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

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Last Day in Okinawa

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

Yesterday we drummed and chanted outside the Okinawan prefecture building in Naha to encourage the governor to continue opposition to the Pentagon base expansion program on the island


We drummed and chanted outside the Naha jail yesterday honoring the three activists now under arrest for their peaceful and non-violent opposition to US base expansion at Henoko and Takae

Newspaper coverage of our protests this past week.  One women approached me this morning and said she remembered seeing my photo in the paper a year ago December when I first came to Okinawa with a Veterans For Peace delegation

Our three man VFP delegation along with the 25 other folks from Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist order that we traveled with during our visit


The third graphic from the top shows the plan for the two-runway Marine airfield that will be built on top of pristine Oura Bay.  People make a living from this sacred water body where endangered sea mammals now live. Two million cubic meters of landfill will be put on top of the coral reefs in order to build the airfield.  Is this insane or what?

I'm at the airport in Naha, Okinawa now waiting for my flight to Tokyo.  From there I fly to Minneapolis, Minnesota and then change planes to Boston.  From Boston I take a two-hour bus ride to Portland, Maine where Mary Beth will pick me up and drive me the final 45 minute leg to Bath.  So it's a long trip home.

Yesterday, soon after arriving in Naha we walked through the heart of downtown on the main commercial street that had been closed to auto traffic.  Loads of people were on the streets shopping and listening to music.  So we walked down the middle of the street with Jules Orkin and myself carrying the gold VFP banner and then the Buddhists behind us drumming and chanting up a storm.  It was quite a scene and the best part was when a black GI saw us and made eye connection and gave a nod.  Very special moment.

(Click on the photos for a better view)

Bruce

Sunday Song


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Update from Okinawa

Photo taken last night after our dinner at a community center near US Marine base where twin-runways are going to be built over pristine Oura Bay which will destroy endangered dugong mammals (relatives of manatees) and coral reefs.


Yesterday morning three of us from Veterans For Peace walked onto Kadena AFB with our banner that says No US Bases on Okinawa.  We were quickly pushed back by security.


We joined the daily blockade this morning of the construction entrance to US Marine base Camp Schwab for two hours

This morning after joining protests at US Marine base Camp Schwab for two hours we walked along Oura Bay to get a look at the area where the twin-runways will be built on top of the bay by bringing in massive amounts of landfill.  The water is now crystal clear but won't be for long if this airfield is completed.
Activists at Takae show us the places in the forest where the US has cut down 25,000 trees to build helipads for their Osprey aircraft landing zones

It's been a busy couple of days here on Okinawa since arriving.  We've been protesting outside various bases - the US military controls 20% of the entire island for its various Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine bases.  Planes, helicopters and other military vehicles are constantly in motion on the island which creates a huge amount of noise pollution which the population strongly opposes.

Several major base expansion projects are now underway in Okinawa - particularly the twin-runways for Marine aircraft that is scheduled to be built on top of beautifully diverse Oura Bay.  A protest outside Camp Schwab Marine base has been going on daily for more than 900 days and the lead organizer for the movement has been put in jail by the Japanese government on ridiculous charges.  His real crime is that he has been an effective leader.

A second base expansion is the military training area in the Takae forest in the northern part of the island.  We made the 90 minute drive there today and met with villagers who live in the forest (only 140 of them) who have been fighting against the plan to cut large tracts of trees in the forest to construct helipads for the Marine Osprey helicopters (one of which recently crashed in Oura Bay while being refueled by a US Air Force KC-135).

We learned that 25,000 trees have already been cut and roads are being built through the jungle which is loaded with endangered species.  The people have been resisting against this forest destruction for years but the US insisted on the new helipads being built so the colonial puppet Japanese government has complied with the directives from Washington.

All of this base expansion is aimed at China and Russia.  The US is moving 60% of its military forces into the Asia-Pacific (Hillary Clinton named it the 'pivot') thus more airfields, ports-of-call, barracks and weapons depots are required for this major influx of US troops.

