August 31, 2015

Fr. Mun Back in Gangjeong Village

Catholic Father Mun has been away from Gangjeong village on Jeju Island for the past couple of weeks.  He had minor heart surgery a week or so ago when the doctors put in a stent to help ease arterial blockage.  On my last day in the village he called to apologize (can you imagine that?) for not being able to greet me while I was on Jeju.
Fr. Mun is credited with bringing many activists from around South Korea to help the struggling villagers in Gangjeong fight against the construction of the Navy base.  He and Jeju Bishop Kang recently successfully raised funds across their country to build the Francis Peace Center in the village that will provide shelter for visiting peace delegations.  An international Jesuit Peace Conference will soon be held there.
Fr. Mun is a living inspiration and example to all of us what it means to give oneself to a life of service for peace and justice.  He's a great man and the people of South Korea love him.  The people in Gangjeong village know that he brings something special to their embattled community. 

Welcome home Fr. Mun!

Space Warfighting Technology: A Key Obstacle to Nuclear Disarmament

  • I've got a month of neglected administrative work to catch up on.  Today I worked on the Global Network database, email list, made bank deposit, paid bills, returned phone calls, and began final work on Keep Space for Peace Week.  In addition I needed to spend some more time to keep our Maine Peace Walk (Oct 9-24) in motion which begins near the end of space week.  Plus I set in motion my next taping of This Issue public access TV show.  So lots of balls in the air were juggled today.
  • There is an interesting (and fundamental) debate going on beween some nuclear abolition folks lately.  There appears to be some reluctance by some activists to acknowledge that as long as the US is militarily surrounding Russia and China with an expanding NATO, deploying missile defense systems, Prompt Global Strike systems, the Pentagon's new 'military space plane, and more military bases near Russia and China that the chances of serious negotiations to get rid of nukes is a virtual impossibility.  Some activists just keep plunging ahead calling for abolition but seemingly oblivious to the real obstacles that are blocking negotiations for disarmament.   Russia and China have been clearly saying for several years that nuke treaty negotiations are OFF as long as the US-NATO keep up their aggressive moves.  It's like folks don't want to see the writing on the wall and its in neon letters!
  • So after reading another round of emails tonight where some activists are going back and forth on this I sent the following message:
Should we not consider the reasons why some nuclear abolitionists wish to avoid naming the real culprits (US-NATO) in Ukraine? [Which is causing a new cold war between Washington-London-Brussels-Bonn and Moscow.]

Take your pick:
1) Timidity
2) Fear of being Putinized
3) Fear of losing influence with Democrats (or ruling elites in various country)
4) Fear of money chain interruption
5) Fear of losing members
6) Fear of losing job
7) Fear of fear itself
8) Afraid to mention the words “missile defense”
9) Most, or all, of the above

The cure?  A trip to the Wizard of Oz.
  • Sometimes you just have to say what is in your heart and let your conception of truth speak for itself.

Japanese Government Takes Orders from Washington Despite Public Outrage

More than 100,000 people gathered outside Japan’s parliament building on Sunday to protest Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial bill, which authorizes Japanese armed forces to join foreign military operations. Some also called for the PM’s resignation.  

The US has long been pressuring Japan to get rid of its peaceful Article 9 of the Constitution that forbids offensive military forces.  The US wants Japan to become a more active 'partner' in endless NATO wars and to help go after China.  Thus Abe's government takes orders from Washington rather than listening to the will of the Japanese people.

It's great to see so many young people adding their voices to Japan's peace movement that had been an aging one.  One obvious reason for the surge of youth in Japan is they understand that the government would be coming after them to wear the uniforms of this new aggressive military.

An earlier wave of mass rallies protesting the bill was held across the country on August 23.

On Thursday, a group of Tokyo university students started a hunger strike outside the parliament demanding the abolition of the legislation, claiming to be determined to continue the strike as long as possible.

The Japanese public has consistently opposed the bill, with the latest poll conducted by the Kyodo news agency suggesting that almost 70 percent are against it receiving final approval.

“If I were to describe Japan with one phrase, it would be ‘a peaceful nation.’ But, right now, the unimaginable, the unrealistic is happening, where peace is being destroyed. That fear is being cast upon this nation right now,” said one of the protesters, university professor Mami Aoji, as quoted by Euronews.

“The way the government brushes aside public worries . . . it’s as though Japan is slipping back into its pre-World War II state,” said a translator, Hiromi Miyasaka, as quoted by the Japan Times.

“Japan should not become a country that wages war. Besides, Japan must build a good relationship with its Asian neighbours,” added another female demonstrator.

Who Really Runs Who?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Excellent Overview of CIA History

Diplomat, spy, Wall Street lawyer, philanderer, government overthrow specialist, Nazi collaborator, MKULTRA overlord, presidential assassin. This week on the Corbett Report podcast: meet Allen Dulles, fascist spymaster.

Surging in Japan

国会前に風船を使った巨大横断幕「安倍はやめろ!」が上がりました!! #国会前 #パノラマ - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

360 degree image taken in front of the Japanese Diet (Parliament building).  The folks are fired up to protect Article 9 - their peaceful constitution.  The young people, who would be forced into an aggressive military fighting on behalf of US corporate interests, appear to be leading this effort across Japan. 

