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: Bath, Maine, United States

Monday, August 03, 2015

Golden Rule is Back on the Seas

CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

A recently restored, historic peace boat arrived in San Diego, California Sunday to take part in the Veterans for Peace 30th Annual National Convention.

The Golden Rule arrived at Shelter Island after traveling down the coast from Eureka. The boat is most famously known for being used as a tool to stop international nuclear weapons testing in 1958. Now, crew members hope the boat can have the same effect again.

Over the next 10 years, the Golden Rule is scheduled to sail around the United States, passing along its message of peace.

Global Network Delegation to Okinawa

Just prior to our Global Network conference in Kyoto, Japan a delegation of our folks went to Okinawa for a couple days to show solidarity with the protests (going on for more than 4,000 days) against the US construction of a new Marine base.  The base at Henoko will include two aircraft runways that extend out into pristine Oura Bay that is home to precious coral and endangered sea mammals.

There are multiple US military bases on Okinawa and the people (from the grassroots all the way up to town mayors and the governor of the island) are in a state of revolt demanding the bases be closed.  At Kadena Air Force Base the US has deployed 'missile defense' systems aimed at China.

GN board convener Dave Webb (England) reports that over 300 blockaded the main gate at Camp Schwab (bottom photo). Nobody tried to get through the gate but soon after the international group left the protest the police moved in to break up the blockade.

It was reported today that the Japanese have declared a one month delay on US base construction at Henoko.  Several commentators have remarked that Japan's right-wing Prime Minister Abe "is cornered" as his poll ratings have dropped due to his pushing the unpopular move to get rid of the nation's peaceful Article 9 in their constitution that forbids offensive war preparations.  Washington has long been pushing Tokyo to dump Article 9 but in the past month major protests have been held across Japan opposing Abe's attempt to follow US orders to get rid of the restrictions on allowing the military to join with the US in boxing in China.

One must wonder if this move by Abe was due to the approaching attention that will come during global events to remember the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?  Let's hope that the Japanese peace movement can sustain the pressure on Abe and that international support can build for the campaign to Save Article 9!

Photos from Dave Webb.

Annual Coordinator Report – 2015

One might call 2014 the ‘year of Russia’. In a recent Chicago speech by George Friedman, founder and CEO of the private intelligence corporation STRATFOR, he declared that the US wants “regime change” in Moscow. The project is well underway as Russia becomes encircled by US-NATO bases along its border and Pentagon deployments of land-based ‘missile defense’ (MD) systems in Poland, Romania, and Turkey. US Sea-based MD systems are actively cruising in the Mediterranean, Black, and Baltic seas and plans are underway to post them in the Barents and Bering Seas.

Similarly, an expanding and US controlled NATO is moving to encircle China with its new ‘alliance partners’ in Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan. Land-based MD systems have been deployed in Japan, Okinawa, South Korea, Taiwan, Guam and sea-based MD interceptor systems are being docked throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Washington’s message to Russia and China? “We have put a loaded gun to your head. Forget your efforts to create a multi-polar world through the new BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) economic development bank. The west is in charge of the global economic system and we are backing up our control of the world economy with space-directed Full Spectrum Dominance.”

This is the moment that we are now in as we hold the Global Network’s (GN) 23rd annual conference.

Things really began to unravel when, in 2002, the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia that restricted deployment of MD systems. Since that time the Pentagon and the Missile Defense Agency have expanded research, development, and testing of these systems and have begun the provocative and dangerous deployments of MD near Russia and China. Those two nations have repeatedly warned the US-NATO that MD deployments would blow apart serious negotiations for nuclear weapons reductions. In fact all sides are now moving toward new generations of nuclear weapons.

It is much to my surprise, and disappointment, that some parts of the global peace movement has yet to understand or recognize the dangers of US-NATO expansion and MD deployments. Maybe it fears the recycled red-baiting (what I call being ‘Putinized’) that waits anyone who speaks out against the western encirclement of Russia. Whatever the reason the peace movement is in a weak position today, in part because of its reluctance in dealing with the aggression of US-NATO on behalf of corporate globalization. As a result the possibility of WW III is now greater than ever according to Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies, history, and politics at New York University and Princeton University.

