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....

My Photo
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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Defending the Sacred

Holding Their GroundThe Unist'ot'en Camp are blocking pipelines from crossing their land in British Columbia.
Posted by AJ+ on Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Great courage and determination shown by the First Nations people as they resist giant resource extraction corporations in western Canada.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Story Behind U.S. Global Blitzkrieg

In this episode of teleSUR's Days of Revolt, Chris Hedges and author Vijay Prashad trace the acceleration of U.S. militarism since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and discuss the consequences of U.S. domination over global affairs.

Korean 'Comfort Women' Speak for Themselves

"북미 미디어에서는 위안부 협상에 대해 긍정적으로 보도하고 있고, 할머니들의 목소리가 제대로 대변되고 있지 않습니다." 예일대 로스쿨에 재학중인 임현수씨의 제안과 번역 도움으로 영어 자막이 들어간 동영상을 만들었습니다. 할머니들의 분노와 울분을 전세계로 퍼트려 주세요. 여러분의 공유 한번이 나비의 날갯짓이 돼 세상을 바꿀 수 있습니다. 노컷뉴스는 앞으로도 영어와 일본어 자막이 표기된 위안부 협상 관련 동영상을 계속 제작하겠습니다.
Posted by CBS Nocutnews on Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The right-wing South Korean government, likely under orders from Washington, has agreed to make peace with Japan over the WW II forced prostitution issue. The Japanese imperial Army forced 200,000 Korean women into servitude as 'Comfort Women'.  Japan now offers $8 million and an ambiguous apology.  Neither the South Korean government nor Japan's right-wing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ever consulted with the affected women before this scripted production was set in motion.

The goal here is to try to rehabilitate Japan's WW II fascist image now that Abe has destroyed the peaceful Article 9 in their constitution that outlawed offensive war making.  The US has big plans for a revitalized corporate dominated government in Tokyo when it comes to helping the US to wage endless war.  The US will further drag a willing Abe into confrontation with China and Russia.  But first Washington wants to clean up Japan's image in the 'global market place' so that they can better serve as agents in the US's 'war for peace, democracy and global harmony'.

It's like professional wrestling - the image of the actors in the ring makes for everything.  Somebody has to be the bad guy and someone (the US) gets to always play the shining knight.  Japan's apology was intended to help wipe their image slate clean before the big battles begin. Japan can now officially join the 'good guys'.

It looks like the plan feel flat with those who counted most - those remaining 'comfort women' who are still alive.  Look how the South Korean politician grabs the woman's hand at the end and slinks away.  Great video that once again reveals the remarkable fighting spirit of the Korean people.

It's Cold Outside

  • We got our first snow of the season in Bath early on Monday morning.  The norm since we've lived in Maine is that snow in the Midcoast comes around Thanksgiving.  So this year it was a month late as warm temperatures extended the summer here up north.  I had a post on Facebook today from a friend in England who reminded us: "It's so difficult for the people experiencing the extreme weather that is so devastating. Please be mindful of our wildlife who have no idea what is going on.. fish being displaced when rivers/lakes flood.. birds who observe this and cannot access lovely bird tables because of floods.. Sheep and Cows who are stranded."  

  • I love history, our human path has been a remarkable story of suffering and periodic advances for real justice - extracted at great loss from the imperial agents. (My mind immediately flashes to Chicago where Mayor Rahm Emanuel is under attack by the black community who keep getting killed by his death squad police force.  Emanuel is test driving the 'Gaza solution' for control and domination of unwanted superfluous populations in big American cities - repositories, reservations, gulags, interment camps, ghettos.)  Now and then the people get tired of eating shit served up by our pirate masters and they begin to rise up.  It feels like such a moment is awakening worldwide now.  A time to build up, a time to break down. What one thing can I do today to help build this fire?  I ask myself that question every day.  It drives me to get up in the morning.  

  • The other thing that drove me the last two days was getting outside to shovel snow. Fortunately this one was only about a 3-incher, a tune-up for later big dumps.  In the meantime I love playing in the snow.  We have paths here to our woodpile, shed, and compost pile that must be kept open.  Four doors are always in need of clearing when the snow comes.  I get great satisfaction out of hauling wood and shoveling.  One can find a strong sense of accomplishment with those chores - we rarely get to glimpse the idea of 'completion' in the peace and justice world.  On we go - I will keep shoveling.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Kiev's Nazi Army Sings Praises to Hitler

In the video, Artyom Vitko, the former commander of the Kiev backed Luhansk-1 "volunteer" Battalion [death squad] and now a member of Lyashko's Radical Party, can be seen sitting in the back of a car wearing camouflage fatigues and singing along to a track extolling the virtues of the Fuehrer.

 "Adolf Hitler, together with us, Adolf Hitler, in each of us, and an eagle with iron wings will help us at the right time," Vitko sings, saluting the camera with his water bottle as the car's sound system blares "Heil Hitler."

