Our Military Budget: A Scandal

Hayat Imam at State Street Bank in Boston, MA

by Hayat Imam

These remarks were delivered at the Tax Day March and Rally against Boston Financiers of Raytheon on April 19th, 2022

Our military budget is a scandal. It is 54% of our discretionary spending, a staggering $740 billion dollars. This is more money than the military spending of the next nine countries combined! And this includes Russia and China. This should tell us right away, that this huge military is not really needed for our country’s defense. 

Instead, what becomes increasingly clear is that the Military Establishment, the Weapons Manufacturers, and the Fossil Fuel Industries, are intrinsically intertwined. Indeed, they are working together to promote wars of aggression around the Globe, in order to justify this astronomical budget. 

The Military Industrial Complex is actually a very lucrative business. The military protects fossil fuels, and seeks to control oil resources around the world on behalf of the Fossil Fuel Industry. At the same time, the military is, itself, the largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels in the world.   

And what we may not know is the shocking fact that the US Military is a bigger polluter of carbon emissions than 140 countries! Between 2001 and 2017, the US military exuded 1.2 billion metric tons of carbon emissions. Think of it! This is a larger carbon footprint than many countries on earth!  

Big banks and Financial Institutions are playing a role in all of this because they are the ones who are making the most significant investments in Big Oil and Gas – as well as in the weapons manufacturing industry. What this means essentially is that Big Banks and Financial Institutions are contributing hugely to Global Warming, and to War. 

Let me bring home what this means in terms of human costs: 

  • I have just returned from a visit to my original home in Bangladesh. Rising seas due to global warming are already eroding the coastlines of this small, but densely populated, country. One effect is that groundwater along the coast is becoming too salty to drink. This means little Bangladeshi children are already having trouble finding drinking water, due to climate change.
  • We are standing here today in front of State Street Bank, which is the owner of an asset called State Street Global Advisors. State Street Global Advisors has the dubious distinction of being the single largest investor in Raytheon Technologies, a weapons manufacturer based right here in Massachusetts. Raytheon has been selling weapons of war to Saudi Arabia for years, making profits of billions of dollars. And this is a cozy, ongoing relationship, because Raytheon has just received a new $650 million dollar contract for new arms to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, in turn, has used these very weapons in a deadly war on the people OF Yemen for the past 7 years, killing thousands of children, from bombings, war-induced famine, and rampant cholera. I can hardly bear to look at the pictures of the emaciated little Yemeni children, being crushed by weapons made by a Massachusetts company. 

This is why we are gathered here today. We are asking you, the Banks and Investors, CHASE/ BLACK ROCK/ and STATE STREET GLOBAL ADVISORS, owned by State Bank, right here, to think of the children all over the world who are suffering from your policies and your financial decisions. We are here to remind you that you have a choice. You can DIVEST from the war machine, stop buying their stocks and loaning them money. You can instead INVEST in all the things that will give our children and grandchildren a livable future. Don’t our children deserve a world that is safe; a world free from weapons, war, and climate catastrophe? Don’t forget, we are talking about your beloved children and grandchildren, as well as ours. 

Remember the children the next time you are at a Board meeting of these companies. STATE STREET GLOBAL ADVISORS – you are by far the largest shareholder in Raytheon Technologies. You control the stocks! That means you, and the other financiers, can use your power to dictate the directions taken by these companies: Will it be towards life? Or will it be towards death? Do the right thing!

Hayat Imam is a member of MAPA’s Board of Directors, Dorchester People for Peace, and the Raytheon Antiwar Campaign.