“More and more, we see that you can’t conduct a war without war crimes. And that raises a whole other issue about whether war is any longer, or ever was, an acceptable behavior. We felt that leaving the corporations out of this equation with respect to morality and conscience was a huge problem because there’s so much money that is driving these wars.” — Nick Mottern
“What we really need to defend ourselves is collaboration between world powers to help us in the face of ecological collapse.” — Kathy Kelly
“One war crime is the killing of civilians. Another is when you are holding a whole people accountable for the acts of a few. That kind of collective punishment is a war crime. And that is something that weapons makers have been complicit in with the United States government.” — Brad Wolf
WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL
On November 12, 2023, the Opening Session of The Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal will begin. This People’s Tribunal will hold accountable — through testimony of witnesses and documentary evidence — four U.S. weapons manufacturers which produce and sell products that attack and kill not only combatants but non-combatants as well.
These four defendants— Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Atomics—are representative of the entire U.S. War Industry. On November 10, 2022, the four defendants were served with subpoenas and asked to participate. All four defendants declined.
This Tribunal alleges these weapons manufacturers have committed War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. The Judges of the Tribunal will hear the evidence, render a verdict, and issue an extensive report.
Testifying will be Dr. Cornel West, Richard Falk, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Norman Solomon, John Pilger, Jeremy Kuzmarov, Christian Sorensen, Jeffrey Stern, William Astore, Aisha Jumaan, Matt Aikens, Marie Dennis and numerous others.
The testimonies of the witnesses for the Tribunal have been video-recorded during the last year as investigative teams identified witnesses and elicited their testimony. This included testimonies from the victims of war, military and weapons analysts, lawyers, journalists, moral philosophers and theologians.
Once the Opening Session concludes, the entire Tribunal will be streamed via video links over consecutive weeks examining War Crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Gaza, and Yemen. The role of Lobbying, Think Tanks, the “Revolving Door,” and other means by which these predatory capitalists enrich themselves through war will be explored.
These recorded testimonies will be presented to the Jurors of the Tribunal and a worldwide audience (via livestream) beginning Sunday evening at 8:00 p.m. EST, November 12, 2023.
John Malkin recently spoke with three of four main organizers of the Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal; Kathy Kelly, Nick Mottern and Brad Wolf.
Kathy Kelly is a long-time peace activist who has coordinated dozens of trips to Iraq and Afghanistan and other places on the receiving end of U.S. wars and economic violence. She is the author of “Other Lands Have Dreams: From Baghdad to Pekin Prison” (2005) and is a subject of the book “The Only Alternative: Christian Nonviolent Peacemakers in America” by Alan Nelson and John Malkin. (2008).
Nick Mottern has been a writer and political organizer for over 50 years and manages the KnowDrones.com website.
Brad Wolf is Executive Director of Peace Action Network of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He’s a former lawyer, prosecutor and professor. Wolf has a new book scheduled for publication on April 2, 2024 titled, “Ministry at Risk: Writings on Peace and Nonviolence by Phil Berrigan.”
John Malkin is an activist journalist based in Santa Cruz, California where he hosts a weekly radio program called “Transformation Highway” on Thursdays at noon PST on KZSC 88.1 FM / kzsc.org. His new book is titled “Punk Revolution! An Oral History of Punk Rock Politics and Activism.”
THERE IS SO MUCH MONEY DRIVING THESE WARS
JM: I wish we didn’t need to have War Crimes Tribunals on planet Earth and I’m happy that you three have put energy into creating this. The Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal is focused on U.S. weapons manufacturers who knowingly produce and sell products which attack and kill combatants and non-combatants. Tell me about the tribunal.
Brad: The idea for the people’s tribunal was something that Nick, Kathy and I came up with almost two years ago. A people’s tribunal, as you probably know, is when the courts or government are not responsive to the people and, essentially, the courts have been captured by the criminals. So, the people have to act at that point to hold accountable actors for what are alleged illegal acts. In this instance, we decided to try to hold accountable U.S. weapons manufacturers, because we thought that they are driving needless war across the globe, and they’re doing so for profit.
Previous people’s tribunals have, for example, held accountable the United States Government for war crimes in Vietnam or Iraq and for police brutality and U.S. imperialism. But we wanted to focus on corporations and militarism, on the money aspect of this, because we believe that the weapons manufacturers have captured U.S. foreign policy to a large degree, to enrich themselves, and they’re creating needless suffering. So, we’re focused on Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and the drone maker General Atomics. These are representative of the entire U.S. war industry. We thought if we could shine a light on them through a people’s tribunal, we might be able to change some minds across this country, because information is power.
