It’s that time of year again. The merchants of war and death are preparing to converge on the NZDIA weapons expo. Once again, some of the most amoral, greedy and vile companies on the planet will be trading in weapons, vehicles and logistical tools with the aim of maximum profit. . The worst offenders will be there – Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Mas Zegrange, Beretta and Serco – and so will the bit players like Avis Rental Cars that provide basic services to the military. And once again, Auckland Peace Action will be out on the front lines doing our best to stop this atrocity from happening.
Despite our effective blockades over the last three years, the underlying issues of imperialism, colonialism and militarisation are as alive as ever. Lockheed Martin are still building nuclear weapons, General Dynamics is still building Abrams tanks, Beretta is still selling firearms to every European state they can find and the New Zealand military is still participating in wars of aggression. As long as this continues, those involved in it do not deserve to feel safe, comfortable or morally justified. They deserve to feel the full extent of the hostility due to them, and they certainly do not deserve to have so much as a meet-up for coffee undisturbed by protesters. As long as they continue to outrage basic moral precepts, we shall continue to disrupt them at every turn.
While we can’t hope to bring the entirety of the global arms trade to a halt, we can certainly work to end New Zealand’s involvement in it. NZ spends obscene sums on the military: $3 billion a year as a baseline level, and additional $1.3 billion over the next fifteen years for modernisation. Then there are other expenditures, such as the recent $2.3 billion spend on replacing the air force’s P3 Orion fleet. There are much more important things we should be spending this money on like our children and elderly, on the poor, on our health system and on arts and culture. The fact that the Ministry of Defence is spending considerable time and money getting work for private arms manufacturers is also really problematic.
Our campaign is working. We know that the company delegates that attend the meeting hate being confronted by protesters; it (rightly) makes them feel guilty and if they are prevented from entering the meeting that represents a significant cost to the company that sent them. It’s no surprise that fewer and fewer companies are sending delegates to the event, as every year the NZDIA assures companies that the event won’t be disrupted only to be proven wrong. It’s also not surprising that after three years of constant disruption when holding meetings in Auckland and Wellington the NZDIA has given up and shifted to Palmerston North. Being that Palmerston North is smaller, more rural and has stronger ties to the military than either of our large cities, they are clearly hoping that they’ll face a weakened and isolated opposition. They could not be more wrong.
We will mobilise around Aotearoa to oppose the Weapons Expo wherever it goes. In 2018, on All Hallows Eve in Palmerston North, we will once again stand up and let the world know that warmongers and murderers will not go unopposed. Join us to stop the arms trade!