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, May 15, 2021

The search for the real 'Green'


“When you shop with a conscience, you don’t save the world, you save the corporations” 

 Directed by: Werner Boote


Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith & Max Wilbert discuss Bright Green Lies: How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do About It.

Madison Avenue Greenwashing


With companies pledging to be more green - big tech has made plenty of public efforts to assure the world of its commitment to environmentalism - can we be sure that these efforts aren’t merely for show? 

 #Greenwashing #EarthDay #Sustainability #EcoFriendly #ClimateChange #Microsoft #Amazon 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Rare congressional courage: Pete McCloskey



Former Rep. Pete McCloskey (R-CA) defied his own Republican party, and President Richard Nixon, as he helped lead opposition to the Vietnam War.

He unsuccessfully challenged President Richard Nixon in the 1972 Republican primaries on an anti-Vietnam War platform (and got just one vote at the Republican convention) and was the first member of Congress to publicly call for President Nixon's resignation after the Saturday Night Massacre.

This excellent documentary reviews the McCloskey story (called the only environmentalist at the time in the Republican party).

He was an early critic of the Zionist Israeli government and a rare supporter of the Palestinian people. The pro-Israel lobby targeted McCloskey for removal from Congress when he spoke out against Israeli war crimes.

This documentary really covers important history and reminds us that now and then we get lucky and get a real leader. 

As anti-war activist Abbie Hoffman told a retreat I organized for the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice many years ago - "protect your [organizational] spark plugs". McCloskey was a spark plug - an honest man who stood with the people at great cost.


Thursday, May 13, 2021

Palestinians have the right to resist


The Electronic Intifada's Ali Abunimah speaks about Israel's raid on Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque, Palestinian resistance, and Israel's bombing of Gaza.

The Al Jazeera host asserted that the decision by the resistance factions in Gaza to respond to Israel’s attacks by firing rockets would “change the narrative” from “Palestinian worshipers being fired upon in a holy Muslim place to Israel has the right to defend itself.”

Ali Abunimah answered that it “only changes the narrative if that’s the narrative you choose to adopt” – instead of the correct one that Palestinians are an occupied people who have a right under international law to resistance and self-defense.

Meeting the sailors at BIW


Four of us (Peter Morgan, Jane Newton, John Morris and myself) stood yesterday for an hour at midday at the Navy gate at Bath Iron Works. I held the sign pictured above and Peter Morgan (also above) held his Veterans for Peace flag. (This photo was taken at a previous vigil.) We handed out about 25 flyers to mostly Navy personnel. 

Many sailors politely refused with their heads hung knowing that the 'freedom' they are protecting does not allow them to take and read a simple flyer about the need to covert BIW to building sustainable technology like commuter rail systems, offshore wind turbines and tidal power systems.

The Navy has their own facilities at the shipyard. They monitor the destroyer construction process. Once the ships near completion Navy crews come to BIW to begin to learn how the ships work. Since there are six destroyers under construction at BIW there are more Navy personnel around than I can ever remember seeing.

So in addition to our Saturday vigils (held during Advent and Lenten seasons) it seemed like a good idea to begin holding midday vigils at the Navy gate twice a month. So yesterday we began to do so. (During our Saturday protests we rarely see Navy personnel - we mostly see BIW shipbuilders.)

It is my feeling that the Navy personnel need to see our signs, flags and banners before they set sail. These warships are today provocatively bumping up against Russia and China.  They port at US bases near those two countries and are often exposed to peace protests.  It seems like we have a good chance for these sailors to see these similar protest messages before they leave US ports.

Our Maine congressional delegation (1 Republican, 1 Independent, & 2 Democrats) have joined together demanding that the US build even more destroyers. “We have a goal, in law, of building 350 ships,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said. “Right now, we’re at about 296. The Chinese are closer to our goal than we are so it’s so important that we have an adequate budget so that we can continue ensuring we have the best naval fleet in the world.”



There is just one major problem - money. I noticed yesterday that the Air Force has decided to stop building the F-22. The national debt (now over $28 trillion) is catching up with Washington's dreams of eternal global domination. The chicken$ are coming home to roost. Right now Washington just keeps printing more money (what I call 'Confederate dollars' essentially meaning they are worthless).

So the question is how much longer can the US keep building these expensive destroyers - and aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and F-35 boondoggle warplanes, keep 800 military bases functioning around the globe, etc? 