NO WAR WITHOUT WAR CRIMES
Nick: Part of the inspiration for this comes from the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials that were convened in 1945 and 1946. There were trials of forty-two officials of three of Germany’s largest weapons manufacturers; Krupp, I.G. Farben, and the Flick Concern. Twenty-seven people were indicted for enabling war crimes and the Nazi wars. Twenty-seven people received prison sentences of varying lengths. We thought it was a very powerful example to convey; that people who make weapons have moral and ethical responsibilities equal to anyone else. And we have to hold them accountable.
What we find right now, when you question a contemporary weapons manufacturer – and I’ve had this experience myself with respect to Honeywell Corporation, where we already went and questioned them about providing motors and navigational equipment for Reaper drones – they say, “The government is ordering these weapons. All we’re doing is filling orders from the government.”
The premise of the Tribunal we’re holding is that regardless of whether you’re a government official or military official, you still have a responsibility to protect people and their human rights and not be involved with war crimes. More and more, we see that you can’t conduct a war without war crimes. And that raises a whole other issue about whether war is any longer, or ever was, an acceptable behavior. We felt that leaving the corporations out of this equation with respect to morality and conscience was a huge problem because there’s so much money that is driving these wars.
Kathy: The phrase “Merchants of Death” wasn’t something we coined. World War I was the war that was sometimes likened to industrialized slaughter. People all across the United States and many other parts of the world were so horrified at the amount of bloodshed and cruelty that had afflicted so many people that they started to ask, “How did we get drawn into this?” And the accusations were made about the Merchants of Death, the corporations that had profited so handsomely in the aftermath of World War I.
There was a rising anti-war movement within the United States, even to the extent that in 1937, 60,000 University students had signed an oath saying they would never enlist to fight in a foreign war. So why did we end up having yet another surge in funding for the people who produce and profit from the weapons? Through a continual pattern of outright bullying and threat, they were able to persuade Congress people that, “You will never win another election if you don’t allow our demands to be fulfilled.” And then there is this pernicious depiction of themselves as protectors of democracy. It’s just not true! What we really need to defend ourselves is collaboration between world powers to help us in the face of ecological collapse.
847 MILITARY BASES WORLDWIDE
JM: A lot of people still seem to believe that militarism is necessary for safety. I’m disappointed because I hoped that during my lifetime, I might see less wars happening. And that has not been the case. I grew up learning that World War II was the “war to end all wars.” That didn’t happen. Now we have Russia attacking Ukraine and Israel attacking Palestinians. I think people in the United States feel like there’s only two extreme options; one is to do nothing in response to violence. The other is to send a lot of military gear for making war. There must be another way.
You just mentioned that war always involves crimes. I’m not sure people know that. I also like the notion that maybe war itself is really not an acceptable behavior. I often wonder about the fact that there are rules for war. Maybe it would be more useful if war was simply not acceptable.
Brad: One of the people we interviewed for the tribunal was Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who was Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff. He’s retired now. I asked him that very question about safety and security; “Is all of this military – a trillion dollars a year – making us safer?” He said, “Absolutely not. It makes us less safe.” The idea that all of these wars and military spending is keeping us safe from terrorists is false. That’s a narrative that we seek to dispel. It actually stirs up terrorism and resentment across the globe because the American military boot print is everywhere. It creates an awful lot of resentment, especially when people experience the kind of bombing campaigns that this country has engaged in where so many civilians have died.
You asked about war crimes. One war crime is the killing of civilians. Another is when you are holding a whole people accountable for the acts of a few. That kind of collective punishment is a war crime. And that is something that weapons makers have been complicit in with the United States government.
Kathy: We think it’s really important to take seriously people’s desire for security. But in the face of ecological collapse, as humanity hopes to survive, we are going to need to learn how to collaborate with the Chinese scientists, the Russian scientists, with people from all over the world, if we’re going to be able to find a way to undo the terrible terrors we’ve inflicted on ourselves because of our unwise over-consumptive ways. And one of the main consumptive institutions in our world is the military.
There’s no need for us to be bamboozled into thinking that the only way people can experience security is by having the capacity to wage bloody onslaught against other people and steal their land and unfairly appropriate their resources. It would make so much more sense to think about the 847 military bases around the world – most of which are owned by the United States – and start asking, “How could those be put to different use?” With the ecological collapse we’re facing, there will be so many more refugees seeking escape from situations where they could starve or thirst to death. These bases could perhaps be put to good, practical use. There are certainly ways in which they could be used to help extend solar and wind energy.