Sunday Song


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Militarization of Jeju Island

I made it home at 2:00 am this morning after the very long journey from Narita airport in Japan.  The flight from Narita (on my 2nd try) was two hours late getting off the ground so I missed my connecting flight from San Francisco to Boston.  Luckily I found a seat on another Boston flight and got to the gate just as they were boarding the plane.  Needless to say I am worn out.

Since getting home I heard that the Korean Air Force flight demonstration team made a second run at Gangjeong village yesterday.  It appears that those flights were part of the so-called "Jeju Sky Love Festival" under way on Jeju Island.  Taking a look at the poster above it is obvious that the US-South Korean government have bigger plans for the militarization of the island.

In addition to the Navy base now well underway in Gangjeong village there has also been an aerospace museum set up on Jeju that is mind-washing thousands of Korean tourists each year in the joys of war planes and military rockets.  This process is a key part of developing the political consciousness of the people so they will support massive expenditures for military and space weapons technology in the coming years. (This will of course mean further cutbacks in social spending.)

Many of the activists now fighting against the Navy base in Gangjeong village are convinced, and this poster above gives credence to their claims, that there are plans to build an Air Force base on Jeju at a former Japanese imperial air field that remains otherwise undisturbed.  You can imagine that the US Navy admirals that will be docking their nuclear aircraft carriers, submarines, and Aegis destroyers in Gangjeong village are going to want an airfield nearby so they can fly in and out of Jeju at their pleasure.

They will of course make the case that an Air Force base will be needed to provide air cover for the naval warships that will be ported in Gangjeong village.  The public will be told that the government must ensure that the Navy base be protected - after all that money has been spent building the base it must be guarded by an active nearby airfield!  It would be irresponsible not to do so South Korean military leaders will claim.

Then of course the Air Base will need to be guarded from the possibility of a Chinese land invasion of Jeju Island so an additional post for Army and/or Marines will also be necessary.  Again it would be irresponsible not to provide such needed 'protection of the otherwise vulnerable island installations'.

But as the poster clearly reveals, the public need not worry about any of this, having Jeju Island militarized will be fun, exciting, entertaining, and of course patriotic.  Don't worry about pollution from the military, becoming a prime military target, bars, tattoo parlors or whore houses.  That only happens in other places - that could never happen on the friendly tourist mecca of Jeju Island.

Sadly for Jeju it sits at the strategic door way of the Yellow Sea shipping lanes that China uses to import 80% of its resources. Forget that Jeju has been named "The Island of Peace".  Sacrifices must be made in order to appease the imperial war making plans of the United States and their corporate sponsors.

So the resistance to the militarization of Jeju Island must and will go on.  Some activists on the island have figured out what is coming next while others have yet to realize that more militarism is on the way.  There is much work to be done as the US moves toward 'Full Spectrum Dominance' in the Asia-Pacific.

UK's Battle for Labour Leadership

Jeremy Corbyn calls himself a democratic socialist and he is vying to lead Britain’s Labor Party. Some polls and a growing grass roots campaign suggest he is very much in the running. Seen as a moral savior by legions of supporters, he is deemed as a dangerous political joke by his opponents. Suddenly, British politics is interesting again.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

More Photos from Jeju Island

With some of the folks after my talk on last night in Gangjeong village.  Fighting! (Click on the photos for a better view)

Tea party

My adopted Korean sister Mi Kyoung (in green) leads us in meditation by the sea.

With Sung-Hee, Brother Song and Yang Yoon-Mo after my talk at village peace center. Song and Yang spent considerable time in jail for non-violent civil resistance to base construction.

At the Navy base destruction gate in Gangjeong - police pushing us away so trucks can pass.

With the MBC radio crew after the interview on their station.
Great Jeju artist Gilchun whose moving work is featured in the April 3 massacre museum on Jeju Island.
Singing with my sister.  She is a joy and brings out the best in everyone. Her mom was a sea diving woman. See Mt. Halla in the background.
After dinner with some of Gangjeong village leaders

I got to Narita, Japan airport early this morning.  Last night we were told by United Airlines that we'd fly out at noon today.  After standing in line for 90 minutes the booking agent said that flight was cancelled too.  So now I have a seven hour wait to get a flight to San Francisco and from there to Boston.  Once I reach Boston I get a bus for the two-hour ride to Maine.  Then MB picks me up and drives us 45 minutes back home.  So I still have another long day ahead of me.  I am more than grumpy now.  I apologized to the booking agent for being so grumpy but in fact I had to push hard to get an aisle seat for that long flight to San Francisco.  First I was told there wasn't one available and after some insistence one mysteriously became available!

Since I have nothing to do for the next bunch of hours I thought I'd post some random photos from the past few days that I had not yet put on the blog.

Thanks to all of you who are spreading the word about the absolutely absurd and evil Navy plan to demand $20 million (USD) from the Gangjeong village.  Thanks to those of you who have called the South Korean embassy in Washington as well.  Every little gesture at the very least lets that corrupt corporate government in Seoul (run by the likes of Samsung... how could anyone buy a product from them?) know that we still have the good sense to rattle our chains!  It's really about maintaining our own dignity by doing something positive in response to the evil.

