This article appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of the Massachusetts Peace Action newsletter
The war in Yemen may seem far away, but key material support for that war is being manufactured right in our own back yard.
The Massachusetts-based Raytheon Company is supplying billions of dollars worth of military equipment to the autocratic regime of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, including thousands of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles and more than 7000 Paveway laser-guided bombs, according to the Center for International Policy. Raytheon stands to bring in $6.65 billion out of the $110 billion arms package Trump offered the Saudis last year.
The Paveway bombs are being used in the bombing campaign the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates are waging against Yemen. Civilians, including children, have been killed and maimed by the tens of thousands in the airstrikes.
Massachusetts peace advocates have launched a campaign to call Raytheon to account. We organized two spirited demonstrations outside the company’s Concord Avenue facility in Cambridge – one in August with 75 people and one in September with more than 50. Many commuters honked their horns in support as they passed the line of protesters holding signs and banners. Raytheon also has facilities in Burlington, Woburn, Tewksbury, Andover, Billerica, Marlborough and Northborough. The campaign so far includes Mass. Peace Action, Veterans for Peace, the American Friends Service Committee, and the Peace and Social Concerns Committee of the Friends Meeting at Cambridge.
The Raytheon Anti-War Campaign was officially launched on Sept. 27 with an event featuring Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin at the Cambridge Friends Meeting House. Benjamin described the unholy alliance among the US and Saudis and Israel as they seek to dominate the Middle East; the push toward war with Iran; the billions being made by military contractors; and what we can do to oppose these dangerous developments.
She applauded our organizing against Raytheon and urged us to actively take up a divestment campaign, to organize cities and states, companies and non-profits, to divest from arms manufacturers. “If your business is selling weapons, then your business model is war,” she noted.
To illustrate the insidious power and reach of companies like Raytheon, Benjamin pointed out that, after a Yemen school bus was bombed and 44 children were killed, Raytheon’s former top lobbyist (who is now a top State Department official) played a major role in safeguarding new Raytheon arms sales; he convinced the US to certify that Saudi Arabia was taking measures to protect civilians.
At the end of the evening, event organizers laid out the campaign’s demand that Raytheon stop selling billions of dollars of weapons and providing other critical support to the Saudis. We signed up more than 40 attendees, about half the audience, to participate in the campaign through various tactics such as rallies, the divestment effort, research and writing for local papers and social media, pressuring Congress to end the Yemen war, mobilizing faith communities, and holding educational events.
Join us now! You can get involved in the campaign by going to http://bit.ly/raytheon-antiwar or calling 617-354-2169 or 617-623-5288.
—Paul Shannon coordinates the Raytheon Anti-War Campaign. He is active in the American Friends Service Committee and Mass. Peace Action.