This year’s principal sponsor of New Zealand’s annual weapons conference is Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s largest weapons manufacturers. The Defence Industry Association Conference, as it is known, is due to be held on 16 & 17 October in Wellington at the Amora Hotel on Wakefield Street. It is a must-attend event for both local and international war profiteers. Read the programme here.
Lockheed Martin: leading the world in killing people
Makers of the Hellfire missile, drone aircraft, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and other valuable tools for mass murder, Lockheed Martin is keen to see the weapons business in New Zealand expand. In 2011 alone, Lockheed Martin’s global profit was $3.98 billion dollars. As major weapons suppliers to the US military, there is considerable blood on each and every one of those dollars. Weapons manufacturers make money when countries go to war; each time a bomb is dropped, a gun is fired or a missile launched, it is money in the bank. More wars mean more business: they profit from murder.
Last year, US global weapons sales tripled to reach an all time high: $66.3 billion. This is more than three-quarters of the global arms market, valued at $85.3 billion in 2011. Russia was a distant second, with $4.8 billion in deals. Considerable portions of those overseas sales were by Lockheed Martin.
Local weapons manufacturers and suppliers to the military
The theme of this year’s conference is an ‘Effective Alliance between Industry and Defence’; this translates to selling more weaponry, military vehicles, communications systems, and support gear to the military.Weapons and war material production in New Zealand is not big business, yet. The members of the Defence Industry Association (DIA) and the Manawatu Defence Cluster would like to see that change. The DIA is made up of 51 companies, many of which are not specifically involved in production for the military. Rather, they seek to develop the ‘military market’ for their products or services, and lobby government to increase its support of the development of a weapons industry. To that end, the DIA has benefited from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), who under their ‘export network’ scheme can provide financial assistance for offshore activities to groups of three or more companies with a common, approved business objective.
This export network scheme has also been used in the past by NZDIA to bring offshore company executives to New Zealand as speakers and to set-up visits with relevant NZDIA members. The use of government funds to bring executives of overseas companies to New Zealand is questionable at the best of times; when those business executives are war profiteers the use of public funds should be cause for considerable outrage.
The slaughter of innocent people rests, too, with local companies that supply militaries around the world. These include Rakon Industries, an Auckland based company whose crystal oscillators help are part of the guidance system in ‘smart bombs’ used by both the US military and the Israeli Defence Force.
It also includes Ordanance Development Systems, which brags of its ‘special purpose ammunition’ and anti-material ammunition with current business in NZ, Australia, USA, UAE, Canada and UK.
Weapons industry abhorrent
The weapons industry engages in disgusting criminal activity that must be abolished. We don’t tolerate paid assassins in our society; war profiteers are literally merchants of death fundamentally no different from assassins. They don’t care who the target is, as long as they get paid for making the weapons. We should not tolerate material support for militaries engaged in killing people in illegal and unjust wars of occupation.
The war in Afghanistan is now 12 years old. Billions of dollars has been made bombing people in one of the poorest nations on earth. New Zealand bears responsibility for part of that, and so too do the companies that supply the NZDF and the NZ companies that supply the US military.
War profiteers are part and parcel of a capitalist system that survives by conquering and exploiting new resources and markets. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the most recent examples of how massive propaganda campaigns are fashioned to secure the public consent to murder people for profit. Ideals like freedom and democracy act as a ruse to give legitimacy to unabashed conquests for the benefit of multinational corporations and the elite.
Five years ago, a successful campaign drove these warmongers from Te Papa. They have retreated to a private hotel to carry out their dirty business. A campaign to drive them from New Zealand altogether is now necessary to start to rid our country of the scourge of militarism.