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, 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.

Monday, January 09, 2017

On Way to Okinawa


I am at the airport in Taipei now waiting for my flight to Naha, Okinawa where I will meet a large delegation of monks and nuns (and supporters) from the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist order.  Together we will do peace walks and vigils at various US military bases in Okinawa during the coming week.

I've had connection with this Buddhist order since 1987 when the monks came to a major protest I organized at Cape Canaveral in Florida.  Over the years I've organized 10 peace walks (five in Florida and five in Maine) and monks and nuns from Nipponzan Myohoji have led all of them.  So it was a real honor to be invited to join them for this Okinawa trip.

The US is expanding several of its present bases on the island including one insane plan to build twin-runways at US Marine base called Camp Schwab out into the ocean which will destroy sea life and obviously contaminate pristine Oura Bay that people have built a sustainable life around.

My mind is also on Europe as the US-NATO are holding war games directly on the Russian border at this moment. The US is deploying huge amounts of military hardware in Poland which is being turned into a central US war operations hub in eastern Europe.  It makes one wonder if the Obama team is trying to start a shooting conflict with Russia before they leave office thus cementing Trump into having to carry on this very aggressive anti-Russian stance.

On one 'No to NATO' international email list serve many peace leaders throughout Europe are urging western activists not to just focus their upcoming inaugural protests on Trump as they clearly see it is the Democrat Barack Obama who is inching the globe closer to a full blown war in Europe.  They are saying the message and focus should be 'NO to US military empire' and 'NO to NATO'.  I agree with their thinking.

Mary Beth takes a plane about 1:00 pm from Taipei heading back home.  We had a great time in Taiwan.  After the wedding Emily's parents took us to a magical hot springs spa in the south along the coast and then on a tour of some of the beautiful beaches in that region.  All along the way they fed us very incredible food and even though everyone was tired after the wedding it was a special experience for us to get a closer look at the people and culture of the country.

Bruce

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Great Wedding Moment


There is a great tradition that we witnessed during Julian and Emily's wedding.  The parents and bride and groom go from table to table to have a toast with the people.  Each table can ask the groom to do a particular thing - one table for example had him drain a full glass of wine in one chug.

Julian is a debate coach in Taipei and a group of his students and their moms made the trip south for the wedding.  When we reached their table one of the moms told Julian to stand on a chair and then she gave Emily a raw egg and instructed her to run the egg up the inside of one of Julian's pants legs, cross over to the other side, and then go down the inside of the other pant leg without breaking the egg.

It was the most hilarious thing to watch as Emily very carefully moved the egg up the inside of the pants leg and when she reached his groin the students and their moms were howling in laughter as she gingerly negotiated the egg across to the other side of the pants.

Later Emily said she was very careful the whole time because she did not want to mess up Julian's pants.

It meant alot to Julian that some of his students and moms came so far south to the wedding.  When a brief slide show about the couple was shown the kids cheered at the baby pictures of Julian that appeared on the huge screen.

Julian, with his dry sense of humor, was a good sport through the entire ordeal.

Sunday Song