Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Woodstock’s Bit Part In War Crimes In Yemen

Woodstock’s Bit Part In War Crimes In Yemen

This March, Amnesty International urged the US to halt all arms deliveries to Saudi Arabia, whose air force is leading an ongoing campaign of attacks on Yemen that have resulted in numerous civilian deaths (including hundreds of children). Hospitals and residential areas have been destroyed in what Human Rights Watch called “apparent war crimes”.

Amnesty added: “Saudi Arabia’s international partners have added fuel to the fire, flooding the region with arms despite the mounting evidence that such weaponry has facilitated appalling crimes and the clear risk that new supplies could be used for serious violations ... generating a humanitarian crisis on an unprecedented scale.”

Two months later, the Royal Saudi Air Force needed spare parts for the F-15s that are its preferred vehicle for the bombs. On May 24, Woodstock’s largest employer, the weapons contractor Ametek Rotron, obliged by signing a contract for a rush order of components for delivery direct to the Saudi Defense Ministry in Jeddah.

If this makes you feel an uncomfortable dissonance with Woodstock’s worldwide association with peace and love, it’s worth considering the broader picture. We are a small, but iconic, community; we make correspondingly small, but crucial, parts of most major American weapons systems including warplanes, tanks, nuclear missiles, nuclear submarines, and the rocket launchers that Saudi Arabia has also used to deliver cluster bombs in Yemen.

It’s time to move from a war economy to a peace economy. With our outsize reputation, our small town can take a lead in a wider movement towards creating an industrial base that produces windmills not weapons. A peace economy is a green economy. Companies, local governments, employees and residents can get together to envision a local economy that benefits everyone. A peace economy is a jobs economy.

May Peace Prevail On Earth, our Peace Pole proclaims. To get there we need to stop the flow of arms ... and where better than Woodstock to show the way?

Laurie Kirby

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