Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Corporate Government Breeds Perpetual War, And What To Do About It

I'm preparing this morning to tape an interview with friend and fellow activist Bruce Gagnon. His This Issue television show appears on community access channels around Maine, and I've been his guest on a few occasions. But today the table will be turned and I'll be interviewing him.

Bruce spends a lot of time gathering information from varied sources and has been paying attention to the U.S. war machine for decades now. Recently he returned from a United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) conference where he was a panelist on missile "defense," and he wrote some interesting blog posts reporting back on what was shared there. I know he learned a lot from others in attendance, too. Here's a playlist on YouTube of the many interesting plenaries, workshops and planning sessions.

I'm interested to hear his response to the questions I've prepared:

  • Much has been made of alleged ties between the new administration in Washington DC and Russia. Can you discuss why the Democratic Party and its media outlets have made such a big deal of this, and what you think the underlying truth is?
  • The demagogue with bad hair has continued Obama's pivot to Asia, threatening North Korea and stationing THAAD missile "defense" plus warships like the Zumwalts built in Bath right on China's borders. What is to be gained from using our military to provoke China?
  • The bloodbath in Syria, and the historic refugee crisis it has caused, seems to be escalating with no resolution in sight. Is this a civil war? Proxy war? What is the U.S./NATO role in this disaster?
  • The U.S. has drawn closer to Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, with a state visit that had the U.S. president photographed dancing around with swords and communing with a glowing orb surrounded by Saudi princes. What is really going on -- more of the same in U.S. foreign policy, or a significant shift?
  • This year marks the 50th anniversary of the annexation of the West Bank and Gaza by Israel, with construction of settlements on those stolen lands galloping ahead. Under any president the U.S. continues to support and fund the violent occupation of Palestine by Israel, and the apartheid state Israel has become. Why?
  • How do you understand the proliferation of terrorist attacks in Europe recently? Who do you think is behind them, and what is their purpose?
  • Will the U.S. always be at war in Afghanistan? Why has this occupation lasted so long, and produced so little in tangible progress for the U.S. and NATO? Why are we sending more troops there?
  • What advice do you have for our audience to counter the downhill slide of our domestic economy based on building and exporting "security" and weapons? What can a concerned person do to make a difference?
There are so many other subjects I wish I had time to discuss with him: the Saudi war on Yemen and the U.S. role in torture there. The lies being told by corporate media about the real situation in Ukraine, where the U.S. is supporting the neo-Nazis. Also the recent suicide attacks in Teheran and what they portend. And what is really going on with the coordinated economic and diplomatic attacks on Qatar lately?

My guess is that I will not have to ask Bruce a direct question about the urgency of converting the military-industrial complex to building something useful and sustainable for humankind.

This is a theme that he and his partner Mary Beth Sullivan have returned to many times in their writing, speaking and direct actions. They live in an intentional community in the neighborhood where the corporation General Dynamics builds warships at nearby Bath Iron Works. Their house is named Adams-Melman in part because the late Seymour Melman was an early promoter of conversion as the path forward out of the wilderness we find ourselves lost in.

I also probably won't have time to ask him his views on the environmental degradation attendant on endless wars and massive investments in carbon belching war machines. Bruce has already signed the Maine Natural Guard pledge to connect the dots between climate chaos and the immense carbon bootprint of the U.S. military and its contractors. He is well aware that talking about reducing greenhouse gas in the atmosphere without talking about the Pentagon is foolish.

Bruce and I were arrested along with seven others on April 1 at Bath Iron Works for criminal trespass; basically, we refused to move from an area in front of their fence when ordered to do so. Jason Rawn was arrested along with us and had a recent letter to the editor published in the Portland Press Herald explaining his objections to a government infested by corporate investment. (Jason and I had dressed as our senators from Maine, Angus King and Susan Collins, respectively, with logos on our clothing indicating our corporate sponsors). 

The #Aegis9 have a disposition hearing tomorrow in West Bath District Court at 8:30am if you're in the area and would care to show up and support us.

I was struck by how many of the comments on Jason's letter online, "Angus King does not represent ordinary Americans" accepted the current system of rule by wealthy corporate servants as inevitable.

I'm old enough to remember when people in the U.S. thought that elected officials ought to represent the people, not General Dynamics. Bruce is old enough to remember, too, and he published his Sunday poem on that theme (reprinted here from his blog Organzing Notes):

Get Up Off Your Knees

We are talking

the return
of feudalism
21st century
corporate style

Mental slaves
all around us
go any place
where people meet
the joint
is crawling
with them

Whining about Trump
of the good old days
when Obama
the rule of law
ran a 'clean' government
only got us into
7 wars
Drone executions
Expanding NATO
Health care
was a corporate subsidy
but allowed
for pre-existing
yeah the glory days

Saw an invite
from a liberal group
'Join the resistance'
was the headline
the fine print
told the real story
come learn how to lobby

Resistance redefined
as accommodation
and horse trading
from a position
of weakness
and servitude

is on the west's
shit list
because he won't
won't get on his knees
like vassals

resists being
another Yeltsin
won't bow
to the banksters
dares talk of

The fightback
is half-stepping
reading the
Post and Times
falling for the lies
another 'shock and awe'
Iran is next

Folks know better
but running scared
don't want
to get
outside their
comfort zones

to change
the script
off their
big loss
to the 'Donald'
gotta blame
the evil bear

no fight
in the bones

Speak out
get accused
of being violent
or too radical

run and hide
wait for next election

Been determined
by some
on your knees
is the safest
to face
high tide



Pat Taub said...

Great questions. I look forward to seeing the interview. All the best!

PeaceJusticeMaine said...

Beautiful poem by Bruce. We talked tonight about his work at the Socialist Party of Eastern Maine meeting.