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.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Inside View of VFP Asia-Pacific Trip



William Griffin here. Just wanted to share this video. I originally made this video just to show my local San Diego Veterans For Peace chapter a summary of our trip [last December], so it has some biases, showing more footage of Mike, Stan, and I. But a few people outside of San Diego have viewed the video and liked it. So, I thought I'd share with you all. You're welcome to share this video with your local chapters to give them a type of visual of our experience.

This is NOT the mini-documentary. Its just a series of film I put together to give people an idea of what happened.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The War Base Versus the People


After many years of non-violent struggle against the Navy base construction on Jeju Island, South Korea the base is now officially open.  Yesterday the Korean government held their ceremony to inaugurate the Navy base that will port US destroyers, nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers to be aimed at China and Russia.  At the same time Gangjeong villagers and their many supporters (including four American activists now there) held protests and their own peaceful ceremonies.

Long-time Gangjeong international peace team member Sung-Hee Choi reported that:

If you ask what we feel, of course, we are very sad and upset for a the completion of the Jeju navy base. But on Feb. 26, people also found how encouraged and empowered they are for the presence of their like-minded friends. The people’s protest, the alternative event against navy ceremony was energetic, moving, and worth to join. The new stage of our struggle to close the base and to realize the true life and peace village and the Demilitarized Peace Island has begun.







Making Money from Saudi War$



William D. Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. He is an internationally recognized expert on the arms trade, nuclear policy, and military spending. He is the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex (Nation Books: 2011). His previous books include And Weapons for All (HarperCollins, 1995), a critique of U.S. arms sales policies from the Nixon through Clinton administrations; and Lessons from Iraq: Avoiding the Next War, co-edited with Miram Pemberton (Paradigm Press, 2008). 

Prior to working at the Center for International Policy Mr. Hartung was a project director at the New America Foundation and a Senior Research Fellow at the New York-based World Policy Institute. He also worked as a speechwriter and policy analyst for New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams and a project director at the New York-based Council on Economic Priorities. 

Play Ball!

The Baltimore Orioles doing baseball spring training back in the old days


It's spring training down in Florida for my favorite team - the Baltimore Orioles.  I was born in Maryland and have followed the Orioles my whole life.  They are projected to come in last place in their division this season - but in baseball (like politics at times) hope springs eternal.

When I used to live in Florida I tried every year to attend a few Oriole games during the spring season.  My son Julian and I would trek across the state on a weekend to catch a game.  It's a bit harder to do these days while living in Maine.

The O's have been in the news this week having had a free agent signing fiasco.  A guy that played for the Chicago Cubs last year (just the kind of player the O's need - good hitter, fast, good defensive outfielder) was just about to sign with the O's and then at the last minute got enticed to return to Chicago for less money.  Last night I read thru 64-pages of fan laments at an O's chat web site.

People ask me how I keep sane doing the peace work I do.  My answer always is baseball and basketball.  Even though professional sports have become corporatized, and even increasingly militarized with all the 'GI salutes' they do at games, I still follow my teams.

The O's did sign a new guy this winter out of South Korea who was the leading hitter in their professional league the last few years.  So Oriole fans will be excited to see Hyun Soo Kim play ball.

Go O's!

Mixed Bag


My Op-Ed published in the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper in Okinawa yesterday along with a bio story as well.  Thanks to Satoko Norimatsu for making the arrangements and doing the translation


  • I was honored to be invited to write an Op-Ed for the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper about my experiences during the recent Veterans For Peace delegation to Okinawa.  Satoko Norimatsu was the person who initiated the whole thing and I was offered an honorarium for the piece but asked it be given to the Okinawan organizing committee that worked so hard to coordinate our visit.  They incurred many costs and deserved the support.  Some others from that trip are also being invited to write O-Eds for the paper as well.  I was asked to specifically comment on several points in my piece including the recent North Korean satellite launch and my own experiences being a GI who became a peacenik in large part because of the anti-war activity at my base during the Vietnam War. We've heard that the right-wing Japanese government wants to shut down the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper because it so strongly supports the vast majority of Okinawan citizens who oppose US bases there.

