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, December 19, 2015

Don't Call It 'Defense'...Call It What It Is...Offense

Abby Martin interviews retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former national security advisor to the Reagan administration, who spent years as an assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell during both Bush administrations. Today, he is honest about the unfixable corruption inside the establishment and the corporate interests driving foreign policy.

Hear a rare insider's view of what interests are behind U.S. wars, the manipulation of intelligence, the intertwining of the military and corporate world, and why the U.S. Empire is doomed.

Important Background on US-NATO Destabilization in Eastern Europe

Plant Your Ass in the Ground

This is a photo from last year at the Advent vigils at BIW. Today is the last one for this season.  We have no snow yet - climate change has come to Maine.  

Years ago I read a book called 'The Game Player: Confessions of the CIA's original political operative' by Miles Copeland.  If memory serves me right he didn't confess much (as in atone for your sins) - he mostly bragged about his vile operations.

The thing I remember most was that Copeland quit the CIA (he was assigned to the Middle East following WW II) and went to work spying on and destabilizing that region on behalf of corporate interests - particularly big oil.  He told how he'd waltz into a particular oil-rich nation and begin operations that the CIA was not even aware of.

This was a seminal book for me in that I learned much more about how foreign policy has been privatized - basically Congress and the White House are marginal factors in determining and carrying out endless war on behalf of corporate interests.  The politicians are hired as two-bit actors to sell the policies back home that are created in the gilded halls of Wall Street.

The thing I loved about being in Jeju Island and Okinawa is that the people in full resistance there are very clear that their governments have no interest in peace and justice.  While we were sitting on the ground in front of Marine Camp Schwab one protest leader at the 'No US base in Henoko' daily occupation told us to plant our asses in the pavement.  I loved the expression because it reflected their understanding that we must be rooted in our resistance.  To be rooted we must first give up illusions and as the song says: "Like a tree planted by the water, we shall not be moved."

I heard the same protest leader call the government in Tokyo a "mafia" regime.  I also heard that word used in Sicily when I was recently there as well.  The same can be said of Washington - when corporations run the government that means we have fascism - which in my mind is just the same as the mafia.  It's organized crime.

When I was a kid I wanted to work for the FBI to fight organized crime.  I wanted to help end the stereotype of all Italians being part of the Mafia. I sent away for a FBI correspondence course when I was about 13 years old - I figured I'd get a head start - the Boy Scout motto was 'Be prepared'.  I learned that every criminal has an MO - Modus Operandi - a way of repeating the same bad behavior over and over again.  That's what endless war is all about - it's the corporate MO and they will continue to do the same thing until we stop them.  To do that we have to plant our asses in the ground.

There is no way around it.  You either get real or we (and the future generations) are finito.  Simple as that.....

Only in My Dreams

This is the organization that Mary Beth works for - she loves the homeless and loves working at Preble Street.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Busan Verses the ‘Land Where Profit Trump$ All’

Disclaimer:  At this point in my very long trip home I am feeling rather grumpy…..

I missed my 7:00am plane to Boston this morning from New York’s JFK airport.  I arrived at JFK about 10:00pm last night (after a 13-hour flight from Shanghai) and was happy that the shuttle bus to my airport hotel only took 5 minutes.  I asked for a 5:00am wake up call so I could take the 5:55am shuttle back to the airport.

The five minute shuttle ride to the airport this morning took more than 30 minutes (including two missed turns by the driver) and I hustled thru check-in and security but was dismayed that I next had to take a slow-moving shuttle bus to another terminal to get on my plane.  I made it to the gate at 6:55am and saw the plane backing away from the terminal five minutes early.  (Delta must be trying to hit the top mark for ‘on time departures’ these days.) The staff at the gate was not at all sympathetic with my close call and handed me a ticket for a later Boston flight and told me I had to take another shuttle bus back to a different terminal.  By then I was trying like hell just to breathe and lower my jumping heart rate. 

When a group of us from Veterans For Peace left Jeju Island on December 9 we had to fly to Busan, South Korea to catch a flight to Fukuoka, Japan and then grab another plane to our final destination in Okinawa.  The transfer in Busan was going to be tight and when our flight into that airport was late we were biting our nails.  To make matters worse we had to pick up our bags in baggage claim, re-check in, switch from domestic to international, pass through immigration and still make the gate as the clock wound down on us.  Our prospects didn’t look promising.

But the most amazing thing happened – once we checked into the Asiana Airlines ticket counter in Busan their staff (two of them) ran with us to the next terminal, quickly guided us through security, and then ran interference to get us to the gate just five minutes before the Fukuoka flight left.  The Busan staff made us feel like valued customers unlike my experience today at the JFK Delta gate when the agent scornfully told me “You are late” when I pleaded I’d arrived with five minutes to spare!

