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

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunday Song

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Navy Sonar Kills Sea Life

The latest edition of This Issue features artist Russell Wray from Hancock, Maine. Russell was twice arrested at Bath Iron Works during the most recent ‘christenings’ of destroyers at the shipyard. 

Russell leads an organization called COAST (Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats) and was largely motivated to do civil disobedience at BIW due to Navy sonar’s impact on sea life – particularly whales and dolphins. 


Oppose Fascism & Political Repression in Odessa, Ukraine!

Three years ago, the U.S. government supported a violent right-wing coup in Ukraine carried out with the use of neo-Nazi paramilitary organizations. The pro-coup campaign was known as “Maidan,” for the city square in the capital city of Kiev where the anti-government assaults were carried out.

Less than three months later, on May 2, 2014, at least 46 mostly young people known as “Anti-Maidan” were murdered when a massive, fascist-led mob set fire to the House of Trade Unions in the Black Sea city of Odessa.

This Tuesday, May 2, 2017, Odessans will mark the third anniversary of this massacre by gathering at the site of the murders. They will lay flowers, sing songs, remember their dead and again raise their demand for an international investigation into the murders - a demand that has been continually blocked by the Ukrainian government.

And once again the fascist organizations are threatening to attack their memorial.

An urgent appeal from Odessa

“On the eve of the third anniversary of the events of May 2, 2014, the situation in Odessa is getting worse every day,” writes a supporter of the Council of Mothers of May 2, which represents the relatives of those who died at the House of Trade Unions.

 “Ukrainian nationalists do their utmost to prevent a mass demonstration dedicated to the memory of the residents of Odessa who died on that day. To this end, the media started a campaign of intimidation against the people of Odessa, informing them about possible bloody provocations with the aim of ‘destabilizing the situation in the city.’

“And while previously these threats were raised mainly by professional organizers, this year floods of lies are being produced by representatives of official state institutions: Odessa prosecutors, officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, representatives of the military department. They are all warning about preparations for allegedly armed provocations on May 2 in Odessa.

“Apartments of anti-Maidan activists are being searched. To counter the peaceful mourning rally, a mobilization of ‘patriots’ has been declared. An atmosphere of fear, hysteria and expectation of a new tragedy is created in Odessa. Everything is aimed at intimidating, misleading and confusing people and eventually making them stay at home.

“In these conditions, we urge the world to closely monitor the situation in Odessa to prevent provocations from those forces that proved to the whole world three years ago their bloodlust and their desire to choose the most cruel and bloody ways.”

These threats of violence follow the arrests by federal police of several anti-fascist Odessans now falsely charged with serious crimes. Ominous reports are surfacing about plans to arrest more relatives and supporters and “extract confessions” of plans to commit violent acts against the government.

April 10 International Day of Solidarity

To support the courageous people of Odessa, the Odessa Solidarity Campaign called for an International Day of Solidarity with the People of Odessa, which took place on April 10, the 73rd anniversary of the day Odessa was liberated from years of fascist occupation. Actions took place in 20 cities in 13 countries across Europe and North America.

That solidarity must now continue.

Since the massacre of 2014, the continuing demand of Odessans for an international investigation has been a serious problem for the Ukrainian government. If the voices of these brave people are allowed to be silenced, Ukraine will have taken another huge step toward becoming a repressive police state in collusion with murderous fascist groups.

We urge all supporters of Freedom and Justice to contact the Ukrainian embassy in your country and demand:

Free all political prisoners in Ukraine!
Stop the repression against relatives & supporters of those killed on May 2, 2014!
No to fascism in Ukraine & all over the world!

For more information on the anti-fascist struggle in Odessa and what you can do to help, contact the Odessa Solidarity Campaign -

Friday, April 28, 2017

Understanding the Saudi-U.S. War on Yemen

Aiding Saudi Arabia's Slaughter in Yemen

By Dennis J Bernstein
March 30, 2017

Saudi Arabia continues to escalate its war against Yemen, relying on the strong support of the U.S. government even as the poverty-stricken Yemenis are pushed toward starvation, according to investigative reporter/historian Gareth Porter.

Porter says the U.S. corporate press has failed to report the Saudi slaughter in a way in which it could be fully understood.

I spoke with Porter, an independent investigative journalist who wrote Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare and whose articles on Yemen include “Justifying the Saudi Slaughter in Yemen.”

Dennis Bernstein: Is Saudi Arabia using starvation as a weapon of war against Yemen where there is mass hunger bordering on a famine? Gareth Porter has been writing extensively about this for Consortiumnews and other sources. I want to … begin with a bit of an overview because a lot of people don’t really understand the level of suffering, and the situation in Yemen. So, just give us a brief overview of what it’s like on the ground now. How bad is it? And then I want to talk to you about this new policy about starvation as a weapon.