  • The dysfunctional US presidential primaries get more unreal every day.  The latest news comes from journalist Robert Parry who wrote a piece about neo-con interventionist, and founder of the Project for a New American Century, Robert Kagan endorsing Hillary Clinton.  Parry says:

Kagan, who I’ve known since the 1980s when he was a rising star on Ronald Reagan’s State Department propaganda team (selling violent right-wing policies in Central America), has been signaling his affection for Clinton for some time, at least since she appointed him as an adviser to her State Department and promoted his wife Victoria Nuland, a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, to be the State Department’s chief spokesperson. Largely because of Clinton’s patronage, Nuland rose to assistant secretary of state for European affairs and oversaw the provocative “regime change” in Ukraine in 2014.

  • In another election related story Noam Chomsky commented on the surprising progress of Donald Trump's Republican nomination campaign. AlterNet reports:

"Fear, along with the breakdown of society during the neoliberal period," Chomsky said.
"People feel isolated, helpless, victim of powerful forces that they do not understand and cannot influence."

He said economic uncertainty and a loss of social cohesion had also fueled the rise of fascism in the last century — but he cautioned that some current conditions were even worse.

"It's interesting to compare the situation in the '30s [in the US], which I'm old enough to remember," Chomsky said. "Objectively, poverty and suffering were far greater. But even among poor working people and the unemployed, there was a sense of hope that is lacking now, in large part because of the growth of a militant labor movement and also the existence of political organizations outside the mainstream."

  • A big story out of Bayreuth, Germany is stirring lots of talk across the Internet.  That city had made the decision to give CODEPINK the 2016 Wilhelmine-Tolerance Prize in a public ceremony on April 15th in honor of their excellent peace and justice work. But the Israeli Embassy intervened demanding that the city rescind the award claiming that CODEPINK denies the right of Israel to exist and has ties to Holocaust deniers in Iran, allegations made by journalist Benjamin Weinthal in an article published on February 10th in the Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post.  After much consultation the Bayreuth city council, representing eight political parties, voted 23-18 on the Green Party motion to confirm the award to CODEPINK. Those who voted against the Green Party’s motion had made alternative proposals, either to delay the decision pending further investigation, or to grant the money award while at the same time suspending the public award ceremony because of fears that the ceremony might be disrupted by CODEPINK’s detractors. While a few council members criticized CODEPINK in some respects, not a single council member called for revoking the award to CODEPINK. And some members stated during the debate that they felt the attempts to exert outside pressure on them were inappropriate.  

Asked what she thought of all this, retired U.S. Army Colonel and former U.S. diplomat Ann Wright, one of the seven CODEPINK delegates who will be coming to Germany in April, said: "Repeating a lie over and over does not make it true. It is sad and even a bit frightening when many in the media and even some members of the German parliament keep repeating such lies despite all the evidence to the contrary that we have provided. CODEPINK has never made statements denying the right of the State of Israel to exist. But we do insist that Israel stop its illegal policies in the West Bank and Gaza. We are firm that Israel must adhere to international law and also implement true equality for all its Jewish and Arab citizens. Many Jewish Israelis advocate the same positions."


  • The Pentagon is planning the containment of Russia in the Arctic. This was stated by the NATO Supreme allied commander in Europe, US General Philip Breedlove. "We are studying the possibility of the containment of Russia in the Arctic. The claims of Russia do not directly affect the US but they affect three of our allies," the general reportedly said.  He did not specify how the US plans to deter Russia, but remarked [we] "have to do it".  Russia has the largest land border with the Arctic Ocean and due to climate change and melting ice the oil corporations want to drill-baby-drill in that region.  Russia is an obstacle that 'needs to be removed', thus the persistent calls for regime change in Moscow and the eventual Balkanization of the Russian Federation.  Dangerous talk for sure by the US.  Can we begin to understand more clearly why there is so much demonization of Putin happening in the western media? Follow the $$$, follow the oil!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Surround Gangjeong Village with Culture


Fellow Mainer Jason Rawn reports from Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea where the resistance campaign against the new Navy base is preparing for the officially opening of the installation.  Villagers and supporters are working to surround the village with culture in order to protect themselves from the near tripling of the local population by naval personnel and their war making mission.

Iconic Catholic priest Fr. Mun helped carve the totems.  He is planning to come to New York City in mid-March for several days of speaking events. 