We need creative problem-solving and a dedication to being fair and sharing resources and living more simply. And militaries worldwide could possibly assist with some of that through what they’ve learned. But not if the learning has to include being willing to kill other people and build up the sense of enmity worldwide.
WAR HAS NEVER ENDED WAR
Nick: Here in the United States, we’ve experienced a description of history that is from a colonial perspective. We white people came here from other countries and, in the Declaration of Independence, termed the native indigenous people as “savages.” That presented itself immediately as; “We will get what we want, at gunpoint.”
So, after World War II, Dwight Eisenhower was president for two terms and he left the office saying, “Beware of the military industrial complex.” But Eisenhower had a choice during his term of office, as to whether the United States government would side with those people in the, quote “Third World” – poorer countries that were colonized. Would the United States be on the side of decolonization? Or would the United States continue to protect corporate practices of the United States in these various countries?
Eisenhower saw that these mass armies that he experienced during World War II in Korea were harmful and the public was not keen to have these mass wars. But Eisenhower was the first one to give permission for the CIA to conduct covert wars that the people of the U.S. would not know about. In Guatemala, the CIA acted on behalf of the United Fruit Company. The local people had democratically elected a government in Guatemala and that government said, “We’re going to seize property owned by United Fruit Company and compensate them at the rate at which they value their property to be taxed.” The CIA went in there and ran a counter-revolution and overthrow that government. And we’re still dealing with that now. From 1954 to this moment Guatemala has suffered the horror of military dictatorships or political instability.
When people say, “Where did these people come from at the border? Who are all these terrorists who are after us in the Middle East?” Well, in the Middle East, the United States supported the overthrow of Mosaddegh in Iran, in cahoots with the British who wanted to continue to control the oil resources of Iran. The U.S. has been deeply involved in the manipulation of those economies, to the great disadvantage of the average person there who can’t get along. People ask, “Where did these terrorists come from?” We see it over and over again.
Eisenhower could have made a choice the other way, and he didn’t. He got us into Vietnam. People in this country don’t know these things so they think that the terrorists, quote unquote, woke up one morning wanting to harm us. Or their mothers had, in their blood, a hatred of America. Hence, babies are born wanting to kill Americans. It’s profoundly ignorant and is also extremely dangerous, as we’re seeing.
Brad: Generally, the idea that violence will end violence is absurd. No war has ever ended war. We know that throughout the 10,000 years of the history of war that we’ve looked at. An example that’s often given is; After 9/11, instead of engaging in a twenty-year war of terror costing $6 trillion and all of those lost lives, what if we’d built 3000 hospitals in Afghanistan, one for each of the people killed at 9/11? Would that have been a better use of funds? And what would have been the outcome there in terms of international relations, and the United States reputation across the globe?
Nick: In that regard, Afghanistan is very wealthy in minerals. So, this offered the U.S. an opportunity to plant ourselves in there, so that certain corporations could benefit. Same thing in Iraq. People say, “That was a war for democracy.” But it’s now admitted, even by people who didn’t want to say so before, that it was really about stopping the nationalization of oil and getting global energy corporations planted in Iraq. It’s a horrible truth that people in “developed” countries can’t easily embrace because it’s so contrary to everything we’ve been taught.
JM: One thing you’re all pointing to is the underlying history of the United States as a colonizing, imperialist force around the world that has stolen resources and property and destroyed cultures. While somehow doing that under the guise of “spreading democracy.” The U.S. government claims that it has so perfected democracy that we can demand it on the rest of the world. And Kathy, you’re pointing out an alternative to that, which is collaboration and sharing resources.
And Nick, you were mentioning the history of CIA covert wars. Let alone all of the overt wars, the U.S. has engaged in many covert coups and undermined democratic governments, installing dictators. Often this results in what’s called “blowback” where the United States funds and supports a militant force who’s the enemy of our enemy. And then some years later, that group is now well-armed and well established and they attack U.S. allies or even the U.S. itself. For example Slobodan Milosevic, Manuel Noriega, Osama bin Laden – some of these names are quite familiar now. My understanding is that the same situation happened in Israel with Hamas, where the Israeli government supported forces in opposition to Yassar Arafat and the PLO and later those forces became Hamas.
