Yesterday, General Dynamics in collusion with the U.S. Navy held a “christening” of their latest warship, a nuclear-capable Aegis Destroyer attended by elected officials.
After decades of determined protest and, at times, civil disobedience leading to arrests outside Bath Iron Works’ gates, the shipyard’s glorifications of war making are no longer open to the general public. (They’re also announced at the last minute in obscure channels, so how our group is able to get wind of their plans in time to organize a response is anybody’s guess.)
That 24 of us gathered on short notice was one of the things right about yesterday. (Protester Bruce Gagnon’s favorable report is here.)Some of what was wrong:
🕱 Christening is an obnoxious term for naming a ship that will be used to menace China.
Jesus Christ taught turn the other cheek and love one another. Co-opting his name to do pr for your nuclear weapons system is obscene.
🕱 The destroyer is named after a Vietnam war “hero” (an oxymoron if there ever was one) who’s incidentally still living and attended the ceremony. Most people who could remember the moral stain of the U.S. proxy war on China using Vietnam are dead. So, imperial narrative managers figure it’s time to refurbish the reputation of a wildly unpopular war that killed millions, poisoned thousands with chemical weapons, and spread cluster bombs that are still killing people in neighboring Laos and Cambodia.
🕱 The cost to the U.S. taxpayer for this warship: around $2 billion.
🕱 The Pentagon just failed its fifth audit, so we’ll probably never know why the ship cost so much. The U.S. military also just got the biggest budget ever authorized by Congress, a whopping $832 billion, and an undercount at that as nuclear weapons are funded through the Department of Energy budget.
🕱 As a friend pointed out to the reporter for the Times Record yesterday,
Outside the shipyard celebration, Mary Beth Sullivan of Brunswick was one of about 20 people who gathered to protest, holding signs that decried military spending and aggression.”The money should be going to human needs in our own community,” Sullivan, a social worker, said. “We could be building solar panels or windmills. There’re so many other projects we could be building if only we had a different mindset.
There’s so much profit in war.”
🕱 The reporter chose to follow MB’s quote with a rebuttal from Senator Angus King who was in attendance to kiss the ring of General Dynamics:
“There are people who say we shouldn’t spend so much money on defense and we shouldn’t build these ships,” King told the crowd. “The problem is there is evil and aggression in the world. If there’s any doubt of that: Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The whole purpose of building this ship is notifying our adversaries … we have the capacity to punish them if they commit an act of aggression against the United States or its allies.
We are building these ships so they will never have to be used.”
🕱 King was there to demonstrate that no matter whether you have an I (he’s an independent), a D (Governor Janet Mills), or an R (Senator Susan Collins) after your name, the war machine owns you.
🕱 All military contracting is sold to local entities (who are then pressured to cough up tax rebates for the wealthy corporations they are lucky enough to attract) as a good jobs program. It is nothing of the kind, producing the lowest number of jobs generated per dollar invested in various economic sectors.
🕱 Ramping up a World War 3 with China is the Pentagon’s worst idea yet. If an Aegis is capable of carrying nukes, how is China supposed to know that a war ship menacing the South China Sea isn’t about to annihilate Beijing?
🕱 The environmental destruction to places like Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island in South Korea via construction to port U.S. war ships is tragic.
🕱 The climate harms of U.S. militarism are well-documented yet never included in the corporate news reporting that puffs gala events like the war ship celebration.
I’ll leave you with more of what went right:
☮ We did get a bit of coverage in local newspapers, both in advance and on the day of — which amplifies our messages considerably. (Kudos in particular to George and Maureen Ostensen for their publicity efforts.)
☮ A local talk radio show had me on prior to the event to talk about how and why we protest war ships.
☮ A lot of wisdom was shared in our closing circle (depicted above is Mair Honan, who moved many of us by speaking about war-induced grief).
☮ Many hundreds of celebration-goers, cops, security guards, and passers-by saw our messages. Some honked and waved, or thanked us for being there.
☮ Our presence demonstrated that it’s possible to dissent from sailing full speed ahead toward nuclear world war.