Posts Tagged ‘Lockheed Martin’

While U.S. manufacturing exports dry up, one particular group of U.S. exporters are still raking in money: the arms dealers.

Via Trade and Taxes:

It turns out that in 2007 the US had the lowest share of global manufacturing output on record. For the first time since the UN began keeping these statistics in 1970, the US had less than 20 percent of global manufacturing.

But at the same time, according to CDI,

Global arms sales totaled nearly $60 billion in 2007, an increase of 9.2 percent from 2006 values. The United States was again the world’s most dominant arms exporter, making $24.8 billion (41.5 percent) of all global arms agreements.

Like a predatory lender during tax season, arms suppliers target the poorest countries for the bulk of their sales.

Developing nations continue to be the primary focus of foreign arms sales activity by weapons suppliers.  During the years 2000-2007, the value of arms transfer agreements with developing nations comprised 66.6% of all such agreements worldwide.  More recently, arms transfer agreements with developing nations constituted 67.7% of all such agreements globally from 2004-2007, and 70.5% of these agreements in 2007.

Here’s Wikipedia‘s 2007  list of the top ten global defense contractors, with the U.S.-based companies in bold:

  1. Lockheed Martin
  2. Boeing
  3. BAE Systems
  4. Northrop Grumman
  5. General Dynamics
  6. Raytheon
  7. EADS
  8. L-3 Communications
  9. Finmeccanica
  10. United Technologies

U.S. arms sales worldwide totaled $24.8 billion in 2007. For the same year, we spent $22 billion on foreign aid. (That year, the U.S. government also paid $27 billion just to our largest defense contractor.)

How do you feel about that?

Dr. King said:

A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

The numbers say “this business of burning human beings” is booming.

Some Christians are done with this business. Shane Claiborne, co-author of Jesus for President and author of The Irresistible Revolution, spoke about his experiences in Iraq at a nonviolent Good Friday protest last year at a Lockheed Martin facility (a U.S.-based company and the largest military contractor in the world). Shane spoke about worshiping with Iraqi Christians during Lent as the bombs fell around them during the 2003 U.S. invasion. During this season of Lent, let us acknowledge our own complicity with our nation’s militarism and resolve to put ourselves in the way to stop it.

From the Litany of Resistance:

One: For our scorched and blackened earth
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For the scandal of billions wasted in war
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For our leaders who wage war in our name
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For our Caesars and our Herods
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For our generals and tacticians
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For the men and women in battle
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For the men and women training for war
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For the scientists and researchers
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For the arms dealers and the merchants of death
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: For our taxes that fund the evil of war
All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
One: Deliver us, O God
All: Guide our feet into the ways of peace
One: In humility, we ask
All: Hear our prayer. Grant us peace.

Amen.

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As I said in my previous post on this topic, nonviolent and violentist Christians often mistreat the Hebrew scriptures. Violentist Christians assert that violence in the “Old” Testament tradition negates the possibility of nonviolence as a faithful interpretation of scripture. Nonviolent Christians concede the underlying assumption–that the only faithful interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures is the violent interpretation–and fall back on a kind of Marcionism or dispensationalism. Both of these approaches are incorrect.

It’s important for Christians to understand that the construction of our sacred scripture took place over a very long period and was the result of, to say the least, a very heavy editing job. Each hand that touched and formed the scripture worked in a particular historical context and with a particular agenda and perspective. I say this not to discredit the scriptures or undermine their authority; I only point out that several voices speak in the text. One can find in the so-called Old Testament, for example, verses celebrating or pining for vengeance, and the injunction against vengeance. Swords are hammered into plowshares, and plowshares hammered into swords. One must wrestle with the texts, prayerfully, if one is to discern the voice of God. And many Jews and others who study the Hebrew scriptures discern the voice of the God of Peace.

Take, for example, this passage from Leviticus (Vayikra) 19:16-18:

  • Do not be a talebearer or spread hate among the people.
  • Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.
  • Do not hate your brother or sister in your heart.
  • Rather speak directly to your brother and sister about your concerns.
  • Do not take vengeance. Do not bear a grudge against the children of your people.
  • Love your neighbor as yourself, I am YHVH.