During this past year I’ve been spending several hours each day learning more about the civil war in Ukraine. After studying many accounts confirming the US directed the coup d’état in Kiev, I am convinced this was intended to create chaos and civil war along the Russian border in order to further plans for destabilization of the Moscow government. Professor Cohen is now warning us to follow the unfolding situation of Transnistria (also called Trans-Dniestr or Transdniestria), a breakaway state located mostly on a strip of land between the River Dniester and the eastern Moldovan border with Ukraine. It appears that US-NATO could next create a crisis there in its deadly project to draw Russia directly into war.

Added to this story is the melting ice in the Arctic Sea and the opportunity for oil corporations to drill where there was once only ice. The US military is increasingly active there and Sen. Angus King (I-ME) has become very involved in promoting the development opportunities from the Arctic zone. Russia has the largest land border with the Arctic which is likely why the RAND Corporation has developed a plan to Balkanize the Russian nation thus making it easier for corporate control of the entire Arctic region.

Our Global Network financial situation is more stable today than ever. I can only explain it by the increasingly unstable global situation and our base of supporters feeling like they are getting clear information and determined action from our network. Unexpected generous donations from the craigslist Charitable Fund the last two years has given us an additional boost. A recent funding appeal to our members for travel assistance for our Kyoto meeting was very successful. Our members appear to like our efforts to connect-the-dots and do solidarity work in places like Jeju Island, Okinawa, Sicily, and in Kyoto Prefecture.

The documentary The Ghosts of Jeju (now translated into six languages) has dramatically helped take our space warfare concerns to many new places. Filmmaker Regis Tremblay is working on another film about US militarization across the Asia-Pacific and the GN is doing what we can to support that project.

In June I traveled to Washington DC to join a Veterans For Peace (VFP) delegation that met with the Governor and various mayors from Okinawa. I am now helping to organize a large VFP delegation this fall that will travel to Jeju Island and Okinawa. VFP leadership has expressed interest in connecting more directly with our space-related work and has invited me to submit articles for print in their two most recent national newspapers.

During the past year I was also invited to speak at several national conferences held in New York, California, New Jersey, and Washington DC. In each of these events I helped put our space issues directly into the peace and justice movement’s overall analysis of current events.

Throughout 2014 we’ve also worked closely with the group called that is doing magnificent work concentrating on the drone issue. Our GN boards approved a $500 donation toward their effort to purchase TV ads in US communities where drone operations bases are located. The ads called on drone pilots to refuse to stop flying. Recent reports suggest that the military is having to cut back on its drone missions due to pilot “burnout”. The drone campaign recently consulted with the GN about how satellites and down-link stations are used to direct drone attacks, so it is good to see activists beginning to make these important connections.

During Keep Space for Peace Week in 2014 there were more than 80 local events held in 10 countries.

During space week our GN board member Tamara Lorincz (Canada) represented us at a national youth conference on space and disarmament issues held in Nagpur, India. Board member J. Narayana Rao reported that the students loved Tamara. Space week will be held in 2015 from October 3-10. Our poster is now being distributed across the US and around the world.

For the last several years I’ve been organizing a peace walk across Maine during our annual Keep Space for Peace Week. Two years ago the walk focused on drones and in 2014 the walk began in a western Maine community where a MD interceptor deployment site is being considered. This coming October 9-24 the Maine Walk for Peace will feature the ‘militarization of the seas’ theme and the Pentagon’s impact on creating climate change. This will allow us to talk about the US ‘pivot’ of 60% of Pentagon forces (mostly Navy) into the Asia-Pacific where much environmental damage is being done to ocean life.

