Organizing Notes

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

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Location: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. @BruceKGagnon

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Something is happening here


‘We Won’t Quit Until We Stop It’
Despite the pandemic, US-backed ravaging of Okinawa continues. So does the people’s direct action.

By C. Douglas Lummis

The Nation

Naha, Okinawa—Every day except weekends, holidays, and typhoon days, even in the pandemic, charter buses leave from Naha and other cities on this island to transport protesters to three locations in the north, where the Japanese government is trying to build a super airbase for the US Marines.

One location is Shirakawa, on the Pacific Ocean side of the island, where the government’s Okinawa Defense Bureau is tearing down a mountain and loading it into dump trucks. There, protesters delay the work by standing in front of the trucks. The second location is the nearby Awa Pier, where the mountain-become-dirt is loaded onto small cargo ships. There, by milling around on the sidewalk at the gate where there’s a traffic light, protesters reduce the number of trucks entering the area to one per green light. This reduces the number of ships that depart each day. In the water, the ships are further delayed by a brave fleet of sea-kayakers, who crowd around the bow of each ship until they are hauled away. Once free of the kayakers, the ships sail to the East China Sea side of the island, to Cape Henoko, site of the US Marines’ Camp Schwab, and dump the dirt into the sea as landfill to support the airstrip that is planned to cut across the cape and stick out into the sea on both sides, wreaking ecocatastrophe on the coral garden there. Another team of kayakers meets them, delaying the process still more.

The third charter bus destination is the gate on the inland side of Camp Schwab, where a daily sit-in slows down the huge fleets of trucks—cement trucks, trucks carrying building materials, and dump trucks carrying more dirt from nearby locations—that enter the construction site in the form of three convoys of 200–300 vehicles a day, even during the pandemic.

Okinawa was a peaceful independent kingdom until Japan seized it in the same historical era that the United States seized Puerto Rico. Legally, Okinawans are Japanese; culturally, they are a colonized indigenous people. Occupying 0.6 percent of Japanese territory, they are stuck with more than 70 percent of the US military installations in Japan, a situation they call structural discrimination. Okinawan conservatives and progressives are united in opposing the construction of yet another base.


The protesters are mostly retired people. It makes sense. Direct action targeting construction needs to be carried out during working hours. Also, people living on retirement incomes don’t need to worry about getting fired. But more than that, most of these folks remember the Battle of Okinawa or the devastation that came after, and see this as their last chance to put their hatred of war into the form of a concrete achievement. Asked why they think they can win against the combined force of the US and Japanese governments, their fixed answer is “Because we won’t quit until we do.”

Last week, I took the Wednesday bus to Henoko. Fifteen people were on it, a bit down from the previous average of around 20, probably because of Covid, but the reduced number made it easier to keep our distance.

The mood was good, with lots of happy greetings. These people enjoy one another’s company and love having something meaningful to do each day. The 90-minute drive was spent listening to self-introductions from three who’d come down from mainland Japan (these buses have mics), discussing politics, exchanging information, and singing. H-san, who presides over the Wednesday bus, was her usual bubbly self, alternating between humor and anger as she talked about Japan’s new prime minister. Her punch line: “As for being Japanese, I resign. I’m Okinawan!” C-san, an eloquent raconteur who always sits in the left rear seat, talked (half in Japanese, half in the Okinawan language) about why he is confident the airbase will never get built: The sea bottom on the northern side of Cape Henoko is unstable slime—mayonnaise, they call it—and will never support a concrete airstrip. T-san, who specializes in irony and black humor, got lots of laughs. The Henoko action, including the bus ride, has been called Henoko University.

A few months ago, Covid appeared inside the construction site, and work was shut down briefly. When it resumed, the question at the gate became how both the protesters and the riot policemen could carry out their respective roles while observing social distancing rules.

This was the 2,313th day of the sit-in. Our job at the gate, together with several dozen others who’d come on different buses, was to delay the second and the third of that day’s truck convoys. In the past, the interaction between police and protesters was pretty rough, especially when most of the riot police were from mainland Japan. In those days there was a lot of anger on both sides. Nonviolence resembled that of a rugby match—no hitting but lots of pushing and shoving. Now most of the Japanese have been sent home. The remaining Okinawan riot police have probably heard more anti-Henoko-base speeches than any humans on earth. Most of those speeches are delivered by women, who must remind them of their mothers or grandmothers. That, plus the adamant nonviolence of the protesters, has had its effect. The action has come to look less and less like rugby.

It’s quite something to see. With a convoy of a couple hundred trucks halted on the highway, the officer in charge of this police unit—who has become pretty friendly toward the protesters—repeats through his bullhorn that the sit-inners are violating traffic law and must move aside. From time to time, he looks at his watch. The sit-inners continue speech-making and singing. The riot police stand silently, waiting for the order. After 15 or 20 minutes, he gives it—not to carry protesters away, but to ask them politely. This the riot police do, one by one. The protesters refuse, and refuse, and refuse again, but when the policemen make as if to pick them up, they stand up and amble to the side.

