Divestment: time to rexamine the cause

The recent Students Against War (SAW) presentation to University officials comes at an especially bad time, given the recent economic downturn. Not only do we – the conservative unit – disagree with the divestment in the first place, but right now is quite possibly the worst time in decades to divest from any stock portfolio.The students proposed a complete withdrawal of all funds invested in “war profiteering companies” such as Halliburton, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to name a few.First of all, who is to say that these companies are war profiteers? That is completely subjective. History has not yet judged whether the Iraq War was a just, unjust or eventually beneficial war to American interests and foreign policy. Were some of these same companies considered war profiteers following WWII? Businesses provide services regardless of the political situations surrounding the conflicts for which they are involved. The argument that the military industrial complex contractors are war profiteers is preposterous because of the industry they provide services for. Of course they profit from the war because their services are required and that’s what companies do – make profit. To make a comparison – should we shut down Brennan’s Pub because it is a stomach profiteer and its greasy burgers make students unhealthy?Furthermore, divesting in these companies has a negative effect on the companies themselves as well as the American economy, albeit small. UVM would stand to lose a lot of money from selling these stocks in a currently depressed market. We don’t think this is the right or prudent action at this time given the fact that the University has a $22 million deficit. Every UVM student who has ever taken economics before understands that the idea is to buy low and sell high. They may see it as noble, because they disagree with the cause and the companies’ material support for it, but abandoning them and the students’ fiscal interest at this time is foolhardy.We admire SAW’s humanitarian ideals, but believe that their posturing of these companies as war profiteers is misguided. These companies provide weapons, tools and services to our armed forces, where they are used for the ultimate purpose of the military – the protection of our country and thereby war.SAW wants to divest to show their opinion against the war in Iraq. Any war can be opposed ideologically on humanitarian grounds, since war is a horrible endeavor. Bad financial timing aside, UVM divesting would be jumping the gun on companies that may turn out not to be “war profiteers” by SAW’s own definition.