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

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Always Remember This Man


Boxer Muhammad Ali went to jail rather than be drafted in the US Army to fight in Vietnam: "My conscious won't let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn't put no dogs on me, they didn't rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father... Shoot them for what? ...How can I shoot them poor people, Just take me to jail."

What Muhammad Ali said about the Vietnam war could be applied just as much to the wars Barack Obama is waging in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, and the wars he is beginning to start in Iran, Africa and Ukraine.

The Whole Thing is a Facade

 
They cover the US electoral dog-and-poney-show with truth and spirit.

This discussion should be held over every table in the nation.

Maybe They Don't Want to Hear.....


Latest film by Regis Tremblay about the US occupation of Okinawa.  Please watch and share. 

The Pentagon has more than 30 bases on Okinawa today making it an unsinkable aircraft carrier and obviously a key target as Washington moves to militarily encircle China and Russia.

The people's resistance (since 1953) to US bases in Okinawa is an inspiring story about determination and love.  You can help them win this fight!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Xmas Bonus

Brutal Ugliness of Militarism


Here are some words from another member of the Veterans For Peace delegation that went to Jeju Island.  Russell did not travel with us to Okinawa but stayed in Gangjeong village for five more days after our group left.  Russell is an Associate member of VFP. (Pictured above are some of the UNESCO-recognized soft coral forests just off the coast of Gangjeong village.  As the sea-bed is dredged to allow US warships to port there the sediment is killing the coral. Who is willing to speak out to defend the coral?  Russell Wray did.) 

Our visit to Gangjeong village made very real for me just how serious a threat militarism is to all life on this planet. The once beautiful Gureombi rocks have been desecrated by the base construction.    Jeju Island’s estimated 114 remaining endangered Indo-pacific Bottlenose dolphins, once frequent visitors in Gangjeong’s waters, are no longer seen there since base construction began. And I fear for their survival once US and Korean Destroyers start blasting the surrounding waters with sonar….. So much that is beautiful is threatened by the brutal ugliness of militarism.

Speaking of beauty, the people there in Gangjeong Village…they so moved and inspired me with their incredible determination to resist militarism and their insistence on making the celebration of beauty, through their art, music, and dance, so much a part of that resistance.  That is one beautiful community, and I thank them and I love them!

~ Russell Wray 

Hancock, Maine
Artist and Anti-Sonar Activist

Happy Holidays to All of You

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sen. Angus King Displays His Arrogance



Sen. Angus King (Ind-Maine) tells Secretary of War Ashton Carter that the US should do more to "move [Assad] off the stage" in Syria.  Later on in the video the so-called 'moderate' senator urges Carter to do more to combat ISIS in the social media battle and urges him to bring the issue up for further discussion in the "councils of war".

It just drives me nuts to see American political hacks talking about removing the leaders of other nations as if they were talking about changing football coaches.  The arrogance is mind blowing.

These cats talk about holding elections so that the Syrian people can get the kind of country 'they deserve'.  And just what kind of government would they have?  You got it - a corporate dominated one - a puppet state.

This is the kind of democracy that the US is promoting - nothing but a series of corporate coup d'etats.

The Pigs Rule in Ukraine


RT reports:

The Sheep are Being Fleeced
 
Activists who think that Ukraine’s 2016 budget screams death to the agricultural sector have brought a dead pig in a coffin to the Verkhovna Rada building in Kiev and held a mock funeral ceremony.

The angry protesting farmers and their supporters demand to keep a simplified tax system and special VAT rules for the agricultural sector in 2016, something the announced budget lacks as Ukraine has to comply with the demands of its lender, the International Monetary Fund.

Ukrainian website NB News reports that around 1,000 people came out to protest. They paid their ‘respects’ to a dead pig in a coffin while women in traditional folk costumes sang songs about the fate of Ukraine. 

The pig had a sticker over its body reading "Tax reforms are death to business." 

During the procession, scuffles between riot police and protesters erupted as the protesters tried to bring the coffin closer to the Verkhovna Rada.  

Nuclear Power Not Worth It

 
Priya Pillai of Greenpeace India speaking at Jantar Mantar on December 12, 2015, in a protest organised by the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace(CNDP) during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Xmas Eve Messages from Jeju Island

 
Christmas Eve Message from Toni Flynn & Martha Hennessy
Dec. 24, 2015
Gangjeong Village, Jeju Island
South Korea

Toni's Christmas Eve Message

Where will the Infant Jesus be placed when He is born in Gangjeong tomorrow? Between the cracks of cement blocks hardening inside the naval base? In a tiny raft at sea, surrounded by massive battle ships?  