Gareth Porter: Sure. Well, unfortunately the way this war in Yemen has been covered, thus far, with a few exceptions, of course, the public does have the impression that this is a war in which a few thousand Yemenis have been killed, and therefore, it’s kind of second to third tier, in terms of wars in the Middle East. Because people are aware that Syria is one in which hundreds of thousands of people have died. So, and I think that’s the frame that most people have on the conflict in Yemen.

And that’s very unfortunate, because maybe it’s true that it’s only been several thousands, or let’s say ten thousand plus people, who have been killed by the bombs, directly. But what’s really been happening for well over a year, I think it’s fair to say a year to a year and a half, is that more people are dying of starvation-related or malnutrition-related diseases and starvation, than from the bombs themselves. And this is a fact which I’m sorry to say simply has not gotten into the press coverage of the war, thus far.

And, of course, the Saudis launched the war in late March, 2015 with the full support of the Obama administration. They had that agreement ahead of time, before they started, that the United States would provide the logistical support, the bombs, help in targeting, not explicitly targeting but sort of technical assistance in making decisions about how to approach the war.

And, more important than any of those things, in some ways, was the assurance the United States government would provide the political/diplomatic cover, for this war. And I think that’s really the crucial problem here. That the Saudis have felt that they could get away with not just continuing to bomb civilian targets, and infrastructure targets, and, essentially establishing a thorough going blockade, economic blockade of the country, preventing the fuel, the food, and the medicine from coming into the country that this poor… really the poorest nation in the Middle East have to have in order to survive. But now, as you suggested in your intro, is actually trying to impose, to use starvation as a weapon.

DB: And, just to be clear, how bad is the situation on the ground? How many people are at risk? Who’s at risk? What do we know about that, before we get into this other stuff?

GP: Well, I’ve been trying to get through to somebody in the United Nations, specialized agencies, or volunteer agencies who could speak more precisely to that than has been the case up till now, publicly. And so far, at least, I have not succeeded in getting anyone to say…to go beyond the formal position of the U.N. system, of the humanitarian system of the United Nations, which is that as many as 462,000, I believe, is the most recent figure.

Yemenis face a sort of Status 4 of the situation as far as malnutrition, severe malnutrition is concerned. That is, as you indicated, the closest stage to actual famine to starvation. Meaning that people are going to die of starvation.

And it means that they are … at the tipping point. It could happen anytime. And, may already be happening. In fact, I would venture to say from what I have been able to pick up, it is probably already happening that thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, are right now in the process of dying of starvation in Yemen.

And so this is a problem of… a humanitarian crisis that… by which, in comparison to which the Syrian situation pales, or what we were told about the Syrian situation, during the height of the bombing, the Russian-Syrian bombing of Aleppo last year. This is many, many times worse. Far more serious in terms of the number of deaths that are at stake, lives and deaths.

DB: I want you to talk about, it’s rather troubling to see this, and entertain this notion of using food and starvation as a weapon of war. But now we see a troubling collaboration in which the Saudis are trying to break the Yemen Central Bank which is sort of standing between this, where they are now, and absolute famine. You want to talk about that policy? I know the U.S. is deeply engaged.

GP: Sure. Absolutely. I mean the point here is that, as you say, the Central Bank of Yemen was, last year, the last refuge, if you will, the last thing standing between many hundreds of thousands of people and potential famine, because it was providing what little liquidity was available in that country, for the purchase of food stuffs. Very, very few food stuffs still getting into the country. But what there was, you had to have money in order to purchase it. And liquidity was very, very scarce. So the Central Bank was the only thing that was guaranteeing a minimum of liquidity in the Yemeni economy.

And I’m sorry to say that now it’s too late. The Yemeni government, really the Saudis behind them, of course, manipulating the Yemeni government, decided, in their wisdom, that they were going to break the Central Bank. They were going to eliminate it as a factor, in order to basically cause the population of Yemen such suffering, such starvation, that they would, somehow, turn against the government, the authorities, the Houthis and Masala forces, who have now formed their own government in Sana’a. So that was the strategy.

And they did, in fact, eliminate the Central Bank of Yemen by fiat. They supposedly, they moved it to Aden, which is controlled by the Saudis, and their puppet government, the Hadi government. But it doesn’t function, it’s simply a non-functioning Central Bank. And it promised to actually provide the pay for millions, not millions, but 1.2 million civil servants on the payroll, but who are not being paid. Who have not been paid for many months now. But it hasn’t done it.

And as a result of that, of course, you then had that many more people, as of last September, which is when all this happened, it was August and September [2016] when it happened. None of those 1.2 million people now have any source of income. And so that is clearly adding to the distress, to the hunger, and the potential starvation in Yemen.

DB: And, say a little bit more about the U.S. role, and why is the United States so deeply engaged in what really could turn out to be a troubling war crime in Yemen.