Part of a Veterans For Peace delegation helping to block dump trucks waiting to enter  

Camp Schwab with fill for the runway being built on top of the pristine waters of Oura Bay
(Doug Lummis, author of this article, in gold shirt on right)

This slow-motion, spatially distant enactment of conflict may not be exciting, and it slows down the delivery by only about 20 minutes. But repeated three times, that’s one lost hour a day. More important, the sit-in deprives the builders of free access to the gate and the efficiency of just-in-time deliveries; it forces them to organize convoys and protect them with hundreds of police. Through the repetition of these protest tactics, combined with refusal of the Prefectural Government to issue permits, refusal of the City of Nago to allow construction work on land it controls, and many lawsuits and protests from environmentalists, the cost estimate has tripled, the target date has been postponed by more than a decade, and many people—including some in the US Congress—believe (or worry, in the case of the Congresspeople) that the thing will never get done.

~ C.  Douglas Lummis is the coordinator of Veterans for Peace—Ryukyus/Okinawa Chapter Kokusai (VFP-ROCK)—and the author of Radical Democracy. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Oppose nomination of Michele Flournoy as Sec. of Defense


WHAT: Oppose Nomination of Michele Flournoy as Sec. of Defense
HOW: Contact your U.S. Senators (202) 224-3121 or click here

WHY:  Oppose hawkish Flournoy’s nomination because she wants to increase arms sales to Saudi Arabia to police the Middle East while the US pivots to Asia to escalate troop deployments for more “war games” in the South China Sea. 

Flournoy advocates: 

·      Preparation for multiple simultaneous large theater wars.

·      Pre-emptive unilateral military strikes.

·      Sale of more weapons to Saudi Arabia’s brutal regime in contrast to President-elect Joe Biden’s position to end US support for Saudi genocide in Yemen.

·      Escalation of provocative roving war games in the South China Sea, ramping up the risk of a hot war with China or North Korea, both nuclear powers.

·      Increased use of drone warfare.

·      Symbolizes the revolving door between Pentagon, consultants and military contractors.

·      Investment in new weapons systems when resources are urgently needed to address the climate crisis and COVID-19, etc.  

 WHEN: Call and email NOW as Biden will reportedly announce his cabinet choices as early as Thanksgiving. Biden’s nominees, to pass muster, must be approved by a majority of the Senate.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Gone in just 3 seconds....


About Three Seconds: An epic presentation of where humanity stands today and how we must all work together to make it to the fourth second. Climate crisis is real. 

Three Seconds is a short motivational piece to get younger and older generations alike to stand up for trees and a clean future. This spoken word piece by artist Prince Ea was designed to put into perspective our existence on earth’s timeline and to excite viewers for the fight against the status quo that too often disregards Mother Nature. 

The Film4Climate Competition was an activation under the Film4Climate initiative of the Connect4Climate program that aims to use film and work with the film industry to inspire climate action. The competition was supported by the World Bank Group, United Nations (UNSDG, UNEP, UNFCCC), Kingdom of Morocco, Sundance Institute,Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, Vulcan Productions, Enel, The Global Brain, Concepter and more than 70 partner organizations. 

At the competition’s announcement in Cannes, producer and jury member Lawrence Bender said, “In every country, every city, people have different stories on climate change...there are many stories that can be told. If this worldwide film competition creates a critical mass of ideas and energy, it could help tip the balance in terms of focusing people’s attention.” 

As the next five years will be critical to advancing and scaling up climate action around the world as part of the SDGs, the COP22 climate summit aims to encourage countries to implement ambitious climate actions, with youth playing a vital role in the agenda.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Talking about jobs, health care and dignity


Historian Rutger Bregman told a room full of billionaires at the Davos World Economic Forum 2019 that they need to step up and pay their fair share of taxes.

The words from the Director of Oxfam are also wonderful.

Quite worth a watch for sure. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Old friends talking politics....


Regis Tremblay, originally from Maine, now lives in Yalta, Crimea, Russia.

I worked with Regis for many years here in Maine until his move to Crimea earlier this year.  He's very happy about being there.  He recently fell and broke his hip and needed a replacement operation.  He got a real taste of the Russian medical system.  It cost him $8,000 while in the US such an operation could run up to $45,000 or more.  

In this video we talk about the recent elections here in the US and Maine as well as the growing tension between the US and Russia.  We additionally talked about the current US drive to 'control and dominate' space.

Lastly we spoke about the ascendancy of Russia, China, Iran and other nations in what is fast becoming a multi-polar world.  The days of US (and western) military and economic domination are fading.  Regis asked about the implications - will there be war between the US and the Russian-Chinese alliance?