How can Congress keep forking over the funny money while our collapsing Covid economy worsens, climate crisis blows hot and other unattended issues remain unresolved?

So our plan is to go to BIW on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday every month from 11:15 am for an hour. 

One final thought - a large group of sailors yesterday came out of their black-gated compound at BIW and immediately I saw one of them make eye contact with me from afar.  I said to myself - he wants to take a flyer. As the group approached me they all refused the flyer except for this one sailor who reached out and took it. I know with confidence that when they were sitting down having their lunch all of them asked to see it.

That is how these things work.


The truth is coming out....


Saagar Enjeti details the "lab leak hypothesis" and how it demonstrates the way "the culture war in America corrupts basic facts."

This is the story referred to in the video:  Origin of Covid — Following the Clues
Did people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan?


By Nicholas Wade who is a science writer and has worked on the staff of Nature, Science and, for many years, on the New York Times. 


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The storm which Netanyahu unleashed


By Adam Keller

Tuesday morning we woke up with the news of twenty-one Palestinians killed in Gaza, nine of them minors, and two Israeli women killed in Ashkelon (one of them; it later turned out, was a migrant worker from India, and since then, the death toll on both sides more than doubled). Then came the email which I was expecting. Noa Levy of Hadash sent out an urgent call for emergency protests in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, A second message, from the Forum of Israeli and Palestinian Bereaved Families and Combatants for Peace, endorsed the Hadash call and added a Haifa protest venue initiated by the Haifa Women for Women Center. “The government is playing with fire - all of us get burned! In a desperate attempt to cling to  power, Netanyahu is dragging us into war, into killing and suffering and pain for both peoples. Stop the escalation! Cease the fire! Stop the expulsion of families from Sheikh Jarrah, stop the police rampage in East Jerusalem. There can be no peace and no quiet as long as the West Bank lives under occupation and Gaza suffers a suffocating siege. The solution: an end to the occupation, an end to the siege of Gaza, and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, with East Jerusalem as its capital. We all deserve to live in freedom and security. The time to act is now!”  

And so, there were several  hours of frantic work at the computer and phone, spreading the message by Facebook and Whatsapp to all who waited for such a call on such a day. And then taking the bus to Tel Aviv. The Kugel Boulevard, main Holon thoroughfare on which all buses to Tel Aviv travel, had its completely normal daily bustle. On King George Street in Tel Aviv there were already several hundred people gathered outside the Likud Party headquarters. Among them familiar faces, the determined minority of Israelis who always show up on such days, as in 2014 and 2009. “Stop the fire, stop the bloodshed!” chanted several hundred throats. And “On both sides of the border/Children want to live!” and “Sheikh Jarrah, don’t despair/We will end the occupation yet!” and also “Gaza, Gaza, don’t despair/We will end the siege yet!” and “Netanyahu, Netanyahu/The Dock at the Hague waits for you!”.

Dispersal, and a vague feeling of frustration. But what more could we have done? Perhaps we would have felt more satisfied to be violently dispersed and spend the night in detention - but here, unlike other locations, the police did not interfere with the demonstration. There were only two bored police officers watching from the side. Our favorite vegan eatery was nearby, so we went in. Everything was just like any other evening out in downtown Tel Aviv, it felt a bit strange to have life as usual while terrible things happen elsewhere.  

The air raid alarms wailed just after we paid our bill and started walking. We went into a nearby big pharmacy. The pharmacy staff were quietly efficient – “Over here, turn left, the basement stairs are there”. About a hundred people – staff and clients and everyone who happened to be on the street – crowded in. Even in the basement, we could clearly hear the explosions in the sky. “Are these the missiles themselves, or the interceptors?” wondered an old woman. Another old woman said “Don’t worry, dear, if this goes on we will all learn to know which is which”.  

After a quarter of an hour we thought it was over and everybody emerged and started again down the street – and then the air raid siren sounded again.  This time we went into the basement of a private house with very friendly young people who offered to let us stay the night. “You can stay here, no need to risk going out again, we have spare beds”.  

I must say that up to that point it still felt like a bit of a game. I realize now that we shared the arrogant illusion of most Israelis that the Iron Dome missiles were giving us virtually complete protection. But as we were huddling in the second basement of the evening, the phone rang: “Are you OK? Good to hear your voice, I heard of the burned bus in Holon, I was so worried!” “I am in Tel Aviv, what bus is that?” A quick look at the news websites showed the Kugel Boulevard where we had passed just three hours before. It was a war zone, flames and scattered debris everywhere, and the skeleton of a completely burned bus in the middle.  It was reported that the driver heard the alarm, stopped the bus and told everybody to run just a minute before the bus was hit.  

