Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Former Army Officer Dragged Out of Attorney General Hearing

Former US Army officer, and retired US State Department official, Col. Ann Wright was dragged out of the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting this morning as they prepared to vote on confirming Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) as the next US Attorney General.

Ann Wright resigned from government service after the US 'shock and awe' invasion of Iraq in 2003.  Since that time she has become a member of Veterans For Peace and active in virtually every peace and justice struggle around the world.  She's repeatedly gone to Jeju Island, South Korea and to Palestine.  Recently Ann has traveled to Standing Rock in North Dakota to be with Native Americans fighting against the oil pipeline that would cross the Missouri River on reservation land.

Ann Wright is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Global Network's 25th annual space organizing conference set for April 7-9 in Huntsville, Alabama.  See the conference brochure here

Kiev's Shelling of Donbass Increasing.....Again

A very moving video from eastern Ukraine (Donbass) where the US puppet government in Kiev in recent weeks has been escalating their shelling of civilian targets.  The goal of the Kiev regime is to kill enough civilians near the Ukrainian border with Russia to force Moscow to intervene in the Donbass.  If that happened the US-NATO would then have their excuse for even more military operations along the Russian border.

At this moment a friend of mine has a son in Western Ukraine where the US military is training the newly created 'Ukrainian National Guard' which is largely made up of neo-Nazi types who are followers of Stepan Bandera who as a Ukrainian nationalist that supported Hitler's invasion of Russia during WW II.  The US is training and arming these Bandera forces and then sending them to eastern Ukraine to make war on their fellow citizens.  This has been going on since the US led coup in Kiev in 2014.

Former US Vice-President Joe Biden was his administration's lead man on Ukraine.  Every time Biden made a trip to Kiev it was not usually long before a new round of attacks on eastern Ukraine would begin.  Just four days before the inauguration of Trump, Biden made his last trip to Kiev.  During a speech while there he implored Ukraine to "stand up to Russia".  Once again the shelling has picked up.

The Poroshenko led regime in Kiev is as corrupt as any in the world and Ukraine is now coming apart at the seams as IMF-World Bank loans have required the privatization of national assets.  Growing unemployment is forcing people to leave the country to seek work but the EU is not eager to take in these Ukrainian refugees as Europe already has their hands full with those fleeing other US-NATO regime change disasters in Libya and Syria.

The US-NATO are desperate to do everything possible to create regime change in Moscow.  It should be remembered that Russia has the world's largest supply of natural gas.  Due to climate change and the melting of the Arctic ice the western mega-fossil fuel extraction corporations are itching to get their hands on that whole region.  Here in Maine our own Sen. Angus King has been very vocal about the need to build more icebreakers in order to 'open' up the Arctic for corporate operations.

The problem is that Russia has the largest land border with the Arctic making it difficult for the western powers to take total control of the vast territory.  Thus we hear the calls inside the American oligarchies to force Putin out of power.  The ultimate goal is the breakup of the Russian Federation into smaller constituent nations giving the oil barons a better shot at the undersea black gold now becoming available as the ice sheet melts.

Of course this a dangerous and provocative strategy. Russia (a nuclear power) is not quite willing to surrender to the US-NATO expanding war machine.  Ukraine sits in the middle of this growing conflict zone and the western powers don't mind sacrificing the civilians in the Donbass as long as it helps to topple the government in Moscow.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Trump Protests and More......

Protests against Muslim ban yesterday at Copley Square in Boston (Photo by Marian Stanton)

It's good to see the protests around the nation at airports and other places opposing Trump's Muslim travel ban. Interesting how seven Muslim countries are on the' bad list' but not ones that have Trump hotels/investments.

I can't help but wonder though where all these masses of Americans were when Obama for the last eight years was bombing Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan and Syria that ultimately created this refugee crisis.  It would be nice if we had some evidence that these liberal Democrats (now hitting the streets in droves) were making these connections.  We can always hope......

I can't imagine that this first chaotic week for the Trump train wreck will get much different as we go along.  His 'base' of support is likely thrilled with him so far but outside of that the nation is never going to warm up to him and his policies.  Will we just increasingly become an even more divided nation?  What possible way could we ever be united again?  Climate change maybe?  Oh, that doesn't exist.....

Give Trump credit for killing the TPP trade deal.  Give him credit for talking with Putin and hope that he is serious about wanting positive relations with Russia.

