Archives for posts with tag: weapons

Editorial in the New York Times: Cluster Bombs, Made in America

On Friday, 111 nations, including major NATO allies, adopted a treaty that sets an eight-year deadline to eliminate stockpiles of cluster arms — pernicious weapons that scatter thousands of small bombs across a wide area, where they pose a long-term deadly threat to innocents. The Bush administration not only failed to sign the treaty but vigorously opposed it.

Modern nations need a range of weapons to protect their legitimate interests. Cluster munitions that disproportionately harm civilians are not among them. President Bush must resist the temptation to further sabotage this worthy treaty and let it take effect. It is not clear where the candidates stand on the treaty, but the next president, whoever it is, should repudiate Mr. Bush’s opposition and sign it.

Wait, “Modern nations need a range of weapons to protect their legitimate interests”? This knee-jerk stipulation is typical of the Times. I think that if you need weapons to protect your interests, they might not be legitimate. You should probably find different ones.

clean battlefield Browsing for links to use in a previous post I came upon some hair-raising videos produced by Textron to advertise their Sensor Fuzed Weapon, a 1,000-pound bomb containing 40 separate, self-guided warheads. One of the great things about the SFW, we are told, is that it leaves a “clean” battlefield. Isn’t that special? And what a bargain — only $360,000 for the base model! The Air Force plans to buy 5,000 of them.

[Updated 7 March 2008: added lots more links]

It’s a no-brainer to me that people who design, manufacture or sell weapons are effectively murderers. What do they imagine their products are going to be used for — landscaping? So I did a little digging and put together a short list of companies to avoid. I don’t expect to make a dent in their bottom line. I just want to feel one percent better about my own life.

Brands to boycott Why?
Autolite part of Honeywell
BAE Systems because they are murderers
Bell Helicopter part of Textron
Boeing because they are murderers
Braun part of Kaz
Bug Off (bug spray) part of Kaz
Carrier part of United Technologies
Cessna Aircraft part of Textron
Chubb part of United Technologies
Colt’s Manufacturing because they are murderers
Computer Sciences Corp. because they are murderers
Dillard’s credit card unit is part of GE Capital
Dunlap (heating pads) part of Kaz
Duracraft (humidifiers) part of Honeywell
E-Z-Go (golf carts) part of Textron
Enviracare (air cleaners) part of Kaz
Fram (auto parts) part of Honeywell
Garrett (auto parts) part of Honeywell
GE Capital part of General Electric
General Dynamics because they are murderers
General Electric because they are murderers
Greenlee (tools) part of Textron
Honeywell because they are murderers
Kaz Licenses the name Honeywell for home products. Innocent? Not if it involves Kaz paying Honeywell for the privilege – and that’s just what licensing is.
Kidde part of United Technologies
Lockheed Martin because they are murderers
Montgomery Ward part of GE Capital
MSNBC partnership between General Electric and Microsoft
NBC part of General Electric
Northrop Grumman because they are murderers
Nosquito (mosquito lures for bug zappers) part of Kaz
Otis part of United Technologies
Penske Truck Leasing part of GE Capital
Prestone (auto supplies) part of Honeywell
Protec (humidifier supplies) part of Kaz
Raytheon because they are murderers
SmartTemp (heating pads) part of Kaz
SoftHeat (heating pads) part of Kaz
Stinger (bug zappers) part of Kaz
Telemundo part of NBC
Textron because they are murderers
United Defense part of BAE
United Technologies because they are murderers
Vicks part of Kaz

What can one say about such people? – that they have twisted, shriveled, putrefied souls? I don’t suppose that would do any good. – Senate GOP moves gun bill atop list – Jul 26, 2005

What is the purpose of Bill Frist’s oh so important pet project? To protect gun manufacturers from “trivial” lawsuits.

Let’s go over that again. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist considers it crucial that before they do anything else, the members of Congress pass a bill exonerating gun manufacturers, in advance, from any blame for how their products are used.

The funny thing is, there is only one way weapons can be used. They either sit in your drawer, waiting to kill someone, or they kill someone. They have no other function; that’s what they’re for. I mean, this stuff is so obvious I feel like a dingbat for bringing it up! But apparently, many Americans are having trouble following the logic. So let me say it again.

The purpose of armaments is to kill people. If we didn’t “need” to occasionally kill someone, then we would have no “need” for weapons.

I say again: weapons have only one purpose: to cause harm. Therefore, weapons are evil, by definition. You may call them a “necessary” evil, but you may not call them good. There is no way in which weapons are good.

Now, the people who design, build, and sell weapons don’t want you to think of it that way. They want you to think of the designers as scientists, the makers as artisans, and the sellers as mom & pop convenience stores who deserve their fair share of the economy, damn it. So if someone goes out and uses a gun to actually shoot someone, it can’t possibly be their fault.

But you know what? It is their fault. They designed the guns, and manufactured the guns, and sold the guns, by the millions, for no goood purpose.What good can you do with a weapon? None. I say again: the purpose of making or owning a weapon can never be good. There is nothing good you can do with a weapon (excepting ad hoc uses such as the driving of nails). And I am obliged to point out, though it’s embarrassingly obvious, that if no one felt like making these god-damned things, then there wouldn’t be any, and we would all be better off.

