Letter to be Delivered to BIW on First Day of International Space Conference

April 23, 2004

From: Bruce Gagnon


Beginning at 2:00 pm on Friday, April 23, activists from 10 countries and 20 states will gather at Waterfront Park in Bath, Maine for a public rally that will feature Dr. Helen Caldicott. Following the rally the assembled will march thru the heart of Bath in a permitted march to Bath Iron Works. From there 85-year old peace & justice legend Frances Crowe, from western Massachusetts, will attempt to deliver the following letter, to be signed by all assembled, to the head of BIW. Following the protest at BIW people will return to Portland where the 12th annual space organizing conference, called "Resisting Empire: Understanding the Role of Space in U.S. Global Domination," will run throughout the weekend.

(See also: "Conference Reports")


Mr. Dugan Shipway
Bath Iron Works
700 Washington
Bath, Maine
 
Dear Mr. Shipway:
 
We are gathering at Bath Iron Works on this day, April 23, in order to sound the alarm about the dangerous and destabilizing role of the Aegis destroyer in U.S. foreign and military policy.
 
Last year the Bush administration walked away from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic (ABM) Treaty with Russia that outlawed testing and deployment of so-called “Theatre Missile Defense” systems, a part of the new Star Wars program. The Aegis destroyer is now testing, and will soon deploy, these new interceptor systems just off the coast of China. The U.S. intends to deploy Aegis interceptors in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan (just 90 miles off the coast of mainland China), and in Australia. This will be a provocative move that will essentially negate China’s 20 nuclear missiles thus forcing them to build more. Today the U.S. has 7,500 nuclear weapons of our own.
 
We understand that the role of the Aegis destroyer is not to defend the shores of the U.S. Instead, its job is to forward deploy offensive capability in order to protect U.S. “interests and investments” overseas. The Pentagon’s planning document called Vision for 2020 calls for U.S. “control and domination” of the Earth and space in order to protect corporate interests around the world.
 
The Pentagon predicts that the gap between rich and poor around the world will widen as corporate globalization expands. As these corporations move overseas, they also are attempting to control the natural resources (oil, water, etc) and workers. This “new world order” is all about creating a world where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
 
We are all concerned about jobs, especially in Bath and throughout Maine. The question is: What is the best way to create good jobs in Maine? Aegis destroyers are built with our tax dollars and it is clearly a political decision that keeps us from using those same dollars for other kinds of job creation.
 
Studies by the National Commission for Economic Development have long shown that the most effective way to create lots of good jobs is to invest in those things that are socially and environmentally beneficial. Military spending is capital intensive, thus creating fewer jobs than any other kind of job investments.
 
Assembled at BIW today will be people from 10 countries and 20 states. Some come from places that the Aegis, with new interceptors, will be deployed – Japan, South Korea and Australia. Our friends from those countries tell us that voices are loudly protesting these U.S. Aegis deployments, saying they will create more tension in the Asian-Pacific region and start a new, expensive, and deadly arms race.
 
In a true democratic society, it is the responsibility of citizens to publicly debate how our taxes should be used. Weapons are today the number one industrial export of America. When weapons are your top industrial export, what is your global marketing strategy? Are endless wars and violence going to make life better for our families in Maine?
 
We oppose the construction of the offensive Aegis destroyer at BIW. We believe that BIW, which uses public tax dollars, should be converted to build ships of peace, wind mills for sustainable energy creation, rail cars for public transportation, and the like.
 
We urge the administration and workers at BIW to become more engaged in this historic debate that calls for a new direction. We urge the community at large to become advocates for a new foreign policy that does not make our number one industrial export weapons of destruction. The soul of America is on the line.
 
In peace,
 



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