GP: You are asking precisely the right question, Dennis. And that is a question that I have been trying my best to penetrate. Of course, you’re not going to get anyone in the U.S. government, whether it was the Obama administration, or now the Trump administration, to ever say anything that will reveal the truth about this.

And the Trump administration, let’s face it, has no interest whatsoever in doing anything to help the people of Yemen. All they care about is to support the Saudis because the Saudis are anti-Iranian. But that was really the M.O. of the Obama administration as well.

And so, if you really are going to answer that question based on the available evidence, you have to say that the reason that the United States has allowed the Saudis to essentially establish, or to impose a regime of starvation on the people of Yemen, is because of the U.S. de facto alliance, the political and military relationships, between the United States and Saudi Arabia. And then, if you go to the next obvious question: well why is it that we have to do that, or that we should do that?

You basically have to admit that it is a matter of the military bases, and military relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and close ally, Qatar, who control two of the major military bases of the United States, the base in Bahrain.

President Obama and King Salman Arabia stand at attention during the U.S. national anthem as the First Lady stands in the background with other officials on Jan. 27, 2015, at the start of Obama’s State Visit to Saudi Arabia.
And, of course, the Saudis have allowed the United States, with the NSA and the CIA, to have a very lucrative set of deals over arm sales, which have reached as much as $200 billion over – if you add in all the possible additional fees that can be charged on these deals – more than $200 billion over two decades. That is real money for those in the Pentagon. And the NSA and the CIA have their own sweetheart deals with the Saudis to provide various intelligence services.

This, I’m quite sure, based on my own research, is the real reason why the United States is so wedded to Saudi interests here. Because there is no other reason, it has nothing to do with oil. That may have been the case in 1945, when the U.S. first established its political relationship with the Saudi government, but it hasn’t been the case for many years now, that we have such interest in oil that it would mandate anything like this kind of policy.

DB: And is there sort of a common interest here? Is Israel in support of the U.S. policy in favor of the Saudis?

GP: Yes, of course. There is a common interest between the United States and Israel, in this regard. I would not be willing to say, however, that it’s the controlling factor, but it is a controlling factor in U.S. policy. I simply don’t think it ascends to that level. I think it’s far more relevant that the very powerful world bureaucracies clearly have very powerful vested interests in continuing the status quo of U.S. chummy relationship with Saudi Arabia. And I don’t think that’s going to change until there’s a real citizens’ movement, a powerful citizens’ movement that says “No.” And that of course, is a long ways off, at this moment.

DB: Is there a way to separate, is there an inter-relationship we should be thinking about in terms of what’s going on in Syria, and the role that the U.S. government is playing there, and what appears to be an expanded role that Trump wants to play in the Middle East, in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen?

GP: Well, there is a relationship, and by the way, I think I omitted the second military base in my previous answer, which is the base in Bahrain. Bahrain, of course, is where the U.S. Navy has its Fifth Fleet. And it’s regarded as an extremely important U.S. interest there.

Qatar is a very close Gulf ally of the Saudis and, of course, part of the Saudi coalition in Yemen, carrying out the bombings. So, the two of them together really provide the two major bases in the Gulf for the United States. And those are interests which clearly have been relevant to what was going on in Syria, as well as the U.S. policy in Yemen.

Because it was the Qataris, the Saudis, and the Turks who urged the Obama administration, who pushed the Obama administration to basically carry out the policy of supporting the armed opposition to the Assad regime, starting in 2011. And we know that President Obama was extremely reluctant to do that. He regarded it as extremely dangerous when it was first proposed. But he went along with it, as presidents have done in many situations including the Obama administration, despite the risks that it entailed, starting with the covert CIA operation to provide the logistics, to get the weapons into Turkey, to be provided across the border to the Syrian armed opposition, in 2011-2012.

But that’s a long story, but the short of it is that the United States did not want to disturb its relations with its Gulf allies, or with Turkey. Turkey being a NATO ally which, again, controls a major base that the […] U.S. military holds as one of its jewels of its crown in the Middle East, Middle East and the larger Middle East region.

So, I think that this is really all about how these political military interests in the Middle East have become an end in themselves, and have taken over U.S. policy, rather than serving U.S. interests. And I’m afraid that the U.S. public has not caught on to that fundamental problem, in U.S. policy in the Middle East.

DB: Trump expressed some sort of different look, talked about a bit of a different policy, in Syria, working with the Russians. We have seen where that has gone, but Trump, really, he now seems to have fallen in line, and he’s in line on steroids, wouldn’t you say? It doesn’t look good there.

GP: Well, I think that’s a pretty good way of putting it. Yes. He seems to be almost trying to compensate for the impression that he was somehow at odds with the military and the whole National Security Complex by calling for a $50 billion [$54 billion] increase in the defense budget, by calling for more troops in Syria, and generally talking about upping the ante, militarily, in the entire region.

