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....

My Photo
Name:
Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Grow the Change


The Wars Just Keep On Coming......



President Obama just authorized air strikes in Libya to combat ISIS, making it the fourth country that the United States is bombing in its unofficial, undeclared War on Terror - and the media barely reported it. The Resident breaks it down.

Gee, let's vote for the Democrats who promise peace and then expand the wars!  Great idea!

No THAAD Rally in Seoul



Tomorrow August 14 Sunday, 7 PM Seoul City Hall Square protest the missile defense system THAAD to be placed on the Korean Peninsula by the US.

Let's get together! No THAAD rally tomorrow on Aug 14, 7 pm at Seoul City Hall Square. Let's go together!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Jeju Peace March (with English Subtitles)



Film by Will Griffin, video produced by Zoom in Korea

Clinton Sold Favors to Big Donors While At State Department



More on Hillary 'pay to play' - favors for big donors to Clinton Foundation - major corruption while she was Secretary of State..

This won't stick to her though one person in the video says because Trump's craziness is worse.

It just goes to prove what I have been saying for a long time - Trump's campaign is solely to help distract the public from Clinton's corruption.  And the strategy appears to be working very well!

Bruce

A Look at North Korea



Will Griffin gives us a view from the DMZ.....

Thursday, August 11, 2016

DMZ: Disney World of Military Recruitment


Yesterday Will Griffin and I were taken north to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) between North and South Korea.  We were joined by several South Korean activists who specialize in Imjin River protection and landmines.  My son Julian and his friend Emily (both also visiting South Korea) joined us for the day as well.

We began by going to the overlook area between North and South where the Imjin River helps create a natural barrier between the two nations.  Then we moved to another part of the DMZ where we walked down a tunnel (one of four) that North Korea created to allegedly infiltrate the south.  This tunnel gradually sloped downward eventually equaling 24 stories below the ground.  What began as an extremely hot place soon got colder and colder as we headed downward.  Coming back up was quite a challenge.

I could not help but wonder if the South Korean government's demonization of North Korea for the tunnels, at what is essentially a DMZ tourist trap, might be better explained as a defensive effort on the part of the north to send troops deep into southern territory after a US-South Korea attack on the north.

I know that during the Korean War the US bombed every standing target in North Korea and the people, in order to survive, had to move underground.  At night they would come outside to tend their farms and then return underground during to day in order to stay safe.  It is likely they kept digging tunnels after the war in order to have a way to militarily respond in the event they were ever attacked again.

Today 600,000 South Korean military are stationed along the DMZ.  About 2,000 US troops are also along the border.  These days most US troops are being moved south to get them out of range of North Korean artillery.  New bases and expanded bases to the south are now home to more than 25,000 US troops.  At those bases the US has high-tech weapons systems that allow them to wage war from a 'safe distance'.

The DMZ tour finally took us to a former US Army outpost called Camp Greaves that has been turned into a 'youth hostel' where tourists are taken to pretend they are in the Army.


As our bus arrived in 'Camp Greaves' a young woman dressed in military attire (with a cheer leading skirt) boarded the bus to explain we could go inside air conditioned tents and try on a military jacket, make ourselves dog tags, put on a military back pack, and experience the actual setting for a film about South Korean 'peace keeping missions' around the world that is now popular on TV throughout the Asia-Pacific. In fact the woman later said when we got into the tent, pointing to a chair Will was sitting in, the TV star "sat right here".  Will quickly got up and left the tent.

One of our guides told us that local farmers said this former US Army base was known as a major toxic contamination zone.  (All US military bases are infamous for oil, solvent, and jet fuel pollution that poisons the local groundwater supply.) The thought that today kids are brought to the 'youth hostel' and put in dorms that were once military barracks is rather concerning.  (I hope they are drinking bottled water rather than from underground wells.)

I walked around the base a bit and saw other old barracks being taken over by nature.  Soon they will be covered completely and ultimately will collapse under the weight of mother nature.


I see this process of nature taking over the base as symbolic of the reality that these US military outposts of empire are contradictions in nature.  These bases are not sustainable in time - due to cost, due to pressure inside of South Korea for them to be closed, and due to pressure inside the US for our tax dollars to be used at home for human development and physical infrastructure repair rather than endless war.

