Casting Lockheed Martin out of the Australian War Memorial

Mar 19, 2022
Australian War Memorial
The AWM's stated purpose is a solemn one: 'to commemorate the sacrifice of those Australians who have died in war or on operational service. Image: Flickr
The Medical Association for the Prevention of War is appealing to the Australian War Memorial not to renew its partnership with weapons giant Lockheed Martin when the current agreement expires in April this year.

Since its foundation in 1981, the Medical Association for the Prevention of War has worked for ‘the redirection of the world’s resources away from war and towards peace, health and justice’, with a particular focus on the abolition of all nuclear weapons. It founded ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

The AWM has accepted money from the following leading arms companies (and others): Boeing, Northrup Grumman, Thales, BAE Systems, and Raytheon in addition to Lockheed Martin, which is the world’s largest beneficiary of war with arms sales in 2020 of $58.2 billion.

The businesses of these leading arms dealers have raised major ethical issues. All six of them are involved in the production of nuclear weapons, which are now illegal under the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Australia is not a signatory to that Treaty, but it still means that production of the weapons is illegal under international law. Some of the companies have also been involved in massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other autocratic Middle Eastern Countries that have been accused plausibly of war crimes.

Lockheed Martin, whose customers include what MAPW research describes as ‘some of the world’s worst human rights abusers’, enjoyed sales to Saudi Arabia, for 2019 and 2020 alone, estimated to be US$900 million. In January 2022 CEO Jim Taiclet of Lockheed Martin highlighted the benefits of ‘great power competition’ in Europe to shareholders. And now, the benefits are pouring in, with the war in Ukraine.

It is worth noting that the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which attacks China for its human rights abuses, lists Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman among its sponsors.

There is precedent for getting the weapons makers out of our Memorial. For many years, the AWM’s theatre was named BAE Systems Theatre. BAE is the same company that has been and remains a key supplier of the Saudi Arabian and UAE regimes that are causing human disaster in Yemen with their bombing campaign (in a conflict that seems to have been forgotten by Western leaders, including those in Canberra, who help fuel the war). In November 2016, Anzac Hall (which has since been demolished as part of redeveloping the Memorial) was used by BAE Systems for an address specifically promoting the company.

After advocacy from MAPW and others, BAE’s partnership with the AWM terminated in August 2020.

Now, to support the MAPW’s current appeal to the AWM Director Mr Matt Anderson not to renew its partnership with Lockheed Martin, I have written to him in the following terms:

The AWM’s stated purpose is a solemn one: ‘to commemorate the sacrifice of those Australians who have died in war or on operational service.’ Lockheed Martin’s purpose is ruthlessly self-interested: to maximise profits from global arms sales. In part a war marketeer, its interests are inseparable from war, which it sees as an opportunity. This is as in the protracted human tragedy from which it profits in Yemen and now, in the war in Ukraine, which has caused its stocks to soar. The AWM’s connection with Lockheed Martin is a shocking affront to its stated purpose and represents a loss of principled direction.

Any member of the public who would like to learn more and write to the Director to say that corporations that profit from war have no place in our national memorial may readily do so.

MAPW, in its campaign Reclaim Remembrance, has provided information and suggested points for you to use or to shape by changing or adding a personalised comment. Just click here.


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