NO STAR WARS
by Lynn DeFilippo
From the GN Annual Meeting & Conference
The Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space held its Tenth Annual International Meeting and Conference this year in Berkeley, California. Two-hundred fifty people from 12 countries came together to share information about the Bush administration’s space agenda, plan activities and strengthen their commitment to prevent the weaponization of space during this three-day event.
Stacey Fritz, coordinator for No Nukes North, presented one of several key-note addresses and two workshop sessions during the weekend. Fritz updated conference goers on plans for the expansion of missile defense activities in Alaska and gave a report on what is being called the “Alaskan Resistance” to Star Wars.
NMD Deployment and Testing: Alaskan Resistance
On Saturday May 11th, Fritz’s powerpoint presentation highlighted current military toxic waste sites across the state of Alaska. She continued with a brief overview of the current NMD activities at Fort Greely, Kodiak and Shemya Island and wrapped it up with a highlight of Fairbanks-area protests in support of columnist Dan O’Neill and his missile-busting story on Poker Flats. The only thing this speaker needed was more time.
New York journalism professor and author Karl Grossman and activist Kathy Kelly from Voices in the Wilderness also gave keynotes.
Afternoon workshops included Stacey Fritz’s “NMD Deployment and Testing: Alaskan and Pacific Resistance.” These informal discussion groups were an opportunity for folks to ask questions and network. Richard Salvador from Belau was slated to talk about resistance in the Pacific Islands but wasn’t able to make it. We did hear from a woman involved with Native Hawaiians struggling against military take-over of their lands for Pacific Test Bed missile defense testing and the related toxic waste sites.
Other workshops included “Toxic Rocket Launches,” given by Sheila Baker, “North Korea: Real Threat or Enemy Creation?” and “Fewer But Newer: The Continuing Role of Nuclear Weapons in U.S. Plans for Global Military Domination.”
Protest at Lockheed Martin, Sunnyvale, Ca.
The conference began with a protest on Friday May 10th at the Lockheed Martin facilities in Sunnyvale where work is underway on the space based laser, airborne laser, Theater Missile Defense new satellites, space war fighting technology. Demonstrators lined “Lockheed Martin Way” with colorful banners protesting the corporate boondoggle commonly known as National Missile Defense.
Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Coordinator, spoke about the need to keep space for peace and oppose the deployment of weapons systems and the use of nuclear power in space. Aside from lining corporate pockets with taxpayer money at the expense of human needs and social services, testing and deployment of missile defense and its related technologies, including Theater Missile Defense, threatens to initiate a news arms race both here on earth and in outer-space.
Rousing protest songs from the Raging Grannies, a local affiliate of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and singer/songwriters Holly Gwinn Graham from Olympia, WA and Joel Landy from Queens, NY, had the crowd singing such verses as “Yonder Star Wars, weapons in the sky. When they tell you it’s about defense, you know that it’s a lie,” sung to the tune of “Oh Susanna.” A skit, by Mary Sprunger Froese and Loring Wirbel from Colorado Springs included an appearance of the scantily clad Ms. Pantygon (the Pentagon) and a bloated aerospace industry executive getting fat on taxpayer dollars.
“International Perspectives on Preventing an Arms Race in Space” was Saturday’s first plenary session, and featured speakers from the Philippines, Japan, Australia and Ghana. Regina Hagen from Germany told how Europe is now moving into space militarization, not wanting the U.S. to have total "control and domination" of space. Jacob Grech from Australia gave an update on military actions at Pine Gap, a U.S. Military Base 2,000 miles into bush Australia. Mass demonstrations have been held there, with another event being planned for this October. Continued actions at Menwith Hill Spy Base, north of Leeds, UK, keep this key Missile Defense site in the spotlight. Here, too, actions are planned for October, with the Yorkshire Center for Nuclear Disarmament extending an invitation to Stacey Fritz for an appearance. We also plan to link up protests at Menwith Hill live during Peace Camp at Fort Greely, when they plan similar demonstrations.
