No To Nuclear War With China And Russia Say Mainers

Westbrook, Maine March 18, 2023 Photo credit: Mary Beth Sullivan

Report back from yesterday’s March 18 peace action in Westbrook, Maine:

We had 50 folks come from all over Maine today to our protest in conjunction with the national event at the White House in Washington.

We met at a very busy intersection in Westbrook (near Portland). It was attended by people from six political parties in the state. (Maine Green Independent Party, Communist Party of Maine, Libertarian Party, Portland Republican Party, People’s Party of Maine, and Party for Socialism & Liberation of Maine.)

Cynthia Howard with the banner she created with the help of the Artists’ Rapid Response Team (ARRT!) of the Maine Union of Visual Artists. Photo credit: Mark Roman

We had a steady and huge amount of honks, waves and peace signs from the cars passing by. Everyone was really pumped by the experience. We all agreed that the ‘worm is turning’ and that the public (all across the political landscape) is not happy about the Biden administration and Congress funneling $113 billion to the proxy war in Ukraine that is aimed at Russia (and soon China as well).

We had a good mix of all ages at the event – something that has been a long time coming in Maine as the peace movement here has been aging.

We had a final closing circle and invited people to share why they had come. It was very moving to hear those present applaud for the speakers from various political parties. I made sure to make the point that there are good people in all the parties and political organizations and we must resist the ‘divide and conquer’ efforts by the corporate oligarchs that run our country.

Today was a great example of what is indeed possible if we try with good faith and a cooperative spirit to work together. We can come together in solidarity. We don’t have to agree with each other on every single issue. But today was a resounding call that we must oppose this suicidal US-NATO permanent war path.

More to come. Stay tuned.

Keep paddling.

Bruce Gagnon

PS Try as we might we did not get every single person into a photo. We are sorry for that.

As far as press coverage, I had an op-ed published by the Maine Beacon a day prior to the protest while Bruce gave an interview to a camera crew from a local news station on site in Westbrook. Sadly, it would appear that an editor at the station must have killed the story — at least there’s nothing on the WMTW website. We’ll keep looking.

And we’ll keep organizing. A protest on tax day, Saturday April 15 in Topsham at 1:30pm is in formation sponsored by the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space and the Maine Natural Guard. Co-sponsors are welcome! Email us or leave a comment here.

Mainers Brave Bitter Cold To Join Thousands Across The U.S. Demanding: No War With Russia!

photo credit: Martha Spiess

Yesterday thousands rallied across the U.S. to protest the threat of war with Russia, expansion of NATO, and arming Ukraine at taxpayer expense. 

photo credit: Bob Klotz

Around 30 people stood in Topsham at the big intersection where thousands of people passed by during the hour long protest. Sponsoring organizations Maine Natural Guard, Peaceworks of Greater Brunswick, Peace Action Maine, Maine Veterans for Peace and WILPF-Maine sent representatives. It was also exciting to see members of many other organizations in our state join us including Maine Poor People’s Campaign and 350 Maine. 

WMTW Channel 8 and WABI Channel 5 news both ran segments on our protest that included my statement: “I have grandchildren. They don’t want nuclear war. My children don’t want nuclear war. And all the people you see standing out here don’t want nuclear war.

What happened to diplomacy? Let’s sit down and talk. Let’s talk about our mutual security needs and work something out.”

Many of the messages shared yesterday reflected a concern that nuclear war could be a consequence of U.S.-NATO military attacks on Russia. 

Cynthia Howard in Topsham photo credit: Martha Spiess

Although the corporate press have repeated that unnamed sources believe Russia plans to invade Ukraine, no evidence for this claim has been produced.  Ukraine and NATO nations have moved approximately 150,000 troops and nuclear-capable weapons to several borders with Russia, and in response Russia has increased to around 100,000 the troops stationed on its own border with Ukraine. 

Russia has repeatedly said it has no intention of invading Ukraine.

The president of Ukraine has asked the U.S. and NATO to tone down their bellicose rhetoric as it is alarming the people of that nation.

Note that Russia has a long-standing no first use policy on nuclear weapons. The U.S. does not, nor has it signed the United Nations treaty on the ban of nuclear weapons after more than a year in effect.

photo credit: Russell Wray

Elsewhere in Maine yesterday a group including Veterans for Peace members gathered on a bridge in Ellsworth. Russell Wray reported: “We stood for an hour and got quite a bit of positive response, honks, thumbs up, and even clapping.” It was bitterly cold throughout, and Rob Shetterly reported that he thought about jumping into the Union River to warm up. We also heard that a group stood in Bucksport.

An online rally at noon brought together representatives of national and international peace groups including the Black Alliance for Peace, United National Antiwar Coalition, the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, World Beyond War, WILPF-U.S and many more. Recording on YouTube & Facebook

Bruce Gagnon and I were on from Maine, and Bruce spoke to his experiences visiting Russia and the Crimea and Donbass regions of Ukraine following the 2014 coup that installed a Nazi-aligned government there. Bruce’s same day blog post about U.S. mercenary corporation Blackwater joining the Nazi Azov battalion in Donbass may be read here.

Photo source: Organizing Notes

Militias displaying Nazi insignia are common in Ukraine and operate there with the tacit agreement of the government.

I spoke about how U.S. imperialism is in trouble abroad as Russia and China released a joint statement on security, economic development, and public health policy just prior to the opening of the Winter Olympic games in Beijing. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is in trouble at home with extremely low approval ratings. No national plan for public health in a pandemic as U.S. deaths approach 900,000 without universal healthcare and galloping inflation further impoverishing those struggling to feed and house themselves are contributing to loss of faith in the current government’s ability to respond to people’s needs. 

Promoting a land war in Europe seems to be a desperate strategy to improve the Biden administration’s approval ratings as nonstop war coverage by corporate press outlets tends to improve a war president’s standing in opinion polls.

Meanwhile, in calls with investors, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin expressed pleasure that the worsening situation in Ukraine is helping their profits.

See reporting by Sarah Lazare here.

Feb 5 demonstrators in New York City, photo courtesy Codepink