Disturbed? Support Divestment

The bombs are falling and there is no turning back the clocks. Media hype of military “successes” conceals the fact that there are soldiers, our relatives and friends, returning to American soil in body bags. Untold masses of Iraqi civilians are blown to pieces as we watch “shock and awe” light shows on CNN. If you did not support this war, perhaps you attended an anti-war protest, or wrote letters to your government representatives or participated in panels and classroom discussions to educate yourself and others. Or, perhaps you did not feel strongly enough to do any of the above, yet you still felt queasy at the thought of the Bush administration railroading this country into a war condemned by the international community. Now, as the rubble smolders and the military assault draws to a close, it is too late to “stop” the war. However, it is not time to turn our backs to the truth. The truth is that each one of us has wittingly or unwittingly supported this war. If you pay tuition at the University of Vermont, then your conscience should be very, very uncomfortable. Our college has millions of dollars directly invested in companies that produced the weapons used against Iraq. UVM investments support companies implicitly responsible for wartime bloodshed, the most powerful of which are Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics. All three are on the “top ten list” for US weapons manufacturers. Lockheed Martin and Boeing are #1 and #2 respectively, collecting around $17 billion from the US government. As #5 on the list, General Dynamics receives $7 billion. By producing and promoting the sale of massive weapons, these companies help perpetuate conflict and wars in the most violent places around the world. Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest weapons contractor and a major player in the areas of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile defense. The company is the recipient of the world’s largest weapons contract ever, a $200 billion deal. Throughout the year before they were awarded the contract, Lockheed Martin spent more than $9.8 million lobbying members of Congress and the Clinton administration, more than double the $4.2 million the company spent during 1999. Boeing is the world’s largest producer of commercial aircraft as well as a primary defense contractor. They produce the JDAM (joint direct attack munitions) bomb, the most widely used smart bomb in the war in Afghanistan. The precision JDAMs have repeatedly missed their targets, crashing into a residential neighborhood near the Kabul airport on Oct. 12 and killing at least 10 civilians, falling off target and killing three American soldiers on Dec. 5 and wounding five Special Forces soldiers a week earlier. The Pentagon maintains that there is no problem with the weapon, and insists on its continued use. General Dynamics is a key supplier of weapons systems and services to the US government and its international allies generating annual revenues of approximately $14 billion. Earlier this month, the Department of the Army-Headquarters awarded General Dynamics an additional ammunition production contract for $24 million bringing the total contract value to $95.6 million. Is your conscience clear? Are you proud of your university’s connections? By investing in these companies, UVM is a complacent actor in the government’s bloody war in Iraq. Students Against War has started a campaign for UVM to divest from these companies. If you find UVM’s investments disturbing, please sign the divestment petition that will be circulated around campus. If you wish to take a leading role in the divestment campaign, come to the SAW meetings held every Tuesday in Lafayette 111 at 7pm. References: http://www.worldpolicy.org (the war profiteers), the arms trade resource center, http://www.fas.org/asmp/index.html- the Federation of American Scientists-arms sales monitoring project