Divesting from Weapons

W.J. Astore

There’s a bill before the Rhode Island State Legislature (House Bill 6026) that aims to divest state pension funds from military contractors. I wrote a short letter in favor of this bill and submitted it, as follows:

I served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 2005.  There are many of us within the military who recognize the wisdom of General Smedley Butler, twice awarded the Medal of Honor.  Butler wrote that the best way to end war is to take the profit out of it.  Butler wrote in the 1930s, when our country believed that weapons makers were “merchants of death.”  They were called that because of the vast killing fields of World War I, a war that killed more than 100,000 Americans, together with millions of other troops from Britain, France, Germany, and elsewhere.

Joining Smedley Butler was another great American, General (later President) Dwight D. Eisenhower.  In his famous “Cross of Iron” speech in 1953, Ike wrote that unnecessary spending on weaponry would lead to humanity being crucified on a cross of iron.  Here are his words:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children… This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

In 1961, President Eisenhower warned all Americans against the dangers of the military-industrial complex.  Sixty years later, in 2021, America dominates the world in selling weapons across the globe.  We have become the “merchants of death” that Generals Butler and Eisenhower warned us about.

Weapons kill.  Weapons make wars more likely.  And as Eisenhower said in 1946, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”

It’s time for us to hate war again.  It’s time for us to beat our swords into ploughshares, as the Bible tells us.  It’s time for us to pursue more peaceful activities.

Rhode Island can set a strong example – a shining example – in the pursuit of peace and sanity.  I urge you to vote “for” House Bill 6026.

Let us beat our swords into ploughshares …

*****

The “Divestment Fact Sheet” for the bill explains its purpose, as follows:

  1. Allows us to redirect our investment dollars toward socially productive corporations addressing important social assets like climate resilience, health, and education, which aid economic growth;
  2. Seeks to move money away from corporations whose output foments violence, death, destruction, and social chaos.
  3. Educates the general public about the role of weapons manufacturers in the cycle of tax breaks, lobbying largesse, increasing military budgets and weapon sales.
  4. Reduces the flow of scarce economic resources to military weapons manufacturers by reducing public investment;
  5. Sends a message to the US Congress that we need to sharply reduce investment in military weapons where the costs are increasingly public (ever increasing health bills for traumatized and injured vets of the endless wars, reconstruction bills in foreign lands, ever increasing maintenance bills and graft on weapons systems) and the benefits are private (lobbying firm profits, huge weapons manufacturer bonuses and excessive CEO pay packages).

In America, money talks. As Smedley Butler said, ending the madness of war will most likely come when we can take the profit out of it. Here’s hoping Rhode Island’s effort succeeds — and sets an example for others across our nation.

21 thoughts on “Divesting from Weapons

  1. I ask this because I haven’t studied much about the Korean “police action”: did the armistice in the summer of ’53 come about mainly because of Ike’s feelings about war? Or is that a gross over-simplification?

    Also, at first glance, it doesn’t seem as if Ike’s beliefs square with his support of the Bay of Pigs plan, so I’m curious about that, too.

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    1. I’m not sure, Denise. Ike “promised” to go to Korea; he was elected in part on a promise to end the war. He did, but with an armistice, not a peace treaty, which technically means the war is still ongoing, hence the heavily fortified DMZ and occasional incidents that result in deaths to both sides.

      Historians debate whether Ike would have approved the Bay of Pigs plan. It was an inept plan and its implementation was botched; some suggest Ike would have never gone along with it. JFK inherited it, so to speak, and made an unwise decision to approve it. He learned from it — maybe his biggest lesson was that he couldn’t trust his own generals. That helped him during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

      This is the conventional wisdom; others may have views that are far less sympathetic to Ike and JFK.

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      1. I can’t speak for Ike, because I haven’t read up on him. But per my voluminous research, my take on JFK matches yours. I think that if he hadn’t learned that lesson, we might not be here.

