Peace Activists Protest Airforce ‘Arms Bazaar’ in Maryland
About a dozen activists gathered at the Air Force Association “Arms Bazaar” at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, MD. They were led by Art Laffin of the D.C. Catholic Workers, members of Pax Christi and other activists from as far away as Richmond Va. took part in this action.
The Air Force and some 150 arms contractors taking part in the AFA Air & Space Conference and Technology Expo, what we call an “Arms Bazaar,” have played a prominent role in U.S. warmaking. These arms contractors, like General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin are profiting from war and literally are making a killing! But that’s not all. The Air Force and numerous arms dealers are committed to U.S. nuclear/military superiority and militarizing and controlling space.
The U.S. continues to be the #1 arms dealer in the world. Foreign military sales by the U.S. were expected to reach $60 billion in fiscal 2012 ending September 30, according to Richard Genaille, deputy director of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which brokers such government-to-government deals. Worldwide weapons sales by the United States tripled in 2011, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. U.S. arms sales to both developed and developing nations reached $66.3 billion in 2011, up from $21.4 billion in 2010. Total worldwide weapon sales in 2011 nearly doubled to $85.3 billion, making the U.S. responsible for more than three-quarters (77.7%) of all global sales. Some of the biggest purchasers of U.S. weapons that year were Middle Eastern nations, including Saudi Arabia, whose 2011 purchase of 84 advanced F-15 fighters in part accounted for a $30 billion bill. And Egypt has been, and continues to be, a large recipient of U.S. military aid and weapons. In the wake of the recent coup and horrific violence carried out by the Egyptian military government, Egypt still stands to receive $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid. However, if the Obama Administration were to acknowledge that a military coup took place in Egypt (which it still refuses to do as of this writing), Egypt could not receive this aid because it would be in violation of the law.
From September 16-18, the AFA will host speakers and seminars that will address how the U.S. can refine its warmaking and remain the preeminent military superpower on earth and in space. And on September 18, the AFA will hold a $330 per plate banquet sponsored by Lockheed Martin. As the AFA holds its opulent banquet, a nonviolent vigil will be held to decry this scandalous Arms Bazaar.
Who will give voice to the victims who have suffered and died in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere as a direct result of U.S. warmaking, and weapons, like the Drone ”Predator” and “Reaper” war planes, produced by the arms contractors participating in the “Arms Bazaar”? In the name of God who calls us to love and not to kill, it’s time to end this Arms Bazaar! It’s time to repent of U.S. war crimes and make reparations to all victims of U.S. warmaking. It’s time to bring all the war money home, alleviate poverty, meet urgent human needs, and save our environment. It’s time for the U.S. to stop threatening to attack Syria. It’s time to end construction of a new U.S.-backed naval base on Jeju Island in S. Korea that will serve as a U.S. military outpost to threaten and contain China. It’s time to disarm and eliminate all weapons–from chemical and nuclear weapons to killer drones, end all U.S. military intervention, abolish war and practice nonviolence.