So, he clearly has caved in. I don’t think he has a clear enough idea, himself, to support any resistance to the kinds of pressures that all presidents have been getting over the years from these very powerful bureaucracies. And so, it was really naive to believe that Trump was going to offer any real resistance.

DB: And, in terms of drone attacks and related attacks, and killing civilians, he’s sort of up now, he’s up to scale. Right? There are more attacks now.

GP: Well, I think he has. I think he’s given more freedom to the CIA clearly. That’s been announced that he’s given the CIA freedom to decide when to use drones for attacks on… when they believe, or when they say they believe it’s Al Qaeda or ISIS. And, so, that is, indeed, that’s how the system works.

That’s what the CIA fought for in both the Bush administration and the Obama administration, to get more freedom of action. That’s the coin of the realm for them. To have greater freedom of action means that they have more power, and that means that they can justify more operations easily, get more money, and the system rolls on.

DB: And, just finally, sort of a sweeping look at the region. What are your concerns now? Do you see things getting more and more risky? Do you see a possible confrontation with the Russians? How are you looking at this now?

GP: Well, I think that, certainly, the White House does not want a confrontation with the Russians. But, they are playing a dangerous game here, in Syria, by becoming more deeply involved. And it’s very difficult to see how this situation is going to evolve. It’s very complicated with Turkey, and the Russians being on different sides in some ways. With the United States playing in-between. Nobody knows exactly how that’s going to play out. But it is, by its very nature, it’s dangerous.

And that’s the flashpoint, in Syria, but, of course, we also have this ongoing war in Iraq. The whole idea that the United States is going to continue to fight wars in both Syria and Iraq for the foreseeable future is not a prospect that one should take lightly.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis welcomes Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman to the Pentagon, March 16, 2017.
And, on top of that, again we are complicit in crimes that have to do with potentially hundreds of thousands of people starving to death in Yemen. And the issue has not hit us, yet, in a sense that it’s being fully reported, but this is something that seems to me the public really needs to be up in arms about. And, it’s in some ways, far more serious than any military involvement by the United States at present, or in the foreseeable future in the Middle East.

DB: Is there any indication of the kind of human rights investigation, international investigation that begins to hold the Saudis accountable, and those who arm the Saudis accountable? Where is that?

GP: A very important question. What happened last year in the United Nations was, or more than a year now, in the United Nations was that the Dutch proposed an independent investigation of war crimes in Yemen, because of the Saudi bombing. At that point it was not so much the imposition of starvation through an economic weapon. It was precisely the bombing, hitting of infrastructure and civilian targets.

But, of course, as many of your listeners may know, the Saudis, with U.S. support, control the U.N. Human Rights Commission. And they managed to change that into a resolution which would welcome the Hadi government, that is, the Saudi sort of puppet government, in Yemen carrying out its own investigation.

And that is as far as it’s gotten in the United Nation’s system. So, I’m sorry to say that the United States exercises so much control over all of the major organs of the United Nations, particularly anything that has to do with U.N. Security Council, that they’re not going to allow any independent investigation through that route. And the Amnesty International/Human Rights Watch, as far as I know are still not… they have called the bombing itself a serious violation of the laws of war.

But, nobody, thus far, has really come out saying that this policy of blockade, plus getting rid of the Central Bank of Yemen, and in many other ways trying to impose starvation on the Yemeni people is in itself a crime of war. And that’s what needs to happen, obviously.

~  Dennis J Bernstein is a host of “Flashpoints” on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom. You can access the audio archives at

Thursday, April 27, 2017

South Koreans Reject U.S. THAAD Deployment

Video from Seongju, South Korea showing US Army trucks driving through the protesting villagers (with 8,000 South Korean police deployed to keep the streets open) delivering the radars and interceptors for the THAAD 'missile defense' system to the new base.

Especially watch the last bit of the video so you can get a glimpse of the suffering the US is causing with this deployment.

One South Korean media source writes:

It happened like a sneak attack in the dead of night. All set procedures were utterly disregarded. With US Forces Korea and the Ministry of National Defense proceeding on Apr. 26 with the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, the question for many now is just who made the decision and when. Whoever it was - and whatever their intentions - is likely to face accusations of interfering in the May 9 presidential election, where the THAAD issue was certain to be a key point of contention.

It's clear that this deployment was timed to be done before the coming May 9 elections as it now appears that a progressive candidate is leading in the polls.  Unless the US interferes in the election, which is quite possible, then the newly elected president would have been likely to slow down this THAAD deployment.  Thus Washington was eager to get it done now at all cost.

The Seongju melon farming community is worried about the THAAD radar's electromagnetic waves impact on their health and their crops.  They should also be very concerned about toxic rocket fuel pollution because everywhere there is such a rocket fuel storage facility in the US there are countless stories about contamination of local water supplies.  See more on this here

The Seongju community was previously a rock-ribbed conservative area that voted overwhelmingly for the last right-wing government.  But the THAAD deployment in their community has changed all of that.  They've now not only joined the peace movement in South Korea - but in many respects they are leading the movement today.