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  2. Thank you for all you are doing for humanity. You’re words are always well chosen and in this instance they seem so appropriate and make a compelling case for voters to call their legislators and make this happen. I don’t know much about the state but it would be great if a newspaper or two there would print this in their letters to the editor. My wife and I be sharing it for sure. Thanks for this ray of hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for this column, which I hope will ignite a series on the incredible moral and economic costs of the MIC–I wrote a comment a couple of weeks ago re your “Dream” column, using the
    Swords into Plowshares Biblical reference, which apparently did not get noticed or any reply from other commenters…I’m also a longstanding reader and supporter of TomDispatch, and have appreciated your contributions there, along with those of Andrew Basevich, Ann Jones, and many others. This obscene expenditure of blood and treasure in order to dominate and control
    much of the world’s resources and peoples will only end, if not turned away from, in the deserved demise of the American Empire–and I’m not seeing much in my 77th year to give me hope that
    we’ll all read and actually turn to the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount…

    Steve Melson –nominal leftist Christian, Progressive Democrat, Vietnam combat Vet
    (Non-combatant Navy Battalion Surgeon w/ 1/3/5 Marines 8/69–8/70), retired Physician/Psychiatrist (last 5 years of practice with Seattle VA–I can vouch for the
    longstanding, continued troubles of the underfunded, understaffed, poorly managed
    outpatient and specialty mental health services even in the “good” large VA facilities
    such as Seattle–I hope some things have improved since I retired in 2014, but doubt it
    since I have stayed in contact with some chronically disabled Vietnam Vets. Trump
    of course was a disaster but the national VA leadership, some of whom I knew, were not able
    to right the ship…and it was listing, taking on water long before that Captain Bligh administration.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. You’re consistently ahead of the curve, Professor, but it looks as if there are some small indications that the curve may be catching up. This article at least questions the feasibility of the F-35 you’ve mentioned, and the comments section is even more scathing.

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    1. Thanks for the link, Denise. Yes — how did the “Swiss Army Knife” become a “Ferrari”? Because a Ferrari is a lot more profitable for the people building it. And the military likes Ferraris too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You don’t have to go far to see America’s obsession (worship) of its military. Just head for mainstreet USA and you will find streets festooned with banners honoring our enlisted men and women. They are not there due to some heroic act on our vaunted battlefields, they are there simply because they enlisted. Most Americans don’t have a clue and flinch when questioned as to why we should worship these people. We need to stop this blind worship which exceeds that which Rome accorded its legionnaires and which is leading this nation down the path of no return……

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  6. Thanks Bill for your original post at the top and the many constructive comments. Somehow the ship of state needs to make a turn, and return, to port.
    The MIC arguably, increasingly, controls the Pentagon, both US House and Senate Congress’ members in both parties, major financial institutions, domestic and foreign policy, domestic and foreign industry.
    I woke up this morning thinking about Joint Base Lewis-McChord just South of Tacoma, WA–Google it to read about its century -long development as an Army Base, adding on the Air Force and access to deep-water ports–today it is a behemoth City of 250K+ residents, a major
    15-mile-long bottleneck for I-5 traffic that runs right thru it–filled with Army troops, Marines,
    Air Force personnel, their dependents, and civilian business and industry support–
    Now, I’m not all antimilitary, having given 2 years of my life as an MD (Battalion Surgeon
    Vietnam 69-70, Bethesda Naval Hospital GMO 70-71) and 5 years as a VA outpatient
    Psychiatrist 2009-2014; but I am Anti-War and Anti-MIC. There will always be a need for
    a military force on land, sea, and air, and I have respect for all those who have honorably
    served; it is long past time however to downsize and repurpose these bloated, destructive
    institutions, whose mission is not defense but enrichment and purveyance of control and dominance over populations foreign and domestic. Driving through JBLS on I-5 on occasion,
    (usually very slowly) past 15 miles of restricted, fenced-off and guarded buildings where some 31,000 active duty personnel spend their days “training” and “planning” and “supporting”
    I wonder, ” isn’t there some more creative, constructive way of utilizing these peoples’ talents
    and disciplined energy and commitment to a cause than the projection of military force around the world” ?
    Hence my appreciation and endorsement of your really creative and provocative review
    of the growth, maturation and superannuation of the MIC. Like you, Col. Bill, I have my
    doubts that the new administration will actually forge a new alloy for Eisenhower’s Cross of Iron
    warning, but the notion of repurposing about 2/3 of the military and MIC into a giant Army Corps of Engineers, Navy Seabees, Berlin Airlift, Navy Hospital Ship Infrastructure Agency is compelling
    and a lot more fun–Swords into Plowshares indeed! Wonder if Dr. Jill Biden, who just came out to visit JBLM and a Naval Hospital and the Growlers on Whidbey Island for her first official outing as First Lady, might agree…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting background Steve, but it’s not only the MIC that has to change. It’s also ‘Most Christian America’ that is mostly not Christian, giving lip service to God, but teaching as doctrine the commandments of men and the MIC without question. It’s jobs and money for Americans as long as America’s Wars are fought ‘over there.’