The most recent issue of Fellowship Magazine features Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb interpreting these verses as the basis for nonviolence in the Jewish tradition:

I will interpret these words according to the tradition of interpretation by which I was ordained as a rabbi.  I stand before you today as a rabbi rooted in the lineage of those in the Jewish commnity who follow the path of engaged nonviolence, which is called shomer shalom. As a shomeret shalom I renew a vow of engaged nonviolence every year at Yom Kippur. My teachers, those whose memories are a blessing, and those who still walk upon this earth, have taught me the way of nonviolence as I seek peace and pursue peace (Psalm 34:15).

…I would like to interpret Vayikra. The first verse of the passage states: “Do not become a talebearer or spread hate among the people.” Hate speech is to be avoided because it often leads to acts of violence. As you are well aware, I come from a community that has experienced the genocidal results of hate speech leading to hate action…

…[T]he next verse of Leviticus instructs us: “Do not stand idly by the shedding of blood of your neighbor.” We are commanded not to be silent or passive in the face of prejudice, militarism, violence or structural injustice which privileges some while exploiting others. In fact, challenging systems of injustice is essential to peacemaking.

The text continues: “Do not harbor hatred of your brother or sister in your heart.” This mitzvah relates to the inner dimension of peacemaking. Even in the face of violence and the struggle for human rights we are told to remember that we are all one human family. …Hatred is a form of alienation as is linked to fear and violence. Therefore peacemaking begins by trying to erase hatred of others from one’s heart, to see the other as a full human being, to know that the flaws we find in others are also flaws within ourselves. We are to judge everyone from z’khaf zechut, a place of merit, and thus begin to build an atmosphere of trust out of which peace can grow even as we make every effort to redress wrongs.

Rather than respond to violence with violence we are told: speak directly to your brother or sister about your concerns. The Torah urges direct negotiations, acts of face-to-face reconciliation as the way to peace.

…As the next verse categorically states, as a matter of religious obligation, we are not to take vengeance, nor bear a grudge. This is a weighty obligation and the heart of the instruction to act nonviolently, even in the face of violence. This instruction is explicated further as the central tenet of all our traditions: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself. I am YHVH.” Love is not a sentiment, but a condition in which we face obstacles to peace with the view that the man or woman who stands before us is indeed our brother or our sister. We are commanded to choose love and not fear, love and not violence, love and not war.

And in case you were wondering how strongly she felt about this interpretation, Gottlieb gave this interpretation during a speech to a modest-sized group that included Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

[Incidentally, the NRSV translates Leviticus 19:16 slightly differently:

You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the Lord.

Lockheeds, Boeings and Blackwaters, take notice.]

The Hebrew scriptures, aside from containing commands from God that can lead to a nonviolent theology, include several stories of nonviolent resistance to power. Arthur Waskow identified several incidents in a May/June 2003 article written for the Fellowship of Reconciliation:

  • The story of the saving of the baby Moses by Shifrah and Puah – the midwives who refused to obey Pharaoh’s order to murder Hebrew boy babies – is perhaps the first tale of nonviolent civil disobedience in world literature.
  • The process of liberation in the Exodus itself is woven with violence in the form of disastrous ecological upheavals and ultimately the death of Egypt’s firstborn. But the imposition of these plagues is ascribed to God, and thus placed one giant step away from Israelite behavior.
  • Jeremiah warns against using violence and military alliances to oppose the Babylonian Conquest, and argues instead that God will protect the people if Judah acts in accord with the ethical demands of Torah – freeing slaves, letting the land rest.
  • Daniel and his friends famously are cast into the lions’ den for nonviolently refusing to obey the king’s command to worship foreign gods.
  • And although the Book of Esther ends in violence, Esther herself demonstrates nonviolent civil disobedience when, in fear and trembling, she approaches the Persian king without having been invited so that she can carry out her mission to save the Jewish people from a murderous tyrant.
  • There is a powerful story of an Israelite king, Saul, who had to deal with an underground guerilla whom he thought of as a terrorist…named David. And David, with a very small band of underground guerillas, went off, hungry and desperate, and found food and protection at a sacred shrine, where they asked the priests to let them eat the show-bread, the lehem panim, the sacred bread placed before God, because they were desperately hungry. And the priests fed them from the sacred bread. When Saul heard about this, he said (more or less), “Anybody who harbors a terrorist is a terrorist!” (do you hear an echo?) and so King Saul ordered his own bodyguard to kill the priests of Nov. But the bodyguard refused. His own bodyguard, yet he refused to murder these priests. An act of nonviolent civil disobedience against an Israelite king, not an Egyptian Pharaoh.
  • Jeremiah…used “Yippie” acts of street theater to protest. He wore a yoke as he walked in public, embodying the yoke of God that the King had shrugged off, as well as the yoke of Babylonian captivity that the King was bringing on the people.

