Follow Up on Charlottesville Divestment

The November 28 Daily Progress report on the Charlottesville Retirement Commission finally taking baby steps toward divestment from fossil fuels begins by quoting a resolution passed at my urging a year-and-a-half ago by the Charlottesville City Council on divestment from fossil fuels and weapons. It then reports that the City divested its operating budget from fossil fuels, but simply omits that it did the same with weapons.

In fact, the whole article makes no mention of weapons beyond the resolution it quotes. It offers the reader no explanation for what weapons are doing in there. The same report includes a photo of a Zoom meeting of the Retirement Commission, but the photo is from months ago when the Daily Progress reported on my resigning from that body over its failure to divest from fossil fuels or weapons, which is why I’m in the photo.

The Daily Progress reports that the Retirement Commission is divesting from fossil fuels because a study found that it would have made more money had it done so earlier. Yet, as publicly discussed at the meeting during which I resigned, the Commission’s studies found that to be true for both fossil fuels and weapons.

The fact is that members of the Retirement Commission have said during its meetings, many of which I wasted my time on, that they value weapons and associate weapons with patriotism and defense. Each time that I pointed out to them that U.S. weapons companies are the top suppliers of weapons to dictatorships around the world, the response was simply blank faces. This inconvenient fact was discussed in the City Council meetings on this topic a year-and-a-half ago, video of which is here: divestcville.org.

The U.S. government allows, arranges for, or in some cases even provides the funding for, U.S. weapons sales to 41 of 50 countries designated as “unfree” by the U.S.-funded Freedom House. That’s 82 percent. These U.S. weapons sales between 2010 and 2019 are documented by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Arms Trade Database and the U.S. military in a document titled “Foreign Military Sales, Foreign Military Construction Sales And Other Security Cooperation Historical Facts: As of September 30, 2017.” Here are the 41: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa), Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Ethiopia, Gabon, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen.

Why would the Daily Progress choose to let the Retirement Commission simply go silent on the topic of weapons, rather than asking it for its reasons for investing the savings of good people in the tools of mass slaughter?

Why wouldn’t any media outlets in Charlottesville ask the Retirement Commission to explain its behavior?

Why should someone who worked a full career at a decent nonviolent job have their retirement be dependent on more wars getting started?

The Daily Progress just ran a column on the corruption of WestExec Advisors, from which a number of President-Elect Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees are being drawn. We don’t want those launching wars to be profiting from them. Why should those teaching our children about wars in Charlottesville City schools be profiting from them?

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