More On Jets Over Gangjeong


I am writing from an airport hotel in Narita, Japan after my flight to US got cancelled.  We sat on the plane for 6 1/2 hours yesterday with mechanical problems.  United Airlines pushed us back from the gate three different times but after sitting on the runway the plane went back to gate for more repairs.  Finally, hungry, tired, and extremely frustrated, we were unloaded and had to wait in long lines to get hotel passes and then more long lines at the hotel to check-in.  We still have no idea when the plane will finally leave.
Once I got to the hotel I was able to check emails and I found an enormous response to my post yesterday about Gangjeong village.  (I apologize for multiple emails on the same subject, my server went wild on me and sent out 3-4 emails to each person on my list.)  I've been asking people to call the South Korean Embassy in Washington DC.  Several have written back saying they only got a recording but they left a message.  No matter where you live just search the Internet for the nearest South Korean consulate or embassy to you and call them.  Make that effort on behalf of the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island.  It is the least we can do.  Please help spread the word and ask others to do the same.
Thanks to Keven Zeese at the web site Popular Resistance for posting my story about the village.  I'm sure many more will read about it at this very popular site.  You can see it here
Hopefully I make it home tonight. 
I hate flying anymore.  I prefer taking the train when I can.  But I am glad I was in Gangjeong village during this aerial flyover.  I felt like I was in a war zone.  The truth is that for villagers every day of their life is like living in a war zone.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Navy Trying to Kill Gangjeong Village

I was invited to come to Jeju City today to appear on live radio show for 20 minutes at 6:00 pm.  As we were preparing to leave Gangjeong village we looked into the sky as a formation of Navy Blue Angel war planes came screaming over the village.  For the next 15 or so minutes they went back and forth directly over Gangjeong doing various stunts.  One of the stunts brought the planes very low in an ear splitting maneuver.

The Navy was sending a message to Gangjeong village.  The message was loud and clear. "We own you now.  Your village will become a war base.  There is nothing you can do.  We will project power against China from Jeju Island.  You'd better get used to the idea."  This is the way the US military empire thinks and the way they treat people who stand in their way.

Just before we went on the air for the radio interview we learned that the Navy is planning to demand that Gangjeong villagers pay $20 million (USD) in fines for disruption of construction operations on the base now nearing completion.  Some activists believe that the Ministry of Defense in Seoul is actually controlled by the Samsung corporation which is the lead contractor for the Navy base construction operation.  Just as in the US, where Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and General Dynamics control our government, the Park administration inside the Blue House in Seoul is actually the pawn of corporate interests.

By demanding this outrageous amount of funds from a small fishing and farming community the South Korean puppet government is saying that democracy does not actually exist anymore.  In a true democratic nation people who protest oppressive government policies are not fined and driven into poverty - especially an entire village.  What was the crime of Gangjeong?  They wanted to protect the environment, sacred Gureombi rock, the offshore endangered soft coral forests, the water, the sea life and more.  The villagers wanted to protect their way of life - their 500-year old culture.

I've learned that only South Korea and Japan have this kind of punishing policy that obviously smacks of fascism.  The government of South Korea is controlled by corporations and Washington.  How can they claim in Seoul to be a democracy and then turn around and treat citizens this way?  How can the government claim they need a Navy base to defend the people and then attack the people who use non-violent protest to challenge the destruction of their village?

This will have to go to court but the courts are ultimately under the control the the same corrupt corporate state.  When the Navy demands that the village must pay $20 million in fines that means every man, woman and child owes that debt.  It means they would be naked without any land after the court would take all they owned.  This is nothing more than an illegal and immoral attempt to finish off Gangjeong village.  Every living and breathing human being on this planet should be outraged at this crime against the human rights of the people in Gangjeong village.

After the US directed April 3 massacre on Jeju Island soon after WW II was over a new program was put into place called the 'Involvement System'.  This meant that anyone who was labeled a communist by the US run puppet government could get no job and would have no future.  It also meant that any family member would suffer the same fate.  This demand for $20 million by the Navy is an attempt to reinstate this 'Involvement System' once again.  The only way out for a person is to commit suicide.

I am told that the South Korean regime is using this same punitive program to go after striking auto workers on the mainland and other activists around the nation.  The decision has been made to kill democracy in South Korea.  We are seeing the same method of operation in Japan today as the right-wing government kills their peaceful constitution against popular will.  We see the same system in Okinawa as the people demand US bases there be closed.  We see the same system underway inside Ukraine where Washington has installed a puppet government.

For those out there sitting on the fence this is the time to wake up and see the writing on the wall.  Democracy is being drowned globally by corporate capitalism.  Who will be next?

Take Action:  Call the South Korean Embassy in Washington DC and demand that they leave Gangjeong village on Jeju Island alone.  Call  (202) 939-5654. 

My Song Today

I was asked to sing a song at the Navy base gate this morning at the end of the human chain.  This is the one I sang.
The words I plugged in were:
I ain't gonna let no Navy base turn me around.....
I ain't gonna let no Blue House [South Korean equivalent of White House] turn me around....
I ain't gonna let no White House turn me around.....

Last Night in Gangjeong Village

We gathered last night at the peace center in Gangjeong village for my talk and then a party.  It was a lovely night with some great songs by three different activists and then some good food.

I reminded those assembled that the Global Network would remain active in our solidarity work opposing the Navy base in their village. 

I've just packed my bags and need to head to Jeju City for a radio interview on station there this afternoon.  Also the largest online Jeju Island news outlet ran a story about my talk last night.  I'll post the link once I get it.