When we earlier had stood at the DMZ tourist overlook site peering out at the Imjin River into North Korea I asked the two South Korean activists from the area what they were thinking.  One of them said he was feeling "A sense of longing to go to North Korea to see for himself what is actually going on there."  But under the last two right-wing presidents South Korea has stopped the progress previously made in steps toward reunification.

Where once union workers from the South would go play soccer with workers in the North, these days the doors to reestablishing brotherhood have been closed.  The current Park administration, more in line with US interests, has escalated tensions and shut down talk of reconciliation.

It appears to me that Washington is hell-bent on war against China and Russia.  There is a deep sense of fear, despair and disempowerment with many of the people and activists here. Many young people feel they have no future in South Korea as the economic divide between rich and poor widens.  People care but don't know what to do.

War, and rumors of war, keep the people (whether in South Korea or the US) distracted from fighting against our growing impoverishment by the corporate elites.  In the US the circus sideshow 'election' between Clinton and Trump is designed to ensure that the nation does not seriously reflect on these same key issues.

It is clear that the globalization of the corporate agenda must be met by the globalization of the peace, social justice and environmental movements.  We are all in the same boat now and must face our common enemy together.

Bruce

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Release the Jailed Progressive Activists in South Korea!

Former UPP political prisoner Han Dong-geun (2nd from right) spent two years in South Korea prison for wanting the reunification of Korea and an end to war conditions between the north and south.  He was one of 10 UPP members jailed by the government in an anti-communist witch hunt.


Will Griffin and I today had a very instructive and moving meeting with two members of the international support team of the Korean Committee to Save Rep. Lee Seok-ki.

One of those who met with us was Han Dong-geun, who himself was released from prison last year after a two-year sentence.

A South Korean court sentenced Seok-ki, a left-wing lawmaker, to 12 years in prison and nine colleagues to shorter terms for allegedly plotting a "pro-North Korea rebellion in the event of a war on the Korean Peninsula".

Prosecutors also asked judges to strip United Progressive Party (UPP) Member of Parliament Lee Seok-ki of his civic rights for 10 years following his eventual release from prison. The UPP was a small party with only six seats in the National Assembly.

In South Korea it is illegal under the "National Security Law”, which was created by the occupying Japanese WW II imperial Army, to criticize US military bases in that country or to call for reunification between North and South Korea.

Lee Seok-ki has described himself as the victim of a “witch hunt” by South Korea’s spy agency, the National Intelligence Service (NIS). Many believe the NIS used the show trial to distract the public from overwhelming evidence that the intelligence agency interfered in the last national election in favor of right-wing President Park Geun-hye's "successful" campaign.

President Park is the daughter of former brutal dictator Park Chung-hee. During Park’s iron-fisted rule from 1961 to 1979, dissidents were tortured and sometimes executed on charges of "plotting" against South Korea.  While on previous trips to South Korea I met several older activists who spent as many as 20-25 years in prison for opposing the first Park dictatorship.

Both the past and present Park regimes in Seoul were and still are obvious US puppets. 

More than 100,000 South Koreans belonged to the UPP before it was banned following the jailing of Seok-ki and the other party members.

After appealing their sentences to the Korean Supreme Court the charges of "insurrection" were dropped but lesser charges remained that are keeping the activists in prison.  The Supreme Court agreed that the UPP members were not engaged in any violent overthrow of the government.

The initial charges all stemmed from a 90-minute lecture by Seok-ki three years ago entitled "How to achieve peace on the Korean peninsula".  A spy within the UPP, who had befriended Han Dong-geun 20 years before, taped the speech which the government used as 'evidence' during the trial of the party members who were ultimately jailed.

The NIS manipulated the tape recording by taking out some words and inserting 700 new words in order to make the governments case against the UPP.  Eventually the NIS had to admit they had monkeyed with the tape.

Religious leaders from five leading denominations throughout South Korea came to the defense of the jailed UPP leaders and the Jimmy Carter Center called for their release.

International solidarity is required to help relieve pressure on the progressive movement in South Korea today.  In September the Seok-ki support committee will do a tour of North America making stops in Chicago, New York, Toronto and other major cities.

During his time in prison Han Dong-geun was confined to a tiny cell for 23 hours a day, only able to see the sun for one hour.  But he told us he didn't feel isolated because of the strong support he received from supporters on the outside.