This all leads back to the situation we have now of constant warfare. In a way, it sounds too simple, but it seems to me that the people who are always happy with all the wars are the people who sell the weapons. It seems that people at Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin don’t really care that much if their materials are going to Israel, or to bomb villages in Afghanistan or Sudan. Just as long as the money flow is happening and they’re getting rid of old military supplies and receiving new money for researching and developing new weapons. I’m wondering about the possibility of changing all of that and what these weapons manufacturing companies embody in terms of morality, or lack of it, in their decision making?
WEAPONS ARE PROFITABLE
Nick: It’s not only the weapons makers, it’s Vanguard Investment. They own huge amounts of stock. These arms makers are very important to the financial system because of the money they generate, and because they are enforcers of rules that benefit U.S. corporations. They’re central to the health of many banks, pension funds and university endowments. If it were only Lockheed Martin who was making money, that would be one thing. But they mean a whole lot more in the context of a colonial situation, as such, as we have.
Israel’s Air Force is largely dependent on Lockheed Martin and Boeing for their fighter bombers and helicopters and a lot of their bombs. They’re locked into a system that’s highly profitable, but they are in a colonial situation. And this is true in many other places. In the ‘80’s the head of Lockheed Martin was urging NATO countries to buy Lockheed Martin aircraft and that was a way of locking them into a system of dependency, as well as profit, for U.S. corporations. But also dependency on the United States. And we’re seeing that happen around this Ukraine war. So, these weapons makers are not in and of themselves the whole problem. It’s a much bigger financial problem.
REVOLVING DOOR WITH A WAR NARRATIVE
Brad: They do have their tentacles in so many different areas. The Tribunal is seeking to highlight how these weapons manufacturers influence educational institutions, colleges, universities, think tanks – these revolving doors. They create a certain narrative that seems on appearance to be independently arrived at, but they’ve placed important personnel in these think tanks, academic institutions, and in Congress through the revolving door. There’s a war narrative that’s been created. It benefits them and it just goes round and round this revolving door. So, this Tribunal is highlighting that aspect as well.
FROM ARIZONA TO YEMEN
Kathy: We also hope to build empathy for the people who can’t escape from these weapons. Right now, as we speak, there’s tremendous horror that people in Gaza are not only in the world’s largest open-air prison, but they can’t escape carpet bombing. There’s no access to clean water; people are actually going to sources of contaminated water because they’re so desperate for water. And I think about Yemen where, likewise, people are suffering from thirst. At one point, they faced a cholera epidemic because of the destruction of their infrastructure.
One of the companies that we’re focusing on is Raytheon. They have a factory in Arizona that makes these bombs that are the size of a compact car, basically. There was a reporter for the New York Times – Jeffrey Stern – who followed the journey of a Raytheon manufactured bomb from Arizona to a very small remote village in Yemen called Arhab. (“From Arizona to Yemen: The Journey of an American Bomb” – N.Y. Times, Dec. 11, 2018) People in the village were celebrating because they’d been trying to dig for water. Finally, their rickety old rig hit the source and they had water. Well, they appeared on the surveillance of Saudis, who don’t want Yemenis to thrive and have water and be able to feed their flocks or water their crops. So, one of those U.S. manufactured bombs was affixed to a Saudi bomber war plane, maintained by the United States. And it flew over to the area where people were celebrating because the water had been finally discovered. It was two o’clock in the morning and the war plane dropped the bomb. It kind of hangs on a fuse temporarily and then when it’s cut, the bomb hurdles, guided by a laser and extremely sophisticated technology. And when it hit the ground, those shards just flew in all directions, cutting off arms and legs and heads, creating bodies that were sort of re-arranged.
The reporter following that bomb said that he sat with a victim whose life was forever-altered by that bombing. The man took the reporter’s hand and put it on his cheek. And there he could feel one of the remnants of that bomb buried in the man’s face. This is the kind of thing that’s happening that is very difficult for people in the United States to understand.
One thing we’ve been impressed by is the level of empathy and determination shown by university students. Nick, you might want to comment on how you were able to bring university students in to do the research that we’ve so greatly needed for the Tribunal.
Nick: Yeah, I put up posters at schools in my neighborhood in Northampton, which would be Smith College, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst College, Hampshire College and Holyoke College and Mount Holyoke. We ended up attracting about ten students, some of them to do research and gather information. I was very surprised at the level of concern and commitment these students have. Also at UMass Amherst, there’s a group called The Dissenters, part of a national student organization against the war. They’ve been very active to discourage Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and others from coming on campus to recruit students. Pratt and Whitney – the engine maker – have been discouraged from coming to UMass Amherst altogether. So, younger people are immediately understanding how these wars are related to the climate disaster going on right now. You don’t have to spend two minutes talking about those connections with these younger people. Older people, yes, because there’s a tremendous amount of denial that goes on around protecting ideas that we’ve believed for a long time, even when we know in our hearts that those things that we thought were institutionally correct are very destructive. Younger people aren’t burdened with those nostalgic notions that older people are.
