In the lead-up to Remembrance Day, there are renewed calls for the Australian War Memorial to dissociate itself from the arms companies that supply the repressive and murderous Saudi Arabian government.
Lockheed Martin is one of those companies. It has a new three-year deal with the Memorial which, “this year focus[ed] on initiatives commemorating the centenary of the Armistice that ended the First World War.”
In the wake of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi, Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson indicated that it’s business as usual with sales to the Saudi regime. This week Martin said she will simply follow the lead of the US President on this matter, a man not known for any morally sound choices. Lockheed Martin appears not to care about the brutality of their customers, nor about how many Yemeni children are killed by American bombs or starved to death in the wars they fuel.
Working with local Yemeni journalists and munitions experts, CNN has established that the weapon that left dozens of children dead on 9 August was a 227 kilogram laser-guided MK 82 bomb made by Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest weapons-making behemoth. Many people see its financial relationship with the AWM as a conflict of interest, but not the Memorial’s director Dr Brendan Nelson, who has been unapologetic in his pursuit of deals with weapons-making firms. Writing in Fairfax media, historian Douglas Newton has this week exposed Nelson’s faulty logic.
All five of the US weapons-making giants mentioned in this CBS report are also listed among the sponsors in the latest Australian War Memorial annual report. Raytheon’s CEO remarked in relation to Khashoggi’s murder that Raytheon has, “supported the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for more than 50 years,” and that he is, “pretty confident that we’ll weather this complexity.”
Dr Sue Wareham, President of the Medical Association for Prevention of War and chair of its campaign Commemorate Don’t Commercialise, said “Lockheed Martin’s turning of a blind eye to the impact of their sales is totally unacceptable. Support for the Saudi regime does not reflect the values for which Australians died.”