It seems that the only appropriate place is in the arms of the faithful who sit every day in plastic chairs in front of the gate, who are repeatedly carried to the side by the police during Mass and who return over and over again to peacefully persist in blocking the entrance to the compound. 

No doubt, the Infant’s only swaddling clothes will be the worn and mud crusted vestments of the priests, the raincoats of the peace activists, and the banners with words opposing war making. 

Instead of Magi arriving from the East, Martha and I arrived from the U.S. in the West. We did not follow a star, we responded to your blood, your tears, and your cries of grief. We followed the echoes of your courageous voices.

We bring not gold, frankincense and myrrh, rather we bring our solidarity, our support, and our love. We represent many others who oppose war. 

One day soon, our hope is that the people who build power structures and develop and use military weaponry will bow to the Angel’s Message of Peace on Earth, Good Will to All.


Martha's Christmas Eve Message

The birth of Christ brings us forgiveness of sins and the pathway to peace, writes Abbot Gregory Polan in today’s reflection. I sit, before dawn, in this small village on an island and contemplate the huge warships docked at the newly constructed naval base. Perhaps the military men are here for some R&R on shore for Christmas.

Soon we will be at the gate, bowing down 100 times, praying for disarmament of our own selves. We are helpless, like newborn infants at risk for being crushed at any moment by such a massive war machine, a small part represented in this one particular military base. We pray desperately for God’s tender mercies. The world is in a compulsive, ghastly struggle with death, and yet we wait for the birth of the One who comes full of life and light.

Despite imprisoned union leaders charged with sedition, falling rice prices due to trade partnerships, proposed rewritten history textbooks, government labor “reform” bills, water cannon induced comas, ferry boat disasters, an opened naval base, despite all of this, there is hope. There is a groundswell of labor, civic, and farmer’s unrest demanding justice. Groups such as the Korean Catholic Farmers Association, and Korean Confederation of Trade Unions are raising their voices. We hold such painfully bright expectations in our hearts. Come quickly, oh light of salvation, bringing us your eternal joy and comfort. Save us in Your love!

Comments on Jeju/Okinawa Trip by Four Veterans


Here are some comments about our recent trip to Jeju Island and Okinawa by four Veterans For Peace members.

As a war veteran, an activist and advocate in a number of social causes, never before in my experience have I felt so overwhelmingly humbled and outraged.  I leave Jeju emotionally drained and completely in sync with my VFP brothers/sisters in peace and the brave people of this island.

~ Stan Levin
San Diego, CA
Korean War Veteran
VFP chap #91


Jeju Island is such a beautiful pristine paradise with drinkable springs, coral reefs, and rare dolphins.  The construction of the base is an environmental catastrophe!  It has also displaced the homes of many people.  This is supposed to the an 'Island of Peace".  The last thing the world needs is another military base.

The local people protesting at the gate [Jeju and Okinawa] are filled with such passion, integrity and strength in the face of adversity.  It motivates me to continue to stand for what is right and to be a voice for those who are oppressed.

~ SSGT Mike Hanes
San Diego, CA
Force Recon Marine
Iraq War Veteran
1994-2004


I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to travel to Jeju and to Okinawa to stand in solidarity with the victims of American imperialism on the "frontline."  The consequences of our vast military empire has long been an abiding issue of mine.  I don't think we can avoid bearing some responsibility, as citizens of the empire, for what is being done in our names---and the more we know, the more it becomes incumbent to take some action in response.    Standing with the victims of this most drastic manifestation of imperialism and subsequently bearing witness may be of little consequence, but there's always the "ripple effect" and "changing one mind at a time."  So, being "at the gates" was the most memorable aspect of the entire experience.

On balance I thought both of the segments,  Jeju and Okinawa, were incredibly rich and valuable.  Not having been to Okinawa (in this capacity) before I learned a great deal about relevant history and the current situation.  I came away feeling blessed for the experience---particularly for having been able to "stand in solidarity" with the victims of each community. 

~ Dud Hendrick
Deer Isle, Maine
US Naval Academy Graduate
Vietnam War Veteran


The VFP delegation to Jeju Island, South Korea and Okinawa, Japan was a huge eye-opener, as an American but more so as a US military veteran. The trip has personally changed my life and I've learned that achieving the goal of global peace is more necessary than ever before. Until our trip to Asia, I've only had the chance to research these issues. Now, I've had the chance to personally witness the detriment the US military is bringing upon other nations and people. War, and the preparation for war, must stop now! After receiving such great support from the people of Jeju and the people of Okinawa, I now feel stronger than ever to face this struggle of global peace. I am now 100% a global citizen. Their struggle is our struggle. 
~ William Griffin
San Diego, CA
US Army Paratrooper
Iraq & Afghanistan Wars Veteran

Christmas at Peace.....