Kathy: We’re actually a team of four who have worked together on this Tribunal for almost two years. Our fourth person is a young Iraqi woman whom I actually was privileged to meet when she was about eight years old, at the Baghdad School of Music and Ballet. She was an accomplished musician, even then. And she came to the United States and went to law school, and was now hired by a prestigious law firm, which would prefer that she not be present as a very visible member of this group.
But as Nick said, younger people’s voices need to be heard, particularly those who’ve had to flee from wars or lost their loved ones, and experienced the direct trauma and fear inflicted by the use of these weapons. We hope their voices will be heard through the Tribunal. When we talk about watch gatherings our idea is that these gatherings would be inclusive of people who have sought refuge, who are newcomers to their societies, who can talk about what they experienced. It’s actually been a bit of a problem that sometimes when we’ve asked people, “Could you tell us about your experiences?” – they’re either afraid that they might bring repercussions to their families, if they tell the truth of what they’ve seen and heard, or there’s a disinclination to be re-traumatized again. But we have to accept that word – trauma. We’re dealing with post-traumatic stress on the part of those who inflict the trauma and those who could not escape it.
MERCHANTS OF DEATH WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL
JM: Tell me about what will happen at the Tribunal; the testimony that will be offered and the Tribunal members.
Brad: We have a unique delivery method for this people’s tribunal. Other people’s tribunals that you may have seen typically may last several weeks, and they’re simply interviewing experts about the topic. We decided to create 30-to-60-minute video stories focused on a particular area where the Merchants of Death are engaged in countries like Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan. These videos tell a story through the eyes of the victims and will serve as evidence for the jurors or judges, but they’ll also be very compelling viewing that we can share all across the globe, particularly with Americans.
The evidence is going to come in the form of interviews that we’ve conducted via zoom with ex-military officials, military analysts, lawyers, theologians, doctors. We have experts who have worked with veterans. All of that testimony is part of the videos that we’ve created that will be shown every week.
The first week will begin on November 12. Sunday evening at eight o’clock Eastern time will be the opening session. We’ll be having a live stream session that evening and showing the first episode. And then every Sunday thereafter, another episode in the Tribunal will be released. People can watch these videos at their convenience, sharing with everybody. And all that evidence at the conclusion of the Tribunal goes before eleven judges from around the globe.
Kathy, you know many of them very well. We’re really happy with the diversity of the individuals we have as judges, because we tried to select individuals from the countries that have suffered from the Merchants of Death. Go to merchants of death.org and you can register there.
WHO ARE THE TERRORISTS?
Kathy: There are some stories from different parts of the globe where the Merchants of Death have been strongly challenged, and even displaced, by people living in the areas where they’re operating. There was a time in 2006 when Israel went to war with Lebanon, and it was a very fierce war. There was a particular effort to attack small villages in southern Lebanon and so I had gone there with a small group of people to witness the effects of what were massacres in various villages.
We went to a town called Qana and walked right into a funeral. It was just devastating. The mother – we could tell that she was the person who had lost a child because as other mothers arrived, they were embracing her. And she had a medical hood and neck brace and was in great pain, wincing. She pointed upward and, and the question she asked was, “Didn’t they know? Didn’t they see? My daughter Zahara every morning runs to me, I take her up in my arms, I give her breakfast.” I didn’t understand exactly and she was pointing upward at a drone, an Israeli drone, and asking the question, “Didn’t they have on their camera footage, the scene of her taking care of her daughter and only placing her in that underground bomb shelter overnight?” And then she asked us, “Who are the terrorists?” And she tapped the photo of her beautiful daughter Zahara, whose funeral was being celebrated then and there, and she asked, “Is she the terrorist?”
Well, it happened that some Irish activists from Derry in Northern Ireland followed us to that household and they had a tape recorder and they recorded the mother’s testimony. And then they went back to the Raytheon facility that had manufactured the bomb that was used to kill this little six-year-old girl Zahara. They went into the Derry Raytheon factory and opened up the windows, unplugged the computers and dropped them out of the windows – crash, crash, crash crash! They pretty well trashed that factory. And I thought, “Oh, these people are definitely going to be accused and convicted and sent to jail.” They were acquitted! Because the testimony that they presented was adequate in the Irish courts to prove to a jury that they had acted to prevent greater harm. It’s called the necessity defense. It’s never allowed in the U.S. courts.