This morning I was in a meeting with Yang Yoon-Mo, Brother Song, Sung-Hee and Brando.  It was my first real chance to talk with Yang who I supported by joining his hunger strike for a time when he was in prison.  He has spent a total of 18 months in jail for his non-violent protest of the Navy base construction - and the destruction of the sacred Guremobi rock.  I'll write more about this wonderful meeting when I get more time. 

In the morning I get on a plane at 7:00 am and make the long journey back to Maine.  I'll take four different airplanes then a bus and finally a car back to my house.  It will take more than one full day....hopefully all those flights will be on time.

Needless to say it is very hard to say good-bye to the people of Gangjeong village.  As I write this the sun is shining, a strong sea-breeze is blowing, and in the distance I can see the ocean and the ugly Navy base construction going on.

It is hard to stop the evil of militarism and the preparation for war.  Even many people who oppose these forces give up in what seems to be an insurmountable momentum of the war machine.  But now and then in life you meet people with beautiful and fierce clarity and determination who push on with a better vision of the future.  I have met such people here in Gangjeong village.

Today during the closing human chain at the Navy base gate I was asked to sing a song.  I chose the old Civil Rights struggle song "Ain't Nobody Gonna Turn Me Around".  That is the message I leave Gangjeong village with in my heart. 

I'm gonna keep on walking, keep on talking, marchin' to the freedom land. Yeah, that's right!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Protests Growing in Japan

Protests are growing across the nation against Japanese Prime Minister Abe's plan to ditch, under direction from Washington, peaceful Article 9 of their constitution.

The US has long viewed Japan as an unsinkable aircraft carrier for Pentagon operations in the Asia-Pacific.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Pushing More War in Ukraine

Addressing his troops in the Eastern Kharkov region, Ukraine’s President said that the country’s army had been upgraded during the ceasefire with the rebels and warned that Ukrainians should prepare for years of war ahead. President Poroshenko made the statement at a ceremony presenting the army with military equipment, tanks, rocket launchers, and American Humvees.

Big Crowd at Navy Base Gate

The Sky team from the Korean mainland joined us at the Navy base gate this morning in Gangjeong village for the 90 minute vigil and Catholic mass (simultaneously underway just across the street).  Usually the police drag us away from the gate 3-4 times each day but with the big crowd of well over 100 people today they gave up on their first try.

One granny sat in front of a cement truck and my favorite 82-year old woman (she can't weigh more than 75 pounds) leaned up against the front of the truck and refused to move.  Others quickly crowded around and the Navy was forced to back up the cement truck and wait us out.  Just goes to prove that numbers can make a real difference.

It did everyone good to have so many folks there at the gate today.  It was a real boost for the Gangjeong community and those that made the trip to the village clearly enjoyed the experience.

As we continue the daily protests on Jeju Island all of Korea is holding their breath as the US and their puppet regime in South Korea step up their provocations and war games aimed at North Korea.  There is a petition calling on the right-wing South Korean President Park to stop blasting their propaganda broadcasts toward the north.  This is just another example how the US and South Korea continue to keep poking the hornets nest with a sharp stick.  Please sign the petition here

America's Addiction to War and Violence

People around the world should not underestimate just how dangerous the US is today. Fascism is sweeping our nation and let the people of the world be warned. Do not support in any way the US corporate controlled government. Do not support the US war machine.

US currently spends 34% of the world total of military spending...when you add in the NATO allies it comes to over 50%. Russia spends 4.8%. Just who is the real threat?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Even Kissinger Gets It Right

While I am very reluctant to ever give war criminal Henry Kissinger any credit these comments of his on Russia do bear looking at. 

An old tale is that even a broken clock is right twice a day.  In this case Kissinger's words are mostly on the mark.

Coalition Party in Gangjeong Village

The Sky team greeted after arriving at the Jeju airport
Opening ceremony in village center before dinner and dancing

One of the many songs and dancing during the wonderful party

Yesterday more than 100 people from mainland Korea arrived on Jeju Island.  They are part of the Sky team which is a coalition of movements throughout South Korea - striking auto workers, Sewol ferry tragedy families, campaigns to oppose massive nuclear power plant powerline towers in several villages, campaign to protect neighborhoods in Seoul from redevelopment demolition, and the Gangjeong Navy base struggle.  They have been working for a couple of years to support one another and last night was the first big joint bash.

When the Sky team arrived in the Jeju airport they were met by many Gangjeong villagers and supporters.  Then the visitors were taken to the April 3 massacre museum and to the ocean.  At 6:00 pm folks gathered in the village center for opening ceremonies that included the presentation of many organic farm products from one of the visiting village struggles to the people of Gangjeong.  A delicious supper was next followed by two hours of singing and dancing.

I was pulled up several times to dance and fellow Mainer Brando got up and sang 'My Way' which got a big cheer.  My favorite was a slight 82-year old woman dressed in a blue shirt who danced several times and even sang one song.  At one point she came up to me and thanked me - I'm not sure for what - but I was deeply touched by her kind gesture.

At the start the moderator told the assembled that tonight we are going to forget our problems and have fun.  That they did and for their American guests it was a night to remember.  Brando told me afterwards how glad he is to be here in the village.  I could only agree.  I love the Korean people - they know how to have lots of fun alongside their tough fighting for peace and justice.

My Good-Bye Talk in Gangjeong

This is the promo bit sent around about my talk Tuesday night at the Gangjeong peace center.  Title of the talk is 'Why Jeju?'

