Thursday, July 30, 2009

Let us be clear, we appreciate Rotron's role as a provider of jobs in our community and the other positive contributions they make. And the concerns we are expressing here do not apply to the non-military portion of Rotron’s production. We want Rotron to continue to play a viable role in our community but we do see a need and a potential for change.

What if, instead of yet more gas-guzzling military machines, Woodstock produced equipment that contributed to solving the global environmental crisis rather than making it worse? Peaceful investment is green investment, and it creates many more jobs (per dollar invested) than military investment. Especially in the midst of our deepening economic crisis, Ulster County is crying out for more jobs. Here is an opportunity for Woodstock to take a lead in sustainable manufacturing. Representative Hinchey has spoken up in favor of stimulus measures that will help create green jobs. It can be a win-win situation.

Woodstock is not special. The war economy stretches its tentacles into every congressional district. The peace economy starts in everyone's back yard.
Co-Sponsors of the WOODSTOCK FORUM include:
Dutchess Greens; Dutchess Peace Coalition; WESPAC, Peace Action/NY; Saugerties Committee for Peace and Social Justice; Real Majority Project; Mid-Hudson New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty; World Can't Wait; Murray Colow Veterans for Peace Chapter, Woodstock; Middle East Crisis Response; Code Pink; Woodstock International Walk for Peace; Voices for Peace Choral Group; CLASP; Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space; Social Justice Committee, Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship of Poughkeepsie; Military Families Speak Out; Al Warren Chapter 60 Veterans for Peace; The Common Fire Foundation; Mid-Hudson Valley 9/11 Truth Committee, and many individuals.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Woodstock Times, July 16, 2009

"The small town of Woodstock has a big reputation for peace." So it says on a flyer being passed around with information about the upcoming Woodstock Forum to be held here on the 40th anniversary of what came to be known as the Woodstock Festival celebrating peace and love.

But the Woodstock Forum is about more than peace and love. It's also about a massive nation-wide weapons industry that stands in the way of peace and how that industry could be converted into something green and sustainable. We know that Woodstock is a community that values peace. But can we claim to be for peace when our largest manufacturer is making parts used in weapons of war and we haven't said a peep about changing that?

Woodstock's largest manufacturer, Ametek/Rotron, makes parts used in F-16 fighter planes, Apache attack helicopters, tanks and missile delivery systems.

A small group of us met with the leadership of Rotron some months ago. They referred to themselves as part of the defense industry. But "defense industry" is just another name for the same huge military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about in 1961 when leaving office.

Frida Berrigan, senior program associate with the New America Foundation's Arms and Security Initiative, in an article called 'Weapons: Our # 1 Export?' says the United States leads the world in exporting weaponry. "Increased weapons sales will certainly help defense contractors...but they won't help the overall U.S. economy or the security of the international community."

Defense contractors may provide jobs (green, sustainable economy would provide more) but the production and sale of military hardware has little to do with actual "defense". The very profitable production (for a few) of weapons used to rain death and destruction (on the many) keeps the business of war going on and on.

Two-time Congressional Medal of Honor winner, retired Marine Major General Smedley Butler said it this way, "War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives."

On the other hand, for more peaceful tomorrows, the Woodstock Forum is bringing together activists and scholars from around the U.S. for two days of "building a peaceful, just and sustainable economy."

Speakers and performers will include environmental and anti-war activist and author of "An Unreasonable Woman" - Diane Wilson, top investigative reporter, Jeremy Scahill, Jeff Cohen, Mikhail Horowitz, Joel Kovel, Janine Vega and others.

According to esteemed Tibetan scholar and Woodstock resident, Robert Thurman, "Our town should be in the lead in turning America away from a self-defeating war economy to a green sustainable economy, and so the conversion of the Woodstock plant of Rotron from war component making to purely peace-product manufacturing is of vital concern to all Woodstock taxpaying citizens, including myself."

Historian and author Howard Zinn wrote, "I'm gratified that citizens of Woodstock and its environs are organizing to transform the production of components now used for frightful weapons to peaceful and sustainable purposes...perhaps other places in the country where war materials are produced will take up the struggle for a weapons-free, peaceful world.

Remember the dates: August 15 at the Woodstock Town Hall and August 16 at the Colony Cafe. On the flyer it says, "What if Woodstock made Windmills?"

What if? Be there and find out.

Tarak Kauff

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Peter Woodruff, who will be one of the speakers at the upcoming Woodstock Forum, has been an employee at Bath (Maine) Iron Works for 28 years. To see Woodruff interviewed by Bruce Gagnon about proposals for his factory to produce wind turbines instead of Aegis destroyers, go to