Read more here 

Western War on Ukraine

A very well done, informative and deeply moving film by a German journalist about the US-NATO puppet Kiev regime's war on their own citizens in Eastern Ukraine....

The documentary is not an action movie. Rather, it lives from spoken word, by the voices of the people featured in the interviews and their impressions. Accompanied with sequences of events it draws a picture of the personal feelings of the participants – whether civilians, soldiers and journalists.

“Ukrainian Agony” is a silent film about the immense volume and violence of war. The propaganda has reached a new level of “quality”. Disinformation, concealment, half-truths up to outright lies are the “weapons” of certain Western media in this war – in an unprecedented degree.

Film by Mark Bartalmai, German independent journalist, Photographer.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Courting the Nazi Operatives

This is an authoritative account of the postwar relationship between Nazi intelligence chief General Reinhard Gehlen who came to work for the US after the war and was eventually put in charge of intelligence in post-WW II West Germany.

Gehlen was instrumental in creating the US-NATO 'Gladio' program of terrorism across Europe that was used to discredit the left.

The documentary also covers the US secret program called 'Operation Paperclip' that smuggled about 1,500 Nazi operatives into the US to work in the military space program, NASA, Air Force Flight Medicine program, MK Ultra Mind Control program,  CIA, and more.  The entire military industrial complex of the US was seeded with these Nazi war criminals.

Was there an ideological contamination that followed?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Repeat it Often Enough

Repeat it
often enough
easy to do
with corporate

say it
over and over
drum it into
thick skulls
turned to mush
by endless
poor schools

Pentagon says
America's role
under corporate
'security export'
endless war

watch the
movie previews
see our future
here at home
the message
to the kids
it's 'all you can be'
keep repeating it
Captain America
Star Wars

Throw in some
we are #1
the big lie

Sell the wars
lie to
recruit the jobless

A Global Force
For Good

Army Strong

The Few,
The Proud

Above all

Aim High

über alles
all lies

Our minds
are occupied
by Madison Avenue
fill our brains
with the
big lies

My Sunday prayer:
Wake up
take back
our souls

our minds

they belong
to us
not to
the devil
or his

Sunday Song


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Always Remember This Man

Boxer Muhammad Ali went to jail rather than be drafted in the US Army to fight in Vietnam: "My conscious won't let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn't put no dogs on me, they didn't rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father... Shoot them for what? ...How can I shoot them poor people, Just take me to jail."

What Muhammad Ali said about the Vietnam war could be applied just as much to the wars Barack Obama is waging in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, and the wars he is beginning to start in Iran, Africa and Ukraine.

The Whole Thing is a Facade

They cover the US electoral dog-and-poney-show with truth and spirit.

This discussion should be held over every table in the nation.

Maybe They Don't Want to Hear.....

Latest film by Regis Tremblay about the US occupation of Okinawa.  Please watch and share. 

The Pentagon has more than 30 bases on Okinawa today making it an unsinkable aircraft carrier and obviously a key target as Washington moves to militarily encircle China and Russia.

The people's resistance (since 1953) to US bases in Okinawa is an inspiring story about determination and love.  You can help them win this fight!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Xmas Bonus

Brutal Ugliness of Militarism

Here are some words from another member of the Veterans For Peace delegation that went to Jeju Island.  Russell did not travel with us to Okinawa but stayed in Gangjeong village for five more days after our group left.  Russell is an Associate member of VFP. (Pictured above are some of the UNESCO-recognized soft coral forests just off the coast of Gangjeong village.  As the sea-bed is dredged to allow US warships to port there the sediment is killing the coral. Who is willing to speak out to defend the coral?  Russell Wray did.) 

Our visit to Gangjeong village made very real for me just how serious a threat militarism is to all life on this planet. The once beautiful Gureombi rocks have been desecrated by the base construction.    Jeju Island’s estimated 114 remaining endangered Indo-pacific Bottlenose dolphins, once frequent visitors in Gangjeong’s waters, are no longer seen there since base construction began. And I fear for their survival once US and Korean Destroyers start blasting the surrounding waters with sonar….. So much that is beautiful is threatened by the brutal ugliness of militarism.

Speaking of beauty, the people there in Gangjeong Village…they so moved and inspired me with their incredible determination to resist militarism and their insistence on making the celebration of beauty, through their art, music, and dance, so much a part of that resistance.  That is one beautiful community, and I thank them and I love them!

~ Russell Wray 

Hancock, Maine
Artist and Anti-Sonar Activist

Happy Holidays to All of You

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sen. Angus King Displays His Arrogance

Sen. Angus King (Ind-Maine) tells Secretary of War Ashton Carter that the US should do more to "move [Assad] off the stage" in Syria.  Later on in the video the so-called 'moderate' senator urges Carter to do more to combat ISIS in the social media battle and urges him to bring the issue up for further discussion in the "councils of war".