What can I say besides 'Why Not Jeju?'  I've once again been touched by the love, joy, sense of community, determination, fierce stick-to-it-ivness, and creativity of the people here.  I consider them all family. 

I'll always do what I can to help build solidarity for the struggle for peace and justice in Gangjeong village - and throughout Korea.

Sunday Song


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Images from Gangjeong Village

Banners are hanging all over the village

Blocking Navy base gate with new barracks for sailors in the background

I am staying at the new Francis Peace Center

The 'restaurant' where free meals are served each day.  The Navy is expected to try to take this land next

The Navy base fence with their poster proclaiming the base to be a military-civilian port, would be the only one in the world.  The US Navy would never allow civilian ships to be parked anywhere near their nuclear subs, aircraft carriers and Aegis destroyers. 

Tangerine trees growing inside green houses with Mt. Halla in the background

The Navy base destruction on what used to be sacred Gureombi rock

One of the scrappy nuns at the front gate

Messages on an old wooden pallet

The peace center (were meetings are held) in the middle of the village

The river that flows into the sea on one end of the Navy base

Tiger Island just offshore.  Endangered soft coral forests are near the island and have already been severely impacted by the dredging to allow big US warships into the new base

Wildflower's art studio inside a converted shipping container
Dinner last night with some of the folks and then quick visit to beautiful view of the ocean (activist on right runs the Italian restaurant we went to and drove us back and forth in her vehicle)

Gureombi rock on my first visit to Gangjeong village before the Navy destroyed the place 
My first visit to Gangjeong village in 2009 being shown the area where the Navy base will be built.  Since that time I've tried my best to help build solidarity for the struggling village and I will continue to do so as long as I can.

Click on any of the photos for a better view.....

Resisting Chevron Pipeline

Dear Friends and Supporters,

It is becoming clear that the situation here is moving toward an escalation point. Chevron has set up a base in Houston in order to do work on the section of Pacific Trails Pipeline that crosses our traditional territory.

In recent days a low-flying helicopter has flown over the camp several times following a route that corresponds to the path of the proposed PTP pipeline. We were also visited by the head of the RCMP detachment who clearly stated to Freda that they intend to “ensure the work crews can do their work safely.”

Our supporters maintaining an Unist’ot’en [People of the Headwaters] check point on Chisolm Rd were also visited and threatened by the police. In both cases, the officers asserted that we could be arrested for blocking a “public road”.

It is clear by the timing of these recent police actions that they are working in tandem with the pipeline companies.

We have made it clear to the police and industry that we are not blockading the road. We are establishing check-points on the boundaries of our unceded Unist’ot’en territories. People and companies who gain our consent are allowed to enter.

Many of you have visited our yintah (territory) and have experienced first-hand our critical infrastructure of water, salmon, berries and medicines. We are determined to protect this land for future generations, and in the process do our bit to shut down the toxic fossil fuel infrastructure that threatens all forms of living life on this planet.

At this time we would like to ask our supporters for the following things:

1) If you have been to our camp before and/or if you feel comfortable to put your self on the front-line to stand with us against Chevron, you can register here:

2) If you are unable to assist in person but would like to send financial support to help us with equipment and operational costs, donations can be sent by email transfer to fhuson(at) (please send separate email with security answer)

Or if you would like to donate online you could contribute to the Healing Centre fundraiser:

Cheques can be made out to “Tse Wedi Elth”, 620 CN Station Rd, Smithers, BC, V0J 2N1.

3) You could organize solidarity actions where you live, either against Chevron directly or one of their investors.

Sne Kal Yah!

Unist’ot’en Camp

U.S. Stirring Up Trouble on Korean Peninsula

US - South Korea Exploiting DMZ Mine Incident to Divert Attention from Anti-N Korea Provocations

By Stephen Gowans |

I have no idea how it transpired that mines linked to the DPRK (North Korea) that severed the legs of two south Korean soldiers in the demilitarized zone earlier this month came to be where they were, anymore than Washington, Seoul or The New York Times does. But I do know that the set of possible explanations contains more than the single explanation favored by the south Korean and US governments and the Western media, that the mines were deliberately planted by North Korean soldiers as part of an “ongoing pattern of provocation.” I also know that neither Seoul nor Washington are likely to let any opportunity pass to resolve ambiguity into the certainty that the north Koreans, repeatedly denounced in Western propaganda as “belligerent”, have deliberately provoked tensions. The Western propaganda system has a confirmatory bias. All acts of North Koreans must be construed as belligerent, with every act so construed reinforcing the theory.

But there are alternative, and more likely, explanations.

One offered immediately after the event was that flooding or shifting soil had led mines to drift from another location. The New York Times’ Korea correspondent Choe Sang-hun reported on August 10 [1] that “Old mines loosed by floodwaters … pose a risk for soldiers serving in the zone. In 2010, dozens of North Korean land mines moved into the South through floodwaters, killing one villager and scaring vacationers away from rivers and beaches near the border.” Indeed, so heavily mined is the area “that wild deer sometimes step on them, causing blasts.” What’s more, “116 villagers have been killed by mines in Gangwon, one of the two South Korean provinces on the border with the North.”

In light of the large number of mines in the zone, and the scores of accidental deaths the mines have caused, it hardly seems that an accident is completely out of the question as an explanation for the tragedy of August 4. On the contrary, it seems to be a probable explanation.

