Coordinator Trip Report - Germany

19-26 March 2007

From: Bruce Gagnon

(See also: conference details)

This report covers the period of March 19-26 as I travelled to Germany to attend the Global Network’s 15th annual space organizing conference and membership meeting.


The first leg of my trip had me landing in Stuttgart, Germany where I then took a train farther south to Swabisch Gmund and then on to Mutlangen.  I’ve been to Mutlangen twice before as it was the deployment site in 1983 for the U.S. nuclear-tipped Pershing II missile.  At the time I was living in Orlando, Florida and organizing regular protests outside of the Martin Marietta Corporation facility that was building the Pershing.  My youngest sister was inside helping to build the missile and I was outside holding a sign.


A major campaign of non-violent resistance was organized out of Mutlangen and by 1987 thousands of activists from all over Germany, and beyond, had been arrested there attempting to blockade the U.S. Army convoys that carried the mobile nuclear missile on-board as it drove from the base (located right in the middle of the small town) out to the countryside for manoeuvres and back.


In 1987 I was invited to Mutlangen to attend a conference that brought people from the U.S., Germany, and the Soviet Union together to discuss disarmament.  During the meeting, an Army convoy was returning from manoeuvres to the base, and we ran outside the hall to set up a street blockade of the nuclear convoy.  Machine gun armed American soldiers quickly jumped off the trucks and trained their weapons on us while they waited for the German police to come drag everyone out of the way so the convoy could proceed back to the base.


In 1989, while still working for the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice, I organized the first global campaign to stop the launch of a NASA rocket carrying deadly plutonium-238 on an interplanetary mission.  It was the Mutlangen-based group called Friedens und Begegnungsstatte that became the first international organization to come to our aid during the effort to stop the launch.  From there the German peace group became an early affiliate when the Global Network was created in 1992 and has been a leading supporter of our keep space for peace efforts in Germany ever since.

When I arrived again in Mutlangen last week I returned to the Pressehutte, the now famous peace movement office, where years of non-violent resistance was coordinated from.  Global Network leaders Bill Sulzman and Loring Wirbel (Citizens for Peace in Space, Colorado Springs) had also arrived earlier that day.  We were to spend two days in Mutlangen meeting with local activists and the local mayor.  While there we also travelled to Stuttgart to hold a meeting with the Deputy Mayor (from the Green Party) of that city along with a group of local peace activists.  Long-time Global Network advisory board member Wolfgang Schlupp-Hauck, who has been working out of the Pressehutte since the 1980’s, coordinated our activities in Mutlangen.

On March 22 five of us took the train north from Mutlangen to Darmstadt, which is very near Frankfurt.  There we went to city hall for a reception sponsored by the government of Darmstadt that was to kick-off the Global Network annual conference.  Following some very nice remarks by a city official a large group of Global Network members from around the world packed inside the near-by Ratskeller restaurant for an authentic Bavarian meal and good German beer.


Our events in Darmstadt were coordinated by GN board member Regina Hagen who works for the International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation (INESAP).  INESAP and Regina’s local peace group, called the Darmstädter Friedensforum, co-sponsored our conference that drew activists from India, Australia, U.S., England, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Hungary, and Germany.


Darmstadt hosts the European Space Operation Centre (ESOC), which plans and conducts satellite operations for the European Space Agency, and on the outskirts of the town a U.S. military spy station, which is part of the global Echelon surveillance system.


Two days of discussion, strategizing, planning, and protest around the topic The Role of the European Union in the Militarization of Space kept us busy. We shared information about the growing role of space in the new European Security and Defense Policy, about NATO and European missile defense plans, and how these are related to U.S. plans to dominate space in order to control the Earth.


The first morning of the conference we held an early vigil at the gates of the European Space Agency Operations Center. We handed out many leaflets to people as they arrived to work. It was cold and raining while we were there but it was a colorful and effective protest that got covered the next day in the local newspaper.


The European Union is now developing a civilian reconnaissance satellite system called Galileo that is going to also have military applications. The European Space Agency (ESA), just like NASA, was created as a civilian space agency and was not to be dragged into military space. But also like NASA, the ESA is now going "dual use," meaning space technologies are being developed for both civilian and military purposes.


This is happening because aerospace industries are pushing their governments all over Europe to increase funding for space militarization. At our conference we heard that in Sweden, for example, their government is rapidly funding growing efforts to pull the country into military space technologies. And in each case they are cutting social spending to pay for the development of space warfare technology.


During one evening in Darmstadt I was a member of a panel interviewed by Regina Hagen live on a local German community radio station talking about ESA and the militarization of space. A representative from the ESA was on the panel and maintained that the agency was against the militarization of space but he said several times "Europe must defend itself." This ultimately translates to “We can't let the U.S. control and dominate space. We must respond and if that means ESA develops military space technologies then so be it.”


On the second day of the conference we held another vigil, this time at the U.S. spy station, which is part of the global Echelon surveillance system. (While we were protesting at this facility a reporter from the U.S. military newspaper Stars & Stripes took photos and interviewed several of our folks. Click on this link for the article. It’s not often that a military newspaper covers us.) 


These U.S. space facilities are now scattered all over the planet and many of them are being upgraded for participation in the Star Wars program. They would communicate directly with military war fighting satellites and direct U.S. attack around the world. Much of the growth in membership of our Global Network is coming from communities where these installations are built.


During our conference we learned more about how these military space networks, now called Operationally Responsive Space (ORS), are being set up to expand U.S. ability to launch pre-emptive attack around the world.


We also talked extensively about how the U.S. and NATO program of expanding Star Wars facilities into Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, and Hungary is part of a strategy to surround Russia. One of our members told us about a Rand Corporation plan now in circulation to break Russia into three separate countries so the oil corporations can better control their resources. (This is the same strategy that was used to bust up the former Yugoslavia and which is today underway in Iraq.)


See also: videos from demonstration - Regina's speech on Griesham US Spy station;  Holly's song; Helen's speech; Loring's speech; Denis's speech


One of our major aims coming out of the conference is to expand our contacts with emerging peace movements in Eastern Europe that are opposing construction of U.S. and NATO Star Wars facilities in their countries - under the guise of "missile defense."


But despite the bad news from Europe, something we've seen coming for years, the fact is that opposition is growing as more people begin to understand the issue. A small town in the Czech Republic just voted overwhelmingly to declare their opposition to U.S. plans to build a “missile defense” radar in their community. 


We ended our conference in Darmstadt by deciding that next year our meeting will be held in Omaha, Nebraska in order to shine an international light on the Pentagon's Strategic Command (StratCom) that is now in charge of Star Wars, satellite surveillance and reconnaissance, nuclear weapons targeting, and planning for global preemptive war.


Loring Wirbel receives the coveted "GN Peace in Space Award" 2007

Intrepid GN party tours Darmstadt in the rain


Tim Rinne, Coordinator of Nebraskans for Peace, reported on how the Strategic Command (StratCom) HQ in Omaha is now making efforts to get the University of Nebraska to become a major center for the creation of “new” space law. Tim recently attended a conference at the university, sponsored by StratCom, and reported how Pentagon officials told the assembled that those who try to use international law to prevent an arms race in space were practicing a new form of warfare. The Pentagon spokesman termed it "law fare."


So there you have it. Anyone who wants to use the "rule of law" to create global stability is akin to a terrorist. Remember that one - law fare.


(See also: Report on GN Strategy Session and Global Network befasst sich mit Weltraummilitarisierung in der EU)

We hope you will join us at a future Global Network event and become a part of this historic effort to keep space for peace.


Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 729-0517
(207) 319-2017 (Cell phone) (Our blog)

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