Perhaps we should have taken the young people’s offer and stayed the night with them. Getting back home was a long and weary experience. The main roads were blocked by the police, and we saw ambulances and fire trucks rushing forward. The bus from Tel Aviv let us off a long way from home and there were no taxis to be had in the whole of Holon, so there was a very long and weary trudging through dark empty streets. At home I had a whatsapp exchange with an old friend. “Stay alert, this night is not yet over” she wrote. “The government is sure to order a strong retaliation for this attack on Tel Aviv, and the Palestinians will want to retaliate for the retaliation”. She was completely right. After 3.00 PM there was a very long series of alarms, one after the other. The explosions were more vague and seemed a long distance off. This time they were aiming at the Ben Gurion Airport.  

One of the missiles had fallen on a hut in Lod (Lydda), and killed a fifty year old man and his teen daughter.  It later turned out that they were Arabs, that they had lived in an “unrecognized” neighborhood where no building permits are issued, and that this prevented them from building a more solid structure which could have saved their lives.  


And so here we are, with the conflict escalating and the death toll rising ever more steeply. And I should recapitulate, at least briefly, how we got to this.  

Last Friday – just five days ago, though it seems like an eternity – public attention in Israel was totally riveted to the complicated dance of party politics. Prime Minister Netanyahu, facing three serious corruption charges at the Jerusalem District Court, had just failed in his efforts to form a new cabinet. The mandate passed to the oppositional “Block of Change”, whose leaders embarked on delicate negotiations aimed at forming a very heterogeneous government coalition comprising right-wing, left-wing and center parties, which have virtually nothing in common except the wish to see the last of Netanyahu. We had very mixed feelings about it, especially since the intended new Prime Minister Naftali Bennet is, if anything, more right-wing than Netanyahu. Still, the new government would have very strong mechanisms of “mutual veto” in place that would prevent Bennet from doing too much harm – though the same would also prevent the new government from doing much good, either. And this government would be the very first in Israeli history to rely on an Arab party for its parliamentary majority (other than the Rabin Government in 1995, whose tenure was cut short by the PM being assassinated).  

Anyway, there were very concrete plans to have the new cabinet ready for parliamentary approval by Tuesday, May 11. The anti-corruption demonstrators who have been demonstrating every week outside the Prime Minister’s residence were joking about when the movers will arrive to take away the Netanyahu family furniture. But Netanyahu had other irons in the fire.  

First, there was the planned expulsion of hundreds of Palestinians from their homes in the Sheikh Jarach neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Dozens of them were due to be expelled within days and extreme right settlers were going to enter into their vacated homes. Protests in Sheikh Jarach and elsewhere in East Jerusalem met brutal police repression. Then, protests spread to the Haram A Sharif (Temple Mount) compound, and so did the police repression. Police started to shoot “rubber” bullets directly into demonstrators’ faces, causing them to lose eyes – at least two of them losing both eyes and becoming blind for the rest of their lives. Footage of the police breaking into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site and a place considered even by secular Palestinians as a major part of their national heritage, spread widely through the social networks, escalating the protests. And then there was the plan to have thousands of radical young settlers hold the provocative “Dance of the Flags” right through the Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, chanting their habitual racist slogans. The police and government reiterated hour after hour that the “Dance of the Flags”  would take place as scheduled. And it was then that Hamas in Gaza threatened to retaliate for the attack on the Palestinians of Jerusalem, and the government declared that it would not bend to “the ultimatums of terrorists”. And at the very last moment the “Dance” was cancelled – but it was too late.  At 6.00 PM the salvo of seven Hamas rockets at the outskirts of Jerusalem – which in fact caused no casualties or damage, but which precipitated the Israeli deadly retaliation on Gaza.      

And now, a bit more than 48 hours later, here we are, in the midst of an escalating war, the Israeli Air Force destroying high rise buildings in Gaza and proudly announcing the “elimination” of senior Hamas activists – but unable to hinder the Palestinians’ ability to go on shooting rockets. And relations between Jews and Arabs, fellow citizens of Israel, have descended to unprecedented depths of inter-communal violence. In Lod, the police declared a night curfew “to stop the rampaging Arabs” but Arab inhabitants refuse to abide and are involved in violent confrontations with police around a local mosque. And in Bat Yam and Tiberias, mobs of extreme right Jews are assaulting random Arabs and smashing up Arab-owned shops. And repeated again and again in the media is the government's total refusal to make a ceasefire. “No, no, no ceasefire – we must teach Hamas a lesson!”  