Not giving up leaders from five different religions in South Korea today began an indefinite hunger strike in solidarity against THAAD. They declared the strike in front of the United States Embassy in Seoul.

The US claims that they are 'protecting' the people of South Korea and bringing stability to the Korean peninsula.  But that is all lies.  The truth is that the people want the US military to leave Korea and when that happens the world will see a serious reduction of tensions in the region.

It is the US military that is driving the Asia-Pacific arms race (something that the military industrial complex knows and loves) and it is the US military 'pivot' of 60% of Pentagon forces into the region that is now the real trigger for WW III.

"Is the US really a friend when it deploys THAAD like a thief in the night during a presidential election? Or is South Korea a US colony?” asked Kim Chung-hwan, the 57-year-old co-chair of the Seongju Committee.


NASA Crashes Cassini Plutonium Probe into Saturn

This video covers a news conference held in 1997 at the National Press Club in Washington opposing the launch of the Cassini space probe and was covered by CSPAN on cable TV. The news conference was organized by the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice where I worked for 15 years.  The Florida Coalition was one of the founding members of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.

NASA has just crashed Cassini with 72.3 pounds of plutonium-238 onto the surface of Saturn.

Journalist Karl Grossman has written a story about this latest incident.  You can find it here

The Cassini campaign lasted for three years and it became a rousing international effort.  Alan Kohn (one of the speakers in the news conference and former head of NASA's emergency preparedness operation) told us after the successful launch of Cassini that a friend of his working in the White House informed him that they received more communications opposing the Cassini launch than any other issue in the history of the White House.

Groups in England, Germany, Australia and from throughout the US sent cards, letters, emails and faxes to then President Clinton calling for the halt of plans to launch the deadly mission.  One of my favorite stories at the time was about citizens from Tasmania, Australia who set up a fax machine one Saturday in front of their capital building and sent 1,000 faxes to the White House opposing the launch.

Also speaking in the news conference is world renowned physicist Dr. Michio Kaku and Karl Grossman, one of the founding members of the Global Network.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Korean War History Lesson

On two trips to South Korea I met a survivor of this US Army slaughter and he took our group to this bridge.

The orders came down from Washington to the US Army commanders during the Korean War to "kill everything that moves."

US war planes bombed the long line of civilians running for safety and many ran inside of the bridge tunnel at No Gun Ri.  US Army units from the 7th Cavalry used small and heavy arms fire to shoot people inside the tunnels as they crawled out trying to find water.  It was a slaughter.

Few in America know these stories about the Korean War.


U.S. Missile Madness Hypocrisy

Today the Pentagon
will test fire
a nuclear missile
from Vandenberg AFB
in California
into the Pacific
landing at their
often radiated target
Kwajalein Atoll

Just yesterday
the Pentagon
tried to sneak
'missile defense'
in the dark
of night
into the new
base in Seongju,
South Korea
but protesters
were there
along with
a zillion police
pushing them back

is preparing
for war with
North Korea
they dare to test
and develop nukes

Testing missiles is
not illegal
under international law
the US
and its
double standard
nuclear allies
do it all the time
but North Korea
is not
in the club
thus they are
called rogue

Which nation
is the greater threat?
North Korea
with their pip-squeak
missile and nuclear
or the mighty

The hypocrisy
is chilling
nerve wracking
heart stopping

The 'exceptional'
the world

Today in Washington
meets with
all 100 US Senators
about Korea
selling war
like he
wheels and deals
one of his
tall towers,
shrines to
arrogance and

Let us hear
your squeaky
we still
can utter
of protest
life giving

don't wait
for the flash
and bang
and resulting


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Korean War: The Unknown U.S. Slaughter

The Long, Dirty History of U.S. Warmongering against North Korea

By Christine Hong

As the latest North Korea crisis unfolded, and Donald Trump swapped campaign plowshares for post-inauguration swords, Americans took to the streets demanding that the President release his tax returns and then marched for science. There were no mass protests for peace.

Although the substance of Trump’s foreign policy remains opaque, he had campaigned on an “America First” critique of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s liberal interventionism in Libya and, to his own party’s mortification, blasted George W. Bush’s neoconservative adventurism in Iraq.

Once in the White House, though, Trump announced he would boost the U.S. military budget by a staggering $54 billion, cut back on diplomacy, and push the United States to the brink of active conflict with North Korea. None of this provoked a major backlash. To the contrary, Trump’s surprise bombing of Syria, which, his administration declared, doubled as a warning for North Korea, garnered him across-the-aisle praise from hawks in both parties and his highest approval ratings so far.

