Reclaim Armistice Day 2021!

Op-Ed from member of WNC Veterans for Peace Chapter 099

  This was published in the Mountain Express on May 8, 2022.  Photo above came from Mountain Express website. Just say No to Raytheon Techno...

Statement of Purpose

We, as military veterans, do hereby affirm our greater responsibility to serve the cause of world peace. To this end we will work, with others both nationally and internationally.

To increase public awareness of the causes and costs of war.

To restrain our governments from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations.

To end the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons.

To seek justice for veterans and victims of war.

To abolish war as an instrument of national policy.

To achieve these goals, members of Veterans For Peace pledge to use non-violent means and to maintain an organization that is both democratic and open with the understanding that all members are trusted to act in the best interests of the group for the larger purpose of world peace.

For More Information (Including how to become a member): www.veteransforpeace.org

THE PENTAGON HAS BILLION$ TO SPEND ON WAR. OUR CHAPTER HAS ONLY OUR DUES AND YOUR DONATIONS TO SPEND ON PEACE.
PLEASE CONSIDER MAKING A DONATION BY CHECK MAILED TO THE ADDRESS BELOW.
THANK YOU!

Join us for the weekly vigil at Pack Square/Former Vance Monument, Tuesdays from 4:30pm to 5:30pm.
MONTHLY MEETING TIME: The Third Tuesday of each month from 6:00PM to no later than 7:00PM. First Congregational United Church of Christ, 20 Oak Street, Asheville 28801 or sometimes held on zoom during the pandemic. Please call to confirm the meeting, get detailed directions and to just let us know to expect you. All are welcome; please join us. Our phone # is: (828-490-1872)

Friday, May 13, 2022

Op-Ed from member of WNC Veterans for Peace Chapter 099

 

This was published in the Mountain Express on May 8, 2022.  Photo above came from Mountain Express website.

Just say No to Raytheon Technologies

BY MELODY SHANK

At the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners’ Feb. 15 meeting, I presented a petition on behalf of Reject Raytheon AVL. Signed by more than 300 people, it asked the commissioners to reconsider their approval of $27 million in economic development incentives to Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies — and, more importantly and urgently, to enact a moratorium on approving new industrial facilities with ties to the military. Ever since the news broke about the company’s decision to build a 1.2 millionsquare-foot factory here, our coalition has spoken out against the plan.

Our concerns include the environmental impact on the French Broad River, the disruption or destruction of the habitats of numerous vulnerable species in the nearby forest and wetlands, and the misguided move away from a path that would mitigate the climate crisis (the U.S. military, for which Pratt & Whitney builds jet engines, contributes mightily to greenhouse gas emissions). There’s also the lack of transparency that kept residents — and, apparently, the county commissioners themselves — in the dark during the negotiations. But beyond all that, we object to welcoming the world’s second-largest defense contractor — or, more accurately, war corporation — to our beautiful mountains, our city and our neighborhood.

Money talks

Chamber of Commerce staffers were exuberant about landing a Fortune 500 company that would bring well-paying jobs to the area. It would be a draw for other Big Tech and advanced manufacturing businesses. And, they noted, it would put Asheville on the radar of international companies and investors.

So why is this a problem? Why shouldn’t we all be thrilled? Jobs! Influence! Property tax revenues! New investment! More jobs!

Not so fast. Marrying one of the world’s biggest war corporations has consequences. And big it is. Last year, Raytheon reported a $3.9 billion profit on sales of $64.4 billion, second only to Lockheed Martin’s $67 billion. In 2019 and 2020 alone, the federal government awarded Raytheon military contracts worth $54 billion, according to Brown University’s Costs of War Project.

Remember: These are our tax dollars. And in those same years, Pratt & Whitney, which was part of United Technologies until a 2020 merger, received contracts worth at least $10 billion. A substantial percentage of Raytheon’s total revenues comes from arms sales to foreign countries, enabling the company to fill its pockets while extending the military’s reach across the globe. Not exactly a benign enterprise. And I won’t even get into the amount of waste in these deals.

Bringing a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies to Western North Carolina extends the reach of what President Dwight D. Eisenhower presciently called “the military-industrial complex” far beyond its already substantial presence in our state. Military facilities dot much of Eastern North Carolina, and Fort Bragg, outside Fayetteville, is among the world’s largest.

Meanwhile, since the early 2000s, military base operations have been increasingly outsourced. Many corporations have sprung up to provide things like uniforms, food, chemicals, technology, construction and research. Between 2014 and 2019, the total value of defense contracts received by North Carolina companies ballooned from $2.5 billion to $5.2 billion, according to war industry researcher and author Christian Sorensen. Again, those are our tax dollars.

The long arm of the armaments industry

Sorensen maintains that most of those smaller defense contractors could convert their products or services for civilian uses as part of a broader transition to an economy built on local needs and sustainability.

The Pratt & Whitney deal, however, brings a major player in the military-industrial complex right to our doorstep. Public officials and economic development officers have claimed that the extended reach of this intricate web of influence is not a local concern, but Eisenhower knew better.

He predicted that the armaments industry would affect every city and state in the country economically, politically and spiritually. By strategically placing their plants in as many congressional districts as possible, war corporations’ influence trickles up from communities and states to federal decision-makers. Like our local governmental officials, members of Congress find it hard to say no to what these businesses want. Whether it’s county and state tax incentives and grants or federal budgetary dollars, they tend to be approved with few meaningful restrictions.