Of course no ceasefire. Why should Netanyahu want a ceasefire? Every day in which the shooting continues is one more day of keeping that dreaded movers’ truck away from the Prime Minister’s Residence, one more day of keeping power in his own hands. If there was concrete proof that Netanyahu did it all consciously and deliberately, it would make up criminal charges far more serious than those he is facing at the District Court of Jerusalem. But any such evidence is probably classified Top Secret and would only be published fifty years from now. So, we can’t prove that he did it deliberately, though there can be little doubt about it. We can only end the war and immediately afterwards get rid of him.  

Perhaps what is happening now will shake President Biden out of the attitude of keeping a low profile on Israel and the Palestinians? After all, all this mess had fallen on his desk with quite a loud clatter.

~ Adam Keller is an Israeli peace activist who was among the founders of Gush Shalom, of which he is a spokesperson. A long-standing supporter of Yesh Gvul, Keller has served several prison terms for refusing reserve military duty in the 1967-occupied territories. In April-May 1988, Reserve Corporal Adam Keller was charged with "insubordination" and "spreading of propaganda harmful to military discipline" in that while on active military duty he had written on 117 tanks and other military vehicles graffiti with the text: "Soldiers of the IDF, refuse to be occupiers and oppressors, refuse to serve in the occupied territories!" as well as placing on electricity pylons in the military camp where he was serving - and on inside doors of the stalls in the officers' toilet - stickers with the slogans "Down with the occupation!". 

The Ethnic Cleansing of East Jerusalem


By Richard Greve, Human Rights Activist  

It is astounding that in the 21st century, a nation would evict one group of homeowners because they are of a particular religion and allow another religious group to take over their homes, chase out the occupants, and then allow the other group to move right in.

This is what Israel is doing to the NonJewish population of East Jerusalem in two different neighborhoods at this time. NonJews are being evicted from their homes and Jews are moving into the houses, with the backing of the Israeli forces.

The purpose of this is to clear out as much of the NonJewish population so that Israel can change the demographics of the city. This is what is called ethnic cleansing. It has been a slow but insidious process for years in the territory that Israel has occupied since it conquered the West Bank in 1967. The ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem has increased recently.

What Israel is doing is not only cruel, but a violation of International Law and its obligations under International Law to protect the lives and the property of a conquered people. Israel has totally defied this law, and has confiscated large areas of the West Bank and settled hundreds of thousands of Jews there in Apartheid Settlements For Jews Only. What Israel is doing is considered a Crime Against Humanity.

The US government has been silent and acquiescent in this crime by its silence, and by paying for Israel’s weapons to carry out the crimes. This means that the US is complicit with the crime. We are helping, indirectly, to fund it. If the American government doesn’t care about Israel’s crimes it should be concerned about its own collusion with violations of International Law.

Israel must be placed on immediate sanctions, and all funding to the Israeli regime must stop until it ceases and desists in its crimes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Addicted U.S. looking for another war


My guess is that intervention by Germany and France helped pressure Washington to back-off pushing its puppet regime in Kiev to jump off the cliff and provoke war with Russia.

I'm certain that Russian allies like China, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and other nations also made it known to the US that Biden's early aggressive language aimed at Putin, and NATO military moves along the Russian border, are a threat to world peace.  

The US has long ago lost its moral authority to dictate terms to the world. There is a seismic shift  underway.

Washington is a lonely drunken angry cowboy at the bar. He has no future. His own nation is coming apart at the seams. Climate crisis is raging. Poverty is growing and still the Congress (which is really nothing more than paid servants of the war industry) is on its knees.

So the addict looks for another drink - in another town. He's been run out of so many.

Maybe someone should write a country song about the cowboy.


J. Narayana Rao: Key Global Network leader


Global Network board member J. Narayana Rao (front row left side of banner) during a previous Keep Space for Peace Week event in Nagpur, India

In the late 1990's the Global Network held our annual space organizing meeting in Darmstadt, Germany (1997 & 1999). At one of those two meetings J. Narayana Rao from Nagpur, India showed up for the first time. To this day I don't remember how Rao heard about the GN but somehow he did and we were very lucky to have his membership.

