The article below, by DISARM co-chair Carol Urner, appeared in the November Oregon Peaceworker. Carol discusses the new national network monitoring Merchants of Death primarily facilitated by War Resisters League (see next to last paragraph) . She also writes about the WILPF Mil-Corp Manual and previous Portland WILPF contributions to Oregon's peace economy, rare in our heavily militarized nation. WILPF DISARM and Reaching Critical Will are now in the process of streamlining and updating the Mil-Corp manual for general use in the peace movement. We invite Branches to join in the Mil-Corp process.


Of course in WILPF we hope that after the elections there will be a National Congress and a State Legislature that can really make a difference in getting our nation on a positive, peaceful and more progressive economic track. But whatever the election results, we hope Oregonians will continue to support a peace economy in our own state, and help challenge the war profiteers nationwide.

I wonder how many Oregonians today remember President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ringing declaration during World War II: "I don't want to see a single war millionaire created in the United States as a result of this world disaster"? And he successfully promoted broad increases in the corporate income tax, raised the excess-profits tax to 90 percent and charged the Office of War Mobilization with the task of eliminating illegal profits.

The current Administration has quite the opposite approach and actually subsidizes and promotes the war profiteers. We can hope, however, that the election has brought us more courageous politicians who promote measures like FDR’s today.

Of course we here in Oregon can be proud that, during these years of obscene war profiteering – and even promotion of war for the sake of profits from war -- most Oregon politicians and businesses continue to resist being drawn into the war economy that afflicts most of our nation. But we must remain ever vigilant against efforts to introduce military contracts, and dependence on defense spending, into Oregon.

I still have in my possession a report from the Oregon legislature entitled Defense Spending in Oregon: Study Group on the Impact of Federal Defense expenditures in Oregon. It was issued May 11, 1964 by the Legislative Interim Committee on Technological Employment. It is a fascinating little study that looks into the relative merits of peace and military economies for our state. WILPF had a representative on the citizens’ panel, and also assisted with the business survey. 87 businesses responded to questions about their own involvement in production for the military. The economy proved already to be a relatively peaceful one, and the final recommendation of the study was that Oregon should continue to avoid welcoming defense industry, and instead invest in a civilian economy.

I don’t know what effect, if any, that study had on the future course of the state, but the fact remains that the course recommended is the course that Oregon, to this point, has taken. Our national Representatives and Senators, both Republicans and Democrats, have refused to court military industry and Oregon has never followed in the paths of California, Washington, or most of the western states. Indeed, Representatives like Elizabeth Furse and Peter DeFazio, have proposed and fought for peace budgets on a national scale.

We have set a good example for the rest of the nation. Now can we help the other states follow our example? It would certainly be to our advantage if we could do so. Oregon could flourish in a peace economy where federal taxes supported schools, public transit, sustainable energy, health care for all, wilderness protection and pure publicly owned water systems instead of expenditures on wars of empire.

WILPF has long challenged the war profiteers, and for the last seven years has promoted its Mil-Corp Manual with tools for investigating, exposing and either transforming or shutting down the worst of these corporations.

We have focused on what we call the Dirty Dozen: Partners in Mass Destruction. All of them, like Bechtel and the University of California, are involved in nuclear weapons development and production. The aerospace corporations among them (like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrup Grumman and Raytheon) are also profiting from space militarization: Missile Defense contracts, development of nuclear powered rockets, laser weapons and weapons in space. They profit first from tax funded government contracts, and then from sales of weapons to other countries (military weapons are the largest U.S. export). Our tax dollars also pay for their mergers and their trade fairs. And their CEOs and top management move in and out of government as Secretaries of State, of Defense, Heads of the CIA, and hold many other key positions. And in both their corporate and their government posts, these are men who promote a militarized foreign policy, and then reap profits from our wars.

While WILPF finds corporations involved in nuclear weapons and space industries are the most powerful and dangerous – and reaping the largest profits overall – we also encourage users of our manual to employ its resources to challenge any other war profiteer, large or small, in their own communities. The tentacles of the war economy are everywhere, and everywhere must be challenged if democracy and human rights are to survive in our land.

In October WILPF co-sponsored a national networking conference on The Merchants of Death in Minnesota. The event was planned and facilitated primarily by War Resisters League, and the emphasis was on non-violent resistance to the growing influence of these war profiteering corporations on our way of life, as well as our economy.

Three of us from our national WILPF DISARM!! Dismantle the War Economy team participated along with representatives from the American Friends Service Committee, Fellowship of Reconciliation, CorpWatch, Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, the CAT campaign Colorado Springs Peace Witness, Nevada Desert Experience, Nuclear War Resister, Arms Control Resource Center , Pax Christi, Catholic Worker Movement, and over a dozen other organizations. Frida Berrigan, Winona LaDuke and Medea Benjamin were among the many wonderful folk who joined us for all or part of the conference.

Participants hope to develop a common web site where each organization can post current materials in Wiki fashion, but where core documents are kept and updated only by an authorized editor or responsible organization. We would each contribute from our own area of expertise, and those with common interests would work in tandem. We would also link to each others web sites. Together we would like to map corporations and their subcontractors, identify their major products, their links to government, to various military bases, to ongoing and threatened wars, and to members of Congress, the Cabinet and the Administration.

We in WILPF believe Oregonians, whatever the election outcome, still have the leadership and the experience to contribute significantly to the building of a peace economy nationwide. We hope this can be a major goal for all of us in the months and years ahead. And WILPF is ready to contribute to any effort.

Carol Urner is active in the Portland Branch of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and is co-chair of the national WILPF DISARM: Dismantle the War Economy Committee as well as of the international WILPF Peace and Security Working Group.