      It’s one thing to be passionate about the unborn while it’s attached to, and living off the Mother, but that passion disappears once the child is born.
      They don’t care about the welfare of the child surviving in a system constructed so the the rich at the top of the Pyramid System get richer, while the poor at the bottom increase.
      They’re certainly not Pro-Life about the living children, women and men killed by America’s biggest export Business, being the Leader in devising newer, more effective Weapons of Death and Destruction, and selling them to the World.

      For all the love they profess for Scripture, they dismiss as not part of their mission, to change the System as Christ instructed his followers to do with the Greatest Reset he started 2000 years ago.

      The so called Spiritual Leaders of ‘Most Christian America’ living the Lifestyle of the rich and famous with their latest status symbol of luxurt private jets so they don’t even have to mingle with the sheeple paying for their rich lifestyles are blind and oblivious to the following verses in their Bibles.

      ‘Not by military force and not by physical strength, but by My spirit,’ says the Lord of Hosts.
      Zechariah 4:6
      If they were, they would exhort their Flocks to at least raise their voices and prepare the way for the Day when he shall judge between the nations and reprove many peoples, and they shall beat their swords into plow shares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
      Isaiah 2:4

      And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
      Isaiah 53:9

      Then Jesus said to his disciples, Verily I say to you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
      And again I say to you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
      Matthew 19:23-24

      Go to now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
      Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth eaten.
      Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. You have heaped treasure together for THE LAST DAYS.
      Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by FRAUD, cries: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord Almighty.
      James 5

      These things say the Amen, the Faithful and True witness, the Beginning of the Creation of God;
      I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would you were cold or hot.
      So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
      Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knows not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
      Revelation 3:14-17

      And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, BABYLON the Great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
      For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth (Billionaires, Presidents, Prime Ministers, CEOs and other IDOLS of the People) have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
      And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues.
      For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.
      Revelation 18:2-5

      “He came to town for the Republican National Convention and will stay until the election in November TO DO GOD’S BIDDING: To tell the World, from Kansas City, this country has been found wanting and its days are numbered […] He gestured toward a gleaming church dome. “The gold dome is the symbol of BABYLON,” he said.” […] He wanted to bring to the Public’s attention an “idea being put out subtly and deceptively” by the government that we have to get prepared for a War with Russia.”
      The Kansas City Times, September 13, 1976

      As it is, even though Trump is no longer President, the words are gone out to the World and they are still on the Table, as Isaiah records in the last chapter of his Book in the Bible,
      For behold, the Lord shall come with FIRE, and like a tempest,
      His chariots, to render His anger with FURY, and His rebuke with flames of FIRE.

      This is the form that ‘FIRE and FURY like the world has never seen’ will take.

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  7. THE KANSAS CITY TIMES did a followup, choosing to publish on November 2, 1976, also known as ALL SOULS DAY, with the header ‘PROPHET PLANS APPEAL OF CONVICTION’
    The Holy Spirit will be doing the Conviction.