Paying the piper

In addition to billions of dollars in defense contracts, Raytheon has received nearly $1 billion in state and local incentives, loans and other investments from 31 states over the last two decades. At $49 million, North Carolina ranks fourth in the total amount of such subsidies provided to the company since 2000. That figure includes the $15.5 million Job Development Investment Grant that the N.C. Department of Commerce gave Raytheon for the 800 jobs the company claims it will create in Asheville over 10 years.

And when its current agreement with Buncombe County expires, Raytheon may well ask for more. In the mid-1990s, the company threatened to move its headquarters out of state unless Massachusetts provided additional concessions. After a prolonged public relations campaign, Raytheon won, saving millions of dollars in corporate income taxes.

Similarly, General Dynamics, another of the largest U.S. defense contractors, demanded $60 million in tax rebates from Maine to keep Bath Iron Works in the state. After citizens protested, the dollar amount was lowered to $45 million. I suspect that Raytheon will be back to request additional “assistance” a decade hence.

A question of priorities

The sad truth is, the Raytheons of the world don’t care much about the people who live in the places where they operate. Their main goals are generating profits and gaining political influence. Period. And their already ample profits are substantially inflated by our federal, state and local tax dollars.

To be clear, Raytheon is not some small business that makes uniforms or prepares provisions for soldiers. It’s a megacorporation that uses the promise of jobs to fill its and its shareholders’ pockets.

It isn’t helping us move toward a green economy or find solutions to the climate crisis. It’s not helping to bolster the essential social safety net in communities across the country.

Instead, this company is promoting war and instability worldwide — serving itself and the military-industrial complex while eating up resources, at all levels of government, that could be used to meet the actual needs of humanity and the planet. For all these reasons, both Reject Raytheon AVL and I say, “No thank you, Raytheon.”

Melody Shank, a retired professor of education, has lived in Swannanoa since 2014.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Handout for Veterans for Peace vigil on 5/10/22

 

(Photo above was not part of handout.)

From the VFP Website: MILITARY CONTRACTORS

Big Campaign contributions. 700 lobbyists. Militaristic think tanks. Government advisory boards. Hiring 1700 former Pentagon officials and stacking the government with their own people. These military contractors have numerous ways to determine Pentagon budgets, shape our foreign policy, create war fever, and pick our friends and enemies.

The result is $768,000,000,000. That’s $768 billion dollars. Democrats and Republicans in Congress just passed the most bloated military budget ever. That’s also $768 billion worth of new fossil fuel emissions to be created by the single biggest single source of carbon pollution on earth: the U.S. war machine.

To join Veterans for Peace, or to sign up for VFP e-News, go to: https://www.veteransforpeace.org
Chapter 099 - Western North Carolina
Website: www.vfp099.org /  Facebook: Veterans for Peace Chapter 099
Phone: (828) 490-1872


Friday, May 6, 2022

Handout for Veterans for Peace Vigil Chapter 099 on May 4, 2022

 

From the VFP Website: Election Integrity & Voter Suppression

Veterans For Peace strongly condemns attacks on voting rights and supports pro-democracy efforts to ensure that all citizens of the United States can readily exercise their right to vote.

In the violent formation of this country, elites denied most people the right to vote. It took generations of activism in the face of violence and repression for many people – women, people of color – to achieve the same right to participate in democratic processes that their white male counterparts had been granted.  Today, efforts to suppress the voting rights of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color are increasing in frequency and force.

Veterans For Peace supports and stands in solidarity with the many front-line communities pushing for a more participatory democracy and ensuring ready access to voting for all peoples.


To join Veterans for Peace, or to sign up for VFP e-News, go to: https://www.veteransforpeace.org
Chapter 099 - Western North Carolina
Website: www.vfp099.org /  Facebook: Veterans for Peace Chapter 099
Phone: (828) 490-1872

Handouts are by Bob Brown, member of Western NC Veterans for Peace Chapter 099.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

WIRN Photos from 2021

 






Many members of Western North Carolina Veterans for Peace are involved with the War Industries Resisters Network and Reject Raytheon Asheville. These photos are from 2021 and taken by various people in various local locations.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Handout for 4/26/22 Veterans for Peace Chapter 099 Vigil

 


From the VFP Website:

The military-industrial complex promotes and profits from the creation of militarized borders all over the world. The same corporations, investors, and public agencies that fuel the war industry also create and maintain walls, surveillance technologies, weapons, police training, and prison facilities that divide peoples and destroy natural environments in the supposedly non-war zones of national borders.


To join Veterans for Peace, or to sign up for VFP e-News, go to: https://www.veteransforpeace.org
Chapter 099 - Western North Carolina
Website: www.vfp099.org /  Facebook: Veterans for Peace Chapter 099
Phone: (828) 490-1872

Sunday, April 24, 2022

More photos from Earth Day action 4/22/22

 Photos from the bridge action (Blue Ridge Parkway bridge) and the civil disobedience actions (on the road leading to the Pratt & Whitney plant). Photos by Pamela Mumby.



 










Saturday, April 23, 2022

More photos from Earth Day Rally: Windmills, not War Machines.

 These are photos from the rally site in Bent Creek River Park. Photos by Pamela Mumby.