It just drives me nuts to see American political hacks talking about removing the leaders of other nations as if they were talking about changing football coaches.  The arrogance is mind blowing.

These cats talk about holding elections so that the Syrian people can get the kind of country 'they deserve'.  And just what kind of government would they have?  You got it - a corporate dominated one - a puppet state.

This is the kind of democracy that the US is promoting - nothing but a series of corporate coup d'etats.

The Pigs Rule in Ukraine

RT reports:

The Sheep are Being Fleeced
Activists who think that Ukraine’s 2016 budget screams death to the agricultural sector have brought a dead pig in a coffin to the Verkhovna Rada building in Kiev and held a mock funeral ceremony.

The angry protesting farmers and their supporters demand to keep a simplified tax system and special VAT rules for the agricultural sector in 2016, something the announced budget lacks as Ukraine has to comply with the demands of its lender, the International Monetary Fund.

Ukrainian website NB News reports that around 1,000 people came out to protest. They paid their ‘respects’ to a dead pig in a coffin while women in traditional folk costumes sang songs about the fate of Ukraine. 

The pig had a sticker over its body reading "Tax reforms are death to business." 

During the procession, scuffles between riot police and protesters erupted as the protesters tried to bring the coffin closer to the Verkhovna Rada.  

Nuclear Power Not Worth It

Priya Pillai of Greenpeace India speaking at Jantar Mantar on December 12, 2015, in a protest organised by the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace(CNDP) during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Xmas Eve Messages from Jeju Island

Christmas Eve Message from Toni Flynn & Martha Hennessy
Dec. 24, 2015
Gangjeong Village, Jeju Island
South Korea

Toni's Christmas Eve Message

Where will the Infant Jesus be placed when He is born in Gangjeong tomorrow? Between the cracks of cement blocks hardening inside the naval base? In a tiny raft at sea, surrounded by massive battle ships?  

It seems that the only appropriate place is in the arms of the faithful who sit every day in plastic chairs in front of the gate, who are repeatedly carried to the side by the police during Mass and who return over and over again to peacefully persist in blocking the entrance to the compound. 

No doubt, the Infant’s only swaddling clothes will be the worn and mud crusted vestments of the priests, the raincoats of the peace activists, and the banners with words opposing war making. 

Instead of Magi arriving from the East, Martha and I arrived from the U.S. in the West. We did not follow a star, we responded to your blood, your tears, and your cries of grief. We followed the echoes of your courageous voices.

We bring not gold, frankincense and myrrh, rather we bring our solidarity, our support, and our love. We represent many others who oppose war. 

One day soon, our hope is that the people who build power structures and develop and use military weaponry will bow to the Angel’s Message of Peace on Earth, Good Will to All.

Martha's Christmas Eve Message

The birth of Christ brings us forgiveness of sins and the pathway to peace, writes Abbot Gregory Polan in today’s reflection. I sit, before dawn, in this small village on an island and contemplate the huge warships docked at the newly constructed naval base. Perhaps the military men are here for some R&R on shore for Christmas.

Soon we will be at the gate, bowing down 100 times, praying for disarmament of our own selves. We are helpless, like newborn infants at risk for being crushed at any moment by such a massive war machine, a small part represented in this one particular military base. We pray desperately for God’s tender mercies. The world is in a compulsive, ghastly struggle with death, and yet we wait for the birth of the One who comes full of life and light.

Despite imprisoned union leaders charged with sedition, falling rice prices due to trade partnerships, proposed rewritten history textbooks, government labor “reform” bills, water cannon induced comas, ferry boat disasters, an opened naval base, despite all of this, there is hope. There is a groundswell of labor, civic, and farmer’s unrest demanding justice. Groups such as the Korean Catholic Farmers Association, and Korean Confederation of Trade Unions are raising their voices. We hold such painfully bright expectations in our hearts. Come quickly, oh light of salvation, bringing us your eternal joy and comfort. Save us in Your love!

Comments on Jeju/Okinawa Trip by Four Veterans

Here are some comments about our recent trip to Jeju Island and Okinawa by four Veterans For Peace members.

As a war veteran, an activist and advocate in a number of social causes, never before in my experience have I felt so overwhelmingly humbled and outraged.  I leave Jeju emotionally drained and completely in sync with my VFP brothers/sisters in peace and the brave people of this island.

~ Stan Levin
San Diego, CA
Korean War Veteran
VFP chap #91

Jeju Island is such a beautiful pristine paradise with drinkable springs, coral reefs, and rare dolphins.  The construction of the base is an environmental catastrophe!  It has also displaced the homes of many people.  This is supposed to the an 'Island of Peace".  The last thing the world needs is another military base.

The local people protesting at the gate [Jeju and Okinawa] are filled with such passion, integrity and strength in the face of adversity.  It motivates me to continue to stand for what is right and to be a voice for those who are oppressed.