Our Space Alert! newspaper remains popular and many local people continue to place bulk orders for distribution across their communities. Our message also has been widely broadcasted again this year by regular interviews on PressTV and Russia Today. My public access TV show, This Issue, now in its 11th year, is aired on 14 stations across Maine and is sometimes picked up in other states. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing GN board member Regina Hagen from Germany when she visited. As our issues get more coverage in the alternative media, my blog Organizing Notes has seen increased viewing. 

During the past months the top sources of blog visitors have been: US, France, Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Greece, South Korea, India, United Kingdom, and Japan.

In Bath, Maine in June, 2014 I helped organize a public forum about conversion of Bath Iron Works that drew 100 citizens. This kind of event was historic in the ship building community of Bath. I continue to speak and write about conversion of the military industrial complex at every opportunity. It seems that an increasing number of people are talking about this across the country. The issues of jobs, climate change, austerity cuts in social programs, and endless war all offer the chance to put forward the alternative transformative vision of conversion to building rail, solar, wind and tidal power systems so we can deal with the coming reality of climate change.

We continue to owe our web master and board convener, Dave Webb many thanks for his excellent work and leadership. We thank all of our board members for their help and advice throughout the year. We thank all of our members who send donations to keep us going and the very useful information they send along that I’d otherwise never have the chance to find.

I also owe my partner Mary Beth Sullivan many heartfelt thanks for her support and loving patience while I work long hours and am often gone on trips. She helps keep the GN going in many unrecognized ways.

Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Moves on Global Chessboard

Foreign Policy Diary - The US-China Standoff in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Sunday Song

Statement from Global Network Kyoto Conference

Final Declaration from the Kyoto International
 Conference on Space and Peace (August 2, 2015)

The United Nations was established in 1946 after the Second World War to “Save the succeeding generations from the scourge of wars, which twice in our life time has brought untold sorrow to humankind”. The UN visualized establishing a New International Order. But the US and the erstwhile European colonial countries have joined together and instead of a New International Order, they have brought a “New International Disorder”.

The entire 20th Century witnessed wars, aggressions, and assassinations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The imperialist countries formed the NATO military alliance which is being used to indulge in attacks on sovereign nations and committing war crimes which go unpunished. Even the UN is being side tracked as NATO expands its mission as the primary resource extraction service for corporate globalization.

Instead of allowing an alternative social order to capitalism to be developed the US engaged the USSR in a nuclear arms race. US has established approximately 1,000 military bases throughout the world. It was largely responsible for boosting global military expenditures to more than 1.75 Trillion US Dollars. Along with allies like Saudi Arabia and other Arab monarchies the US has over the years fostered the growth of Taliban, Al-Qaida and terrorism throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and parts of Africa.

Missile defense systems, key elements in Pentagon first-strike attack planning, have been deployed around Russia and China. This has helped deal a death blow to hopes for global nuclear disarmament as both those nations have repeatedly warned that they cannot afford to reduce their nuclear retaliatory capability at the same time the US deploys the ‘shield’ on their doorstep.

At the beginning of the 21st Century the United Nations made another attempt to herald a “New International Order” by adopting the “Millennium Declaration” and the Millennium Development Goals. All UN members have accepted to eschew violence and follow peaceful co-existence ushering disarmament and development. But again the US and many European partners have created a “New International Disorder”. 

Lies have been spoken in the governments of US & Britain and also in the UN Security Council about the non-existent nuclear weapons in Iraq. War in Afghanistan, invasion of Iraq, attacks on Libya, and drones attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and other nations have led to the killing of many innocent people.

Having directed a coup d’état in Ukraine the US has helped create a deadly civil war on Russia’s border that appears designed to destabilize the government in Moscow.

NATO has been extended up to the borders of Russia violating post-Cold War promises to the former Soviet Union that the western military alliance would not move ‘one inch’ eastward. The US-NATO are today sending troops and heavy military hardware to NATO members Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Georgia all along or near the Russian border. These provocative developments could be the trigger for WW III.

US refusal to negotiate a ban on weapons in space at the UN has left the door open for continued development of offensive and destabilizing space technologies like the military space plane and Prompt Global Strike systems. US military satellites offer global surveillance to the Pentagon and allow for targeting of virtually any place on Earth.

