The Common Good
April 2012

2-for-1 Bomb Sale! Supplies Unlimited!

by Ed Spivey Jr. | April 2012

In fact, my knowledge of Brazil is limited to that tall Jesus statue overlooking a city, and the fact people can be naked on the beaches while speaking Portuguese.

CONGRATULATIONS to the Brazilian navy for launching its newly refurbished Tupi Class (Type 209/1400) submarine. It’s not clear if we should send gifts or maybe hum the Brazilian national anthem on our lunch break, but it’s definitely a special moment. I don’t have to tell you that the 209/1400 has needed modernization for several years and, well, it’s about time.

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Actually, I think about the Brazilian navy ... uhm ... never. Didn’t even know Brazil had a navy. (Must be near an ocean, right?) In fact, my knowledge of Brazil is limited to that tall Jesus statue overlooking a city, and the fact people can be naked on the beaches, while speaking Portuguese.

But the submarines I know about because I read Jane’s Defence Weekly, a British publication that spells defense with “c” and regularly arrives in my email even though I didn’t ask for it.

According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, Jane’s Defence Weekly is the world’s most trusted source of military-related news. And she wouldn’t be wrong about a thing like that. (Oops. Actually, the founder was a man named Fred. T. Jane, who published the first issue in 1898, a time when being a guy named Jane probably required some quick thinking when local thugs approached on the street. “Morning lads. Did you hear they’re putting double hulls on the new ironclads? Didn’t think so. Ow! Mind me new knickers! Second pair this week! Oof!”)

Jane’s is not only a comprehensive review of the military industrial complex, it’s also the largest collection of acronyms in the history of long words you don’t want to have to keep saying. “U.S. NAVAIR has just completed flight-testing its AAR as part of the UCAS-D programme [that’s another word Jane’s mispelles] to de-risk AAR.” It doesn’t report how the test went, but de-risking is always a goode idea.

And in late-breaking smart bomb news: “DOT&E announces LJDAM gets new sapphire lens.” (Sounds like the relationship is getting serious. Could diamonds be far in their future?) Point is, you’ve got to be a four-star general to understand this stuff, or a retired general now selflessly serving his country in the defense industry, for a salary with so many zeroes it needs its own acronym.

AS IT TURNS out, Jane’s is also useful for highlighting companies that conscientious Christians should protest, and under no circumstances invest in. Unless they want a really good return. (Actually, I’m a little fuzzy about this investment thing. Can Christians be conscientious and still make a killing on Boeing, which, according to Jane’s, has excellent growth potential? The Bible doesn’t mention Boeing, but it should have, because when it comes to raining down Old Testament-style death from above, it totally owns Northrop Grumman in the unmanned aerial vehicle competition!)

Not that Jane’s ignores the troublesome human side of weapons marketing: “Genocide law jeopardizes France’s bid to supply missiles to Turkey.” Those pesky genocide laws! One can empathize with beleaguered arms manufacturers hamstrung by irksome diplomatic tiffs. Weapons manufacturers are people too, you can just hear Mitt Romney saying, sympathetically, and why must humanitarian roadblocks be placed in front of their job creation?

Of course, building school buses could employ more people than building high-tech weapons, but a fully loaded school bus doesn’t pack the punch of a GBU-28 bunker buster! (Buy them in bulk and SAVE!)

To be fair, these companies might prefer to build school buses. But as an act of patriotism, they’ve chosen to make bombs, often at steep, patriotic discounts. Plus expences, of course.

Ed Spivey Jr. is art director of Sojourners.

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