Nevertheless, the probable explanation has been “ruled out” without explanation by Seoul and the “U.N. Command”, the latter presented in press reports as a neutral body, when, indeed, it is none other than the US military. The attempted deception of portraying US occupying forces as impartial observers is necessary to invest the accusation against North Korea with weight, since no one of an unbiased mind reasonably expects Washington to have a neutral attitude toward a country whose government it has been trying to bring down for the past 65 years.

By blaming North Korean for the tragedy, the US-led duo, patron and client, is deflecting attention from its own actual provocations of North Korea by inventing provocations on the North Korean side.

August 17 marked the beginning of joint US-South Korean war games targeted at North Korea, known as Ulji Freedom Guardian. These follow North Korea-targeted war games carried out earlier this year by the United States, South Korea, Britain, Australia and Canada. North Korea poses a vanishingly small offensive military threat to the US client state on the south of the peninsula. At $39 billion annually, Seoul’s military budget towers over Pyongyang’s comparatively meagre $10 billion annual expenditure. Adding decisively to the imbalance is the presence of nearly 30,000 US troops—and advanced US military hardware—on Korean soil, to say nothing of 45,000 US troops in nearby Japan, or the strategic nuclear missiles the United States targets on North Korea.

Contrary to a favored Western deception, the US war games on the Korean peninsula are not defensive; they’re part of a decades-long effort of low intensity warfare carried out by the United States and its client regime whose aim is to sabotage the small North Korean economy by forcing Pyongyang onto a perpetual war footing in which scarce resources are diverted from the civilian economy to defense. North Korea’s small economy can hardly support the expenditures on a conventional military necessary to deter aggression by South Korea and its behemoth patron. But this it must do, and is part of the reason why it has developed a nuclear shield.

The North Koreans face an unenviable choice: to keep up their guard at the expense of their economy, or let it down and face invasion and coerced absorption into the United States’ informal empire. As North Korea’s Workers’ Party puts it, “In actuality, the U.S. is plugging the DPRK into an arms race through ceaseless war drills and arms build-up in a sinister bid to throw hurdles in its efforts to develop its economy and improve the standard of its people’s living.” [2]

Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons, much are they’re portrayed to be provocative, are not a threat to Washington or Seoul. There’s much talk of “denuclearizing” the Korean peninsula, which is nothing more than a call for North Korea to remove a formidable obstacle to the United States fulfilling its agenda of chasing the anti-imperialists out of Pyongyang. Korea will never be denuclearized in any meaningful way so long as US strategic nuclear weapons are, or are able to be, targeted on North Korea—which is to say, so long as the United States maintains a nuclear arsenal. And since there’s no chance that Washington will voluntarily relinquish its nuclear weapons anytime soon, if ever, all talk of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula is simply a conversation about North Korea’s capitulation.

Fortunately, the disasters visited upon Gaddafi in Libya and Saddam in Iraq in voluntarily disarming under US pressure have not gone unnoticed by Pyongyang, which recognizes the advantages of having, in a very small quantity, the WMD the United States possesses in vast numbers. The lesson the DPRK drew from Libya was that the only guarantee of peace on the Korean peninsula is a powerful military, backed by nuclear weapons. [3] Others have acknowledged this, as well. “Who would have dared deal with Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein if they had a nuclear capability?” asks Major General Amir Eshel, chief of the Israeli army’s planning division. “No way.” [4]

Calling for North Korea to denuclearize, without first calling for the United States to do the same, is logically indefensible. Since the cause of Pyongyang’s possession of nuclear weapons is to deter an aggressive nuclear armed predatory state, it follows that the only way in which the Korean peninsula can be disarmed meaningfully is to remove the root cause of its nuclearization, which means bilateral disarmament, and not North Korea surrendering its nuclear weapons unilaterally while the United States retains the capability to turn North Korea into a “charcoal briquette,” as a former head of the Pentagon once threatened. And just to be clear about who the aggressor is, consider that, according to declassified and other US government documents, from “the 1950s’ Pentagon to today’s Obama administration, the United States has repeatedly pondered, planned and threatened the use of nuclear weapons against North Korea,” [5] and importantly, during most of those years North Korea was a non-nuclear weapons state. These documents, along with the public statements of senior US officials, point to an ongoing pattern of US nuclear intimidation of the DPRK.

• The United States introduced nuclear weapons to the Korean peninsula as early as 1950. [6]

• During the Korean War, US president Harry Truman announced that the use of nuclear weapons was under active consideration; US Air Force bombers flew nuclear rehearsal runs over Pyongyang; and US commander General Douglas MacArthur planned to drop 30 to 50 atomic bombs across the northern neck of the Korean peninsula to block Chinese intervention. [7]

• In the late 1960s, nuclear-armed US warplanes were maintained on 15-minute alert to strike North Korea. [8]

• In 1975, US defense secretary James Schlesinger acknowledged for the first time that US nuclear weapons were deployed in South Korea. Addressing the North Koreans, he warned, “I do not think it would be wise to test (US) reactions.” [9]

• In February 1993, Lee Butler, head of the US Strategic Command, announced the United States was retargeting hydrogen bombs aimed at the old USSR on North Korea (and other targets.) One month later, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. [10]

• On July 22, 1993, US president Bill Clinton said if North Korea developed and used nuclear weapons “we would quickly and overwhelmingly retaliate. It would mean the end of their country as we know it.” [11]