When Rao arrived in Darmstadt he handed me a couple space issue journals that he had put together at his own expense and distributed throughout India.  

Rao's career was with the Indian railway and he was a leader in the union.  He was also long active with the Indian Communist Party and with Gandhian organizations.

In 2006 Rao organized a speaking tour throughout India for Mary Beth Sullivan and I. While on this  trip Rao took us to the Gandhi Ashram Sevagram. 

Several times over the years he organized speaking trips for me and other GN leaders.

He organized space issue conferences numerous times in various Indian cities (the one pictured below was in 2010 in Nagpur) and invited various GN members to speak at the events.  All the while he was reaching out to Indian political leaders, academics, union members, students, media and others with our message.


One of the most memorable speaking tours Rao organized was when he took me north to Kashmir during a time of martial law.  Just the trip there was a miracle in itself.

In 2019 a space law conference was held in Visakhapatnam at the DSNLU law university and organized by Dr. Aruna Kammila who Rao had earlier brought to the GN. This historic event was the first time that I am aware of where the agenda was to discuss the need for space law to prevent warfare and the colonization of planetary bodies for private profit. The hall was full of students and faculty from 20 law universities across India.  It was a great tribute to Rao's vision and determination.

At that time Rao had just had a serious illness and operation and could not come to the conference. I was able to talk with him on the telephone and share with him how well the event was going.

The organizer of our 2016 trip to India & Nepal was J. Narayana Rao (right) with GN board convener Dave Webb (UK) (left). Will Griffin joined us on that trip as well.  

These days India is having a terrible time with the Covid virus. The country has little public healthcare. Agri-business corporations like Monsanto are attempting to destroy India's long tradition of village farming. Much of the huge population in India has become 'expendable' in the eyes of its corporate friendly government. A 'modern brand' of neo-feudalism is now replacing India's hard fought for democracy - much like the rest of today's world.

The US is turning the Indian government into an ally against China. India is also becoming a major space power. 

India's health budget is about $30 billion this year while they spend $49.6 billion on their military.


Rao (center) with other GN leaders in Visakhapatnam


Rao is like a father figure to me and many others in the GN. One of my fondest memories of him was in 2008 when we held our annual space conference in Nebraska. We began the trip first in Colorado Springs with a protest outside the annual space symposium sponsored by the mega-aerospace industry. We then drove in a blinding snowstorm to Omaha, Nebraska. Rao was in the back seat of the car watching vehicles slide off the road into snow drifts. I asked him what he thought of it. His response was memorable as he said, "No one in Nagpur will ever believe what I am now seeing."

Rao is one of the best leaders/organizers that we've ever had in the Global Network. During these days of Covid lockdown, and still recovering from his surgery, we send him our very best wishes for full recovery.


Monday, May 10, 2021

Russia lays down the truth at UN Security Council - Washington/London not happy


Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Remarks at the meeting of the UN Security Council, “Maintenance of international peace and security: Upholding multilateralism and the United Nations-centered international system,” held via video-conference, Moscow, May 7, 2021

First of all, let me thank Mr Wang Yi, State Councillor and Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China, for organising today’s debates. Maintaining multilateralism and the UN-centred international system is as topical as ever and demands the UN Security Council’s constant attention.

Today the world finds itself in a critical stage of development. The coronavirus pandemic has posed a grave challenge to everyone without exception. Normal life has been completely upended. It is difficult to predict the long-term or deferred consequences of the crisis, although we can see some positive trends thanks to the massive deployment of coronavirus vaccines.

The pandemic broke out in a world that was already far from perfect. In recent years, we have seen growing international tensions, as well as escalating regional conflicts and cross-border challenges and threats. The entire architecture of global governance created after the Second World War is being tested.

It is clear that the prospects of the international community’s sustainable and predictable development are directly connected with our ability to find effective solutions to common problems and our readiness to exercise collective leadership in order for true multilateralism to prevail.

Russia, like the majority of countries, is convinced that such work must be carried out solely on the basis of universally recognised norms of international law. The United Nations must serve as the key platform for coordinating efforts: it is the backbone of the modern global order, where all independent states are represented. Today, its unique legitimacy and unique capabilities are especially needed.