Fritz elected to the Advisory Board
On Sunday May 12, the final day of the conference, members came together for the business meeting. After local reports and budget updates, a lively and wide-ranging strategy discussion was facilitated by Dave Knight from the United Kingdom. And then came time for elections. The Board of Directors stayed the same while three new members were elected to the Board of Advisors, including Stacey Fritz. Regular e-mail board meetings and international strategizing will be an increasing part of Ms. Fritz’s agenda. Watch as Alaska’s Resistance moves into the world spotlight.
History of the Global Network
The Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power In Space was founded in 1992 by the joint efforts of Bruce Gagnon from the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice, Bill Sulzman from Colorado Citizens for Peace in Space and New York journalism professor Karl Grossman. The first inaugural meeting was held in the Washing D.C. City Council Chambers.
Bruce and Bill served as co-coordinators until 1998 when Bruce took on that role as a full time volunteer. The Global Network then began its effort to become a self-sustaining membership organization.
Since 1992 the Global Network meets yearly to bring together key activists who are working on or interested in space issues. The Global Network serves a s a clearinghouse for space issues and acts as a spark to ignite education and organizing to build an international citizens' movement.
The 1997 Cancel Cassini Campaign was the most visible and successful effort by the Global Network so far. Past meetings have been held in D.C., Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, England and Germany. For more information visit www.space4peace.org
Your Alaskan delegation had only a short time to enjoy the very relaxed and liberal scene that one would expect in such a leftist enclave. We cruised around buying radical bumper stickers, ate Korean food, shopped at the Revolution Book Store and watched young people openly panhandle on the street for “pot, pizza and video game” money.
Our home stay hostess told us that, “You can’t be a Republican in this town. It’s just not possible.” The only problem with getting more locals to attend the Global Network conference is that there were so many other demonstrations and events going on in the area that weekend. What’s an activist to do? A Berkeley city council member did attend though, and updated us on the Bay Area anti-war scene.
Imagine being driven to the protest site by a socialist real estate agent, or having a tan Californian try to tell you that Fidel Castro isn’t really a dictator and Cubans don’t really need or want to vote. Huh? Are these people leftists or just in denial? Whatever. We got our fill of tofu, an early start on our tans and a lovely, clean and cheap ride on the BART, Bay Area Rapid Transport. While we didn’t put flowers in our hair, we did leave our hearts, in…sunny California.
Australia and South Korea
During Sunday’s meeting, after some discussion of the location of next year’s meeting, coordinator Bruce Gagnon proposed that the conference be held in two locations, Australia and South Korea, in an effort to build the membership and show support for anti-missile defense activities in the Pacific region. GN member Cheong Wooksik from South Korea promised widespread South Korean support to host the event and plans for a large demonstration in Seoul. Melbourne will likely be the host site for the Australian meeting, with an opening protest planned at Pine Gap.
Both conferences will be held during the last week of May, with a few days of travel time in-between. Only one of the sites will host the annual business meeting. This year’s conference goers were excited about the possibilities these locations posed, after some initial trepidation about the costs and logistics. Asian and Pacific region members traditionally travel to Europe or the United States for Global Network events. With the increased strategic importance of the Koreas in missile defense plans, and plans for expansion of Theater Missile Defense activities throughout that region, targeting this area was seen as an important strategy for the Global Network in building a unified, global, grassroots movement.
Couldn’t make Global Network’s Annual Conference? No sweat, there’s lots more to see and do in the movement to Oppose Star Wars. Locally, there’s Peace Camp at Fort Greely, June 12-16. And actions world-wide are planned for October 4-11 as part of Keep Space for Peace Week, International Days of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space, including actions at Pine Gap and Menwith Hill. Get in on the action and help plan a local event. Visit www.nonukesnorth.net and www.space4peace.org for more info.
(See report from Bruce Gagnon; Conference details here)