    The made for TV movie ‘THE DAY AFTER’ Kansas City was incinerated in a Nuclear Holocaust was shown on November 20, 1983. It could have been made in Boston, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles or any other big American City, but it was made in Kansas City. This was 7 years to the month from the picture above. Judaism and Christianity recognize 7 is God’s number.

    The movie pauses at the same frame as the KANSAS CITY TIMES picture above the YouTube link from the movie shows at the END.

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  8. It wasn’t FAKE Media in the Historical Newspaper record from 45 years ago, but mistaken reporting.
    I did not say Armageddon happens in 28 months from the ALL SOULS DAY record.
    What the September 13 report published is, ¨There are 30 months before the fate of the world will be sealed with EITHER Destruction OR the Universal Brotherhood of Man,¨ he said. ¨The 30 month figure concerned a Treaty between Israel and Egypt.¨

    NOTE: This does not say Armageddon happens in 30 months from the article.

    Not 29 or 31, but exactly 30 months later, in March 1979, history shows a Treaty between Israel and Egypt was signed. The Camp David Accord. History shows talks broke down on the 12th day and no Treaty was to be signed. Begin and Sadat were leaving. It was on the 13th Day, as in the date of the Article and the picture accompanying it, an unexpected window of opportunity appeared and opened the way for the Treaty to be signed.

    This signified the Universal Brotherhood part of the quote.

    The Destruction part came into focus with the 1979 Iranian Revolution a month earlier, in accordance with “TO DO GOD’S BIDDING: To tell the World, from Kansas City, this country has been found wanting and its days are numbered.

    For those who know, those words are the 1st 2 parts of the 3 part WRITING ON THE WALL from Daniel 5, the END TIMES Prophet, when Imperial Power was transferred from Ancient BABYLON now known as Iraq, to Ancient Persia, now know. as Iran.

    These 2 Generations later, the destruction of Iran is still on the table and may come to a climax now that the top echelon of the Biden Administration is mostly made up of People of the Jewish Faith.
    The Husband of the Vice-President is Jewish as are all these People
    Secretary of the Treasury
    Attorney General
    Secretary of Homeland Security
    Director of National Intelligence
    Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
    Secretary of State
    Deputy Secretary of State
    White House Chief of Staff
    Secretary of State for Political Affairs
    The Office of Science and Technology Policy
    This is 2nd tier staffing,
    A top Biden national security aide who is an expert on Russian cyber had given over half a million dollars to AIPAC in recent years through a family foundation. And the aide’s husband is on the AIPAC executive council in Baltimore.
    AIPAC is of course the leading Israel lobby group, which supports everything the right wing Israeli government does, from persecuting Palestinians to threatening Iran.

    The 3rd part of the WRITING ON THE WALL records the king of BABYLON threw a feast for 1000 of the Elite of the kingdom, and they praised the gods of gold, silver, brass, iron, wood and stone.
    In other words, from then to now, It’s the Economy, Stupid!

    It can no longer be ignored with COVID-19.

    Neither the Media, nor any Religious Leader recognized the Sign of the Times when ISIS blew up the Islamic Mosque in Nineveh Iraq in 2014, containing the Tomb of Jonah in the whale fame from the Jewish-Christian tradition.
    God sent Jonah to that “World City Nineveh” to warn them they are on the Path to Destruction. Not wanting to be a buzzkill, he tried to get away from doing what had to be done.

    I have to maintain Hope, this Generation will change, so the worst parts the Bible says will happen at the End can be avoided. It’s entirely possible to accomplish in a few years with MASS Media if it was used for Social uplift instead of being Propagandists for the MIC.
    And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
    Jonah 3:10

    Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from you.
    But he answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
    For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
    Matthew 12:38-40

    I’m only 1 voice, and I don’t know whether the People will wake up in TIME to change the Direction this World is on.
    Unfortunately, so far, I see it on the Path to Destruction, as many as of you also see.

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