But on the other hand all signs show that Trump is going to ratchet up tensions with China.  It will be most interesting to see how Russia and Iran respond if the US gets into a shooting match with Beijing.

Another thing to watch is whether Trump tries to make a preemptive move on North Korea.  That could seriously trigger regional war.

Israel still wants Iran taken out so keep your eye on that ball.  The video interview below with Lawrence Wilkerson (former Army officer and Colin Powell's Chief of Staff) talks a bit about Iran.  At the very end of the video Wilkerson speculates about a False Flag event being created to justify ending the Iran nuclear deal (although he mistakenly says Iraq).

It's clear that Israel holds much sway with Trump which is more than dangerous.


Tension on Oura Bay in Okinawa

While recently in Okinawa with a delegation of Buddhist monks and nuns and their supporters, several in our group spent the day on boats joining a protest on pristine Oura Bay.

This video shows the massive amount of Japanese military forces in the bay daily keeping the peace activists in kayaks and small boats from interfering with runway building operations.  

The US government has forced the Japanese government to begin the process of building two runways on top of Oura Bay.  The airfields will host US warplanes descending on the Asia-Pacific as part of the US 'pivot' of 60% of Pentagon forces into the region in order to encircle China and Russia.

In order to build the runways on top of the bay, which now has the last three remaining sea mammals called Dugongs and endangered coral reefs, two million cubic meters of landfill will be dumped on top of the reefs in order to build the ten meter high airfield.
Local people have made a sustainable living from this sacred water body for a long time. They have been daily protesting at the front gates of the Marine base called Camp Schwab and in the bay for more than 900 days.

Obama's Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy (JFK's daughter), was instrumental in pushing this base expansion during her time as the US representative in Tokyo.  She repeatedly ignored pleas from the local citizens to meet and discuss these US plans.

There are presently 32 US military installations on Okinawa taking up 20% of the island.  The people have been protesting regularly since 1952 against US bases but you'd never know that in the United States because their protests are not reported in our corporate dominated media.  


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Getting Tough Along the Borders

Sunday Song

Saturday, January 28, 2017

America's Deeper Truth and Challenge

THAAD - Missile Offense System

On January 20 the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific participated in the anti-Trump rally organized by the ANSWER Coalition in Washington DC

Will Griffin from Veterans For Peace speaks first about 'missile defense' in the video.

The Pentagon's so-called missile defense (MD) system is directed by the Redstone Arsenal based in Huntsville, Alabama.  The THAAD (Theatre High Altitude Area Defense) program is built in Alabama as are many of the other US MD programs.  Huntsville is often called the Pentagon of the South.

The Global Network will hold its 25th annual space organizing conference in Huntsville on April 7-9 and will feature missile defense and other space weapons programs during the event.  The conference brochure is available here

MD is actually an extremely provocative program as it gives one side an advantage over the other during a nuclear exchange and was outlawed for many years under the US-Russia Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

When George W. Bush took office in 2001 he pulled the US out of the ABM Treaty and since that time Pentagon research, development, testing and deployments of MD have been on steroids.  In particular the US is encircling Russia and China with MD systems based on land and at sea.

MD is the shield that would pick-off nuclear retaliatory launches after a US first-strike attack on Russia or China giving the Pentagon a 'successful' first-strike.  Each year at the US Space Command they computer war game such a US first-strike against Russia and China.

As a result of flourishing US MD deployments around the world Russia and China have repeatedly stated that they cannot afford to reduce their nuclear retaliatory capability.  Thus real nuclear disarmament negotiations have ground to a halt and will not be restarted as long as the US continues to position MD near the Russian and Chinese borders.


Friday, January 27, 2017

New U.S. Ambassador to United Nations: "We Are Taking Names"

The New York Times reports today:

The American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley [former Governor of South Carolina], issued a stark warning on Friday to allies and rivals abroad, saying in her first remarks at the headquarters of the world body that the Trump administration would hold to account those who do not back the United States.

“You’re going to see a change in the way we do business,” Ms. Haley said. “Our goal with the administration is to show value at the U.N., and the way we’ll show value is to show our strength, show our voice, have the backs of our allies and make sure our allies have our back as well.”

“For those who don’t have our back,” she added, “we’re taking names; we will make points to respond to that accordingly.”

