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, 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