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

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Witnessing the deep peace movement in Okinawa

Our very diverse Veterans For Peace delegation had a good start today with an orientation and then made several stops at key sites that remember the 1945 Battle of Okinawa which saw 1/3 of all civilians on the island killed when the US attacked and knocked out the Japanese occupation.

The legacy of the war is so powerful that one of our local guides told us that the protests against US base expansion currently underway on Okinawa are heavily motivated by the strong memories from the epic 1945 battle.  People here have deep scars from the war - unlike most people in the US who've never experienced such catastrophic loss.

In all my travels I've concluded that the Koreans are pound-for-pound the best organizers I've ever seen.  But Okinawa, since the early 1950's, has the broadest and deepest movement that I've witnessed anywhere.  The governor and most of the mayors on the island are part of the peace movement.  There are war museums all over the place.  Even the caves that the Okinawan people hid in during the US invasion in 1945 have become shrines.

Okinawa Prefecture Peace Park

Bus loads upon bus loads of school students from the Japanese mainland were seen everywhere we went today as the effort to remember this horrible nightmare of war on Okinawa gets embedded in the next generation.

The right-wing Japanese government of Shinzo Abe, now in complete partnership with the US imperial war project, is working hard to reclaim its own imperial past.  Coupled together the US and Japan are making outrageously provocative military moves in this part of the world to encircle China and Russia.  Most people here in Okinawa see that this US-Japan strategy is a danger to world peace and could very well lead to WW III.

North Korea is being used as a foil - a distraction from the real agenda.  The US-Japan (along with an aggressive NATO) are trying to ensure that China and Russia do not challenge Washington for global power.  China and Russia keep saying that want a multi-polar world rather than the US model of uni-polar corporate control.

The US is on a collision course and if Washington decides to roll the dice and go to war it will likely be the last one.

I wish the American people could wake up from their deep sleep and see what harm our military empire is causing here in Okinawa and other places around the planet.

This VFP delegation is committed to doing all we can to pull the curtain off the face of the war machine.  It would be great if more people cared - and acted in concert with the long suffering people of Okinawa.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday Song

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Tell the truth....

Friday, December 08, 2017

Israel Has No Conscience

Heading to Okinawa for VFP solidarity trip

I am heading today to Boston from where I will fly to Okinawa to join another Veterans For Peace (VFP) delegation that will once again stand (and sit) with the people trying to stop US base expansion on their beleaguered island.

In 2015 I traveled to Okinawa with a VFP delegation and we protested outside several of the US bases on the island.  (Photo of us above at Camp Schwab where the US is having twin-runways built on top of pristine Oura Bay. See my previous Okinawa posts here.)

There are presently 32 US military bases scattered throughout Okinawa taking up about 20% of the total land mass on the island.  And the US wants to take even more land due to Obama's 'pivot' of 60% of US military forces into the Asia-Pacific region to encircle China and Russia.  Trump is now continuing that policy which means more ports-of-call are needed for Navy warships, more runways are need for US warplanes and more barracks are needed for American troops.

Earlier this week VFP sent around an article about Okinawan protest leader Hiroji Yamashiro, 64, chairman of the Okinawa Peace Activity Center.  He was arrested Oct. 16, 2016, and kept in prison for several months.  During his incarceration, Yamashiro was stuck in solitary confinement for four months with no natural light after guards covered up his windows.  He is now on trial and Japanese prosecutors seek a 2½-year prison sentence.  Remarkably the Stars & Stripes military newspaper has just done a story about Yamashiro which you can find here.

This will be VFP's third delegation to stand in solidarity with the Okinawan people.  They have been protesting regularly since 1953 against US military bases but you'd never know about that from the media in the United States.  They've elected a governor and many mayors who are actively opposing the US military expansions which are destroying their environment and damaging their culture.  See an excellent documentary film on the Okinawan story here.

I'll do my best to post as often as possible while there.  The way we defeat this US military empire is to cut the military budget in Washington which has now reached one trillion a year.  It's a difficult task but we also need to break thru the media silence about US bases overseas (there are more than 800 of them) and help the American people see how much global resentment and rage our military empire is causing.

One thing you can do is come to Baltimore, Maryland on January 12-14, 2018 and attend the national Conference on U.S. Foreign Military BasesWe will be talking about Okinawa and many other places around the globe where the US military is occupying lands. I will be there participating in the plenary panel on US bases in the Asia-Pacific region.


Thursday, December 07, 2017

Stop $60 million subsidy to General Dynamics from Maine treasury

The latest edition of This Issue features Orlando Delogu, emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Southern Maine Law School. Orlando discusses the outrageous request by General Dynamics/BIW for a $60 million tax subsidy for their operations in Bath. Orlando sued General Dynamics in 1997 when they asked, and received, a similar subsidy from the state of Maine in the amount of $197 million. Orlando writes a regular column in The Forecaster weekly newspaper that is available throughout much of the state. He urges all Maine citizens to contact their state legislators immediately to share your feelings about this proposed tax subsidy.
This Issue has been on public access TV in Maine since December 2003 and is produced by Eric Herter.  Camera work for this edition of This Issue was done by Peter Woodruff and Dan Ellis while Eric worked in the control booth.

This Issue runs each week during the following days/times on Brunswick's Cable TV Channel 3
Wed  6:00 pm
Friday  2:30 pm
Sat  2:01 am
Sunday  8:30 pm

This Issue also runs on Bath, Harpswell, Portland, Phippsburg, Freeport, Madison, Skowhegan, Anson, North Anson, Solon, Belfast, South Portland, New Castle, and Biddeford public access cable TV at random times.  Check local listings.