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2013 Global Week of Action: Keep Space for Peace

Bruce K. Gagnon

We’ve been organizing Keep Space for Peace Week (this time from Oct 5-12) for the past 13 years. Each year we try to have a different theme that builds new awareness about how military space technology directs all warfare on the planet. As they like to say at the US Space Command – the “battle space is now net-centric”. Who ever controls space wins the wars back on Mother Earth.

We urge groups to hold local events in their community – protests, forums, film showings, etc and this year we had a good mix of those kind of activities.

This year our theme was drones and the military satellites they use to track and attack their targets in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. We called the satellites the “triggers for surveillance and endless war”. Our space week poster read in part: Military space satellites today direct virtually all warfare on the planet. The US currently has more than 100 active military satellites. Ground stations around the globe, including at the North and South poles, download images from the satellites that are used by the military for spying and offensive operations.

In India Global Network board member J. Narayana Rao hosted a conference that drew more than 600 people. They connected space issues with Indian militarization, US expansion in their part of the world, and growing poverty. In Colorado Springs and Fairbanks, Alaska forums on drones were held. In Stockholm a no drone protest was organized at the parliament building. In the UK folks went back to US military space warfare bases in Menwith Hill and Fylingdales to hold signs that included the message “Faceless US Plan Space Wars Here.” And maybe best of all Mayor Kang from Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea did a speaking tour of Ireland, England and France during this period.

In Maine we organized a ten-day Drone Peace Walk through our state that took the issue of killing and surveillance drones to more than a dozen towns and cities. We were honored that Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist monks led us from Limestone in far north to our state capital in Augusta and finally to Bath Iron Works (BIW). Kathy Kelly (Voices for Creative Non-violence) and Tarak Kauff (Veterans for Peace) came up to join us. Much to our pleasant surprise we got excellent statewide newspaper and TV coverage of the walk.

At BIW we rallied outside their corporate headquarters where the new Zumwalt class “stealth” destroyer is being readied for launch. The job of this new warship will be to sneak up on China, or anyone else that tries to stand in the way of corporate global dominance, and put a loaded gun to their head.

Many local groups around the globe showed the new documentary film The Ghosts of Jeju during space week. The film is getting a great response as the story about the heroic spirit of the Gangjeong villagers on Jeju Island inspires people everywhere.

The film puts the Navy base construction on Jeju in the larger context of Obama’s “pivot” into the Asia-Pacific. More ports of call, airfields, and barracks are needed as 60% of US forces surge toward China. You can find more information about this excellent documentary at www.theghostsofjeju.net.

This so-called US “pivot” into the Asia-Pacific is expensive and provocative. And the space technologies that guide and direct this aggressive military mission (from drones to war-fighting satellites) don’t come cheap.

During space week we try hard to connect the dots between expensive space technology programs and growing calls for austerity at home. The public is also increasingly making those connections. The recent rejection of an attack on Syria by most American people indicated that they are getting fed up with endless war spending and declining public services at home.

At times like these we all should increase our articulation of systemic solutions, including nationalization of the weapons industry (take the profit out of war) and conversion of the war machine to useful and needed production. These words should be on the end of virtually every sentence out of our political mouths. Whether we are talking about drones, missile defense, nuclear weapons, etc. we should always be connecting things back to cuts in social spending and the need for radical and structural change.

With extreme weather hammering down upon us we must move toward rail, solar, wind and other sustainable technologies that can at the very least help ameliorate the coming consequences of our industrial fossil fuel mistake.

The Pentagon must be converted into the Natural Guard and used to help people and communities recover from severe weather. We know that the corporate oligarchy is arming itself in order to control coming population shifts due to climate change and increased competition for declining resources. The Pentagon today has the largest carbon boot print on the planet and more military will only worsen the situation.

Our issues must quickly weave together into a holistic picture of truth and positive alternatives. Our fractured movements, and often single-issue focus, must itself be converted if we hope to move things in a good direction. It is our hope that Keep Space for Peace Week events in a small way help to make these connections.

Bruce K. Gagnon coordinates the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space and lives in Bath, Maine. http://www.space4peace.org