The American public’s quietism with regard to the prospect of renewed U.S. aggression against North Korea is remarkable. It stands in stark contrast to the broad anti-war galvanization in the post-9/11 lead-up to the U.S. war in Iraq and the widespread protests against the Vietnam War in an earlier era.

To some degree, it recalls the muted mid-twentieth century political terrain that led to the Korean War—a brutal, dirty, and unresolved conflict that set the model for subsequent U.S. intervention. One of the few voices of opposition, Paul Robeson, in a critique that resonates to this day, lambasted his fellow citizens’ “meek conformity with the policies of the war-minded, the racists, and the rich.”

That “the maw of warmakers [was] insatiable” in Korea, as Robeson remarked in 1950, could be seen in the massive devastation of human life. It was an asymmetrical conflict in which the United States monopolized the skies, raining down ruin. Four million Koreans—the vast majority of them civilians—were killed. Chinese statistics indicate that North Korea lost thirty percent of its population. In North Korea where few families were left unscathed by the terroristic violence of the Korean War, anti-Americanism cannot be dismissed as state ideology alone.

More than almost anyone in the world, North Koreans know intimately what it means to be in the crosshairs of the American war machine. In May 1951, writer and activist Monica Felton observed that in the course of her travels through North Korea as part of an international fact-finding delegation, “the same scenes of destruction repeated themselves over and over again . . . . The destruction, in fact, is so overwhelming that if the war is allowed to continue—even for another few months—there will be nothing left of Korea. Nothing at all.” It is no coincidence that the phoenix serves as one of North Korea’s national emblems.

Then, as now, Korea rested in the hazy recesses of American consciousness, mostly out of sight, mostly out of mind. When recently asked to comment on the catastrophe that would ensue were Trump to authorize a preemptive strike against North Korea, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, responded with chilling candor:

"Yes, it would be terrible, but the war would be over there. It wouldn’t be here. It would be bad for the Korean peninsula, it would be bad for China, it would be bad for Japan, it would be bad for South Korea, it would be the end of North Korea but what it would not do is hit America."

Although famously at odds with Trump on numerous other matters, Graham here captured the pyrrhic spirit of the President’s “America First” foreign policy, a self-privileging worldview that allows for untold ruin and suffering so long as they remain far from our shores.

Graham’s statement is in keeping with the time-honored American tradition of envisioning apocalypse for North Korea—a tradition that survived the Cold War’s end and serves as through-line across successive U.S. presidencies. In recent days, we have been told that the United States must entertain all possible scenarios against North Korea as an interloper in the nuclear club, including a preemptive nuclear strike.

It has been drilled into our heads that North Korea poses a clear and chronic danger, a threat not just to the United States and its allies in Asia and the Pacific, but also to all of humanity. Yet as Donald MacIntyre, Seoul bureau chief for Time magazine during the George W. Bush era, has observed, when it comes to North Korea, Western media has faithfully adhered to a “demonization script” and in so doing has helped to “lay the groundwork for war.” Conditioned by jingoistic portraits of the North Korean enemy—“axis of evil,” “outpost of tyranny,” “rogue state”—and complacent in our displacement of risk onto them, not us, we consent to North Korea’s extinction in advance.

Instability in Korea has, for several decades, lined the pockets of those who profit from the business of war. Indeed, the Korean War rehabilitated a U.S. economy geared, as a result of World War II, toward total war. Seized as opportunity, the war enabled the Truman Administration to triple U.S. defense spending and furnished a rationale for the bilateral linking of Asian client states to the United States. General James Van Fleet, the commanding officer of UN forces in Korea, described the war as “a blessing” and remarked, “There had to be a Korea either here or some place in the world.”

As Cumings writes:

"[I]t was the Korean War, not Greece or Turkey or the Marshall Plan or Vietnam, that inaugurated big defense budgets and the national security state, that transformed a limited containment doctrine into a global crusade, that ignited McCarthyism just as it seemed to fizzle, and thereby gave the Cold War its long run."

Fast-forward to the present: the portrait of an unpredictable nuclear-armed North Korea greases the cogs of the U.S. war machine and fuels the military-industrial complex. Within Asia and the Pacific, this jingoistic portrait has justified the accelerated deployment of missile-defense systems in Guam and South Korea, the strategic positioning of nuclear aircraft carriers, the sales of military weapons, war exercises between the United States and its regional allies, and a forward-deployed U.S. military posture. Even as China is without question the main economic rival of the United States, an armed and dangerous North Korea furnishes the pretext for a heavily militarized U.S. presence in the region.

Unsurprisingly, few media outlets have reported on North Korea’s overtures to the United States, even as these, if pursued, might result in meaningful de-escalation on both sides. To be clear: peaceful alternatives are at hand. Far from being an intractable foe, North Korea has repeatedly asked the United States to sign a peace treaty that would bring the unresolved Korean War to a long-overdue end.