These kind of arrogant threats to other nations are just the sort of things I have been saying will further cause the fading US imperial project to unravel even faster.  People don't like being threatened and they won't enjoy being bullied by the former South Carolina conservative governor who has no real foreign policy experience.  The US does not run the world - even though Washington thinks it does.

The Trump team, already blustering around like a drunken sailor, is off to a bad start.  It is still proving hard to get a full reading of where Trump is going on many international issues but this statement today by Haley gives us a further indication that Washington will being doing much to undermine the trust of people around the world.

If the global community is smart they will quickly determine that blindly following the US is no longer a smart strategy if one is interested in a cooperative world at peace. Developing a fair international economic policy and dealing with climate change during the next four years will be a great challenge to say the least.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

U.S. Must Stop Supporting ISIS in Syria

Please note this is not an endorsement of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.  I have some issues with her for example on 'missile defense' as she is a big promoter of that provocative project.

But I've got to give her credit for standing up against US policy on Syria.

She just returned from a secret trip to Syria and told corporate CNN news what Vanessa Beeley and Eva Karene Bartlett have all been saying for a long time now!

"There are no moderate rebels."

Arrests at BIW on June 18

The jury will have to decide whether our Zumwalt 12 protest at Bath Iron Works during the 'christening' of a new more than $4 billion 'stealth' destroyer was a legal use of our first amendment rights of free speech.

The trial will be held at the Sagadahoc County Superior Court (752 High Street in Bath) on February 1-2 at 9:00 am.  

We will gather outside at 8:15 am to hold banners and signs for 30 minutes before entering the court room. We will provide signs and banners and invite the public to join us.
Please keep in mind that the bridge in Bath is now under construction and folks coming into Bath from the north should plan accordingly for delays.
Anyone wishing to come to Bath the night before can be provided with home hospitality but you need to let us know ASAP.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Op-Ed in Local Paper Today as We Move Toward Trial on Feb 1-2

Below is an Op-Ed I submitted to our local newspaper in the Midcoast of Maine called The Times Record.  Our local peace group has had a running bi-monthly spot on the editorial page for several years.  Lately the editor has told us we could only write about local issues which makes it rather hard for a peace group to address foreign policy concerns.  Clearly the paper is censoring us and likely because of the presence of Bath Iron Works in our community where Navy destroyers are built.  Below I've italicized the first paragraph (and one other place) in the Op-Ed that was cut out by the editor as it was printed in the paper today. Other writers from PeaceWorks have lately had entire Op-Eds rejected from the 'Opinion' section of the paper.

Meet the Zumwalt 12 As We Head Toward Trial

I wrote this while on a plane returning home from a week long trip to Okinawa with 30 other American peace workers.  We were there to support 85% of the people of Okinawa who are actively opposing two environmentally destructive US military base expansions on their besieged island home where the US now has 32 bases.
My mind though is also on the upcoming appearance of the Zumwalt 12 before the Sagadahoc County Superior Court (752 High Street in Bath) on February 1-2 at 9:00 am for our jury trial after having been arrested for non-violent civil disobedience at Bath Iron Works (BIW) on June 18, 2016.  On that occasion we sat in the middle of Washington Street near one of the gates where people attending the ‘christening’ of a new Zumwalt ‘stealth’ destroyer were entering.

We sat in the road for about 10 minutes before the Bath Police Department (PD) arrested us and charged us with ‘Obstructing a Public Way’.  We were taken to the Bath PD station and processed and released with a date for an arraignment.  As we were leaving the PD station one of the policemen told one in our group, “You people are the conscience of the community.”

It is indeed conscience that motivated us as we see a collapsing US military empire, in massive debt, now recklessly invading and killing legions of innocent civilians around the planet – mostly on behalf of fossil fuel corporations who want to get their hands on declining supplies of oil and natural gas in the Middle East, Central Asia and on the African continent.

In particular the Zumwalt destroyer, costing more than $4 billion each (the standard Aegis destroyers built at BIW have been costing about $1.3 billion) will be used to sneak up on China’s coast and blast them with new electro-magnetic rail guns that can fire a shell the distance between Philadelphia and New York City.  (You may have heard that each shell costs $800,000 and the Navy does not have the funds to supply the Zumwalt with the expensive ammunition.)

What happened to all the fiscal conservatives who are concerned about the national debt as well as waste, fraud and abuse in the Pentagon?  Where are the voices of Maine’s congressional delegation?  The truth is that Collins, King and Pingree are eager to grab every dollar they can for our state just like every other politician in the land.

