Saturday, September 01, 2007

Marquette “Peace” Center Profiting From “Merchants of Death:” A Reply

We recently linked to and commented on a post by Daniel Suhr on GOP3.COM.

Suhr noted that the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking, a leftist anti-defense operation, is being funded by a foundation with substantial investments in firms that do defense contracting.

In other words, investments in firms that Simon Harak, Director of the Center, calls “war profiteers.”

We sent a copy of Suhr’s post to Michael Duffy, long-time Marquette faculty member and cohort of Harak, and asked for comment. He responds as follows:
The Members of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking are impressed with the efforts that went into researching this opinion piece.

For all its research, however, the article overlooks the distinctions between having a contract with the Department of Defense, manufacturing weapons, and war profiteering.

First, almost any company can have a contract with the Department of Defense – from selling gasoline to providing health care for veterans. One nonviolent strategy for keeping a moral check on such corporations is called “stockholder engagement.” Stockholders can work from the “inside,” making sure that companies who contract with the Department of Defense conduct their practices ethically, and “whistle blowing” if they “cross the line.” Another is to protest by divesting one’s portfolio of investment in such companies.

Second, the Rynnes had instructed their financial counselors not to invest money in arms manufacturers or in tobacco companies. (In that regard, it is interesting to note that after more than twenty years of vigorous and creative nonviolent protest – including stockholder engagement – Honeywell “spun off” its weapons manufacturing subsidiary in 1990.)

Finally, war profiteering is defined as taking advantage of war to make excessive profits. Historically, Americans have shown resistance to that morally repugnant practice. It is specifically the practice of war profiteering that Fr. Harak has consistently critiqued as well. We hope that the GOP3 also share this opposition.

In the latter two areas, we are most grateful for the work of the authors of this piece, and request that they continue and sharpen their research. If the GOP3 discovers that the financial counselors of the Rynne’s Foundation have invested in corporations that manufacture weapons, we want to be informed so that we can immediately undertake an appropriate nonviolent response. Similarly, we also expect that the GOP3 will alert the Center immediately if their research uncovers solid proof of unethical practices or war profiteering in the companies the Rynne Foundation has stock in. Again, we will then immediately undertake the appropriate nonviolent action to redress the wrongdoing.

We hope that we can also find other ways to work together for justice and peace.
We’ll refrain from commenting on this right now, and let readers draw their own conclusions.

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