In my next post in this series, I’ll discuss the Genesis 1 account of creation and contrast it with other creation myths to show how, in context, the Judeo-Christian creation story gives a glimpse of a God of nonviolence, and of the nonviolent Word woven into the nature of the universe and by whom all things were made.

You can learn more about the shomer shalom tradition at the Shomer Shalom website.

“If the sword then not the book; if the book then not the sword.”

War is big business, people. According to this morning’s The New York Times:

From tanks, helicopters and fighter jets to missiles, remotely piloted aircraft and even warships, the Department of Defense has agreed so far this fiscal year to sell or transfer more than $32 billion in weapons and other military equipment to foreign governments, compared with $12 billion in 2005.

…“This is not about being gunrunners,” said Bruce S. Lemkin, the Air Force deputy under secretary who is helping to coordinate many of the biggest sales. “This is about building a more secure world.”

…In that booming market, American military contractors are working closely with the Pentagon, which acts as a broker and procures arms for foreign customers through its Foreign Military Sales program.

In the last year, foreign sales have made up nearly half of the production at the [Boeing] California plant where C-17s are made. “It has been filling up the factory in the last couple of years,” Mr. Dunehew said.

Even before this new round of sales got under way, the United States’ share of the world arms trade was rising, from 40 percent of arms deliveries in 2000 to nearly 52 percent in 2006, the latest year for which the Congressional Research Service has compiled data. The next-largest seller was Russia, which in 2006 accounted for 21 percent of global deliveries.

Remember: “This is not about being gunrunners…This is about building a more secure world.”  Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and the Defense Department all have your best interests in mind and their methods can be trusted to save the world.  Right.  In other news:

The Boeing Corporation, in Seattle, sold thre two-engine airplanes to Germany. These planes “might be regarded by a military expert as admirable potential bombers,” said The New York Times; German engineers were studying them attentively…In Berlin, an American commercial attache wrote that American manufacturers were selling Germany crankshafts, cylinder heads, control systems for anti-aircraft guns, and components sufficient to make about a hundred planes a month. There were, the attache reported, orders outstanding to equip two thousand planes.

It was May 1934.

The preceding is a quote from Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization. Earlier in the book, Nicholas Baker recounts:

H.C. Engelbrecht, author of Merchants of Death, a bestseller about arms dealers, spoke at a conference of the American Academy of Political Science. “Armament is an industry that knows no politics, friends, right or wrong–but only customers,” Engelbrecht said. “If you can pay, you can buy…In every war…the armament maker who sells internationally is arming a potential enemy of is own country–and that, practically, if not legally, is treason.”

America seems to suffer from a Sisyphus curse: every generation, we roll the stone of our national consciousness up the hill of hard experience. Through wars, through follies, through atrocities wielded in the name of peace through strength, through the ultimate futility of violence as a means to shape a better world. And just when we get to the top of the hill, when we begin to rise above the fog of illusion to survey the kingdom of the battle-god where a thousand corpses lie, the curse strikes.  The angel that beckoned us, “Come up, come up!” sheds his robe of light and grins his seven-headed scaly grin.  His tail flicks! Down rolls the stone! Down through mythic rewrites of the history of slaughters, down, sped along by propaganda, by nationalism, by the dragon’s myth of redemptive violence. And again, at the bottom of the slope, unremembering, we lay down our crosses, pick up our swords, and strain for the treacherous glory at the top of the mountain.