The recently announced Obama ‘pivot’ of US forces into the Asia-Pacific is intended to give the Pentagon the capability to contain and control China. More airfields, barracks, and ports-of-call are needed for US military operations in the region thus we see expansion of existing bases, or construction of new bases, in places like South Korea, Okinawa, Guam, Philippines, Australia and more. We stand in solidarity with those local and national movements that resist these US base expansions.

Particularly as we meet in Kyoto, Japan we declare our strong opposition to the US deployment of a “missile defense” X-Band radar system in the local prefecture that is provocatively aimed at China.

This Kyoto Conference declares our opposition to the dangerous spread of global militarization, on behalf of corporate domination, which cannot be allowed to continue as we see the coming ravages of climate change and growing global poverty. We must all work to realize the UN ideal to “save the succeeding generations from the scourge of wars”. This can only happen with a powerful and unified global movement for peace, justice and environmental sanity.

We call for the conversion of the global war machine so that all life on our spaceship Earth may live and flourish in the years to come. We recognize the need for bold and determined action now to ensure that another world may in fact be possible.

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Space Command Propaganda

This ran again on CBS TV's 60 Minutes program across the US.  It's a first-rate piece of military industrial complex propaganda. See Part two below.

Arriving in Hiroshima

The Global Network 23rd annual space organizing conference concluded yesterday after our membership meeting in the morning.  I gave my coordinator report, budget report, and we discussed our planned October 3-10 Keep Space for Peace Week.  We added two new persons to our Advisory Board – JV Prabaker (India) and Subrata Ghoshroy (MIT in Boston).  We decided to hold our next space organizing conference in Hyberabad, India in November of 2016.

We then boarded the high-speed train in Kyoto for the two-hour ride to Hiroshima.  Through the train window one can see the miles of rice paddies planted in every available space – including in front yards of people’s homes.

Upon arriving in Hiroshima we checked into our hotel and took a much-needed rest before taking a walk in the surrounding neighborhoods looking for a place to eat dinner.  By that time of day the intense heat, worsened by the pavement of the city streets, had begun to subside just a bit.

This morning I joined a few others who walked over the river (where Atomic bomb victims threw themselves to try to find relief from the burning of their bodies 70 years ago following the US bombing) past the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum to the site of today’s plenary session.

If I recall correctly this is my 4th time to visit Japan during the August 6-9 period.  People come from all over the world in large numbers.  I first came in 1985 during the height of the Cold War. 

I’ll always remember my first day in 1985 having arrived one day after world conference activities had begun.  As I walked into the meeting hall I heard the hundreds of international delegates arguing with a Russian man who had just delivered a speech.  The international assembly was demanding that the Russians get rid of their nuclear weapons.  (I have never heard people yelling at any Americans for similar ‘infractions’.)  A few days later I noticed the Russian man sitting alone in the hotel lobby and I sat down next to him.  He began to cry as he described the difficulty in his country to move the military leaders toward considering nuclear disarmament after President Ronald Reagan had declared that the former Soviet Union was the “epitome of evil in the world”.  I knew that phrase well because Regan had made that speech in my then hometown of Orlando, Florida at the Sheraton Hotel.  I organized the protest outside while Reagan was pouring gasoline on the nuclear arms race inside the hotel.

The Russian peace activist that day gave me several hand made wooden gifts which I treasure and still have hanging in our house in Maine.

Words mean something and can have deep and lasting impact all over our fragile planet.  Making peace begins in our heart and is impacted by what comes out of our mouth.    

Friday, July 31, 2015

Supporting the Ukawa Villagers


We had a 12-hour day yesterday as we made the long drive to northern Kyoto prefecture along the beautiful sea coast to Ukawa village where the US has deployed a 'missile defense' (MD) radar aimed at China.  Our group of 50 activists from a dozen countries arrived in time for lunch at a local community center.  We were joined by about 20 members of the village committee who are actively resisting the radar deployment.