We ended with the deep reality of climate crisis and how the Biden administration (a total puppet for corporate oligarchs) will do little to help deal with this colossal problem. Washington talks about plans to be carbon neutral by 2050 - but that is way too late.  


Monday, November 09, 2020

The hard road ahead for us......


Here are a few comments from folks that help clarify our difficult road ahead.

Dave Obey from Wisconsin had a damning assessment of Hillary and the Democratic Party abandoning the Rust Belt.  Trump didn't throw them even a crust of bread during these 4 years so they returned to the Blue Belt. There are always forces that will fill the gaps left by the neo-Liberals and globalists. The Left has caved in.
~ Andre Brochu, Sweden is an American who went to Sweden to resist the Vietnam war

This is the essence of the Peace Dividend strategy. It is a direct appeal to the 165 million people on the bottom of the economy in their language on their terms reflecting their priorities. I find it impossible to get anyone to understand .... that it is not intellectual surrender to talk peace in everyday language. The typical citizen is overwhelmed trying to feed their kids, pay their bills, stay safe, find decent medical care. They are worried about their jobs, their schools, their communities. Perpetual war overseas is perpetual war on these people. They feel the pain of aggression because the skewed values of our neocon warmongers deprives them every single day of their fair share of our nation's vast wealth. Maybe there's not as much blood, but these folks are as much victims of our military madness as those on the receiving end of our military aggression across the globe. Talk peace to them and the fraud of war in terms of their poverty and suffering and they'll listen. Give them something they can do about it, and they'll come running.
~ Tarak Kauff, Woodstock, NY is a member of Veterans For Peace


At least Trump opposed much of this Russiagating McCarthyism because he was a target of it. At least he called out the CIA, FBI and Democrat McCarthyite media propaganda as fake news. While Trump was president, at least the White House was not under the control of this Russiagate McCarthyism. Biden is going to be 100% on board with this new McCarthyism. Insofar as we are effective in countering his interventionism and war threats, we are going to be a direct target of the corporate media, the national security state and now the Executive Branch.  At least with Trump there was a movement against him, against Biden there is not. And at least with Trump, the US's imperial allies took some distance from him. With Biden, they will become close allies in imperialist interferences again.  I suspect our work is going to be more difficult with Biden as president.
~ Stansfield Smith, Chicago, IL is a member of United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)

Going against Trump was easy but most of the people doing it were against 'Trump' and unaware that Trump is just a reflection of the system.  So, maybe we are not as badly off as some think. We just got rid of a huge distraction from the real issue.  Biden will not do better no matter what excuses he makes.  So it is time to get down to business and focus on the fact that for a very long time, and at least for 20 years that everyone is aware of, presidents (and other representatives) of both parties had been responsible for pursuing the same policies, on the global scene and domestically as well with the same results.
~ Judy Bello, Syracuse, New York is an activist with United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)

Not being confused by the liberal framework that advances a cartoonish understanding of fascism that Trump’s bombastic theatrics evokes in the public imagination, it is clear the threat of increased authoritarianism, the use of military force, repression, subversion, illegal sanctions, theft, and rogue state gangsterism is on the agenda of both capitalist parties in the U.S. and the Western European colonizer states.  No matter who sits in the white peoples’ house after the election, we will have to continue to fight for social justice, democracy, and People(s)-Centered Human Rights.  It is important to re-state that last sentence because the left in the U.S. is experiencing extreme anxiety with the events around the election. They want and need to have order, stability and good feelings about their nation again. But for those of us from the colonized zones of non-being, anything that creates psychological chaos, disorder, delegitimization, disruption of the settler-colonial state and demoralization of its supporters is of no concern for us.
~ Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace


Black people will get nothing from a Joe Biden administration except fiscal austerity and the precarity that comes with it. Democrats don’t want to talk about low wage work, housing insecurity, lack of health care and student loan debt but millions of people don’t bother to vote because their experiences are barely ever mentioned. The voters who Democrats need in order to win choose to stay out because they have been rendered invisible. Instead the Democrats again launched an attack on the most progressive candidate, Bernie Sanders, and rigged the process against him. Sanders chose to be a good soldier and capitulate but no one was fooled. His claim that a Biden presidency would be the most progressive since the days of Franklin Roosevelt was obvious nonsense. Only wishful thinking liberals were impressed and hoped that the ruse would work on those who are once again marginalized. There is another factor at work here. This is a deeply racist country, and the Make America Great Again theme still resonates for millions of people. They like Trump precisely because he is a true believer in white supremacist thought and policies. The term white supremacy should not be misunderstood.. The men in pickup trucks carrying AR-15 automatic weapons are the public face of this belief system but they are not the only adherents.
~ Margaret Kimberley, New York city writes for Black Agenda Report 

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Sunday song