Since I then had plenty of time on my hands, after missing the flight, I decided that I wanted a sit down breakfast with some eggs and a cup of tea before my rescheduled plane to Boston.  The only available restaurant has those new-fangled computer menu/ordering rigs on each table that I’ve come to hate (largely because they are intended to put workers out of a job).  After more than a twenty minute wait for my simple ‘over medium eggs’ I had to ask three times for some pepper (on my 2nd request I was handed two salt shakers) and when I humbly requested a fork (imagine that) I was instructed to take one from an adjoining table.

Back here in the ‘land of the free’ the corporate entities are very happy to take our cash or our plastic.  But service is far down the list of priorities for these money-grubbing corporations that control our lives these days. 

The unusual experience in Busan reminded me that the entire planet is not yet totally infected with the ‘profit first and service last’ cancer. 

I might have made it back to the USA (that likes to vainly brag it is the greatest country on the face of the earth) but I am not one who easily falls prey to the notion that capitalism here has a human face.  The face I usually see in the USA is one of greed and disrespect for the paying public – unless of course you happen to be in the 1% - which I gladly am not. 

Almost Home

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Good Media Coverage in Okinawa

Coverage of our Veterans for Peace (VFP) delegation trip to Okinawa was in the two most popular newspapers virtually every day while we were here.  Yesterday they carried two stories - one about a great meeting we had with students at Okinawa International University and the other reporting on the tour concluding event in the evening that drew about 300 folks.

We heard that some conservative politician in Tokyo had made the statement recently that their right-wing government (which the US loves) needs to shut these two papers down!  Obviously their strong support for the anti-base movement on Okinawa is too much for Tokyo (and Washington) to stomach.

Imagine how things would be different for us all around the world if our media was not under the control of corporate interests?  When the public has access to clear and truthful information they are better able to make informed decisions that help move politics along in a positive direction.

Noam Chomsky often says: "How can you expect the American people to react to an issue when they don't know anything about it?"  In the US our media is pathetic - the news is squeezed out and we are handed trivia and entertainment thus the people get dumbed down and politically neutralized.

The Okinawan people are fortunate at this time to have some media that is doing what TV, radio and newspapers should do..... give the people the truth and let them decide.  That is the only way a real democracy can function.  Without an informed citizenry democracy is just a facade - an illusion like Disney World.

I was talking yesterday morning with VFP delegation co-organizers Tarak Kauff and Ellen Davidson before they flew back to the US.  Tarak remarked that he felt VFP had really had an impact in Okinawa and I think he was right about that.  One key reason for that impact was the coverage that the delegation's solidarity visit got from the local media.

There is a group of right-wingers in Okinawa called the Osprey Fan Club that sometimes shows up at anti-base events to protest in favor of the US military occupation.  The other night when a group of us jumped into a cab, to get to the tour finale event, the cab driver took us to the wrong address and by the time we finally got to the right place people were getting nervous that something had happened to us.  When I got up to speak I told the story about the taxi driver dropping us off in another part of the city and said that we wondered if the cabby might have been a member of the Osprey Fan Club and had repeatedly seen photos of us in the newspapers with our bright gold sweatshirts on.  The gag got a good laugh from the audience.

Party to Celebrate our Okinawa Tour

Our local hosts rented a restaurant last night and threw quite a party with beer and good food.  Traditional music and dancing was really wonderful and then some young folks got up and showed how they've contemporized the traditional culture.

U.S. Stirring Up Trouble in Asia-Pacific

The United States is trying to provoke a military arms race in Asia-Pacific in order to imperil “decades of peace and prosperity” and return to the region, an American academic and political analyst says.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Will You Help Challenge the Cancerous U.S. War Machine?

Sitting in front of the Camp Schwab construction gate before dawn

We moved out into the street to block construction trucks heading for the gate

This woman's face tells the whole story - click on the photo for a better view

Eriko, one of the organzers of our Okinawa schedule, tries to protect Iraq war veteran Will Griffin from the police

Back in front of the construction gate they passed the mic around.  I told the story about the No MUOS campaign in Sicily where people are resisting a new US space technology communications base making the point that people all over the world are resisting US military operations

A wonderful moment when former Marine Ken Mayers (who was stationed at this base in the 1960's) received a protest jacket from a woman who worked inside the base at the very same time.  She quit her job when a US officer told her "My business is killing people".  She comes to the base gates to sit-in every day.

In the background I am being dragged away by the police

Here I am being lifted up and carried away - I was detained up against the blue vehicle for a few minutes but at the first chance I made a break for it and rejoined the scrum in the middle of the street.  Rachel, our translator in the middle, did the same thing after being previously dragged away.

Others joined us and the police gave up and began routing construction trucks around us

The woman holding the sign later told us her story.  She is the mother of three children and said that coming to block the gates was not easy for her but she felt she had to do it to protect the environment on behalf of the future generations. 