At the end of our meeting I said that I've long felt South Korean activists are currently experiencing the kind of repressive treatment that activists in the US will be facing in the coming years.  I remarked that I believe American activists should be paying attention to, and learning from, the current struggles of our Korean friends as they fight back to protect their democratic and human rights that are steadily being taken from them. 

The National Security Law says it is illegal to call for US military bases in South Korea to be closed or to call for the reunification of Korea.  It is also illegal to say that you want North and South Korea to "make a peace agreement" because that is the same position that the government in the North takes.

The Korean War is officially not over - there was only an Armistice signed but the US is the one that refuses still to this day to negotiate a full peace treaty with North Korea. I think the reason is obvious. As long as no peace treaty exists the US can justify its massive military presence in Korea which in the end is aimed at China and Russia as much, if not more, than aimed at North Korea.

There is no doubt in my mind that South Korean progressives would not be jailed unless the US government wanted the puppet regime in Seoul to do so.  Can we in America not understand that some day very soon this same treatment will fall on our shoulders as well?  Now is the time to speak out and resist this growing corporate fascism that is gripping the entire world.

Han Dong-geun handed Will and I a booklet entitled, "As he is not free, I am not free."  Those words pretty much sum it all up in a nutshell.

Bruce

Sick Neocon Wants to Kill Russians & Iranians



It's been a busy week for former acting CIA director Michael Morell. First, over the weekend he published an op-ed in the New York Times humbly titled, "I Ran the CIA. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton."  In the piece he explained that Hillary Clinton was his choice for president because of:
...her belief that America is an exceptional nation that must lead in the world for the country to remain secure and prosperous; her understanding that diplomacy can be effective only if the country is perceived as willing and able to use force if necessary...
Morell pitched his tent in Hillary's camp because of her aggressive, you might say neoconservative, foreign policy.

Have a listen and see the kind of people who are supporting Clinton for dictator.

Does Western Media Mislead about Syria?



The following is the transcript of an interview given to Be Curious TV by Dr Nabil Antaki, a doctor based in the Syrian government held western sectors of Aleppo. In this interview, given during his recent trip to France, Dr Antaki once more observes that Western media has been misleading and obscurantist in their reporting of events in Syria.  Dr Antaki reinforces that President Assad’s popularity has increased rather than waned since the US-NATO-GCC confab’s war against Syria began five years ago and he deconstructs much of the propaganda upon which the US and NATO base their interventionist, neo-colonialist policies.


Dr Antaki: “Firstly I would like to clarify..you have mentioned several times, Assad’s “regime” and Assad’s “army and its a confusion that we dont appreciate in Syria..when we read in all the media about Bashar’s airforce, Bashar’s army.  In fact, it is the Syrian army, the army of the State of Syria and when you mentioned that I live in western Aleppo which is under “regime” control, no, it is under the control of the Syrian state. Our people are not afraid of the Syrian army because it is an army that defends all of Syria against armed terrorists who have invaded Syria in order to establish their Islamic state. Therefore we should never say at all that the Syrian people are afraid of the Syrian army because it is not a “regime” army as described by the media, people are, in reality very grateful for the presence of the Syrian army.  

Let me give you an example. A few months ago the Syrian army launched an offensive to bring some relief to Aleppo which has been surrounded or besieged [by terrorists] for the last 3 years.  According to the western media the Syrian army was imposing a siege upon the Syrian people in Aleppo when in fact the opposite was true and the Syrian army was trying to break the three year terrorist siege of Aleppo. Therefore, no, the people are not afraid of the Syrian army, they are afraid of the terrorists.

See the rest of this important interview here

Assange Suggests Dead Man was DNC Leaker



Julian Assange seems to suggests on Dutch television program Nieuwsuur that Seth Rich was the source for the Wikileaks-exposed DNC emails and was murdered.

Meeting with South Korean VFP


This morning fellow VFP member Will Griffin and I had the pleasure to meet with four members of the Korean VFP chapter.  On previous trips to South Korea I've met with the Korean chapter and once brought them the US VFP flag given to me by Tom Sturtevant who was a Korean War veteran in the Maine chapter.  Tom insisted that I be sure to deliver the flag to them, which I did.  Since Tom's passing a few years ago our Maine VFP chapter has been re-named in his honor.