~ SSGT Mike Hanes
San Diego, CA
Force Recon Marine
Iraq War Veteran

I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to travel to Jeju and to Okinawa to stand in solidarity with the victims of American imperialism on the "frontline."  The consequences of our vast military empire has long been an abiding issue of mine.  I don't think we can avoid bearing some responsibility, as citizens of the empire, for what is being done in our names---and the more we know, the more it becomes incumbent to take some action in response.    Standing with the victims of this most drastic manifestation of imperialism and subsequently bearing witness may be of little consequence, but there's always the "ripple effect" and "changing one mind at a time."  So, being "at the gates" was the most memorable aspect of the entire experience.

On balance I thought both of the segments,  Jeju and Okinawa, were incredibly rich and valuable.  Not having been to Okinawa (in this capacity) before I learned a great deal about relevant history and the current situation.  I came away feeling blessed for the experience---particularly for having been able to "stand in solidarity" with the victims of each community. 

~ Dud Hendrick
Deer Isle, Maine
US Naval Academy Graduate
Vietnam War Veteran

The VFP delegation to Jeju Island, South Korea and Okinawa, Japan was a huge eye-opener, as an American but more so as a US military veteran. The trip has personally changed my life and I've learned that achieving the goal of global peace is more necessary than ever before. Until our trip to Asia, I've only had the chance to research these issues. Now, I've had the chance to personally witness the detriment the US military is bringing upon other nations and people. War, and the preparation for war, must stop now! After receiving such great support from the people of Jeju and the people of Okinawa, I now feel stronger than ever to face this struggle of global peace. I am now 100% a global citizen. Their struggle is our struggle. 
~ William Griffin
San Diego, CA
US Army Paratrooper
Iraq & Afghanistan Wars Veteran

Christmas at Peace.....


You don’t fight, we won’t fight,
We can sleep in peace this Christmas Night,
The war is over by the troops decree,
It’s a dead end fight and we all agree,
What are we gonna do come the morning light.
You don’t fight, we won’t fight,
We can meet halfway on the bloody ice
Comradely bond with no arms drawn,
I’m wondering whose side we’re on,
Got a flask of something strong,
and i’m sharing it with friends tonight.
You don’t fight, we won’t fight,
We can bury our dead and honour them right,
I’ll pray for you and you’ll pray for me,
and we’ll re-define bravery,
i’m strong and I’m proud but I ain’t going to take a life.
You don’t fight, we won’t fight,
Got half your men right in my sights,
But iv’e seen you lives and iv’e seen your dead,
So i’m aiming right above your head,
Worlds gone mad but I ain’t gonna take a life.
You don’t fight, we won’t fight,
But will this courage last past Christmas Night,
What’ll they say in a hundred years,
When they look back on what happened here,
What are we gonna do come the morning light?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Warships Moved to Jeju Island

With Mt. Halla in the background, a naval band performs during a ceremony at the new naval base on the southern resort island of Jeju on Dec. 22 to announce the arrival of two South Korean Aegis destroyers from the southwestern coastal base of Busan. The relocation is part of the Jeju navy base's official launch scheduled for next month.

While recently in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island (with the Veterans For Peace delegation) we heard that the South Korean government was saying the new Navy base was 97% complete.  Local activists, who have become experts on the status of construction during these past eight years, concluded the base was now at the 80% completion mark.  Either way enough of the base has become available that warships can now be moved there.

The South Korean and US governments maintain that the base was built to help contain North Korea.  Yet when you look at a map of Korea you see that the Aegis destroyers (outfitted with 'missile defense' systems) are coming to Jeju from the navy base in Busan which is actually closer to North Korea. Jeju Island happens to be closer to China.

The truth is that the US handed the base specifications to the right-wing South Korean regime and told them to build the base.  The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Washington and Seoul allows the US full use of all South Korean bases anytime the Pentagon wishes to use them.  For all intents and purposes the Jeju Navy base is a US base.

The Aegis missile defense program is a key element in Pentagon first-strike attack planning.  Their role is to take out any retaliatory strikes after the US hits China or Russia.  The closer the US can get these systems to China or Russia the better chance they have of working in a war time scenario.  These are destabilizing systems and used to be illegal under the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia until George W. Bush pulled the US out of the agreement soon after taking office.

Due to Obama's announced 'pivot' (the Pentagon calls it 'rebalancing') of 60% of US military forces into the Asia-Pacific to encircle China more ports-of-call are needed for Washington's surging naval forces.  Thus the base on Jeju.

The anti-base resistance there will evolve as the base becomes operational but all signs are saying that the determined opposition will continue in one form or the other.  The Navy still wants even more of the village land so more fights are yet to come.

In the meantime the best thing supporters of Gangjeong village can do is continue to oppose the cancerous US military escalation into the Asia-Pacific that not only is severely impacting the innocent people and the environment in South Korea - but is also having negative impacts in Okinawa, Japan, Guam, Philippines, Taiwan, Australia and other places where Washington is demanding more outposts for its military empire.

