Wellington Socialists strongly support the actions of Peace Action Manawatū, and the wider New Zealand peace movement, in marching to oppose the NZ Defence Industry Association’s Weapons Expo in Palmerston North on the 31st of October.
“The arms trade is big business,” said Neil Ballantyne, spokesperson for Wellington Socialists. “Military expenditure is one of the biggest global transfers from the public purse to private industry.”
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), world military expenditure reached more than US$1.7 trillion in 2017, the highest level since the end of the cold war. This figure represents 2.2 percent of global gross domestic product, or US$230 for every person in the world.
“As socialists we put people before profit. Only a fraction of the amount spent on global arms expenditure is invested in the diplomacy and development programmes that could help end or prevent wars. Not only that, but every tax dollar spent on arms is a dollar diverted from investing in the needs of people for education, healthcare, infrastructure and alternative energy solutions.”
The New Zealand Weapons Expo attracts over 500 global arms dealers including Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest arms dealer and primary sponsor of the expo. Lockheed Martin is doing so well that it recently raised its 2018 net sales forecast to between US$51 billion and US$53 billion. In August of this year the company was highlighted in the world media when a laser-guided Mark 82 bomb – sold by the US and built by Lockheed Martin – was used in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a school bus in Yemen killing 51 people, including 40 children.
“The slaughter of Yemeni children is just one small example of the appalling and unacceptable impact on civilian populations of the reckless, profiteering arms trade. Popular resistance to the annual Weapons Expo in Wellington was so strong that, after twenty years of meeting in the capital, the arms dealers decided to move out of town. The next step is to kick them out of Aotearoa.”
A Wellington Socialists press release.
Image credit | Felton Davis