One of the deepest challenges that comes with the Christian faith is the constant struggle to reject false dilemmas, the most pervasive of which is the false dilemma of “fight or flight.” We learn to see conflicts in terms of this false choice from an early age, and we learn that “fight” is the “honorable” choice among the two. The strong stay and fight; the weak flee. Strong has a good connotation; weak has a bad connotation. We learn from countless social cues, in this way, to use violence in personal and political conflict. This false dilemma infects our social systems, including our religions, giving rise to the myth of redemptive violence. God favors the strong, the violent, endorses their dominance.

Then comes Christ, this strange revelation of the nature of God as love, revealing God on the side of the victims of violence, not the perpetrators of it. In the course of his life he lays bare the false nature of the “fight or flight” dilemma. He teaches a way of life that does not shrink from conflict but rejects violence against the other. He reveals another option, what Wink calls “Jesus’ third way,” — turning the other cheek (refusing to be cowed by violence without returning it), going the second mile (placing the occupying Roman soldier in a precarious legal situation by showing love for him), giving the undergarment when the outer garment is asked for (disrobing, as it were, injustice, without violence). Christ teaches that we must love our enemies so much that we would die for them. And then he does it himself.

Following Christ into the rejection of the false dilemma requires a constant conscious effort. A mind must be trained to follow different patterns, and that training often has to take place in a hostile cultural atmosphere.

The purpose of that hostile cultural atmosphere is to do the opposite — to train people to participate in violent domination. That training is creeping into new areas of society and is becoming more sophisticated as it targets people at earlier ages. This training has become most explicit in the video game industry. Take, for example, America’s Army:

Launched in July 2002 the America’s Army game, which is rated “T” for Teen by the ESRB, has become one of the most popular computer games in the world. America’s Army has penetrated contemporary culture and is one of the most recognizable game brands as a result of its unique inside perspective of the U.S. Army and its exciting gameplay. As the game’s popularity continued to grow with each of its dozens of new version releases, the Army has expanded its brand through a variety of products including console and cell phone games, America’s Army merchandise such as t-shirts, the Real Heroes program which tells the stories of heroic Soldiers, training applications for use within the military and government sectors, and the incredible Virtual Army Experience. In the near future, the America’s Army brand will expand with the launch of America’s Army: True Soldiers for Xbox 360 in the Fall of 2007 and America’s Army version 3.0 next year.

In the America’s Army game, players are bound by Rules of Engagement (ROE) and grow in experience as they navigate challenges in teamwork-based, multiplayer, force versus force operations. In the game, as in the Army, accomplishing missions requires a team effort and adherence to the seven Army Core Values. Through its emphasis on team play, the game demonstrates these values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage and makes them integral to success in America’s Army.

In keeping with the dynamic nature of Soldiering, the America’s Army game will continue to expand and will allow players to explore the Army of today, tomorrow and the future.

There’s strong, and then there’s Army Strong!

Even though “the minimum age for enlistment in the United States Military is 17 (with parental consent),” this game – which the above shows is without a doubt a recruitment tool – has a “Teen” rating with the ESRB, meaning it is “suitable for ages 13 and older.” Through this “game,” which is actually a combat simulator developed in partnership between the gaming industry and the defense industry, the military begins training children before they are even recruited, teaching them to kill the state’s enemies rather than love them. And, the military has found a way to weaponize even non-combat-simulator playtime. From Popular Mechanics’ Glenn Derene:

“I used the controls to perform a target lock on an unsuspecting civilian Fleet Week spectator, and as the rooftop turret followed the poor fellow around the area, I remarked to one of the ONR representatives how frighteningly similar the whole system was to a video game. He agreed, then showed me a military spec version of an Xbox 360 gamepad that was an alternate interface for the same machine. (It wasn’t all that different from the one we thumbed to test-drive the Army’s robotic MULE vehicle from Lockheed Martin earlier this year.)”