We went to the gates of Camp Schwab US Marine base where twin-runways are planned to be built out on top of pristine Oura Bay.  These photos above are from our second visit where we again helped block the gates and street in front of the base.  They are not in proper sequence of action - first we sat in front of the construction gate and then moved out into the middle of the street and then back in front of the gate again.  But you'll get some idea of the action and the deep emotion that was there on that day.

I'll post more about our last couple of days events in Okinawa as more photos become available.  Leave it to say that our delegation was dog tired by the time we wrapped things up last night.  We were putting in close to 17 hour days - off at 5:30 am and to bed around 11:00 pm or later on most nights.  Then we also had to find time to answer emails and write blog posts.

It is more than tragic what the US is doing to the people and environment around the world with its more than 800 bases.  Everywhere you turn local people are standing against these bases.  Okinawa is one of the more obscene examples of US military colonization of a people and their land.  The spirit of the Okinawan people is simply amazing considering that they have been in active resistance to US military occupation since 1953.  Imagine that.... I was deeply moved when we visited two different museums and saw the photos of active protests against US bases during these past 62 years.

Back in the US its hard to get 'activists' to come to a protest once every few weeks.  Most Americans have never had to face this kind of adversity to their democracy nor their lands with the exception being the first Americans - the indigenous people.  Native Americans understand what military occupation feels like but the rest of us literally have no clue until we travel to Jeju Island, Okinawa, Sicily, Guantanamo, Guam or other places where the Pentagon had grabbed land for its program of 'Full Spectrum Dominance'.

Our final program last night in Naha City before about 300 people ended with questions from the audience.  They asked us:  What are you going to do when you get home to spread word about Okinawa?  How can you help us?

That question will largely be answered by our peers in the US who must be challenged to do more in solidarity with the struggling people around the world that are occupied and suppressed by the Pentagon war machine.  Will you be willing to stand up in the USA against this military machine that is the largest contributor to global warming?  Will you help us resist the military bases and military production sites in our own country?  Will you help us put pressure on an admittedly duplicitous Congress that continues to steal taxpayer dollars from social programs to fund this cancerous endless war machine?  These are the challenges that we face when we get  back home......

Photos by Ellen Davidson

Monday, December 14, 2015

For Another 100 Years

U.S. says
is our unsinkable
aircraft carrier
our power projection
in the Asia-Pacific

Uncle Sam
tells Tokyo
build us
a new airfield
put the twin-runways
on top of
pristine Oura Bay

Fuck the coral reefs
and the last three
endangered dugongs
sea mammals
that feed there

Since Tokyo
is paying
the freight
for the airfield
Washington's hands
are clean

Tokyo can deal
with the domestic fallout
citizens in Okinawa,
all 80%
of them,
defending nature
they are
blocking the
construction gates
early every morning

tells Tokyo
bring in the police
from Japan
and drag
the people off
who have planted
their asses
at the gate

Uncle Sam
we are bringing you democracy
Why do you complain
so much?

in rebellion
since 1953,
told to
get used to it
the new runway
will be built
to last
for another
100 years

Sunday, December 13, 2015

More from Camp Schwab

米退役軍人も抗議行動に参加辺野古 アメリカ退役軍人が抗議に参加退役軍人たちが辺野古で抗議「私は23歳までにイラク・アフガン戦争に派兵されました。どうか現実を見てほしい。中東でISを生んだように、軍隊は平和を築くことはできない」「戦争のための基地はいらないと訴えたい。これ以上基地を造る理由は何もない」「『テロとの戦い』というもののためにイラクに派兵されましたが、実際の戦場では、自分自身がイラクの人々にとってのテロだった」悲惨な戦場を経験した元アメリカ兵たちが辺野古で新基地建設反対を訴えました。12月11日の朝、抗議行動に参加したのは、アメリカからやってきた「平和を求める元軍人の会」のメンバーらです。メンバーらは、ベトナム戦争やイラク戦争に行った体験から、アメリカの武力攻撃に反対し、平和を訴える運動を続けていて、「新たな戦争につながる基地は造らせない」と声を上げました。抗議した元陸軍兵のウィリアム・グリフィンさんは「私は23歳までにイラク・アフガン戦争に派兵されました。どうか現実を見てほしい。中東でISを生んだように、軍隊は平和を築くことはできない。平和を生むのは2つだけ、和解と結束だ」と話し、元海兵隊員のマイク・ヘインズさんは「戦争のための基地はいらないと訴えたい。これ以上基地を造る理由は何もない」「『テロとの戦い』というもののためにイラクに派兵されましたが、実際の戦場では、自分自身がイラクの人々にとってのテロだった」15日には、那覇市でメンバーらによるシンポジウムも開らかれます。
Posted by 気になることを動画で伝える on Saturday, December 12, 2015

Video from Okinawan TV....we are heading back to Camp Schwab early Monday morning for another round.....

Sunday Song