The core tenets of international law enshrined in the UN Charter have withstood the test of time. Russia calls on all states to unconditionally follow the purposes and principles of the Charter as they chart their foreign policies, respecting the sovereign equality of states, not interfering in their internal affairs, settling disputes by political and diplomatic means, and renouncing the threat or use of force. This is especially important at the current stage in the difficult process of forming an international multipolar system. At a time when new centres of economic growth, financial and political influence are gaining strength, it is necessary to preserve the internationally recognised legal basis for building a stable balance of interests that meets the new realities.

Unfortunately, not all of our partners are driven by the imperative to work in good faith to promote comprehensive multilateral cooperation. Realising that it is impossible to impose their unilateral or bloc priorities on other states within the framework of the UN, the leading Western countries have tried to reverse the process of forming a polycentric world and slow down the course of history.

Toward this end, the concept of the rules-based order is advanced as a substitute for international law. It should be noted that international law already is a body of rules, but rules agreed at universal platforms and reflecting consensus or broad agreement. The West’s goal is to oppose the collective efforts of all members of the world community with other rules developed in closed, non-inclusive formats, and then imposed on everyone else. We only see harm in such actions that bypass the UN and seek to usurp the only decision-making process that can claim global relevance.

The well-known idea to convene a Summit for Democracy proposed by the US Administration is in the same vein. The establishment of a new club based on interests, with a clearly ideological nature, has the potential to further inflame international tensions and deepen dividing lines in a world that needs a unifying agenda more than ever. Of course, the list of democracies to be invited to the summit will be determined by the United States.

Another initiative with the goal of global leadership that bypasses the UN is the French and German idea to create an Alliance for Multilateralism. What could be more natural then discussing the tasks of strengthening multilateralism at the UN? However, Berlin and Paris think differently and issue joint documents declaring that “the European Union is the cornerstone of the multilateral international system” and promote the conclusions of the Council of the European Union under the title “The central role of the European Union and European institutions in promoting multilateralism.” Presumptuous, you might say. The EU does not think so and declares its own exceptionalism despite all its invocations of equality and brotherhood.

By the way, as soon as we suggest discussing the current state of democracy not just within states but on the international stage with our Western colleagues, they lose interest in the conversation.


New ambitious initiatives to create narrow partnerships are emerging all the time within the Alliance for Multilateralism, on issues that are already being discussed at the UN or its specialised agencies, for example, on cyber security (with 65 member countries), respect for the international humanitarian law (43 member countries), the Information and Democracy Partnership (over 30 countries), etc.

This also reveals the West’s true attitude toward multilateralism and the UN, which they do not regard as a universal format for developing solutions acceptable to everyone, but in the context of their claims to superiority over everyone else, who must accept what is required of them.

Another example of the dictatorial methods introduced by the West is the practice of imposing unilateral sanctions without any international and legal grounds, with the sole purpose of punishing “undesirable regimes” or sidelining competitors. During the pandemic, such restrictions have limited the capacity of a whole range of developing countries to counter the spread of the infection. Despite UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s call to suspend such unilateral sanctions during the pandemic, we mostly see them becoming harsher.

We believe such efforts to impose totalitarianism in global affairs to be unacceptable, yet we see it more and more from our Western colleagues, above all the United States, the European Union and other allies, who reject all principles of democracy and multilateralism on the global stage. As if to say, either it’s our way, or there will be repercussions.

It is striking that Western leaders, while openly undermining international law, do not hesitate to argue that the main task of world politics should be to counter the attempts of Russia and China to “change the rules-based order.” Such statements were made the other day following the G7 ministerial meeting in London. In other words, there has already been a substitution of concepts: the West is no longer concerned with the norms of international law and now requires everyone to follow its rules and observe its order. What’s more, US representatives freely admit that the USA and Great Britain have had the biggest hand in shaping these rules.

I am not saying all of this to ratchet up the confrontational rhetoric or advance an accusatory agenda. I am simply stating facts. But if we all support multilateralism in word, let us honestly search for ways to ensure that there is fairness in deed, without attempts to prove one’s superiority or infringe on another’s rights. I hope that this approach to maintaining multilateralism and the UN-centred system will guide the activities of the UN Secretary-General and his team.

I am convinced that the time has come to do away with medieval and colonial habits and recognise the reality of today’s interconnected and interdependent world. Honest and mutually respectful cooperation based on equal partnership between all states, guided by pragmatism and devoid of any ideology or politicisation, is what is needed now. It is the only way to improve the atmosphere in the world and ensure predictability in the advancement of the human race. That is especially true of such global challenges as the threat of terrorism and the proliferation of WMDs, climate change, new infectious diseases, and protecting human rights, starting with the most important one – the right to life.