Console game controllers are not the most accurate interfaces, as any hardcore PC gamer would love to tell you.  So why use them? The answer is simple: those targeted for military recruitment grew up playing video games, and they still play them. They’re already trained in their use, which is a nicer way to say that this simple innovation allowed the military to “draft” all the time kids spend playing video games into the military training process. But there’s more to it than that:

There is, of course, a real concern that appropriating the game interface into the military space will also bring with it an emotional and moral disassociation from the act of fighting wars…Already, Bigham says that Raytheon has been experimenting with Wii controllers to explore the possibilities for training simulators and other applications that require physical movement. Just think, one day, the R&D that Nintendo put into Wii bowling could end up influencing basic training.”

The medium is the message, and the message is frightening: War is a game.

Nick Turse wrote in his book, The Complex:

“[Microsoft’s Xbox game Close Combat: First to Fight] is typical of a recently emerging trend that has melded the video game industry (and entertainment industries more broadly) with the U.S. military in a set of symbiotic relationships that literally immerse civilian gamers in a virtual world of war while training soldiers using the hottest gaming technology available. It’s the creation of a digital cradle-to-grave concept in which games created by or for the military are used as recruiting tools and also, as it were, to pretrain youngsters. Then, when they’re old enough to enlist, these kids find themselves using video game-like controllers to pilot real military vehicles and are taught tactics and trained in strategy using specially designed video games and commercially available, off-the-shelf games that have been drafted into service by the military.”

I am a lapsed gamer. I will admit to having levelled a World of Warcraft (WoW) warlock all the way to level 70, playing Player-versus-Player (PvP) Arena matches and battlegrounds enough to get some of the best PvP armor in the game at the time. I devoted almost all of my freetime to improving my character’s gear. It’s fair to say that I was addicted to the game (which, I think, plays on a deeply rooted, competitive materialism in our culture…but I digress). It might seem silly (and maybe it is) that a person completely convinced of Jesus’ normative nonviolence would spend a lot of time playing a character that summons demons and runs around attacking members of opposing factions just because they are members of the opposing faction for (virtual) material benefit. I was aware of that contradiction, often acutely, but I shrugged it off with the familiar throwaway: “It’s just a game.” I could differentiate between fantasy and reality, and that was that.

These days I’m much more inclined to see games like WoW and especially like America’s Army and Close Combat: First to Fight in a different way: practice.

Some might think I’m being silly by including WoW in this category. Compared to America’s Army, which is a first-person multiplayer combat simulator, WoW seems juvenile and cute: you run around throwing bolts of energy at people and summoning meteors from the sky to defeat opponents who always come back to life, on a timer. I cannot really learn to summon demons, hit a target with my dwarven-crafted blunderbuss, by playing WoW, and the same is not true for America’s Army.

And yet…the dynamic of WoW is simple. The enemy faction speaks a different language and even their gestures are often unintelligible. Communication is very, very difficult. You cannot learn their language or negotiate within the confines of the game. The enemy is wholly other to you. Players are grouped into one of two factions based on which species (the game calls it race!) you choose to play, generally allowing you to look at people and determine immediately if they are “good” or “bad.” You learn very quickly that they are the enemy, and that the game rewards you with points for killing them.  In short, even in a very unrealistic, very sterilized, cartoon-like dreamworld, players are learning to live by the myth of redemptive violence, and that the only real method of communication between enemies is violent combat.

Turse:

“More and more toys are now poised to become clandestine combat teaching tools, and more and more simulators are destined to be tomorrow’s toys. And what of America’s children and young adults in all this? How will they be affected by the dazzling set of military training devices now landing in their living rooms and on their PCs, produced by video game giants under the watchful eyes of the Pentagon? After all, what these games offer is less a matter of a simple military indoctrination and more like a near immersion in a virtual world of war, where armed conflict is not the last, but the first–and indeed the only–resort.”

This is the ultimate crux of it. By blurring the line between fantasy and reality, by utilizing the trappings of a gaming experience to ease the transition into the role of real-world killing, by using play to train generations of soldiers in complex tactical combat scenarios before they are even of legal recruiting age, a pervasive force in our culture is pushing a world view in which violent domination of enemies–whom Christ taught us that we must love in a self-sacrificial way–is the default. It slithers its way from the military industries all the way down into the family den, groping at every spare synapse in the brains of the youngest children possible.

There is a war going on for your mind.” Be aware of it.