Now, some folks will say, “I use my ____ for self-defense. Doesn’t that count as a good?” Actually, no. Self-defense might be a good, but keeping or using a gun for self-defense does not count as a good, because:

  • Killing someone is never a good idea. Maybe you killing them is better than them killing you (maybe), but the fact remains than anyone getting killed is worse than no one getting killed. Oh – did you miss that possibility?
  • Weapons held for self-defense are notorious for killing people who have been merely mistaken for a threat; or entirely innocent, random people like the gun owner’s best friend; or the owner himself.
  • Might there not be a way to defend oneself without killing one’s attacker? And might that not be a much, much better solution? In the big arguments over self-defense, people tend to forget that the choice is almost never between someone killing you or you killing them. That almost never happens. The situation is practically always a lot more nuanced than that, and waving your Glock around is almost never the best solution.

Some folks will say, “I’ve been in this industry all my life, and you’re telling me it’s immoral and I should get out? What am I supposed to do for a living, then?”

I recommend that such people go fuck themselves volunteer at a local hospital and help take care of people who have been shot.

For more on the question of weaponry, see my earlier post.

Why is the manufacture of weapons not considered a crime? Is it not wrong, almost by definition, to build a device that can only do harm? Weapons have no benefit. They have no purpose other than murder. A world with fewer weapons would be a better world, because fewer people would be getting murdered. Is this not obvious? Did I miss something?

People say, “Well, maybe a world without weapons would be a better world, but that’s never going to happen. We can’t give up our weapons, because there will always be evil people out there who don’t feel like getting rid of their weapons, and if we don’t protect ourselves they will just walk all over us.”

I want to say: don’t tell me we need weapons to protect us from the bad guys. If we’re making weapons, we’re the bad guys.

But maybe that’s an emotional gesture. We need to think about this very carefully. The claim is that even if we don’t like weapons, even if they’re they’re dangerous and expensive and immoral, it’s still better to have them around than to, like, be conquered by North Korea or something. Right? It’s the lesser evil. Our weapons are not meant to be used, except as a last resort. The main reason we have them is to deter others from attacking us, by merely displaying our awesome strength.

Logically, I see a few problems here.

  • Not actually using our weapons is a nice idea, but to suggest that their manufacturers hope that they won’t be used, or that the armed forces are not planning to use them, would be ludicrous.
  • The best way to showcase the overwhelming power of our weapons, and confirm our willingness to use them, is not by parading them around but by using them to blow shit up. So, this becomes awfully tempting, even in the absence of a credible threat.
  • Do we actually know that when our weapons are not being used, they successfully deter our enemies? This assumption should be checked (but how?). If deterrence does not actually work, then it is not a good reason to have weapons.
  • Arms manufacturing is a financial sinkhole, diverting enormous resources to projects of no utility.
  • The probability is never zero that eventually, for whatever reason, some of our weapons will be used, producing just that devastation for which they were deliberately designed.
  • Whether the devastation occurs in this country or some other; flattens your house or someone else’s; kills my whole family or an Iraqi’s whole family, is not better or worse. It’s one world, and killing anyone, anywhere, any time, for any reason, is wrong.
  • Our “enemies” are building their weapons to deter us. Would a disinterested observer have any way of ascertaining who is in the right, or who started the argument in the first place?

It does not work to say that we need to be willing to use weapons to protect ourselves against the people who are so evil that they are willing to use weapons. Making weapons is a heinous crime. The citizens of the United States must stop making weapons immediately. We have plenty.

If our real purpose is to reduce the threat from our enemies’ weapons, we should be trying to figure out how to disable their weapons. If we were worried that Afghani scorpions might make their way to the United States, would we start breeding much bigger scorpions here? No, we’d try to find a way to get the Afghanis to stop sending their scorpions over here (without, I hasten to add, blowing up their whole country). We don’t need any more scorpions in this country, and the same thing applies to weapons.

The people of the United States should refuse, beginning immediately, to build weaponry for their government, especially now that it has been overrun by sociopaths. We must turn our attention, with or without the government’s help, to the development of technologies that prevent the manufacture and use of weapons. If we can invent nuclear bombs, why can’t we invent a way to ruin nuclear bombs? It’s probably easier to wreck one than to make one!

Imagine a nano-engineered powder that, sprinkled on a slug of plutonium, makes it useless for weaponry. Imagine a thousand covert U.S. agents combing the world for plutonium and “ruining” it. These brave men and women would be saving the world. What might such a project cost? How many secret agents might be lost? Nowhere near, I would wager, what we have already wasted in Iraq.

Gut the DoD. If this sounds crazy, ask yourself what they are doing for us besides blowing shit up. The people in the military-industrial complex devote their whole careers to figuring out how to kill as many people as possible – and they’re on the public payroll! That’s not where I want to spend my tax dollars. I say, kick all the tank designers, the submarine connoisseurs, the bomb and cruise-missle worshippers out. Give the whole Pentagon to DARPA, and let their charge be to design, not weapons of mass destruction, but ways to disable such weapons and to prevent any more being built. This would be a real defense department.

Let’s go on a rampage across the world, destroying all the weapons of mass destruction – especially our own.

[Slightly rewritten 19 July. RS]