You can imagine the same kind of expansion of facilities is happening in Poland today as the Pentagon is moving large supplies of tanks and other military vehicles to that new regional hub.  The environmental consequences of these kinds of base expansions is always extreme.

Several times in the last couple days Okinawan peace leaders have mentioned the name of Caroline Kennedy - JFK's daughter who now serves as Obama's Ambassador to Japan.  She has insisted that the Marine base runways must be completed and the expansion of Marine helipads at Takae inside the forest jungle must go forward.  The word is that the Japanese government has pushed hard in recent months to move these projects along so that her 'legacy' as the US enforcer assigned to control Tokyo will be complete.

Tomorrow we will hold a vigil outside the jail where the Okinawan peace leader Hiroji Yamashiro is being unjustly held.  You can sign a petition calling for his immediate release here

(Click on the photos for a better view)

Bruce

Friday, January 13, 2017

The GI Resistance Movement



Our 35-person  Nipponzan Myohoji delegation joined a large weekly local protest at the front gate of the US's Kadena AFB in Okinawa this morning in the rain.

While standing there with two other Veterans For Peace (VFP) members we held a banner calling for all US bases in Okinawa to be closed.

One of the US security team at the gate and I talked quite a bit during our presence.  He is a private contractor originally from Indiana.  After he retired from the US military he came back to do the same basic job as a contractor and is likely paid much more than when he was on active service.  So he is drinking from the public well twice - getting retirement pay and now working for the Air Force as a contractor.  The American taxpayers are being fleeced by these kind of private security operations.

While talking he was very interested in our group - where we were from, how we traveled, how many of us there were, how long we'd be in Okinawa, etc?  I talked to him about US empire, the Okinawan people's deep rejection of the US military occupation of their lands, and my own time in the Air Force during the Vietnam War.

I told him it was the meetings of the GI Resistance Movement in my barracks room (my first roommate was one of the organizers) that helped to turn me into a peace activist.

I suggested he watch this fabulous documentary video.  Maybe he, or others from US intelligence assigned to Okinawa, will take the time to see this important historical piece.

Bruce

Thursday, January 12, 2017

US-NATO Turning Poland into War Hub



US-NATO tanks on their way (at the level crossing of Gruenwalder Street in Guben, Germany) to Poland for the ultimate war with Russia.  US-NATO want to try to finish what Hitler was not able to do when he invaded the Soviet Union during WW II.  Over 27 million were killed in the Soviet Union as they barely (with not much help from the US) defeated the Nazi Army.

This is not being reported in the mainstream media as we are all distracted with everything Trump.

People, even in the peace movement, are not yet taking this seriously.

Just like Okinawa, where I am now protesting at US bases and is called an 'unsinkable aircraft carrier' for the US, Poland is being turned into a war operations hub.

If a shooting war starts and Russia is attacked by US and NATO then Europe will be turned into burning ruins. Unlike most countries that the US has attacked Russia can actually fight back.  The US would be counter-attack by Russia and would suffer a similar radioactive fate.

At the same time the US (and an expanding NATO alliance that is making Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand 'partners') is encircling China.

The US wants to take down Russia and China - the US can't stand any competitors on the world scene and knows that they must move now toward regime change in Moscow and Beijing because given another 10 years both of those nations will be too strong to take down.  Russia and China are calling for a multi-polar world rather than the current uni-polar world with the USA on top.

The US is making a colossal mistake here and it could very possibly lead to WW III.

Wake up world and smell the coffee.  Resist and survive now before it is too late!

Call for an end to US military empire.

Bruce

The Deep North


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Russia Scare: Distracting the American People



The operation is called 'Atlantic Resolve' and will see the deployment of American soldiers and tanks. However, ships carrying the first batch of troops were greeted at a German port by signs reading ‘Army Go Home.’ RT got reaction from former US State Department official Matthew Hoh.