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.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sunday song




Saturday, May 26, 2018

Water should not be for profit$



Nestle owns Poland Springs water company here in Maine.  It's the same story here - corporate domination of water is not acceptable.

For Russia, escalation is the enemy



Syria has won the war. Israeli missiles change nothing

The war against foreign-backed terrorist in Syria is all but over. Russia understands this – and has acted accordingly
 
By Edward Slavsquat

Authoritative and well-respected commentators on Russia and Syria are up-in-arms: Moscow has betrayed Damascus and Tehran by allowing the United States and Israel to strike Syria with impunity. To add insult to injury, Benjamin Netanyahu was Vladimir Putin’s guest at the Victory Day parade in Moscow on May 9. This can mean only one thing, or so we’ve been told: The Russians are two-faced and spineless, Putin is weak and indecisive – and so forth.

From my perch here in Moscow – and as someone who works in Russian media – I must confess that I don’t share the same grim interpretation of recent events. Incidentally, neither does Bashar Assad – and if anyone should feel betrayed by Russia’s lack of S-400-launching, or S-300-providing, or Netanyahu’s apostate presence on Red Square, it should probably be Syria’s president. After all, the Americans and Israelis are dreaming to put Assad’s head on a pike. Surely, Assad must feel at least a little bit betrayed by Russia?

Maybe. But in an interview conducted in the aftermath of Israel’s missile strikes against “Iranian” targets in Syria earlier this month, Assad used a different word to describe Moscow’s posturing: Wise.

Here’s the exchange:

               Q: Are you worried about a third world war starting here in Syria? I mean, you have the Israelis hitting the Iranians here in your own country. You have the Russians, you have the Americans. Are you concerned about that possibility?

           
Assad: No, for one reason: Because fortunately, you have a wise leadership in Russia, and they know that the agenda of the deep state in the United States is to create a conflict.



               Since Trump’s campaign, the main agenda was against Russia, create a conflict with Russia, humiliate Russia, undermine Russia, and so on. And we’re still in the same process under different titles or by different means. Because of the wisdom of the Russians, we can avoid this … And I hope we don’t see any direct conflict between these superpowers, because that is where things are going to get out of control for the rest of the world.


As for Moscow’s view on the brewing conflict between Iran/Hezbollah and Israel, I will defer to Russian statesman Konstantin Kosachev, who chairs the Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee:


            We are absolutely categorically against the strengthening of military activity in this area and   not only because our troops are now there. Any escalation would put an additional burden on the shoulders of the Syrian people (as well as everyone else in the region), will lead to new victims, and will hardly bring notable dividends to any of the sides. Only extremists (there are already media reports that militants tried to exploit the Israeli missile attacks and capture Syrian army positions near the city of Al-Ba’ath in the Golan Heights) and opponents of peace in the Middle East can win.


He then sums up Moscow’s position quite elegantly: “For Russia there is no enemy in the Iranian-Israeli confrontation, for the enemy is the confrontation itself.”

Not long ago I interviewed a Duma deputy about Russia’s stance on the current precarious situations in Syria and East Ukraine. He invoked a common saying here in Russia: “A bad peace is better than a good war.”

The Russian military is not an errand boy tasked with righting all the wrongs in the Middle East – however unjust and intolerable they may be. Moscow has only one objective in Syria: To end the conflict and restore regional stability. When necessary, this goal has been pursued through military means. But de-escalation is the goal, and Moscow has shown again and again that it prefers ceasefires and humanitarian corridors over air strikes. The reason for this is plain: Protracted war is destabilizing. So is needlessly escalating a war against foreign-backed jihadists that has been all but won.

Although your Facebook acquaintances may suggest otherwise, the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, space lizards, whoever – none of these foreign actors are currently in a position to fundamentally change the reality on the ground in Syria. Russia realizes this. So does Assad.

Russia will always have the threat of S-300 deliveries to Syria as a major bargaining chip. Why up the ante now? Is the occasional Israeli missile strike – although illegal and abhorrent – turning the tide of the war? Nein.

If we are to believe recent media reports, Russia has repeatedly given the Syrian military a heads-up about impending Israeli attacks inside Syria. The very fact that Israel has reportedly agreed to inform Russia ahead of such strikes shows that Tel Aviv understands that Moscow is showing restraint, not weakness, in Syria. If Israeli strikes ever pose an existential threat to Syria, rest assured that Russia will act accordingly.

But if you think that Russia is interested in helping Syria settle old scores with Israel – buckle up for a lifetime of disappointment. Even indirectly supporting Syria in a conflict against Israel would be like pouring water on grease fire that was nearly contained. Just … why? What purpose would it serve?

Yes, Netanyahu was Putin’s guest at the Victory Day parade; and yes, on a day which commemorates the 25 million Russians who died during the Great Patriotic War, the Israeli prime minister really did suggest that Iran is a modern-day Nazi Germany.

But are we really so thin-skinned? I sometimes wonder if westerners – Americans in particular – have forgotten what diplomacy looks like, and what it entails. If diplomacy always produced good optics for domestic or international consumption, more people would be doing it.