• In 1995, Colin Powell, who had served as chairman of the US joints chiefs of staff and would later serve as US secretary of state, warned the North Koreans that the United States had the means to turn their country into “a charcoal briquette.” [12]

• Following North Korea’s first nuclear test on October 9, 2006, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice reminded North Korea that “the United States has the will and the capability to meet the full range—and I underscore full range of its deterrent and security commitments to Japan.” [13]

• In April 2010, US defense secretary Leon Panetta refused to rule out a US nuclear attack on North Korea, saying, “all options are on the table.” [14]

• On February 13, 2013, Panetta described North Korea as “a threat to the United States, to regional stability, and to global security.” He added: “Make no mistake. The US military will take all necessary steps to meet our security commitments to the Republic of Korea and to our regional allies.” [15]

As the North Koreans put it, “no nation in the world has been exposed to the nuclear threat so directly and for so long as the Koreans.”[16]

In pursuing its foreign policy goals, Washington threatened other countries with nuclear attack on 25 separate occasions between 1970 and 2010, and 14 occasions between 1990 and 2010. On six of these occasions, the United States threatened the DPRK. [17] There have been more US threats against North Korea since. (The United States’ record of issuing threats of nuclear attack against other countries over this period is: Iraq, 7; China, 4; the USSR, 4; Libya, 2; Iran, 1; Syria, 1. Significantly, all these countries, like the DPRK, were under communist or economically nationalist governance when the threats were made.)

Since the United States is one of the most aggressive countries in history, not out of place in a category that contains Nazi Germany and militarist Japan, we should hardly passively accept its status as the world’s #1 possessor of WMD. As for North Korea, whose only military aggression (if it can be called that) has occurred as part of a just and legitimate civil war to achieve real independence by liberating the south from the rule of the United States and the Japanese collaborators it recruited to staff its puppet state, it seems to me that lamenting Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal while accepting Washington’s is completely backward. It’s like deploring the symptoms while accepting the virus.

In as much as Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal helps the DPRK stop the juggernaut of US imperialism, those who deplore imperialist predation ought to welcome North Korea’s own observation that the “army and people of the DPRK are no longer what they used to be in the past when they had to counter the U.S. nukes with rifles.” [18]

On top of war games, South Korea has elevated its provocations by resuming, after an 11 year hiatus, propaganda broadcasts, broadcast into North Korea by giant speakers placed at the border, ostensibly in retaliation for the mine incident. The South Korean military has pressed into service “newly developed digital mobile speakers” that “have a range of over 20 kilometers, or double that of the old model.” [19] The DPRK threatened to attack the loudspeakers, eliciting an Orwellian demand from South Korean president Park Geun-hye for Pyongyang to stop “military provocations on the border.” [20]

Two years ago, the Wall Street Journal revealed that the White House approved a detailed plan, called ‘the playbook,’ to ratchet up tension with North Korea. The playbook was developed by the Pentagon’s Pacific Command, and was discussed at several high-level White House meetings. The plan called for low-altitude B-52 bomber flights over the Korean peninsula. Two nuclear-capable B-2 bombers dropped dummy payloads on a South Korean missile range. The flights were deliberately carried out one spring day in 2013 in broad daylight at low altitude. “We could fly it at night, but the point was for them to see it,” said a US military official. A few days later, the Pentagon deployed two advanced F-22 warplanes to South Korea, also part of the ‘play-book’ plan to intimidate Pyongyang. [21]

According to the Wall Street Journal, the White House knew that the North Koreans would react by threatening to retaliate against the United States and South Korea. US “Defense officials acknowledged that North Korean military officers (were) particularly agitated by bomber flights because of memories of the destruction wrought from the air during the Korean War.” [22] US warplanes had demolished every target over one story. They also dropped more napalm in Korea than they did later in Vietnam. [23] The death toll reached into the millions.

The reality, then as now, is exactly opposite of the narrative formulated in Washington and reliably propagated by the Western mass media. Washington and Seoul haven’t responded to North Korean belligerence and provocations; they’ve deliberately planned a show of force in order to elicit an angry North Korean reaction, which is then labelled “belligerent” and “provocative.” The provocations, coldly and calculatingly planned, have come from Washington and South Korea. North Korea’s reactions have been defensive and necessary.

As for the DMZ mine incident, it seems likely that it was accident and Washington and Seoul have decided to turn it into an opportunity to further demonize North Korea, to use it as a pretext to ratchet up pressure on Pyongyang by resuming propaganda broadcasts across the border, and to divert attention from the true provocations on the peninsula—their regular and robust anti-DPRK war games.