Seymour Hersh: US intelligence sharing in the Syrian war

A new report by the Pulitzer-winning veteran journalist Seymour Hersh says the Joint Chiefs of Staff has indirectly supported Bashar al-Assad in an effort to help him defeat jihadist groups. Hersh reports the Joint Chiefs sent intelligence via Russia, Germany and Israel on the understanding it would be transmitted to help Assad push back Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State. Hersh also claims the military even undermined a U.S. effort to arm Syrian rebels in a bid to prove it was serious about helping Assad fight their common enemies. Hersh says the Joint Chiefs’ maneuvering was rooted in several concerns, including the U.S. arming of unvetted Syrian rebels with jihadist ties, a belief the administration was overly focused on confronting Assad’s ally in Moscow, and anger the White House was unwilling to challenge Turkey and Saudi Arabia over their support of extremist groups in Syria. Hersh joins us to detail his claims and respond to his critics.

You can find the entire report by Hersh here

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Stop U.S. Destruction of Oura Bay

Right now in Okinawa, Japan, hundreds of people are putting their bodies in front of bulldozers. Why? Because a U.S. military base wants to expand, dumping landfill on the home of 5,300 species, including the rare Japanese dugong.We stand with the people of Okinawa. SHARE if you do too!

Posted by Greenpeace International on Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Everybody is a Victim of the Structure

Sixth in the series, Warriors for Peace by Regis Tremblay. Veterans Speak. Fr. Peter Hinde, O. Carm., Catholic priest and former WWII fighter pilot in Japan. 
Involved in U.S. Civil Rights protests, missionary in Peru, and now working in Juarez, Mexico. An amazing story about an amazing life.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Corporate Bankster Pirates=Fascism

I highly recommend watching this German TV channel ZDF video.  They speak the truth about US-NATO endless wars for oil.  In the hot seat is pitiful US Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the Commanding General, of United States Army Europe.  He hails from Quincy, Florida which speaks for itself.  

In my view the US is totally exposed for its greedy-sick-hypocrisy and the audience applause helps reveal that the people, all over the world, see the truth that the US is a 'global force for evil' and corporate interests.  The only people falling for the Pentagon's propaganda any more are the majority of the American people.

The participants are: Aktham Suleiman, a Syrian journalist; Ursula von der Leyen, the Secretary of Defense of Germany; Jean Asselborn, the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg; Oskar Lafontaine, a member of the Left Party in Germany.

The fact that Hodges has to sit on camera at the same table as the Left Party representative indicates how far the US power of persuasion has fallen in Europe.  The US is trying to break Europe away from Russia and is using 'terrorism' as an excuse to force fascist-led regime change in nations that don't wish to be colonized by the US corporate mafia.  The empire is indeed collapsing and is kicking the shit out of anyone that gets in its way.

I lived in Florida for 30 years.  That state is a perfect example of a corporate colony in the US.  The public education system has always been weak in order to keep the populations there ignorant and subservient to corporate interests.  Historically, beginning during the slave trade, Florida oligarchs have been instrumental in US foreign policy development in the Caribbean and throughout Latin America.  They have been leaders in US fascist operations toppling governments throughout Central and South America.  Washington's early Cuba policy was centered around drugs, gambling, prostitution, sugar, and the enormous profits that flowed to the mobsters based in Miami.

Over the years when right-wing governments were challenged in Latin America those oligarchs would run to Miami looking for shelter from their storm.  The politics of Florida reeks with the smell of this sordid history.

After having lived in Florida for 30 years, been in the military, led groups to Cuba, and been part of movements trying to challenge these entrenched right-wing forces in that state I can easily attest to it being a fascist corporate colony.  I will always remember watching the sons of the elite arguing against progressive issues at the University of Florida Student Government Senate.  It was their training ground before running state and corporate operations.

There won't be peace in the world until the American people stand up to their own dictators who push oil wars (sold as 'war on terrorism') and destroy our own nation's publicly funded infrastructure. They are nothing more than corporate bankster pirates.

Take a close look at Ben Hodge in the video.  He's out of his league - he is a corporate knuckle-breaker who has been given a nice suit with lots of splash on it.  The rest of the world sees it - Americans should be embarrassed and at shame that we have swallowed the dark pill in order to feel like 'we are the exceptional people'.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

I Helped Create ISIS

By Vincent Emanuele

Information Clearinghouse

After 14 years of War on Terror the West is great at fomenting barbarism and creating failed states.

For the last several years, people around the world have asked, "Where did ISIS come from?" Explanations vary, but largely focus on geopolitical (U.S. hegemony), religious (Sunni-Shia), ideological (Wahhabism) or ecological (climate refugees) origins. Many commentators and even former military officials correctly suggest that the war in Iraq is primarily responsible for unleashing the forces we now know as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, etc. Here, hopefully I can add some useful reflections and anecdotes.