CHRISTMAS TRUCE

You don’t fight, we won’t fight,
We can sleep in peace this Christmas Night,
The war is over by the troops decree,
It’s a dead end fight and we all agree,
What are we gonna do come the morning light.
You don’t fight, we won’t fight,
We can meet halfway on the bloody ice
Comradely bond with no arms drawn,
I’m wondering whose side we’re on,
Got a flask of something strong,
and i’m sharing it with friends tonight.
You don’t fight, we won’t fight,
We can bury our dead and honour them right,
I’ll pray for you and you’ll pray for me,
and we’ll re-define bravery,
i’m strong and I’m proud but I ain’t going to take a life.
You don’t fight, we won’t fight,
Got half your men right in my sights,
But iv’e seen you lives and iv’e seen your dead,
So i’m aiming right above your head,
Worlds gone mad but I ain’t gonna take a life.
You don’t fight, we won’t fight,
But will this courage last past Christmas Night,
What’ll they say in a hundred years,
When they look back on what happened here,
What are we gonna do come the morning light?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Warships Moved to Jeju Island

With Mt. Halla in the background, a naval band performs during a ceremony at the new naval base on the southern resort island of Jeju on Dec. 22 to announce the arrival of two South Korean Aegis destroyers from the southwestern coastal base of Busan. The relocation is part of the Jeju navy base's official launch scheduled for next month.


While recently in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island (with the Veterans For Peace delegation) we heard that the South Korean government was saying the new Navy base was 97% complete.  Local activists, who have become experts on the status of construction during these past eight years, concluded the base was now at the 80% completion mark.  Either way enough of the base has become available that warships can now be moved there.

The South Korean and US governments maintain that the base was built to help contain North Korea.  Yet when you look at a map of Korea you see that the Aegis destroyers (outfitted with 'missile defense' systems) are coming to Jeju from the navy base in Busan which is actually closer to North Korea. Jeju Island happens to be closer to China.

The truth is that the US handed the base specifications to the right-wing South Korean regime and told them to build the base.  The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Washington and Seoul allows the US full use of all South Korean bases anytime the Pentagon wishes to use them.  For all intents and purposes the Jeju Navy base is a US base.

The Aegis missile defense program is a key element in Pentagon first-strike attack planning.  Their role is to take out any retaliatory strikes after the US hits China or Russia.  The closer the US can get these systems to China or Russia the better chance they have of working in a war time scenario.  These are destabilizing systems and used to be illegal under the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia until George W. Bush pulled the US out of the agreement soon after taking office.

Due to Obama's announced 'pivot' (the Pentagon calls it 'rebalancing') of 60% of US military forces into the Asia-Pacific to encircle China more ports-of-call are needed for Washington's surging naval forces.  Thus the base on Jeju.

The anti-base resistance there will evolve as the base becomes operational but all signs are saying that the determined opposition will continue in one form or the other.  The Navy still wants even more of the village land so more fights are yet to come.

In the meantime the best thing supporters of Gangjeong village can do is continue to oppose the cancerous US military escalation into the Asia-Pacific that not only is severely impacting the innocent people and the environment in South Korea - but is also having negative impacts in Okinawa, Japan, Guam, Philippines, Taiwan, Australia and other places where Washington is demanding more outposts for its military empire.

Seymour Hersh: US intelligence sharing in the Syrian war



A new report by the Pulitzer-winning veteran journalist Seymour Hersh says the Joint Chiefs of Staff has indirectly supported Bashar al-Assad in an effort to help him defeat jihadist groups. Hersh reports the Joint Chiefs sent intelligence via Russia, Germany and Israel on the understanding it would be transmitted to help Assad push back Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State. Hersh also claims the military even undermined a U.S. effort to arm Syrian rebels in a bid to prove it was serious about helping Assad fight their common enemies. Hersh says the Joint Chiefs’ maneuvering was rooted in several concerns, including the U.S. arming of unvetted Syrian rebels with jihadist ties, a belief the administration was overly focused on confronting Assad’s ally in Moscow, and anger the White House was unwilling to challenge Turkey and Saudi Arabia over their support of extremist groups in Syria. Hersh joins us to detail his claims and respond to his critics.