I’d like to introduce a few of the Zumwalt 12, who are mostly senior citizens, so that people in the MidCoast can get a feel for the people who were arrested on June 18 at BIW.

I grew up in an Air Force family and joined the Air Force myself in 1971 during the Vietnam War.  It was there that I became a peace activist – quite a transformation for a kid who in 1968 at the age of 16 was Vice-Chair of the Okaloosa County, Florida Young Republican Club volunteering for the Nixon for President Campaign.  I am a member of Veterans For Peace (VFP).

Dud Hendrick (74), a Deer Isle resident, was a Naval Academy graduate at Annapolis, an All-American lacrosse player for Navy and volunteered to serve in Vietnam.  Dud is also a member of VFP.

Connie Jenkins (68) lives in Orono and is a retired nurse practitioner and psychotherapist.  She is a devout Catholic who is inspired by the calls from Pope Francis to end war.  She is a member of Pax Christi Maine.

Former Catholic nun Joan Peck (69) from Brunswick is a retired Social Worker.  Her husband John Peck (75) registered as a Conscientious Objector during Vietnam and became a professor of English at Princeton, Mount Holyoke, and Skidmore.

Highly regarded Maine artist Russell Wray (61) from Hancock is co-founder of Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST) and holds deep affection for sea mammals that are continually mortally wounded by Navy sonar.

Another in our group is Richard Brown Lethem (84) from Bath.  He is a nationally recognized artist, retired university professor, a veteran and Quaker peace activist.

The youngest person in the Zumwalt 12 is Jason Rawn (42) from Camden.  He is a former healthcare worker and high school teacher and presently paints houses and engages in war tax resistance.

One could say that we are all pretty average Americans with a deep belief in the First Amendment to the Constitution that guarantees our right to peacefully assemble in order to petition for a governmental redress of grievances.  We have some serious grievances with Washington’s foreign and military policy and have repeatedly tried to bring these concerns to Congress and the public.  We were compelled to act on June 18 by conscience and a strong belief in the people’s role in creating democracy.

Our trial might land us in jail or with serious fines but we feel we had few other alternatives.  We are worried that America is rushing headlong into a war with China and Russia as we currently encircle both those nations with our mega-military machine that is oriented for offense rather than the defense of our own shores.

We humbly speak out trying to honor the best traditions in America and pray the public will hear our pleas for peace.

- Bruce K. Gagnon is a member of PeaceWorks and lives in Bath, Maine   

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Some History of U.S. Interference in Russian Affairs

The increased aggression towards Russia from US politicians and media is made more clear when taking into account the real history of the post-Soviet period. The hidden story of Boris Yeltsin’s presidency explains how deeply the US government, along with Western capitalist institutions, cheered, shaped and exploited the country after the fall of the Soviet Union, paving the way for the political system they all condemn today.

To uncover just how much the US Empire has interfered in Russia’s political evolution, Abby Martin interviews Mark Ames, an American journalist who spent a decade reporting from Yeltsin’ and Putin’s Russia and witnessed the country’s transformation from an American “colony” to it’s “number one threat.”

Planting Seeds During the Great Unraveling

I fear the unraveling
of the social fabric
of human society

We see it in
war zones
and across
the pot hole filled
roads of Maine
that lead to worn out
lacking safety and comfort
full of holes
that occupants
can't afford to repair

The corporate plunderers
unravel our sacred
extracting every last
oily dime they can
blinded by greed
with no care
for life

Our own families
are fraught with fear
rage and sadness
as the social web
is torn
like an old sweater
ripped apart
the threads separating
no longer joined
in their warm unity

The Native people
across America
were the first
to experience
the unraveling
as sacred lands
were taken from them
at the force of Washington's
sword, gun and cannon

Now in America
the rest of us
are being cast
onto reservations
in cities
and barren
rural villages
where work
has left
to ensure corporate
can be maximized
in far away places

How do we
survive this
hard time?
It feels
like a
prison sentence
a trial
nor a jury of
our peers
to hear our
for justice
and peace?

We must
hold on
to each other
standing together
all with one
and one for all

we will fail
but we must
get up
and stand again
in the streets
and offices
of the rotten
hacks who pretend
to lead us

This is the code
and oath
we must honor
as we
fight for all life

We must keep
planting our seeds
in the midst
of the hell
coming our way