Two of the Korean VFP members we met with today were Captains in the South Korean Army.  One was a tank commander and the other taught PsyOps at the Army Academy.

During our discussion they made a strong statement about their concerns over the growing US-Japan-South Korea military alliance.  They told Will and I that they have long experience having lived under the occupation of the imperial Japanese fascist occupation and worry that the American people are far to ignorant of this history.

I suggested they might consider writing an article about the dangers of this new military alliance the US is creating in the Asia-Pacific region.  I promised them I'd be sure to get it printed in the excellent newspaper produced by VFP called Peace in Our Times.  They were eager to do this and promised to send me the article soon.

Following our meeting they took Will and I to lunch at a wonderful Asian buffet restaurant.

I had met with two of these men in the past and I immediately felt close to them upon meeting them again today.  They are going to try to arrange another meeting, maybe a protest together, before Will and I conclude our visit to South Korea.

Bruce

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Letter of Solidarity to People of Montenegro



NATO is pushing its aggressive weight all around Eastern Europe.  The Global Network has received a letter from the Union for Military Neutrality of Montenegro asking that we offer words of solidarity in their effort to force their government to hold a public referendum on the issue of membership in NATO.  Below is our response to their request. 

 
Dear friends at Union for Military Neutrality of Montenegro,

It is with great pride that we send you greetings and solidarity in your wise effort to seek a national referendum on the question of NATO membership.

We have long maintained that NATO has become the military arm of corporate globalization - a run-a-way program of excessive greed and corruption aimed at stealing the declining natural resources of the planet for corporate control.

As member countries join NATO they are required to make all of their military hardware "inter-operable" with existing NATO military technology. This usually means that a new member country must cut social spending and instead use your national resources to purchase new military technology from mega-weapons corporations which are usually based in the US. All of this new high-tech military hardware is then run through the US Space Commands military satellite systems which means that the Pentagon is really in control of all NATO member military operations.

Thus the US has figured out a way to create a massive global military machine and to have smaller nations like Montenegro help pay for it. This massive military machine is now being aimed at China and Russia who remain the two primary nations in the world not yet fully under corporate control and domination. NATO members will have very little input into what wars NATO involves itself in.

The US has been hollowed out and turned into a nation of endless war. Our economy in the US is addicted to war. Our nation is falling apart due to defunding of our human and physical infrastructure. The Pentagon has long been saying that America's role under corporate globalization will be "security export".

We strongly urge the good citizens of Montenegro to pause before jumping into the arms of NATO which has nothing to do with freedom or democracy. It is a military alliance of greed, corruption, and endless violence.

We urge the people of Montenegro to support a national debate and referendum on NATO and to ultimately reject joining that ever expanding war machine which only represents those who want to pillage and plunder the people of this beautiful planet.

Our best wishes to all of you.

In peace and solidarity,

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

Remembering Another Movement of U.S. Troops



This is an ugly piece of American history that has been swept under the rug. Very few people know about this shameful event where the US Army, led by some of the most revered heroes of WWII (MacArthur & Eisenhower), were turned on the veterans of WWI in the streets of Washington, DC.

Don't ever forget what the Native Americans said - the white man speaks with a forked tongue.

Drop the Lawsuit Against Jeju Activists!



Joyakgol sings his new hit single 'drop the lawsuit', in reference to the recent $3 million lawsuit for damages filed by the Navy against 116 Gangjeong villagers/supporters - just the latest in a brutal attempt to suppress the irrepressible resistance that characterizes the Gangjeong peace movement!

This song was sung throughout the peace march - blared from the sound trucks and by the end of the six day event everyone was singing it - including the international guests who at least learned the chorus.

The Navy, and lead Navy base construction contractor Samsung, claim that the protests delayed the base construction.  The case is now pending in court.

In South Korea they have a law that can hold the families of the 116 named in the lawsuit liable as well.  The intent of this law is to actively suppress opposition to government policies. 

Bruce

Monday, August 08, 2016

GI Resistance Movement



I joined the Air Force in 1971 as a gung-ho GI (who had grown up in an Air Force family) and wanted to be a lifer in the military just like my step-dad was.

My first roommate in the barracks at Travis AFB in California was one of the organizers of the GI resistance movement at our base. They had meetings in our room at night - white guys talking about the war - black guys talking about racism in the military and across the country.

