Infact's General Electric Boycott

By Joanna Miller | 1990-04-01 12:00:00

PEACE is breaking out all over! Or is it?

By Joanna Miller

In spite of improved East-West relations, the nuclear arms race continues at full throttle. In the first six months after the signing of the INF Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union deployed more nuclear warheads than will be eliminated under the treaty. And while START negotiations for further reductions drag on, development of nuclear weapons that will nullify these reductions continues. We should ask, "Why?"

One answer is provided by INFACT in its recent publication INFACT Brings GE to Light. (Many will remember INFACT for its role in spearheading the worldwide campaign against Nestlés' promotion of breast-milk substitutes in the Third World.)

"Nuclear weapons," says INFACT, "are big business. Transnational weapons corporations like General Electric first promote the nuclear weapons buildup and then produce these weapons of mass destruction at public expense for private profit.... Corporations do not simply make the weapons, nor do they passively respond to government requests. rather, the weapons corporations create both the supply and the demand for ever more costly and deadly nuclear weapons. Yet these corporate interests operate hidden from public view, accountable not to the public interest and safety but to the corporate bottom line."

INFACT's report carefully documents just how GE helps to ensure a spiralling arms buildup by marketing its nuclear weapons aggressively, by influencing government policies and decisions on nuclear weapons, and by influencing public opinion.

INFACT believes that the power of such corporations represents an unprecedented threat to democracy. The impetus for new, more complicated, and more expensive nuclear weapons systems comes principally from corporate laboratories and not from a reasoned military assessment of the country's needs. The American public should know, it states, that public fears about the Soviet Union have been purposefully fanned by the nuclear weapons corporations in order to create public support for the arms race.

Canadians, watching their own government acquiesce in the continued escalation of the nuclear arms race, should heed these warnings. In spite of reassuring words to the contrary by our government, the nuclear arms race still poses a massive threat to our survival while pre-empting resources and talents needed to tackle global problems of debt, poverty, and a rapidly deteriorating environment.

We should tolerate this no longer. One way to make our influence felt is to join INFACT's GE boycott, to challenge GE's glib claim that it "brings good things to life."

"Because the root of the problem is economic," says INFACT, "consumers have a very powerful tool. They can 'vote' with their pocketbooks by withholding business from GE until the company stops endangering our lives."

INFACT's report (including full details about the boycott) is available for U.S. $6.95 plus $2.50 for postage and handling from INFACT National Field Campaign, P.O. Box 3223, 5. Pasadena, CA 91030, (818) 281-5953. U Joanna Miller works with Project Ploughshares in Saskatoon.

Peace Magazine Apr-May 1990

Peace Magazine Apr-May 1990, page 18. Some rights reserved.

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