Mesopotamian Nightmares

When I was stationed in Iraq with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 2003-2005, I didn't know what the repercussions of the war would be, but I knew there would be a reckoning. That retribution, otherwise known as blowback, is currently being experienced around the world (Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, France, Tunisia, California, and so on), with no end in sight.

Back then, I routinely saw and participated in obscenities. Of course, the wickedness of the war was never properly recognized in the West. Without question, antiwar organizations attempted to articulate the horrors of the war in Iraq, but the mainstream media, academia and political-corporate forces in the West never allowed for a serious examination of the greatest war crime of the 21st century.

As we patrolled the vast region of Iraq's Al-Anbar Province, throwing MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) trash out of our vehicles, I never contemplated how we would be remembered in history books; I simply wanted to make some extra room in my HUMVEE. Years later, sitting in a Western Civilization history course at university, listening to my professor talk about the cradle of civilization, I thought of MRE garbage on the floor of the Mesopotamian desert.

Examining recent events in Syria and Iraq, I can't help but think of the small kids my fellow marines would pelt with Skittles from those MRE packages. Candies weren't the only objects thrown at the children: water bottles filled with urine, rocks, debris, and various other items were thrown as well. I often wonder how many members of ISIS and various other terrorist organizations recall such events?

Moreover, I think about the hundreds of prisoners we took captive and tortured in makeshift detention facilities staffed by teenagers from Tennessee, New York and Oregon. I never had the misfortune of working in the detention facility, but I remember the stories. I vividly remember the marines telling me about punching, slapping, kicking, elbowing, kneeing and head-butting Iraqis. I remember the tales of sexual torture: forcing Iraqi men to perform sexual acts on each other while marines held knives against their testicles, sometimes sodomizing them with batons.

However, before those abominations could take place, those of us in infantry units had the pleasure of rounding up Iraqis during night raids, zip-tying their hands, black-bagging their heads and throwing them in the back of HUMVEEs and trucks while their wives and kids collapsed to their knees and wailed. Sometimes, we would pick them up during the day. Most of the time they wouldn't resist. Some of them would hold hands while marines would butt-stroke the prisoners in the face. Once they arrived at the detention facility, they would be held for days, weeks, and even months at a time. Their families were never notified. And when they were released, we would drive them from the FOB (Forward Operating Base) to the middle of the desert and release them several miles from their homes.

After we cut their zip-ties and took the black bags off their heads, several of our more deranged marines would fire rounds from their AR-15s into their air or ground, scaring the recently released captives. Always for laughs. Most Iraqis would run, still crying from their long ordeal at the detention facility, hoping some level of freedom awaited them on the outside. Who knows how long they survived. After all, no one cared. We do know of one former U.S. prisoner who survived: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.

Amazingly, the ability to dehumanize the Iraqi people reached a crescendo after the bullets and explosions concluded, as many marines spent their spare time taking pictures of the dead, often mutilating their corpses for fun or poking their bloated bodies with sticks for some cheap laughs. Because iPhones weren't available at the time, several marines came to Iraq with digital cameras. Those cameras contain an untold history of the war in Iraq, a history the West hopes the world forgets. That history and those cameras also contain footage of wanton massacres and numerous other war crimes, realities the Iraqis don't have the pleasure of forgetting.

Unfortunately, I could recall countless horrific anecdotes from my time in Iraq. Innocent people were not only routinely rounded-up, tortured and imprisoned, they were also incinerated by the hundreds of thousands, some studies suggest by the millions.

Only the Iraqis understand the pure evil that's been waged on their nation. They remember the West's role in the eight year war between Iraq and Iran; they remember Clinton's sanctions in the 1990s, policies which resulted in the deaths of well over 500,000 people, largely women and children. Then, 2003 came and the West finished the job. Today, Iraq is an utterly devastated nation. The people are poisoned and maimed, and the natural environment is toxic from bombs laced with depleted uranium. After fourteen years of the War on Terror, one thing is clear: the West is great at fomenting barbarism and creating failed states.

Living with Ghosts

The warm and glassy eyes of young Iraqi children perpetually haunt me, as they should. The faces of those I've killed, or at least those whose bodies were close enough to examine, will never escape my thoughts. My nightmares and daily reflections remind me of where ISIS comes from and why, exactly, they hate us. That hate, understandable yet regrettable, will be directed at the West for years and decades to come. How could it be otherwise?

Again, the scale of destruction the West has inflicted in the Middle East is absolutely unimaginable to the vast majority of people living in the developed world. This point can never be overstated as Westerners consistently and naively ask, "Why do they hate us?"

