Note: Below is the text of an leaflet that was distributed at the Fleet Week Baltimore Welcome Ceremony, at Baltimore’s inner harbor, on October 12. Jonah House and Pledge of Resistance – Baltimore organized a peace vigil to counter the celebration of war that is fleet week.
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On October 15, during Fleet Week, Baltimore has the dishonor of being the site where the new stealth destroyer, the USS Zumwalt, will be commissioned. It is a dishonor because the Zumwalt is a boondoggle of the grossest proportions and as such is a massive theft of the U.S. taxpayer and, in particular, the poor. It will also undermine true security in the United States.
When research and development is taken into consideration, the price tag for the Zumwalt is nearly 6 billion dollars. This is obscene given the needs of the people of the United States, from health care to education to basic infrastructure repair. Originally the Zumwalt was to be the first of 32 new stealth destroyers, but because this new line had ballooned in cost—81 percent above the Navy’s original cost estimate to Congress—the Zumwalt line was reduced to only three ships. At six billion dollars each, this is still three ships too many.
Martin Luther King once said that “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” If we are not already there, the Zumwalt brings us perilously close to spiritual death. But the Zumwalt is not only an obscenity in spiritual terms. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower put it: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” In moral terms, the Zumwalt is an outrage; in fiscal terms, it is indefensible.
Baltimore is a poor city, plagued by the social ills caused by poverty, such as unemployment, homelessness, drug addiction, the drug trade, and the horrendous violence that comes with it. Six billion dollars would do much to alleviate the poverty of Baltimore. Six billion dollars would buy 50,000 homes. It would pay the yearly energy costs for 1.2 million households. It would buy all the groceries in a year for 1.5 million families. It would pay a year’s worth of health care premiums for 333,000 families. It would pay for the education of 400,000 students in Baltimore’s schools.
It should also be noted that the Zumwalt will also be exorbitantly wasteful in terms of its fuel use. When fully operational, it will take 78 megawatts to power the ship. That’s enough to power 80,000 homes. And, unlike a nuclear-powered ship, the Zumwalt will run on carbon-based fuel. That will lead to a lot of carbon pollution, the leading cause of global warming. The U.S. military is already the biggest single emitter of carbon pollution in the world. Ships like the Zumwalt will make things much worse.
But it isn’t just a matter of paying bills or carbon emissions. The six billion dollar Zumwalt is not only a criminal misappropriation of U.S. taxpayer money and a major polluter, it is also a betrayal of our true security needs. In our world today, more weapons will not make us safer. In fact, the more we spend on weapon systems, and the more we deploy them in conflicts across the world, the more we create enemies who resent us for our military aggression. The United States would do better to use the six billion dollars it takes to build a Zumwalt to provide humanitarian aid for the victims of war.
The motto of the Zumwalt is “Peace through power.” It is a truism that power corrupts. The only peace that power offers is a corrupt peace. It is a peace that enforces the status quo, and endorses an ideology that profits the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and powerless. It is a peace that says “Might makes Right.” The false prophet says peace, peace, when there is no peace. The true prophet knows peace can be never be imposed by military power. The stealth ship called the Zumwalt represents a peace that is a stealthy form of war. It will inevitably be used to wage war on other countries, and is already inflicting suffering on the poor of Baltimore and the rest of the United States.
No more Zumwalts!!
No more war!!
Pledge of Resistance – Baltimore