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  November 12, 2017

Worldwide Warfare Will End When We Divest From the Arms Industry

Andrew Feinstein, author of the book Shadow Wars, outlines the importance of divesting from the US war machine at the Code Pink Summit
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ANDREW FEINSTEIN: This is Andrew Feinstein in support of the divest from the War Machine Summit in Washington D.C. October 21, 2017.

Hello. First, I'm very sorry that I can't be there with you in person but I'm sure that the summit will be a huge success. The first and most important reason that we've got to think about divestment from the US war machine is the incredibly dominant role that the US plays in the global arms trade, and militarization and militarism throughout the world. In any given year, the United States of America produces anywhere between one third and almost a half of all the weapons systems produced in the world.

In addition, the United States of America is involved in more conflicts in more military action, than any other country in the world. The role of US defense contractors, of US military service providers, including what we used to call mercenaries, is absolutely crucial. These are the biggest companies of their kind in the world, and they set the template, not only for the manufacture of weaponry around the world, but for the modus operandi in terms of which that manufacture and distribution of weaponry takes place globally.

Unless we see change, unless we see a diminution in the size, the power, the influence and the reach of US defense contractors and arms producers, we cannot tackle global militarism in a meaningful way. We cannot tackle the conflicts in Syria, in Yemen, in the occupied Palestinian territories, unless we strike at the heart of the global war machine, in the United States of America itself.

How do we do that? There are multiple tools. For us, as investigators, researchers, activists, campaigners, the provision of information about what the American war machine, these companies, together with the US state, are doing around the world, the majority of people in whose name and with whose tax dollars this is being done, will remain ignorant of this reality.

But with that information, we have to take action. That action has to take the form of protest, of direct action, in the form that Code Pink has championed for so many years now, and so effectively. We need to look to more legal advocacy, to ensuring that more companies, more representatives of the state, and more individuals are held accountable in courts of law for their actions and for the consequences of the weapons that they produce around the world.

But there is another tool, an incredibly powerful tool, a tool that was instrumental in bringing down the apartheid regime in South Africa, and that is the tool of divestment. As a South African who fought in the struggle against apartheid, who is privileged to be a representative of the South African people in our first parliament, I know only too well the important role that divestment from the apartheid economy and from the apartheid war machine, the impact that had on bringing about an end to over 350 years of institutionalized and legalized racism.

A tool that worked so effectively around the world to bring about that change, is a tool that we have to try the United States context. Therefore, the call from this summit to divest from the war machine, to divest from those companies who produce the weapons and tools of war that are killing tens of thousands of innocent civilians around the world is a call whose time has come. It is for this reason that I as a South African who fought against apartheid, as a South African who served under Nelson Mandela in that country's first democratic government, I call with all my energy, with all my passion, and with all my commitment, for a meaningful divestment from the US war machine.

I wish you at the summit every success, and I look forward to being a part of this absolutely crucial campaign as it goes forward from this summit.


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