In the end, wars, revolutions and counterrevolutions take place and subsequent generations live with the results: civilizations, societies, cultures, nations and individuals survive or perish. That's how history works. In the future, how the West deals with terrorism will largely depend on whether or not the West continues their terroristic behavior. The obvious way to prevent future ISIS-style organizations from forming is to oppose Western militarism in all its dreadful forms: CIA coups, proxy wars, drone strikes, counterinsurgency campaigns, economic warfare, etc.

Meanwhile, those of us who directly participated in the genocidal military campaign in Iraq will live with the ghosts of war.

~ Vincent Emanuele is a writer, radio journalist and activist. He lives in Michigan City, Indiana and can be reached at  

War Isn't Working

Sunday Song


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


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Stop the Insane U.S. Plan for an Airfield on Oura Bay!

We went back to US Marine base Camp Schwap yesterday to discover local activists trying to block a military convoy coming out of the base.  When I saw the scene my mind immediately flashed back to 1985 when I was at a conference in Mutlangen, Germany and participated in a similar action.

I was in Mutlangen to protest the presence of US Army Pershing II intermediate-range nuclear missiles that Ronald Reagan had deployed there in October of 1983 aimed at the former Soviet Union.  The Pershing was built in Orlando, Florida where I was living at the time.  I was organizing protests outside of the Martin Marietta (now called Lockheed Martin) plant.  My youngest sister was inside soldering the circuit boards for the nuclear missile.  I was invited to represent our local peace movement at the Mutlangen conference that was calling for the Pershing to be removed from their small town.

We were inside the conference hall that day in 1985 when we got a call saying that the US Army base, placed right inside the center of Mutlangen, had opened their gates and were moving huge trucks (similar to the one pictured above) loaded with the nuclear-tipped Pershing missile.  We ran outside and got in front of the trucks and soon enough the police came to drag us out of the way.  So memory and instinct sent me right out into the street yesterday in front of Camp Schwab to try to slow the war machine down again - even if just for a moment.  I made eye contact with the two GI's in the front seat of the truck - I wanted them to see my sweatshirt that reads Veterans For Peace.  They saw me quite clearly.

We next went to a local fishing port on Oura Bay and climbed aboard two boats that took us out into the bay for a water protest alongside about 10 peace kayaks that were bumping up against the floating barriers erected by the military.  More than a dozen Japanese military units in inflatable boats were buzzing around us and when we tried to use the sound system on board our two boats to speak they attempted to drown our voices out with their own sound systems.  This back-and-forth went on for about an hour.

In the distance I could see massive dredging barges at the ready to begin tearing up the ocean floor in preparation for the construction of the twin runways that would be literally built on top of the pristine ocean.  It is more than insane to imagine that this crystal clear water could have hundreds, maybe thousands, of tons of landfill dumped into the sea to place these landing strips out over what now is coral reefs and feeding grounds for the endangered Dugong sea mammal.  [One Okinawan activist has informed us that the correct numbers are 21 million cubic meters of soil, equivalent to 3.5 million 10-ton dump truck loads will be dumped into the bay.] The proposed runway area, that has been marked off with these big floating orange barriers, is enormous and the whole idea is beyond human comprehension. (We were told the cost for each round orange plastic piece was $300.)

Americans often ask about people from other nations: "Why do they hate us so much?"  The people of Okinawa are asking these questions:  "Why do the Americans make us suffer so much?  Why do they destroy our environment?  Why do they take our lands?  Why do they ignore our pleas for peace and justice?  Why do they refuse to close their bases when we demand that they do so?"

The words from Washington about protecting 'freedom and democracy' in Okinawa ring hollow.  There are about 50,000 US troops stationed on the Pentagon's military colony of Okinawa. I've heard several Okinawan activists use the term 'mafia' to describe their militarized government in Tokyo.  That same term could easily be used to describe our 'government' in the US - Washington is run by a corporate criminal syndicate out to make profit from endless war on behalf of resource extraction corporations.

The only way we can ever beat these corporate warmongers and be free people again is if we create a global movement of resistance to these death dealing cats who now run the majority of governments around the world.  We must join hands planet-wide and keep saying no to the devastation that the war machine brings to our beloved Mother Earth. In my mind there could be nothing more important that we could do with our lives.

That means we must stand in solidarity with our friends around the world who are demanding that US bases in their country be closed.  It also means that we must stand in resistance at bases and military production facilities in the US and call for an end to America's dangerous addiction to war and violence.

Photos by Ellen Davidson and Asai Hiroki

Friday, December 11, 2015

We Won't Give Up the Fight!

We were up early yesterday morning and on the road to Camp Schwab where there was a 6:00 am gate blockage against the early construction work on the proposed Marine airfield twin-runways that will be plunked down in pristine Oura Bay.

Our Veterans For Peace delegation was warmly received by the more than 100 Okinawan citizens who were already gathering in front of the gate when we arrived.  Many of them were elderly and protest leaders had them chanting and singing even before the sun rose.  We were given tiny folding seats in the front row of the festive crowd and we tied our banners to thin plastic poles that held aloft a blue tarp used to protect from the rain and sun.

