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

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Tarak. This is a perfect followup to the New York Greenfest, a week beforehand over in Alfred. I'll be writing about this over on