You can find the entire report by Hersh here

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Stop U.S. Destruction of Oura Bay

Right now in Okinawa, Japan, hundreds of people are putting their bodies in front of bulldozers. Why? Because a U.S. military base wants to expand, dumping landfill on the home of 5,300 species, including the rare Japanese dugong.We stand with the people of Okinawa. SHARE if you do too!

Posted by Greenpeace International on Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Everybody is a Victim of the Structure

 
Sixth in the series, Warriors for Peace by Regis Tremblay. Veterans Speak. Fr. Peter Hinde, O. Carm., Catholic priest and former WWII fighter pilot in Japan. 
 
Involved in U.S. Civil Rights protests, missionary in Peru, and now working in Juarez, Mexico. An amazing story about an amazing life.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Corporate Bankster Pirates=Fascism


I highly recommend watching this German TV channel ZDF video.  They speak the truth about US-NATO endless wars for oil.  In the hot seat is pitiful US Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the Commanding General, of United States Army Europe.  He hails from Quincy, Florida which speaks for itself.  

In my view the US is totally exposed for its greedy-sick-hypocrisy and the audience applause helps reveal that the people, all over the world, see the truth that the US is a 'global force for evil' and corporate interests.  The only people falling for the Pentagon's propaganda any more are the majority of the American people.

The participants are: Aktham Suleiman, a Syrian journalist; Ursula von der Leyen, the Secretary of Defense of Germany; Jean Asselborn, the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg; Oskar Lafontaine, a member of the Left Party in Germany.

The fact that Hodges has to sit on camera at the same table as the Left Party representative indicates how far the US power of persuasion has fallen in Europe.  The US is trying to break Europe away from Russia and is using 'terrorism' as an excuse to force fascist-led regime change in nations that don't wish to be colonized by the US corporate mafia.  The empire is indeed collapsing and is kicking the shit out of anyone that gets in its way.

I lived in Florida for 30 years.  That state is a perfect example of a corporate colony in the US.  The public education system has always been weak in order to keep the populations there ignorant and subservient to corporate interests.  Historically, beginning during the slave trade, Florida oligarchs have been instrumental in US foreign policy development in the Caribbean and throughout Latin America.  They have been leaders in US fascist operations toppling governments throughout Central and South America.  Washington's early Cuba policy was centered around drugs, gambling, prostitution, sugar, and the enormous profits that flowed to the mobsters based in Miami.

Over the years when right-wing governments were challenged in Latin America those oligarchs would run to Miami looking for shelter from their storm.  The politics of Florida reeks with the smell of this sordid history.

After having lived in Florida for 30 years, been in the military, led groups to Cuba, and been part of movements trying to challenge these entrenched right-wing forces in that state I can easily attest to it being a fascist corporate colony.  I will always remember watching the sons of the elite arguing against progressive issues at the University of Florida Student Government Senate.  It was their training ground before running state and corporate operations.

There won't be peace in the world until the American people stand up to their own dictators who push oil wars (sold as 'war on terrorism') and destroy our own nation's publicly funded infrastructure. They are nothing more than corporate bankster pirates.

Take a close look at Ben Hodge in the video.  He's out of his league - he is a corporate knuckle-breaker who has been given a nice suit with lots of splash on it.  The rest of the world sees it - Americans should be embarrassed and at shame that we have swallowed the dark pill in order to feel like 'we are the exceptional people'.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

I Helped Create ISIS



By Vincent Emanuele

Information Clearinghouse

After 14 years of War on Terror the West is great at fomenting barbarism and creating failed states.

For the last several years, people around the world have asked, "Where did ISIS come from?" Explanations vary, but largely focus on geopolitical (U.S. hegemony), religious (Sunni-Shia), ideological (Wahhabism) or ecological (climate refugees) origins. Many commentators and even former military officials correctly suggest that the war in Iraq is primarily responsible for unleashing the forces we now know as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, etc. Here, hopefully I can add some useful reflections and anecdotes.

Mesopotamian Nightmares

When I was stationed in Iraq with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 2003-2005, I didn't know what the repercussions of the war would be, but I knew there would be a reckoning. That retribution, otherwise known as blowback, is currently being experienced around the world (Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, France, Tunisia, California, and so on), with no end in sight.

Back then, I routinely saw and participated in obscenities. Of course, the wickedness of the war was never properly recognized in the West. Without question, antiwar organizations attempted to articulate the horrors of the war in Iraq, but the mainstream media, academia and political-corporate forces in the West never allowed for a serious examination of the greatest war crime of the 21st century.