It has also proposed that the United States cease its annual war games with South Korea—games, we must recognize, that involve the simulated invasion and occupation of North Korea, the “decapitation” of its leadership, and rehearsals of a preemptive nuclear strike. In return, North Korea will cap its nuclear weapons testing. China has reiterated this proposal. The United States maintains that its joint war games with South Korea are simply business as usual and has not seen fit to respond.

With the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism rearing their heads in our current moment, we have cause to be gravely concerned. During his recent anti-North Korea tour of Asia and the Pacific, Vice President Mike Pence grimly stated, “The sword stands ready,” with no sense that plowshares might be in the offing. The implication in the Trump administration’s words (“all options are on the table,” “rogue state,” “behaving very badly”) and deeds (the U.S. bombings of Syria and Afghanistan) is that force is the only lingua franca available, and that with North Korea, we must learn war over and over again.

Almost seventy years ago, we entered into a war with North Korea that has never ended. At the time, only a handful of Americans raised their voices in opposition. Let’s not let the historical record reflect our silence now.

~ Christine Hong is an associate professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an executive board member of the Korea Policy Institute. She has spent time in North Korea, including as part of a North American peace delegation.  

Beggers be Damned

Monday, April 24, 2017

No THAAD Update

Won Buddhists block military vehicles as they try to enter the US THAAD 'missile defense' deployment site now under construction near Seongju, South Korea.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

'We Are in Big Trouble'

Sitting Bull was a Hunkpapa Lakota holy man from South Dakota and was brought onto the reservation by the US Army in 1881.

He toured the east coast of the US as a performer with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show for some time and a story is told that while he was in New York City he sat on a door stoop and all the local homeless street kids came up to him begging for money which he gave them.

When Sitting Bull returned home to South Dakota he told his people, "We are in big trouble - you should see how the White Man treats his children."

The capitalist system is heartless and evil.


Sobering Interview from Former Pentagon Insider

Former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, tells Paul Jay that the Syrian government may not be responsible for the chemical attack and that Trump's response was a violation of international law.

He also warns of the dangers of the US following the insane advice of the neo-cons who appear to have pushed their way back into power within the Trump administration.

Sunday Song

Saturday, April 22, 2017

How Would Jesus Look in that Bomber Jacket?

Many people want
to impeach Trump
for similar war crimes
committed by Obama,
Bush II, Clinton,
Bush I, etc....

Then we'd get
the bible thumper
the true believer

bar the door

But Pence is
he looks good
in the bomber jacket
and tight-assed
just the way
they like them
inside the
Deep State
in the land
of the free....

has a tough sell
as the empire
under its own

They are now
asking themselves:
Do we just bluster
and boast
our way through
the collapse
do we keep
the hell out of anyone
as an example
to others
who stand
in our way?

The Deep State
wants to
make them
shake and shudder
down along the East River
at the U.N.

Many Christians
that the bombs
will help
bring on
the end times
They love us so much
they are ready
to kill us all

Not the kind
of love
I'm looking for....

Can't help
but ask
How would
Jesus look
in that
bomber jacket?


Friday, April 21, 2017

Fromm: Political Emptiness & Stupidity

The Mike Wallace Interview: Erich Fromm (1958-05-25)

Erich Fromm, psychoanalyst and social critic, talks to Wallace about society, materialism, relationships, government, religion, happiness and his fear of nuclear war.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

U.S. Forces THAAD Deployment in South Korea

Report from South Korea:

Today, a great struggle in Soseong-ri. The policemen enforced to pass the trucks loaded with THAAD 'missile defense' base construction materials. They met with the people's fierce protest. During the process, a resident was carried to hospital while two people including a Won Buddhist Reverend were arrested by the police.

A construction truck in which a US soldier was driving was passed into the former Lotte golf course area, a planned area for the deployment of THAAD after hours of confrontation between the policemen and people who struggled to stop the truck.

During the lunch time, the policemen rushed into the village again and detained the villagers into the village hall.

After all the struggle in Soseong-ri today, a Yonhap news report told that the process of free land provision to the US military based on SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement in South Korea) was done. What the Yonhap news doesn't tell is that such land provision was illegal.

It was two days ago that the people, having a press conference, demanded that the current corrupt acting government should do nothing as there would be a new government after the Presidential election on May 9.

According to the people, the land provision to the US military for free, based on SOFA, is illegal unless a law on the limitation on special benefit in providing state-owned land is revised.

According to lawyers, the SOFA is NOT applicable to such category for special benefit. Still the land provision was done in the way of simple document signing. You can say it is a ROBBERY.

See more photos here


Yesterday I interviewed artist Russell Wray (Hancock, Maine) on my public access TV show called This Issue.  He brought along this piece of sculpture that he made depicting a Cuvier's beached whale and two women in deep sorrow - he calls it Lamentation.  The sculpture was made from one piece of cherry wood.

Russell described how this particular breed of whales are often impacted by Navy sonar.