But that’s part of our accountability, if you will. Our responsibility is to help educate people to understand how this activity we’re engaged in will prevent a greater harm, and it’s our responsibility to do so under the Nuremberg War Crimes decisions.
DETACHED FROM WAR
Kathy: I recently read an article by Suzy Hansen in the New York Review of Books (Oct. 19, 2023). She cites a report by the Costs of War Project at Brown University, noting that as of 2021 the number of US soldiers who died in the so-called war on terror was 7,057, and the number of active-duty soldiers and veterans who committed suicide was 30,177, over four times as many.
She goes on to say: “The war on terror devastated entire countries, caused the deaths of millions of people, and turned tens of millions into refugees; countless more people were imprisoned, maimed, tortured, or impoverished.”
And then she asks: “Why has there been so little national reckoning?” Hansen wonders if the lack of a national reckoning is due to the “invisible” nature of the war on terror? Much of the war has been conducted from the sky (drones, “targeted assassinations”) or in the shadows (torture, special forces operations). People in the U.S. may become detached from the sheer grotesqueness of war.
She quotes the author of the book she is reviewing, who writes: “If you think the mission your country keeps sending you on is pointless or impossible and that you’re only deploying to protect your brothers and sisters in arms from danger, then it’s not the Taliban or al-Qaeda or ISIS that’s trying to kill you, it’s America.” (“Uncertain Ground: Citizenship in an Age of Endless, Invisible War” by Phil Klay)
Kathy: The Tribunal judges are, for instance, the daughter of Dr. Aisha Jumaane, a Yemeni epidemiologist whose daughter has been back and forth to Yemen many times. She’ll be one of the jurors. And pathologist Dr. Ibrahim Salih is somebody I met in Iraq many times who had witnessed the terrible suffering of people in hospitals that have been bombarded in Iraq. We’ve asked people from varying disciplines to be a part of this oversight and we’ve also been very grateful for the help of international law scholar Marjorie Cohn and civil rights activist lawyer Bill Quigley and Ann Wright, former diplomat and military colonel, who is also a lawyer. We were encouraged by the kind of green light and thumbs up that we got from all of these sources, to pull this Tribunal together.
Brad: One purpose of holding this Tribunal is to bring people information that will motivate them to act. And what actions do we want to have people take? We’ll have reports on that at the end of the Tribunal and the jurors will make their recommendations, but we want to touch people emotionally as well as intellectually, to help them organize to address these weapons corporations.
Part of the problem that we have in this country is not just peculiar to weapons makers, but to corporations generally, in controlling Congress through campaign contributions and other favors. One way around that is to have public financing of federal elections. This has been brought up repeatedly but the public is not behind this idea. Arguably part of the salvation of the United States as a democracy, as a functioning entity in dealing with climate change and other problems, is to have public financing of elections so the powers of the corporations are dramatically reduced in a variety of ways.
In Congress right now, I think we’re seeing in the House of Representatives a battle between millionaires and billionaires about who’s going to run the Republican Party. And if we had public financing of elections, a lot of what we’re experiencing now would not be going on, because representatives would actually be seeking to better represent the majority of the people in the economy.
What we’re seeing is that profiting from weapons making, in some ways, contributes to the destruction of our own society in the interest of making money off of death and war. The average person here hasn’t had the opportunity to have the information that can help them sort this out, and we’ve learned a lot in the process.
CIVILIANS KILLED BY U.S. DRONES
Kathy: And while we’ve been free to engage in this process, a young man named Daniel Hale has spent this entire time in prison. He was the one who made the decision that he really could no longer keep quiet about what he knew about the killing of civilians, targeted by United States drones in Afghanistan. He disclosed U.S. government documents which proved that these drones had been used to kill people who meant no harm to people in the United States or the U.S. military. And for that, he was sentenced to prison.
Hale told the judge, “I did steal those papers from the U.S. government. And that was because I could no longer steal what was not mine to take; the lives of innocent people.” So, we dearly hope that Daniel Hale’s sacrifice, in order to educate people, will be something that all of us can take up to a greater extent, as we try to preserve the world from annihilation and end our foolish spending on nuclear weapons and our constant raising of enmity between people.
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