Remarks delivered at Raytheon Antiwar Campaign rally, October 16, 2018, at Raytheon BBN Technologies in Cambridge. Watch Brian’s talk here.
First of all I’d like to thank all of you for coming out this evening and for your courage to stand up against Raytheon and our unholy alliance with Saudi Arabia.
This is a critical moment for our campaign. I was listening to WBZ 1030 on the radio earlier today and anyone who lives in the area knows that it’s by no means a radical media outlet. They brought up growing U.S./Saudi tensions every 10 minutes today.
The murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post reporter and a legal permanent resident of the United States, has captured the attention of some powerful people in media, politics, and business.
Six months ago when I first started working on this issue, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was here in Cambridge, visiting MIT as part of a global publicity tour. He even got his face on the cover of Time magazine. The headline was “Charm Offensive.”
The flagrant act of violence committed in Turkey two weeks ago has revealed the true character of the Saudi goverment and their Crown Prince. Killing journalists to silence criticism is not an act of reform. It has shown, for all to see, that the absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia is a murderous government.
You know what I didn’t hear every 10 minutes on news radio? That the government of Saudi Arabia has been murdering thousands of civilians and children in Yemen for the last three years. I didn’t hear that our government has been actively helping them to do so. I didn’t hear that companies like Raytheon are building the weapons and bombs that Saudi Arabia uses in Yemen.
It is up to us to make that connection.
I don’t usually quote Lindsay Graham or Marco Rubio but they’ve said some interesting things in the last few days. Senator Graham, a self described “long time defender” of the Saudi government called the Crown Prince “toxic,” asked him to resign, and said he planned to “sanction the hell out of them.” Marco Rubio has called for “blowing up” the U.S./Saudi alliance in response to this latest violation of human rights.
This is why this moment is so critical. The tide may be turning.
You may have heard our president on 60 minutes the other night. He’s open to punishing the Saudi government but has taken sanctions on military equipment off the table. Here’s a direct quote on the possibility of canceling a 100 billion dollar arms deal:
“I tell you what I don’t want to do. Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, all these companies. I don’t want to hurt jobs. I don’t want to lose a contract like that.”
Let me translate. What he’s saying is: We’ll let Saudi Arabia get away with murder so long as they buy murder weapons made in the USA.
This is unacceptable.
So what can we do? How should we take action in this moment? We need to keep the pressure on, pressure on newspapers to keep covering this, pressure on politicians to prioritize ending our destructive alliance. We’re organizing groups to work on specific tactics to counter Raytheon’s complicity in the Saudi war on Yemen.
I said earlier that the tide may be turning on our relationship with Saudi Arabia. That’ll depend on how hard we’re willing to work for it. Thank you.