Just after 7:00 am the Japanese police (from Tokyo and boarding in an expensive ritzy resort nearby) began hauling the gate blockers away one by one.  Our VFP contingent locked arms and spread out flat on the ground.  We were the last to be taken but were carried away just like the rest of the folks.  They stowed us in a make shift holding pen behind a couple police buses and after about 15 minutes let us go once the gate was cleared for the waiting construction vehicles.

The Okinawan peace activists quickly moved down the road a bit to the main base gate and proceeded to sit in the road blocking that one.  Police pushed enough people aside to open one lane so cars could leave the base and again our VFP crew was positioned in the front row so the many American GI's leaving the base could not miss our white faces and VFP attire.  I saw one Marine give us the thumps up as his car left the base.

One 87 year old woman we met at the gate told us her story - she was burned severely by American flamethrowers during the 1945 US invasion of Okinawa.  A US military officer once told her, "Killing is my business."  She had fire in her eyes and is much adored by the protest crowd.

We were next loaded up and driven an hour further north to Takae where even another US base is located.  This one is called the northern drill area for jungle warfare where three kinds of helicopters are being deployed (including the controversial Osprey which has often crashed).  This area is a subtropical forest and mountain area that the military has used since Vietnam for jungle training.  Sixty percent of Okinawa's drinking water comes from this region.  It was only in recent years that the small local village called Higashi (population 150) learned that the US had tested Agent Orange in the surrounding forest during the Vietnam years.  Dow Chemical (which manufactured Agent Orange) drums were uncovered in the area.  The locals tried to get the water tested but US forces interfered with that process.  Some animals in the area have been found with deformities.

We jumped back on our bus and returned to Camp Schwab just in time for what is called "Henoko University" which was a group of about 50 folks again blocking the construction gate.  We were invited to join them and each of us were asked to tell a bit about our time in the military.  I talked about my own conversion from a young militarist to a peace activist largely because of the protests at Travis AFB in California where I was stationed and the impact of those regular vigils on the GI's inside the base.  I suggested that they are touching more hearts than they could ever imagine and that the sparks from their non-violent protests are causing many inside the base gates to open their minds and debate the issues.  So keep protesting!

At 5:00 pm we arrived in Nago City to meet with Mayor Inamine who a few of us from VFP had met in Washington last year when Okinawan leaders traveled to DC to lobby against the Henoko runway project.  Mayor Inamine stood by a huge map of the city on his office wall and pointed out four areas where he is using his powers to block requests for base expansion operations.  He reported that 80% of the people in Okinawa are opposed to US bases and that he and the current Gov. Onaga were elected because of their opposition.  The mayor reported that Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Washington were trying to drown Okinawan citizens demands - it's a classic power struggle which is now before Japan's Supreme Court for resolution.  The question: Can Tokyo overrule local elected officials who are implementing the will of the people?

Mayor Inamine also reported that Japan is paying for the Marine runway that is proposed to be built on top of Oura Bay.  Just like the South Korean government is paying for the Navy base on Jeju Island - the US is now forcing 'host governments' to pay for greater shares of Pentagon military operations in various countries.  This then allows Washington to say that the conflict between local citizens in South Korea or Japan is a 'domestic issue' and that the US really can't get involved.  Total bullshit.

The mayor told us that "We don't want to take the part of victimizers in a war.  During the Vietnam War US bombers took off from here.  It so offended us."  He also stated what we heard from our other meeting with the mayor of Yomitan Village two days ago - "Okinawa does not prosper from US bases.  Less than 5% of our island income comes from bases.  The new runway has a flight path that would go directly over a popular tourist resort that attracts 200,000 people each year.  If the Henoko runway gets built they won't come back anymore."

Already we can see that from top-to-bottom the people of Okinawa are in serious revolt against the US military empire.  It's days are numbered.  Ordinary citizens are blocking base gates - city mayors and the governor of the island are using every legal means at their disposal to block base expansions.  The media on Okinawa is covering the story practically every day on the front page.  (See one example here) The right-wing Abe government in Tokyo is getting hammered in Okinawa.  In Japan citizens are allowed to designate which of the nation's 47 prefectures (states) they want their taxes sent to.  Many people in Japan, in solidarity with Okinawa, are designating their taxes be sent to the struggling people in Okinawa.

It makes our VFP delegation furious to see the abuse the people of Okinawa are daily getting from Tokyo and Washington.  The people keep telling us they will never give up - we heard the same words on Jeju Island.  The folks on Okinawa understand what real war means.  The memory of the 1945 US invasion that killed one out of every four people on Okinawa is seared into their consciousness.  They understand that US bases on their island make them a target once again.

The people here also keep saying that they are tired of war and they realize that they must fight hard to make sure it does not destroy their beautiful island home once again. We keep telling them that they are not alone - we are all in this one together.

Photos by Ellen Davidson