I got the education of my life and this was where I became a peace activist. I owe my career in the peace and social justice movement to those GI's who taught me what was really going on in Vietnam and in Washington. All of my illusions about freedom and democracy were shattered behind the barbed wire fences at Travis AFB.

This film tells the story about this GI movement.

Bruce

Walk Around Jeju Island



Video compilation of the Grand March for Life & Peace on Jeju Island, South Korea.

No Navy base on Jeju!
No THAAD in Korea!
No US bases in Korea!
We support peace and reunification of Korea!

Bear Witness to the Truth



Dr. Cornel West says he endorsed the candidate (Jill Stein) who wants to bring justice, jobs, and solidarity to Black people.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Lessons from Jeju Grand March for Life & Peace

The east & west teams met at a busy intersection in Jeju City - a very exciting moment

The totem banners were symbolically joined at the center of the intersection

Auto union workers performed during the finale rally - the guy on the far right was very friendly to me and he was quite a singer.  Their songs were about their struggle against lay-offs and the companies attempts to force workers into part-time (temporary) work - the same kind of issues that French workers have lately been protesting about.  

Joyakgol sings his new hit single 'drop the lawsuit', in reference to the recent $3 million lawsuit for damages filed by the Navy against the villagers of Gangjeong - just the latest in a brutal attempt to suppress the irrepressible resistance that characterizes the Gangjeong peace movement!

Some of the tired but happy crowd at the finale event.  We figured that at least 60% of the walkers were students.  Koreans do a great job of making their events inter-generational.
 
Throughout the peace march, back in Gangjeong village at the Navy base new front gate, activists kept the morning 100 bows ceremony going as well as the mid-day demonstration.

(Click on any of the photos for a better view)

Fellow Veterans For Peace (VFP) members Will Griffin, Ken Jones and I flew back to the Korean mainland yesterday afternoon to Daegu (the hottest city in Korea we were told) where we will spend the next two days resting.  Our events here were surprisingly cancelled on us.

After some challenges we found a nice hotel and I was happy to see they had a washing machine available to us.  I've been washing some of my clothes in the shower and it has been a chore to get them clean.

We are all online trying to get caught up with email and social media.  Will is making reservations to fly to Okinawa at the end of the month to metjoin another group from VFP who are heading there on a similar solidarity trip.  (It's great to see VFP taking on the Obama-Clinton Asia-Pacific 'pivot'.)

Ken flies to California tomorrow to attend the VFP national convention in Berkeley.  He hopes to be able to share his experiences in Korea at the confab.  Will and I will head to Seoul for more protest and conference events.  We will miss Ken as we all have become close during this time together.

In the meantime the two Korean-American women Juyeun Rhee and Hyun Lee who were to be our guides and translators on this trip are daily in contact with us even though they were deported by the South Korean government when they arrived in Seoul.  They also been doing media work about their deportation and the latest interview with them can be seen here

We all firmly believe they were deported because of their recent work to oppose the THAAD 'missile defense' system that the US will soon deploy in South Korea.  (THAAD has already been deployed in Guam.) It is clear that the reactionary South Korean government is doing everything possible to disrupt protest movements against THAAD as they clearly have been ordered by Washington to push the deployment of the provocative system forward despite the will of the people.

In particular the corporate controlled government in Seoul is trying to paint any critics of THAAD as agents of North Korea - a standard strategy by the government here to suppress the opposition.  So far it ain't working.

The Seoul government is trying to isolate anyone opposing THAAD - especially those living in the melon farming community called Seongju which appears to be the Pentagon's preferred deployment site.  Currently the government is working feverishly to create a climate of fear and intimidation to keep activists from around South Korea from going to Seongju who wish to express their solidarity with the local residents.

This attempt to drown democracy is something we now see happening all over the world as the corporate globalists attempt to stomp out people's efforts to protect their economic and human rights as well as peace and the environment.  It's a full scale war against the people as the regional capitalist oligarchies arm themselves to the teeth in preparation for their final push for control and domination.

The spirit we witnessed during the Grand March for Life & Peace indicates that the people here will not easily surrender to the forces of darkness.  People understand what they are up against and are facing the challenge with steady determination and much joy.  They are a good model for all of us.

Bruce

Sunday Song