1) Choe Sang-hun, “South Korea accuses the north after land mines maim two soldiers in DMZ”, The New York times, August 10, 2015.
2) US-S. Korean Ulji Freedom Guardian joint military drills under fire,” Rodong Sinmun, August 14, 2015.
3) Mark McDonald, “North Korea suggests Libya should have kept nuclear program”, The New York Times, March 24, 2011.
4) Ethan Bronner, “Israel sense bluffing in Iran’s threats of retaliation”, The New York Times, January 26, 2012.
5) Charles J. Hanley and Randy Hershaft, “U.S. often weighed N. Korea nuke option”, The Associated Press, October 11, 2010.
6) Hanley and Hershaft.
7) Hanley and Hershaft.
8) Hanley and Hershaft.
9) Hanley and Hershaft.
10) Bruce Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History, W.W. Norton & Company, 2005. p. 488-489.
11) William E. Berry Jr., “North Korea’s nuclear program: The Clinton administration’s response,” INSS Occasional Paper 3, March 1995.
12) Bruce Cumings, “Latest North Korean provocations stem from missed US opportunities for demilitarization,” Democracy Now!, May 29, 2009.
13) Lou Dobbs Tonight, October 18, 2006.
14) Hanley and Hershaft.
15) Choe Sang-hun, “New leader in South criticizes North Korea,” The New York Times, February 13, 2013.
16) “Foreign ministry issues memorandum on N-issue,” Korean Central News Agency, April 21, 2010.
17) Samuel Black, “The changing political utility of nuclear weapons: Nuclear threats from 1970 to 2010,” The Stimson Center, August 2010,
18) Rodong Sinmum, August 17, 2015.
19) “More leaflet launches by conservative groups during inter-Korean impasse,” The Hankyoreh, August 14, 2015.
20) Choe Sang-hun, “South Korean leader marks anniversary of war’s end with warning to north Korea,” The New York Times, August 15, 2015.
21) Jay Solomon, Julian E. Barnes and Alastair Gale, “North Korea warned”, The Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2013.
22) Julian E. Barnes, “U.S. pledges further show of force in Korea”, The Wall Street journal, March 29, 2013
23) Bruce Cumings. The Korean War: A History. Modern Library. 2010.

~ Stephen Gowans is a leading Canadian peace and social justice activist and founding editor of What’s Left.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Take U.S. Bases Back to America

In fact the overwhelming majority of people on Okinawa (including all of the elected officials there) oppose US bases. 

We all need to be asking why are there more than 800 US military bases around the world?  Whose interests are they 'protecting'?  What is the environmental and cultural consequences of these bases?

The Battle for UK's Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn was rank outsider in the Labour leadership contest but in the last few weeks Corybnmania has swept across the country and pushed him into poll position.

The corporate elites inside Labour are attempting to rig the election against Jeremy Corbyn by “purging” genuine supporters on spurious grounds, one of the party’s former MPs has suggested. See more on this story here

Just goes to show that the corporate water carriers don't really believe in democracy.  When a guy like Corbyn tries to return his party to its roots and draws back disaffected voters the fat cats try to sabotage the electoral process.  Mr. Big and his minions don't like a fair fight. 

It's the same story in every country these days.  The corporate masters want control of the whole damn planet!  Well to hell with them!

More Than Meets the Eye in Korea

There are lots of people coming and going each day in Gangjeong village.  The numbers change quickly.  Not only are there people blocking the Navy base construction gate but there is always a Catholic mass being held just across the street in the make shift church.  Yesterday a big bus pulled up soon after we arrived and two-thirds of the passengers stepped across the street to join the mass and the rest came to help block the gate. (The Catholic Church here is unlike any I've seen before.  Many give Fr. Mun and Jeju Bishop Kang most of the credit for the daily presence of priests and nuns in the village.)

While we sit in front of the gate the Navy has 2-3 of their agents filming everything we do.  Not to be out done the activists have five regular camera people filming every thing the police do during the 90 minutes we are blocking the gate.

After the gate blocking and Catholic mass are over we head down to the 'restaurant' where activists are fed by one of the village men who folks call 'Uncle'.  He is a dog lover and is always seen with a cute little fuzzy haired friend in tow.  During these hot days he's been serving cool watermelon, which is much appreciated.

During lunch yesterday I sat across from a professor from Seoul who teaches criminal law to police.  He had come to Jeju to testify in a court case - must have been one of the many that are now underway in Jeju courts against activists for their 'disruption of business and/or government affairs'.  The professor was lamenting South Korea's lack of democracy and said he tries to teach his students that the job of police is to be fair and to defend the rights of the public.  He fears the current right-wing Park administration (President Park is the daughter of former brutal dictator who collaborated with the imperial Japanese occupation of Korea) and worries that war could break out at any time with North Korea.

I heard that North and South Korea were exchanging shells in recent days but the western media is not likely reporting that the Pentagon and their puppet Park regime are currently running war games bumping up against the border with North Korea.  North Korea must always wonder - is this one for real?  Are they going to invade us now?

There can be no doubt that the US wants regime change in Pyongyang.  It would be a real prize for Washington's endless war plan.  North Korea borders China and Russia and if toppled would give the US an even more strategic base in its current encirclement of those two nations.

During the Korean War Gen. Douglas MacArthur had the Air Force cross the border into the former Soviet Union and bomb nearby Vladivostok trying to draw Moscow into the war.  The Russians didn't take the bait.  It reminds me of the current US-NATO war plan to pull Russia directly into the civil war being waged in Ukraine.  Despite all the western media claims that Russia has invaded Ukraine they actually have been quite restrained considering that the Kiev puppet regime has not only shelled the Russian speaking citizens in eastern Ukraine but has also occasionally shelled across the border into Russia trying to draw a response.

The people in Korea have been living with war, or the daily threat of war, for a very long time.  Sadly the American people know virtually nothing about Korea or don't really much care.  Even the peace movement knows little about Korea (historically or the present).  My hope is that the current focus on Jeju Island will help draw some peaceniks interest and maybe, just maybe, even the American people might eventually open their eyes and see what our war mongering nation has wrought here.