Build for Life – April 2. 2019

On April 27th, the third Zumwalt destroyer built at Bath Iron Works (BIW) will be “christened”. The USS LBJ joins a warship fleet larger than the next 13 fleets combined. Indeed, the US outmatches the next 20 largest navies in firepower and spends more on the military than the next seven biggest spending countries. Our military budget has skyrocketed since 9/11, when President Bush declared the global “War on Terror”. But can we honestly say that we’ve become safer as a result? Have our lives improved? Have we become better citizens of the world? The Costs of War project housed at the Watson Institute of Public Affairs at Brown University has researched and collected data since 2011 with a goal of detailing the overall costs of the United States’ decision to respond militarily to the 9/11 attacks. Their findings can be found at They are disturbing and shocking to say the least, but as responsible citizens of this country we need to be aware of what is being done in our names: more than 480,000 dead; 244,000 civilians killed; 21 million war refugees and displaced persons.

Bill, Nancy, Mary Ellen & Suzanne at BIW

Equally devastating are the direct and indirect effects of war on our planet. For we are in the midst of a climate crisis that is fueled by U.S. foreign policy. The scientific community has helped us understand that a major cause Biof global warming is burning fossil fuels. And the Pentagon itself has stated that climate change poses “immediate risks” to national security and is a “threat multiplier.” Yet at the same time, the Pentagon has the largest carbon footprint on the planet. It generates more than 70% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and it uses more oil than all the oil consumed by 175 countries combined.

Sadly, the warships built at BIW contribute to the upheaval and destruction of human communities and of our planet. In her letter of 3/28/19, Carolyn Coe writes “Converting BIW from building weapons of war to green technologies would benefit BIW workers and people worldwide.” I couldn’t agree more. We are so fortunate to have here in Maine the highly skilled men and women who work at BIW. Imagine what they could accomplish if they were able to build for life and not for death.

Connie Jenkins, East Blue Hill

Pax Christi Maine member