|Protest sign in South Korea where a world heritage soft coral reef on Jeju Island was entombed in concrete to make a port for Aegis destroyers built by war profiteer General Dynamics at their Bath Iron Works shipyard.|
Representatives from state and national peace groups will attempt to enter the scheduled BIW "Christening" ceremony of a new Aegis destroyer on Saturday, October 31. The group intends to deliver a letter addressed to Maine’s elected officials who will be present at the event to give their ‘blessings’ to another expensive and destabilizing warship launch.
Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein will be among speakers at the protest rally outside BIW on the corner of Washington and Hinckley Streets from 9am to noon.
At the end of the event, organizers will send a delegation from the rally to attempt to enter the shipyard in order to deliver an “Open Letter to Maine Elected Officials” who will be speaking at the launch. The letter reads:
On this day another Navy Aegis destroyer is being "Christened" at Bath Iron Works and many of Maine’s elected officials will be present to give their official blessings. These very expensive warships are outfitted with offensive cruise missiles and so-called "missile defense" interceptors that in fact are key elements in Pentagon first-strike attack planning. The Aegis warship program is not about defending our nation but in fact these ships are being used to provocatively encircle the coasts of China and Russia.
Under the former Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia these "missile defense" interceptors were outlawed because they were highly destabilizing to world peace – they gave one side a clear advantage and an incentive to attack first. In 2002 Washington unilaterally pulled out of the ABM Treaty which has only resulted in a new arms race.
Today many of our elected officials will talk about the jobs that come from building warships at BIW. What they won’t say is that the Navy ship building budget is unsustainable and that very soon the nation will hit the economic wall as aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and destroyers are all over budget. In fact studies done by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Economics Department have long shown that military spending is the worst way to create jobs – military production is capital intensive. That means we get fewer jobs building weapons for endless war than any other job creation program. The studies also reveal that if commuter rail systems were built at BIW we’d nearly double the jobs – something every politicians should be demanding.
We do have a serious problem today and that is to immediately deal with climate change and the growing acidification of the Gulf of Maine. Increasing, due to warming oceans, the lobsters and other fish are moving further north to colder temperatures. That means Maine’s fishing industry will be hit hard. If Maine is to survive economically we need a crash program to reduce our carbon footprint on the planet. Building rail systems, solar, wind turbines and tidal power systems would create more jobs and help us deal with the coming reality of climate change.
It is morally wrong for the US to think it can control the world. The idea that the US is an ‘exceptional’ nation, better than the rest of the world, must give way to a humility where we see our place in the world as one nation among many. We don’t have a right to control and dominate the world on behalf of corporate interests.
We call on all of Maine’s elected officials to find the courage to stand up and represent the future generation’s desire for life on our Mother Earth. Our children and grandchildren cannot survive by us building more destroyers for endless war. We need a future that is sustainable, practical and peaceful. We don’t believe that Christ, the Prince of Peace, would come here and give his blessing to more war and violence.
The October 31 peace rally at BIW comes a week after the conclusion of the 16-day Maine Walk for Peace: Pentagon’s Impact on the Oceans that began in Ellsworth and followed U.S. Hwy 1 South to Portsmouth.
During the walk community suppers were held each night and people were invited to come to BIW to protest the "Christening" of the Navy destroyer on October 31.
Thousands directly witnessed the walking protest that called for an end to the militarization of the oceans. The public was overwhelmingly supportive of the walk, which also demanded the conversion of the weapons industry to sustainable production so that we can deal with our real problem – climate change.
The October 31 rally is sponsored by: Midcoast PeaceWorks; Smilin’ Trees Disarmament Farm; CODEPINK Maine; and the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.