This morning the Divest from the War Machine team at CODEPINK launched the #DivestFromWar 2023 Toolkit! From 2001 to 2021, U.S. military spending surpassed $14 trillion - with half of that, $7 trillion, going to private military contractors. The United States has incurred deep debt and is willing to cut deep into social services to save money, but is unwilling to cut the Pentagon budget.
The military budget continues to increase year by year, as do accounts of civilian killings, cities destroyed, and communities that have not been able to recover from U.S. war and militarism. The one group who benefits from this cycle of harm is - you guessed it - war profiteers. Weapons manufacturers including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman produce deadlier weapons each year that inflict horrific violence globally, and charge outrageous prices that come out of U.S. taxpayers’ pockets. For these companies, the more military violence, fighting, and occupation there is, the better for their bottom line. That’s why the Divest from the War Machine exists - to take on the companies that make a killing off of killing.
The #DivestFromWar 2023 Toolkit has multiple timelines demonstrating which companies are profiting off of militarized violence in Palestine, Yemen, and Somalia. The toolkit also has a resource on why we use divestment as our movement tactic of choice - and what divestment has accomplished globally in the last 50 years. Check out the toolkit here!
May 15th, 2023 marked 75 years of ongoing ethnic cleansing and illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel. Every year, the U.S. gives Israel $3.8 billion of our tax dollars every year to buy weapons from companies like Lockheed Martin.
Inspired by recent divestment victories in Corvallis, OR and Burlington, VT, young peace activists across the U.S. are joining the movement to divest from war and are starting local divestment campaigns. One new campaign led by Atticus, a current high school student, is aiming to shut down AUTEC in West Palm Beach (WPB). AUTEC, or the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center, is a U.S. Navy base in Andros, Bahamas that conducts multiple flights a day from WPB and specializes in underwater testing. The base is a national security liability and major source of pollution, and Bahamians, Americans, marine life, and the climate are paying the price. Learn more about the campaign to shut down AUTEC here!
CODEPINK has also been busy this shareholder season! On Thursday, May 25, BlackRock held their annual general meeting where shareholders voted on several resolutions, including a resolution authored by CODEPINK’s War Is Not Green (WING) campaign entitled Impact Report for Climate-Related Human Risks of iShares U.S. Aerospace and Defense Exchange-Traded Fund (ITA). The resolution called on BlackRock to research and publish the climate impacts of its weapons investment offerings, while not requiring any changes to the composition of ITA (their defense and aerospace investment vehicle). Despite that, BlackRock’s board unanimously recommended voting against the resolution, and it received only 8% of the shareholder vote. WING campaigner Teddy Ogborn joined a protest following the vote and read a defense statement to rally participants, which you can read here. Learn more about the WING campaign here.
At Northrop Grumman’s annual shareholder meeting, CODEPINK was present to push back on CEO Kathy Warden’s insistence that “the products we sell are in the hands of responsible governments.” CODEPINK activist Oliva DiNucci questioned the corporation’s commitment to human rights and sustainability while it sells weapons to Israel and Saudi Arabia, two purveyors of egregious human rights violations: “So we are funding the atrocities that so-called [responsible governments of] Israel and Saudi Arabia carried out in Palestine and on the Yemeni people. And so, “robust transparency” would then mean we know exactly where those things are going. So I call that hypocrisy out,” stated DiNucci. Read more about the meeting here.
The movement to divest continues to grow, and we hope that our new toolkit is an asset to you in your local work to divest from the war machine and reinvest in our communities.
Shea, Grace, Danaka, Olivia, and the rest of the CODEPINK team