In a landmark judgment for the anti-war movement, a Belfast jury has acquitted the Raytheon 9 of all charges relating to their intrusion into Raytheon’s Derry offices and destruction of computer equipment.
Colm Bryce of the campaign said the following:
“The Raytheon 9 have been aquitted today in Belfast for their action in decommissioning the Raytheon offices in Derry in August 2006. The prosecution could produce not a shred of evidence to counter our case that we had acted to prevent the commission of war crimes during the Lebanon war by the Israeli armed forces using weapons supplied by Raytheon.
We remain proud of the action we took and only wish that we could have done more to disrupt the ‘kill chain’ that Raytheon controls.
This victory is welcome, for ourselves and our families, but we wish to dedicate it to the Shaloub and Hasheem families of Qana in Lebanon, who lost 28 of their closest relatives on the 30 July 2006 due to a Raytheon ‘bunker buster’ bomb.
Their unimaginable loss was foremost in our minds when we took the action we did on 9 August, and the injustice that they and the many thousands of victims of war crimes in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered, will spur us on to continue to campaign against war and the arms trade that profits from it.
We said from the beginning that we came to this court not as the accused but as the accusers of Raytheon. This court case proved that Raytheon in Derry is an integral part of the global Raytheon company and its military production. This is no longer a secret or in doubt. Raytheon have treated the truth, peaceful protest, local democracy and this court with complete contempt. The most senior executive who appeared said that the charge that Raytheon had ‘aided and abetted’ the commission of crimes against humanity was “not an issue” for him. Raytheon should have that contempt repaid in full and be driven out of Derry and every other place they have settled. They are war criminals, plain and simple. They have no place in our society and shame on all those in positions of power or influence who would hand them public funds, turn a blind eye to their crimes, cover their tracks or make excuses for them.”
In Wales, those people include Rhodri Morgan and almost the entire political establishment who have backed the plans of the Metrix Consortium to build a massive private tri-service military training centre at St Athan. Raytheon are fully-paid up members of that consortium; in response to criticisms of their involvement in delivering cluster bombs, Morgan happily accepted Raytheon’s excuse that they’d only made the custom-designed missiles for these weapons, and had no plans to make any more. After the Raytheon 9 trial, however, Raytheon stand exposed both as war criminals and downright liars. The company were allowed to move to Derry on the understanding they did not manufacture weapons there. They broke that promise. Their word is meaningless.
In the light of the Raytheon 9 judgement, the Open University, whose own staff are already in revolt against their involvement in the project, must immediately withdraw from Metrix and break their ties with Raytheon. We must furthermore demand that all trade unions offering support to the project cease doing so immediately. No contract must be signed for the St Athan academy.
The Raytheon 9 faced jail sentences if their case had been lost, and we salute their bravery and dedication, as well as the internationalism shown by the relationship they developed with the bombing victims of Qana. While celebrating their victory, however, we have to beware of the direction in which the campaign is leading. In his remarks after the trial, the SWP’s Eamonn McCann called on the Attorney General and the Crown Prosecution Service to investigate all Raytheon’s activities in the UK to determine whether the company is a criminal enterprise. Rather like calls for the state to ban fascist marches, however, this demand is both utopian and disempowering. The fact that one Belfast courthouse has delivered a sound verdict should not delude us into believing that the entire capitalist justice system can be forced to deliver genuine justice. The judiciary as a whole will always serve the needs of the UK military machine and those of our supposed allies. Furthermore, by making calls on the state rather than the workers’ movement and anti-war campaigners, McCann both lends credibility to the former while discouraging the latter from taking its own action and organising its own enquiries.
The same thinking is evident in Eamonn McCann’s statement that “we believe that one day the world will look back on the arms trade as we look back today on the slave trade, and wonder how it came about that such evil could abound in respectable society. If we have advanced by a mere moment the day when the arms trade is put beyond the law, what we have done will have been worthwhile.”
Here McCann has slipped into the language not of revolutionary socialism, but of liberal pacifism. Again, we cannot separate the capitalist war machine from the economic competition at the heart of capitalism; one is merely an outgrowth of the latter and will always be so.
But there is another serious problem with the statement. Slaves, by definition, could not be employed in a war of liberation. But unless we believe the capitalist class will give up their wealth and power voluntarily, we have to accept that those struggling against them will need weapons. Those weapons will be made by arms companies, even if, as in Hezbollah’s fight against Israel in Lebanon, those companies are based in Iran or China rather than Britain.
The Raytheon 9 were absolutely justified in targetting Raytheon, given Raytheon’s role in supplying imperialist forces in a war going on at that time in the Middle East. But however much we may all crave a world without war, we must avoid draining the energies of the anti-war movement in a misconceived campaign to end the arms trade.
On the positive side, the Derry activists have shown how bold direct action tactics can have a place within the anti-war movement, so long as these act as a focus for building a mass movement, not an alternative to it. Despite our comradely criticisms, we in PR salute their success and hope to strengthen the links we have helped forge between the campaigns in Derry and Cardiff – not just links between anti-war activists, but between committed socialists.