Jason writes:

Activists are erecting traditional Korean totem poles (jang seung) in Gangjeong village, Jeju Island. Three were put up today in preparation for the official opening ceremony of a US (nominally Korean) war base here tomorrow. Traditionally these jang seung have been used all over Korea to ward off evil spirits and prevent them from entering through village gates. One totem has the message "Gureombi is crying now", and was placed in the village's war memorial, located almost directly across the street from the main gate of the new war base, which is expected to host US Aegis destroyers, submarines, and other war machinery that's part of the US military's "Asia Pivot". The jang seung was designed by longtime activist [Catholic] priest Fr. Mun and three traditional artists. Many local people assisted with the project. Although there was no problem with police, who did their job of keeping people safe by directing traffic, the five foreigners present were asked to take photos and video, just in case. Many Koreans also filmed the events.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Plan B for Syria - More War...

 
According to Kerry, the partition of Syria becomes an option if the planned ceasefire - due to come into force on February 27th - fails to hold - or if a shift to a transitional government doesn't take place in the coming months. British Conservative party MP Daniel Kawczynski joins RT to discuss this issue.
 

Want to Stop Refugee Flow? Stop Supplying Terrorists with Weapons


German MP Sahra Wagenknecht (The Left Party) blasts hypocritical behavior of Angela Merkel on Syria - particularly German weapons sales to all sides in the Middle East conflict.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Different Drummer



Putin on the Syria Ceasefire Proposal



Will the ceasefire hold?  Are the US and its allies in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel truly serious about ending their 'Assad must go mantra' or do they just see the ceasefire as a way to temporarily interrupt the Syrian-Russian push against ISIS and al-Nusra terrorist groups?  Do the US and its allies just want to give time for their 'moderate rebels' to regroup and resupply before they continue their attacks against the Syrian people?

This whole US-NATO Syrian take down was supposed to go quick and easy like in Libya which resulted in mass chaos and continued military operations by Washington and Brussels.  The Russian intervention in Syria upset that apple cart.

Watch the bouncing ball closely....

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Deep State & the Death of Democracy



 I've just finished reading the book The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government.  I would say without any hesitation that this was one of the top 3-4 most important books that I have ever read.  I highly, highly recommend that everyone read it.

There is so much I learned from the book and I've been studying the whole US-Nazi connection after WW II for many years - but author David Talbot really wrote a spell-binding book - it's like reading a real life mystery story.  You come away from the book with a very clear understanding how the US became the corporate fascist state that we have today.

The biggest story for me in the book is the one about Reinhard Gehlen.  Talbot writes, "During the war [Maj. Gen.] Gehlen had served as Hitler's intelligence chief on the eastern front. His Foreign Armies East (Fremde Heere Ost) apparatus relentlessly probed for weaknesses in the Soviet defenses as the Nazi juggernaut made its eastward thrust.  Gehlen's FHO also pinpointed the location of Jews, Communists, and other enemies of the Reich in the 'bloodlands' overrun by Hitler's forces, so they could be rounded up and executed by the Einsatzgruppen death squads.  Most of the intelligence gathered by Gehlen's men was extracted from the enormous population of Soviet prisoners of war - which eventually totaled four million - that fell under Nazi control.  Gehlen's exalted reputation as an intelligence wizard, which won him the Fuhrer's admiration and his major general's rank, derived from his organization's widespread use of torture."

To make it quick and simple, Maj. Gen. Gehlen made a deal with Allen Dulles (then running the precursor of the CIA called the OSS) that if he and his team were spared trial at Nuremberg he'd turn over his 'rat line' of fascist operatives throughout Europe and would work for the US.  Gehlen was brought to the US and put through loyalty tests and eventually sent back to the newly created West Germany where he was put in charge of intelligence in the post war 'free' Germany.

Gehlen's post-war operatives across Europe where used to disrupt and destroy left-wing attempts to win electoral victories in European countries (Operation Gladio).  His death squads were used to target the Algerian independence movement. Gehlen and Dulles worked overtime to destabilize the Soviet eastern bloc taking great pleasure in making Stalin hyper-paranoid thus getting him to overreact and launch brutal internal crackdowns on innocent Soviet citizens.