Critics will characterize Putin’s posturing as naive, and point out that the United States and Israel are hell-bent on prolonging and expanding the conflict. Okay, but doesn’t this mean that escalating the conflict would be a massive Hanukah present to Israel? Since when was the anti-war Left (or Right) so eager to “get it on”? To its credit, Russia isn’t rubbing its nipples in hot anticipation of a Middle East apocalypse. If war is inevitable – so be it. But in the meantime, we should be rooting for a bad peace – not a good war.

To those still fantasizing about Russian anti-air systems vaporizing US and Israeli jets over Syria: Let’s hope your wet dream never comes true – because it would snatch certain defeat from the jaws of imperfect victory.

Edward Slavsquat is an American journalist living in Moscow. He works for a Russian media outlet.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Trump pulls out....for now

Listen to "Trump Blows Up Summit with Kim as North Korea Blows Up Its Nuclear Site" on Spreaker.

I love this show 'Loud and Clear'.  Brian Becker and John Kiriakou (excellent hosts) are joined by Hyun Lee, a member of the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea and writer for Zoominkorea.org, and Steve Gowans, a journalist and author of “Washington’s Long War on Syria.”

Hyun Lee is a good friend and long-time Korean-American activist.  She's one of the most articulate people around on this important subject.

Trump once again reveals to the world his unpredictability and instability as he pulls out of the planned June 12 talks with North Korea.  As it turns out North Korea yesterday brought international journalists to a series of explosions at its Punggye-ri site in the mountainous north of the country, where it has previously tested their nuclear weapons.

The destruction included two tunnels, a barracks and observation towers, according to South Korea's Yonhap, which said that American, British, Chinese and Russian journalists were all invited.

I've long felt that the hard-right, now in control of US foreign policy, would not ultimately allow this North Korea-US peace effort to flourish.  Maybe history will prove me wrong - I hope it does - but it seems clear that John Bolton is working overtime trying to ensure that this deal (like the Iran nuclear deal) is prematurely killed.

Why is it OK for the US and its allies to test and deploy nuclear weapons?  Why does the US get to decide that the nukes from Israel, England or France are acceptable but those in North Korea, China or Russia are not?  It's hypocrisy.

The media is reporting today that now Trump is saying the June 12 meeting in Singapore might be back on schedule.  Hang onto your hat!

Bruce

The puzzle is finished


With the good help of 19-year old friend/neighbor Leann yesterday we finished the stacking of 2 1/2 cords of wood.  There are three rows under this wood shed.

We get the wood delivered precut but quite often some of the pieces are way too large and we have to recut them so they can be handled and will fit into our two wood stoves in the house.  Leann had never swung an axe before but she quickly got the hang of it and was chopping away.  Was fun to watch her grow into the task.

Other housemates gave a hand one day last week for a bit as well.  I spent a total of eight hours on the job.

I love doing this although it is hard on the back.  But in my peace work it is rare that you see immediate results (if any at all) from your efforts.  Stacking wood (sort of like putting a big puzzle together) gives you fairly quick results and a real sense of accomplishment. 

After having lived in Florida for 30 years one of my great joys about being in Maine is sitting by the fire on a cold snowy day losing my mind in the dancing flames.  I was made to live in the cold country.

There is a great wood stacking story I love.  An old farmer hires a young man from the city to stack his wood one summer.  After working all day the young man asks how much wood should be stacked.  The farmer says, "Well, I'm not sure.  Why don't you go up the mountain and ask that old Indian what he thinks."

So the young man crawls up the mountain and asks the Indian.  The Indian says, "Well, I'm not sure but it might be a bad winter."  So the young man goes back down the mountain and stacks a bunch more wood.  He again asks the farmer if it is enough and he replies, "We'll I'm not sure.  Maybe check with that Indian again."

This goes on two or three more times and the young man is getting tired going up the mountain and stacking by now a massive wood pile.  So finally the young man musters up the courage to ask the Indian, "How is it that you know the weather is going to be bad this winter?"

The Indian looks to the sky and then down the mountain and points to a big wood pile in the farmer's field.  He says, "Well, I see that big wood pile down there so I figure it's going to be a bad one."

Bruce

U.S. peacenik in Russia



My friend Regis Tremblay from Maine just returned from a two week trip to Russia.  He went as a peace ambassador and filmmaker as he continues to create videos in order to dispel the insane notion that Russia is our enemy.

He went to Moscow, the Komi Republic, and Crimea during the trip.  This particular video is from his meeting with Russian Veterans For Peace members in the Komi Republic (which is up in the Arctic region of the country).

Because of the friends and connections Regis has made we are now working to formulate a proposal to hold the 2019 Global Network annual meeting in Russia.  More on that as things develop.

Thanks to Regis for being a good messenger for peaceniks in the US.

Bruce

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Demand peace in Korea



Would Trump try to promote real peace on the Korean Peninsula? Here's four reasons why Trump will pledge for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

This video was made in collaboration with ZoominKorea, an online news organization that provides critical news and analysis of the Korean Peninsula. Be sure to check them out at:
http://www.zoominkorea.org


Video by Will Griffin