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A show of arms 

To the editor,

Once again the annual air show is underway and is being advertised as something appealing to the family. Fast machines are sexy and cool and extreme engineering is fascinating to almost everyone. There's also a defense industry flea market with booze-fueled parties to keep defense contract participants on good terms. It's probably the biggest local public relations exercise of the year for the Canadian military and for arms producers and dealers vying for lucrative government contracts.

Air show attendees are shielded from the horrible realities about what the warplanes do and about the bloody legacy they leave in various past and present actions. The show romanticizes and glorifies the most lethal tools of military culture and by supporting the show we become complicit in military policy and in war profiteering by the corporate participants.

Think also of the cost of this show in terms of resource consumption. According to John O'Connor of the National Toxics Campaign, the world's military forces are responsible for the release of more than two-thirds of CFC-113 into the ozone layer. Ozone depletion is linked to skin cancer, cataracts and immunosuppressant diseases. The value of fuel consumed in air shows compared to the simple cost of living is staggering. How many families could survive on the cost to keep the B-2 in the air for the show? How many disease inoculations could be funded by the cost of a cluster bomb? The potential implication of cutting out a useless activity like aerial fly-bys is staggering.

The air show is little more than an archaic and deceptive ploy by military public relations groups and by corporate arms producers and dealers seeking to increase profits through the continuation of global conflict. People should stop to think about the horrors of war before attending, and then perhaps choose some alternate activity that sends their children a message that might encourage them to devote energies toward ending conflict and working for a better world, instead of helping power and profit hungry leaders in closed boardrooms fulfill their ugly fantasies.

By Bill Savary

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Vol 25, No 25
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