As we patrolled the vast region of Iraq's Al-Anbar Province, throwing MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) trash out of our vehicles, I never contemplated how we would be remembered in history books; I simply wanted to make some extra room in my HUMVEE. Years later, sitting in a Western Civilization history course at university, listening to my professor talk about the cradle of civilization, I thought of MRE garbage on the floor of the Mesopotamian desert.

Examining recent events in Syria and Iraq, I can't help but think of the small kids my fellow marines would pelt with Skittles from those MRE packages. Candies weren't the only objects thrown at the children: water bottles filled with urine, rocks, debris, and various other items were thrown as well. I often wonder how many members of ISIS and various other terrorist organizations recall such events?

Moreover, I think about the hundreds of prisoners we took captive and tortured in makeshift detention facilities staffed by teenagers from Tennessee, New York and Oregon. I never had the misfortune of working in the detention facility, but I remember the stories. I vividly remember the marines telling me about punching, slapping, kicking, elbowing, kneeing and head-butting Iraqis. I remember the tales of sexual torture: forcing Iraqi men to perform sexual acts on each other while marines held knives against their testicles, sometimes sodomizing them with batons.

However, before those abominations could take place, those of us in infantry units had the pleasure of rounding up Iraqis during night raids, zip-tying their hands, black-bagging their heads and throwing them in the back of HUMVEEs and trucks while their wives and kids collapsed to their knees and wailed. Sometimes, we would pick them up during the day. Most of the time they wouldn't resist. Some of them would hold hands while marines would butt-stroke the prisoners in the face. Once they arrived at the detention facility, they would be held for days, weeks, and even months at a time. Their families were never notified. And when they were released, we would drive them from the FOB (Forward Operating Base) to the middle of the desert and release them several miles from their homes.

After we cut their zip-ties and took the black bags off their heads, several of our more deranged marines would fire rounds from their AR-15s into their air or ground, scaring the recently released captives. Always for laughs. Most Iraqis would run, still crying from their long ordeal at the detention facility, hoping some level of freedom awaited them on the outside. Who knows how long they survived. After all, no one cared. We do know of one former U.S. prisoner who survived: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.

Amazingly, the ability to dehumanize the Iraqi people reached a crescendo after the bullets and explosions concluded, as many marines spent their spare time taking pictures of the dead, often mutilating their corpses for fun or poking their bloated bodies with sticks for some cheap laughs. Because iPhones weren't available at the time, several marines came to Iraq with digital cameras. Those cameras contain an untold history of the war in Iraq, a history the West hopes the world forgets. That history and those cameras also contain footage of wanton massacres and numerous other war crimes, realities the Iraqis don't have the pleasure of forgetting.

Unfortunately, I could recall countless horrific anecdotes from my time in Iraq. Innocent people were not only routinely rounded-up, tortured and imprisoned, they were also incinerated by the hundreds of thousands, some studies suggest by the millions.

Only the Iraqis understand the pure evil that's been waged on their nation. They remember the West's role in the eight year war between Iraq and Iran; they remember Clinton's sanctions in the 1990s, policies which resulted in the deaths of well over 500,000 people, largely women and children. Then, 2003 came and the West finished the job. Today, Iraq is an utterly devastated nation. The people are poisoned and maimed, and the natural environment is toxic from bombs laced with depleted uranium. After fourteen years of the War on Terror, one thing is clear: the West is great at fomenting barbarism and creating failed states.

Living with Ghosts

The warm and glassy eyes of young Iraqi children perpetually haunt me, as they should. The faces of those I've killed, or at least those whose bodies were close enough to examine, will never escape my thoughts. My nightmares and daily reflections remind me of where ISIS comes from and why, exactly, they hate us. That hate, understandable yet regrettable, will be directed at the West for years and decades to come. How could it be otherwise?

Again, the scale of destruction the West has inflicted in the Middle East is absolutely unimaginable to the vast majority of people living in the developed world. This point can never be overstated as Westerners consistently and naively ask, "Why do they hate us?"

In the end, wars, revolutions and counterrevolutions take place and subsequent generations live with the results: civilizations, societies, cultures, nations and individuals survive or perish. That's how history works. In the future, how the West deals with terrorism will largely depend on whether or not the West continues their terroristic behavior. The obvious way to prevent future ISIS-style organizations from forming is to oppose Western militarism in all its dreadful forms: CIA coups, proxy wars, drone strikes, counterinsurgency campaigns, economic warfare, etc.

Meanwhile, those of us who directly participated in the genocidal military campaign in Iraq will live with the ghosts of war.

~ Vincent Emanuele is a writer, radio journalist and activist. He lives in Michigan City, Indiana and can be reached at vince.emanuele@ivaw.org  

War Isn't Working

Sunday Song