I agree with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who stressed recently that no country can overcome such global threats to the lives of our citizens alone, not even the United States.

The permanent members of the UN Security Council are called on to play a key role in fostering open and direct dialogue about the most pressing problems of our time. According to the UN Charter, they bear special responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. President of Russia Vladimir Putin proposed convening a summit with the leaders of the five permanent members. We hope to make this idea a reality once the epidemiological situation in the world stabilises.

In conclusion I would like to emphasise that the UN, as the main multilateral platform, must keep pace with changes on the global stage. The organisation must constantly adapt to ever-changing conditions, while continuing to fully respect the division of labour between the main UN Charter bodies and maintaining the support of all the member states. At every stage of change, our actions must be measured by the improvements made to the United Nations’ real-world effectiveness.

Russia stands ready to continue working constructively with all partners who share these approaches in order to bolster the authority and fully unlock the potential of the UN as the true centre of multilateralism.

Thank you for your attention.

~  Sergey Victorovich Lavrov is the Foreign Minister of Russia. A veteran politician and diplomat, he has been an integral part in shaping Russia’s political and international ties with the world. He has been an essential member of the Russian government for decades, first as the Russian Representative to the United Nations and eventually as Foreign Minister of Russia since 2004. He has held a number of important positions throughout his career.

History lesson: A great American leader


The video replays the “Canton, Ohio” speech made on June 16, 1918 by Eugene Debs. 

Eugene Debs made his famous anti-war speech in Canton, Ohio, protesting World War I which was raging in Europe. For this speech he was arrested and convicted in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio under the war-time espionage law. He was his own attorney. 

His appeal to the jury and his statement to the court before sentencing are regarded as two of the great classic statements ever made in a court of law. 

Eugene V. Debs did not speak on election night in 1920. The Socialist presidential contender was, in his words, a “candidate in seclusion,” imprisoned in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary for speaking out against the draft during World War I.

Outside the lockup, his supporters handed out photos of Debs in convict denim along with campaign buttons for “Prisoner 9653.” Reporters had hoped to hear a fiery oration. But the warden did let Debs write out a statement.

“I thank the capitalist masters for putting me here,” he wrote. “They know where I belong under their criminal and corrupting system. It is the only compliment they could pay me.”

Debs making his famous Canton, Ohio anti-war speech that landed him in prison.

He’d run for president on the Socialist Party ticket five times since 1900. Eight years earlier, he’d won 901,551 votes — about six percent of the vote. However, this time he was politicking from behind bars.

The jury found him guilty. On Nov. 18, 1918 — a week after Armistice Day — he was sentenced to three concurrent 10-year sentences and lost his right to vote.

In the 1920 election, Debs and his running mate Emil Seidel garnered 913,693 votes, but — as in his previous campaigns — no electoral votes. The winning candidate, Republican Warren G. Harding, promised a “return to normalcy,” restoring the prewar way of life.

On April 13, 1920, the Socialists demonstrated in front of the White House and delivered a petition for Debs’ pardon. Film star Mae West wrote to Harding to push for a pardon.

Almost a year later in March, the warden drove Debs to the rail station. He then boarded a train for a trip to Washington — unaccompanied and unsupervised — to meet with Attorney General Harry Daugherty at Harding’s behest.

The White House planned to keep the meeting secret, but Daugherty, a blustery, machine politician, bragged about it to reporters. When the news hit the papers, veterans groups protested and Harding now had to factor in the political optics of their opposition. He finally released Debs on Dec. 21, 1921 — just in time for Christmas.

“He is an old man, not strong physically,” said Harding when commuting the sentence to time served. “He is a man of much personal charm and impressive personality, which qualifications make him a dangerous man calculated to mislead the unthinking and affording excuse for those with criminal intent.”

En route to his home in Terre Haute, Ind., a gaunt and weary Debs stopped at the White House for a meeting with Harding. There is no record of what either man said. Debs died in a suburban Chicago sanitarium, while being treated for his heart condition, in 1926.

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter pardoned many Vietnam War draft resisters who had fled to Canada. But Eugene V. Debs, imprisoned for his opposition to an earlier draft, has never been pardoned. 

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Sunday song