The Speaking Tour

people speaking at computer conference

The Speaking Tour

fter deliberations in its National Committee, the War Resisters League has decided to promote awareness of the “Merchants of Death” as a long-range strategy for resisting the “new wars” of the post-Cold War, globally corporatized world.

Specifically, we see that friends and business associates of the present administration — companies like Halliburton, Bechtel, DynCorp and others — have found a way into the “new” Iraq, trying to cash in on the disaster that a brutal dictator, years of U.S.- and British-led sanctions, and an unprecedented “preventive attack” have created. Oil companies and pipeline firms have already gotten a foothold in Afghanistan. Introducing, financing, and maintaining these companies have come at an enormous cost to the people of the United States and elsewhere: U.S., Iraqi and Afghan lives lost; an increase in the likelihood of attacks against U.S. residents and other occupiers both at home and abroad; an explosion in the opium trade from Afghanistan; increasing outrage among our allies in the Muslim world, in Europe, and elsewhere; injustices to people of color both here and abroad; and the diversion of more and more domestic resources to pay for military occupation and corporatization. Since it is we, the ordinary people of the United States, who will pay the ultimate price, it is essential that we know the true course of our foreign policy: Who it is our leaders are actually representing, and the real reason our soldiers are killing and dying.

The Anti-Militarism Task Force of the War Resisters League has assembled a bureau of qualified experts to speak on companies that profit — and profiteer — from war and occupation. From January 15 [Martin Luther King Day] to April 15 [Tax Day], 2004, these speakers are available in the Northeastern United States for presentations to universities and colleges, high schools, and any groups interested in peace, justice or reclaiming a voice for the people. The sponsoring university or local group will be asked to pay a speaker’s fee and transportation costs. The fee will be decided by the local coordinator [listed below], in consultation with the sponsoring site and the speaker.

In universities, speakers on the Merchants of Death would interest Politics Departments, Business [especially international business] Departments, International Studies Departments, any departments studying Islam or cross-cultural relations [e.g., Anthropology Departments], and any departments studying Ethics [Religious and Philosophical]. Within and beyond the universities, the subject will interest many churches and any groups concerned with peace and justice.

After the presenters share the information, all groups will be invited to discuss the best means of addressing the problem of war profiteering, envisioning a more just approach to foreign policy, and developing creative nonviolent strategies for implementation. The results of these discussions will be shared with wider and wider audiences as the speaking engagements multiply.

Stop the Merchants of Death will begin in the Northeastern United States and, beginning in September, 2004, will bring its presentations throughout the nation.