After some short speeches of welcome and introduction the village leaders shared their outrage over the base which took land from 50 families in the community.  One woman in her 80's refused to sell and so today immediately next to the base still stands her home and a large area now called the 'Peace garden'.  She intends to give it to the local peace community for an on-going place for protest.

At the end of the meeting with the village committee Global Network board convener Dave Webb presented the villagers with our annual Peace in Space Award.  (The other award this year went to Bob Anderson & Jeanne Pahls from Albuquerque, New Mexico who were unable to come to Japan.)

The small fishing and farming village (the story is so similar to the one on Jeju Island, South Korea where a Navy base is being built to port US warships) has already been impacted by lots of traffic accidents as Army personnel are now recklessly driving the narrow winding roads.  People fear the health affects from the electromagnetic radiation coming from the radar.  They worry about being a prime target since the radar is a key instrument in US preparation for a first-strike attack on China or Russia. (MD only works if used to mop up a retaliatory attack after a Pentagon first-strike).

Following our meeting with the villagers we loaded back on the bus and headed to the local government building which also houses Japanese Ministry of Defense officials.  (More than one person remarked about this unusual 'sharing' of the same building which indicates who has the dominant relationship in the community.)  Two Defense Ministry representatives came outside to receive a letter from Global Network leaders demanding a closure of the base.  The defense officials then took questions from our group for 30 minutes and their responses were the standard 'non-answer' that we've all come to expect.  They were followed by a representative from the local government who also received our letter and then also similarly took questions - also giving us the usual 'non-answers' to our questions.  All-in-all it was a powerful experience to watch our leaders from India, South Korea, the US, Sweden and other countries ask pointed questions or make firm statements to the very nervous Japanese officials.

Once finished with the government bureaucrats we moved to the radar base for an hour protest.  A historic Buddhist temple was our first stop which is now virtually surrounded by the military base barbed wire fences.  We were told that the public now largely avoids the once popular temple because of the extreme noise coming from the generators providing power to the radar.  US Army personnel with machine guns approached us on the other side of the fence as we held our banners near the barbed barrier.  Quite a few of the American GI's came out of various buildings to see our large and colorful peace contingent and as usually happens in these moments the military personnel were seen uncomfortably laughing at us.  They have likely been told by their superiors that we are all Communists and China lovers and to avoid any conversations with us.

The long ride home on the bus gave us time to process the experience from this remarkable day.  For me this is the best part of our annual conference.  When we can go and stand alongside the broken hearted villagers I feel like we have really done something useful.  We made sure to tell them that they are not alone and we pledged to them that we'd share their story widely through the Global Network international community. Ukawa villagers are now part of our growing family.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Report from Kyoto

Our work at the Kyoto Space & Peace International Seminar began in earnest yesterday with excellent talks by several speakers.  We mostly covered the growing US 'missile defense' (MD) deployments in Japan and South Korea and the implications for increased global instability as the Pentagon surrounds China and Russia with these offensive systems.

Global Network board convener Dave Webb (also chairs the UK Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) did a great job with a super illustrative PowerPoint presentation showing how MD works and all the places around the world that the US is deploying the system. Yes it is like a metastasizing cancer.

Also an interesting talk from Swako Maeda on the rapidly expanding Japanese military space program that is being plugged into the overall Pentagon 'Full Spectrum Dominance' operation.

Today we board a bus and drive 2 1/2 hours to the Ukawa village along the coast where the US has recently deployed an MD radar aimed at China (although Pentagon press releases maintain it is aimed at North Korea).  We will hold a protest outside the base and meet with citizens from the small fishing village (population of 1,600) whose life has been turned upside down by this disruptive military base.

On the personal side our 16-year Bath, Maine neighbor Leann, who came on this trip with us, is doing well.  She is making friends with people and yesterday sat through four hours of talks at the seminar. Last night she handed me a birthday card she had made for me that include the following quote:

"At last I think I've discovered the secret: Do whatever your heart leads you to do - but do it?" by Truman X. Jones.

Then Leann wrote next to those words: "You did it!  You go, man! You do you!"