An invitation from Voices for Creative Nonviolence to walk from Green Bay to Marinette, Wisconsin, September 9-15, for peace, in defense of the earth, and against Saudi war crimes and human rights violations.
Last December, the U.S. Navy awarded a Lockheed Martin-led team a multi-billion dollar contract to construct four warships for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The four Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC) ships will be constructed at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin.
The dictatorial regime ruling the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is consistently ranked among the worst of the worst nations in the world by human rights organizations. Beginning in 2015, airstrikes by a coalition led by the Saudis with support from the United States have destroyed the infrastructure, health, water and sanitation systems and facilities in Yemen, causing famine and leading to the worst cholera epidemic in modern history. After November 2017, the famine in Yemen has been aggravated by the Saudis who, with continued support of the United States, tightened their sea, air and land blockade. Lockheed Martin boasts that their MMSC “is a resilient, flexible warship, designed from the keel up to affordably take on new capabilities including advanced sensors, missiles and cutting-edge cyber systems. Its speed, strength and versatility make it a critical tool to help sailors achieve their missions.”
Selling advanced warships to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not “keep America safe”. The mission of the Saudi military is the defense of a brutal and repressive monarchy, the subjugation of its own people and, at present, starving millions of people in Yemen. Lockheed Martin’s interests are not the safety or freedom of people in the U.S. or Saudi Arabia- they are in it for the money. Neither are the interests of the U.S. in the region about safety or freedom- rather the U.S. struggles to control and exploit dwindling reserves of fossil fuels in the Middle East. Like the domestic effort to transport energy resources through pipelines, the U.S. wars abroad waste lives and fortunes, exacerbate climate change and threaten all of life.
Our tentative plan is to meet in Green Bay on Tuesday, September 8, walk about 55 miles to Marinette over the next four days, and spend the next Monday and Tuesday in Marinette. We will bring our nonviolent protest to the offices of Lockheed Martin and to the shipyard there. Walking though the cities of Green Bay and Marinette and the small towns and farming communities in between, we intend to speak with and listen to the local people, including the shipyard workers whose need for a livelihood is exploited by Lockheed Martin, the U.S. government and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
While alternatives are being sought, most of us will be camping along the way. As well as walkers, we will need support drivers with vehicles and other helpers. Please spread the word, and let us know if you are interested in participating so we can plan logistically. We also intend to make smaller, quieter, visits to Marinette to reach out to the locals before our walk in September.
–Sarah Ball, Kathy Kelly, Sean Reynolds, Brian Terrell
“Here we have to ask ourselves, why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”
–Pope Francis, the U.S. Congress, Sept. 24, 2015