 
Talbot quotes JFK White House staffer Arthur Schlesinger Jr. saying he was offended by "the notion of American spooks" like Dulles and other leading post-war CIA operatives "cheerfully consorting with people like General Reinhard Gehlen....There was something aesthetically displeasing about Americans plotting with Nazis, who had recently been killing us, against Russians, whose sacrifices [27 million killed during the war] had made the allied victory possible."

 Talbot painstakingly reveals how Dulles used his CIA rat line to set up the JFK assassination in 1963.  One of the key players in the killing of President Kennedy was the CIA agent William Harvey who worked closely with Gehlen's notorious fascist organization, and Gehlen came to consider Harvey a "very esteemed [and] really reliable friend."

In the spring of 1968, soon after the killing of Sen. Bobby Kennedy, Allen Dulles took the time to write to the last Kennedy brother Ted sending his "sympathy and regards".  Talbot reports that Dulles hated Bobby and had used his seat on the President Lyndon Johnson appointed Warren Commission to smash any hopes for a true investigation into the killing of JFK that Dulles had been a mastermind in executing.  Bobby had been privately hoping to expose Dulles and the CIA as the killer of his big brother if he were to be elected president.

Talbot shares that in the fall of 1968 the main social event of the season for Dulles was "the Washington fete in honor of Reinhard Gehlen, the West German spy chief Dulles had resurrected from the poison ashes of the Third Reich.  On September 12, Gehlen's US sponsors threw a luncheon for him, and that night there was a dinner for Hitler's old spy chief at the Maryland home of Heinz Herre - Gehlen's former staff officer on the eastern front, who had become West Germany's top intelligence liaison in Washington."

One could easily say that the US and German fascists had all the bases covered.

Why then have the American people, and the people of the world, been largely ignorant about this ugly history of the resurrection of the Nazi war machine during the post WW II years?  After viewing the above video about the CIA's clandestine infiltration of US and international media it is no surprise that the public has been spoon fed only what the propagandists, disguised as democratic patriots, wanted people to know.  History has been rewritten to suit the needs of the deep state.

In 1977, Rolling Stone Magazine alleged that one of the most important journalists under the thumb of the CIA's media control program called Operation Mockingbird was Joseph Alsop, whose articles appeared in over 300 different newspapers. Other journalists alleged by Rolling Stone to have been willing to promote the views of the CIA included Stewart Alsop (New York Herald Tribune), Ben Bradlee (Newsweek), James Reston (New York Times), Charles Douglas Jackson (Time Magazine), Walter Pincus (Washington Post), William C. Baggs (The Miami News), Herb Gold (The Miami News) and Charles Bartlett (Chattanooga Times). According to Nina Burleigh (A Very Private Woman), these journalists sometimes wrote articles that were commissioned by the CIA's Frank Wisner (director of the Office of Special Projects). The CIA also provided them with classified information to help them with their work.

Operation Mockingbird had a major influence over 25 newspapers and wire agencies. These organizations were run by people with well-known right-wing views such as William Paley (CBS), Henry Luce (Time and Life Magazine), Arthur Hays Sulzberger (New York Times), Alfred Friendly (managing editor of the Washington Post), Jerry O’Leary (Washington Star), Hal Hendrix (Miami News), Barry Bingham, Sr., (Louisville Courier-Journal), James Copley (Copley News Services) and Joseph Harrison (Christian Science Monitor).

The American democracy story is illusion created by what author Bertram Gross called "three piece suit fascism" years ago in his book entitled Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America.  But to emerging democracy movements around the world, brutally suppressed by the CIA and its death squad agents, there was nothing friendly or democratic about these tactics.  Because of the relative affluence of America during this period the public was docile and easily keep under control by the manipulations of the media and the political circles controlled by the deep state.

Now that the American imperial project is crashing and burning the story has begun to emerge and the blinders of deception are steadily falling from the public's eyes.  What comes next is unknown but until the American people learn the real story behind this 'Hollywood democracy' little can change for the good.  

Sunday, February 21, 2016

What Happened in Nevada?


Lots of questions in Nevada....did Hillary pull a fast one?

There were numerous stories that Hillary brought supporters from other states who slipped into various caucus meetings without registering ......

Is this the Democratic Party in action?

This is democracy?