Russell was arrested the last two times we held a non-violent civil disobedience action at Bath Iron Works during a 'christening' of a new destroyer.

Russell was highly motivated to stand in resistance because of his deep love and connection with all sea life - much of his art work is centered around whales and dolphins.  Over the years he has become an expert on the effects of Navy sonar on sea life.  Thus his creation of the organization called COAST (Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats).

During the taping of the TV show Russell also talked about going to Jeju Island, South Korea a couple years ago with a Veterans For Peace delegation that I helped to organize.  While there he was angered by the destruction of the fishing and farming village by the Navy as they blasted the sacred rocky coastline with dynamite and then poured concrete to make docks for warships.

He learned about the endangered Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins that would daily circle Jeju Island and which surely will be negatively impacted by Navy sonar as US and South Korean warships port at the new base.

During our last couple of Maine Peace Walks Russell has fully participated in the organizing of those events that took our messages through the state.  He painted incredible banners that he mounted on a van and carefully placed the dolphin Maka that he sculpted on top of the vehicle as well.  We used the van to shuttle walkers and you can imagine how people's eyes were drawn to these images. (Click on the photos for a better view.)

Years ago while working for Greenpeace Russell pulled Maka on an environmental walk all the way across the US.  So he has a long relationship with Maka.

Russell is an extraordinarily gifted artist who puts his talents to use as an activist as well.  I've been lucky to visit his home in Hancock where he has a gallery full of magnificent wooden sculptures.  You can see them by clicking on his web site here

We are lucky to have Russell as a friend and a fellow peace worker - there are few people who have devoted their life so fully to protecting nature and sea life the way he has done for so many years.

I should be able to post our interview here on the blog in another week or so.  You will want to watch it for sure.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sharing Hearts

I once heard that the rich don't often give donations to organizations and efforts that benefit the poor.  The rich largely give to the symphony and the opera and the art museum.

Statistics show that poor and working people are the big givers to efforts to really help the poor.

This video confirms this reality.

Bless these fine people in Mexico.


One Last Story from Huntsville

During our last day in Huntsville, Alabama (Sunday, April 9) we had a brief membership meeting of the Global Network to review some organizational issues such as an evaluation of the conference, a new board appointment and where we would hold our annual space conference in 2018.  We met just outside the hotel around a fire pit and when we were going around doing introductions a man introduced himself as a US Air Force officer who was staying at the hotel and wanted to see what our group of "interesting people" was talking about.  (Many in our circle were wearing Veterans For Peace shirts/hats.) So he sat and listened to some of our meeting.

After the meeting was over John Schuchardt from Ipswich, Massachusetts went up to the officer to talk with him.  John himself had been a Marine Corp Reserve Officer during the Vietnam War and quit the military because of his opposition to the war.  I asked John to share his conversation with the officer on April 9 and here is what he wrote.

My conversation with the Air Force Reserve Officer who listened in on part of our meeting:  
He said that he was an Administrative Liaison for B-1, B-2, and B-52's bombers in the Reserves.  His job was to manage "assets" and coordinate, advise, and plan the deployment of Reserve assets with regular Air Force command structures.  His position was increasingly being called upon because there is a growing emphasis from reserve status to operational status.   (This would mirror or parallel the increasing use of  Reserve units to shift from the normal Reserve assignments to overseas war-fighting.)

I did not ask all the questions I would want to, trying to keep things social and friendly.   I didn't find out his rank, his Reserve unit, or exactly why he was in Huntsville. He suggested he was taking part in meetings to work on over-all issues of force integration and changes being brought about as his reserve assets became more integrated with operational regular commands. 

I did say, "59 US cruise missiles attacked a base in Syria with Russian personnel (and probably planes) yesterday.  What is going to happen tomorrow?"  His reply, "Nobody knows."   
My parting handshake was, "Please don't blow up our beautiful world."  He smiled and agreed that he hoped not.

I think it was interesting that the officer wanted to stick his head into our circle and we were glad he did.  It was good that John spoke with him afterward to make the human connection.  And their parting words were important as well as they reaffirmed for me that not everyone inside the military  is anxious to blow up our planet.

Reflecting on this chance encounter I thought about all the US military personnel stationed around the world and, just from my own experiences in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, I am certain that many heartfelt discussions are currently happening on US bases between those who are eager for war and those who are not.

We know from past history that signals from military personnel who are doubting US aggressive moves, risking WW III, can in fact help slow down the grinding wheels of the Pentagon's war machine.  I don't know if the officer who sat in our meeting is one such doubter or not - but the fact that he was drawn to our peaceful spirit speaks for itself.

We can only hope that the legions of US military personnel who do in fact doubt the current mission will speak up often and loudly and help bring some sanity to the out-of-control US imperial war machine.  Everyone has a role in protecting our Mother Earth from a devastating global nuclear war.