See reports from around Nevada here

The Media are Misleading the Public on Syria


Boston Globe

By Stephen Kinzer  

Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press. Reporting about carnage in the ancient city of Aleppo is the latest reason why.

For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents: “Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.” Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it.

This month, people in Aleppo have finally seen glimmers of hope. The Syrian army and its allies have been pushing militants out of the city. Last week they reclaimed the main power plant. Regular electricity may soon be restored. The militants’ hold on the city could be ending.

Militants, true to form, are wreaking havoc as they are pushed out of the city by Russian and Syrian Army forces. “Turkish-Saudi backed ‘moderate rebels’ showered the residential neighborhoods of Aleppo with unguided rockets and gas jars,” one Aleppo resident wrote on social media. The Beirut-based analyst Marwa Osma asked, “The Syrian Arab Army, which is led by President Bashar Assad, is the only force on the ground, along with their allies, who are fighting ISIS — so you want to weaken the only system that is fighting ISIS?”

This does not fit with Washington’s narrative. As a result, much of the American press is reporting the opposite of what is actually happening. Many news reports suggest that Aleppo has been a “liberated zone” for three years but is now being pulled back into misery.

Americans are being told that the virtuous course in Syria is to fight the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian partners. We are supposed to hope that a righteous coalition of Americans, Turks, Saudis, Kurds, and the “moderate opposition” will win.

This is convoluted nonsense, but Americans cannot be blamed for believing it. We have almost no real information about the combatants, their goals, or their tactics. Much blame for this lies with our media.

Under intense financial pressure, most American newspapers, magazines, and broadcast networks have drastically reduced their corps of foreign correspondents. Much important news about the world now comes from reporters based in Washington. In that environment, access and credibility depend on acceptance of official paradigms. Reporters who cover Syria check with the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House, and think tank “experts.” After a spin on that soiled carousel, they feel they have covered all sides of the story. This form of stenography produces the pabulum that passes for news about Syria.

Astonishingly brave correspondents in the war zone, including Americans, seek to counteract Washington-based reporting. At great risk to their own safety, these reporters are pushing to find the truth about the Syrian war. Their reporting often illuminates the darkness of groupthink. Yet for many consumers of news, their voices are lost in the cacophony. Reporting from the ground is often overwhelmed by the Washington consensus.

Washington-based reporters tell us that one potent force in Syria, al-Nusra, is made up of “rebels” or “moderates,” not that it is the local al-Qaeda franchise. Saudi Arabia is portrayed as aiding freedom fighters when in fact it is a prime sponsor of ISIS. Turkey has for years been running a “rat line” for foreign fighters wanting to join terror groups in Syria, but because the United States wants to stay on Turkey’s good side, we hear little about it. Nor are we often reminded that although we want to support the secular and battle-hardened Kurds, Turkey wants to kill them. Everything Russia and Iran do in Syria is described as negative and destabilizing, simply because it is they who are doing it — and because that is the official line in Washington.

Inevitably, this kind of disinformation has bled into the American presidential campaign. At the recent debate in Milwaukee, Hillary Clinton claimed that United Nations peace efforts in Syria were based on “an agreement I negotiated in June of 2012 in Geneva.” The precise opposite is true. In 2012 Secretary of State Clinton joined Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel in a successful effort to kill Kofi Annan’s UN peace plan because it would have accommodated Iran and kept Assad in power, at least temporarily. No one on the Milwaukee stage knew enough to challenge her.

Politicians may be forgiven for distorting their past actions. Governments may also be excused for promoting whatever narrative they believe best suits them. Journalism, however, is supposed to remain apart from the power elite and its inbred mendacity. In this crisis it has failed miserably.

Americans are said to be ignorant of the world. We are, but so are people in other countries. If people in Bhutan or Bolivia misunderstand Syria, however, that has no real effect. Our ignorance is more dangerous, because we act on it. The United States has the power to decree the death of nations. It can do so with popular support because many Americans — and many journalists — are content with the official story. In Syria, it is: “Fight Assad, Russia, and Iran! Join with our Turkish, Saudi, and Kurdish friends to support peace!” This is appallingly distant from reality. It is also likely to prolong the war and condemn more Syrians to suffering and death.

~ Stephen Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

Sunday Song