It’s not every day you get the chance to grill a high-ranking representative of Lockheed Martin over its role in arming Israel. So I jumped at the opportunity to confront Chad Fulgham, a vice president of the corporation, with some unpalatable truths during his visit to Brussels today.
After Fulgham had addressed a conference dealing with the future of NATO, I responded to an invitation for questions from the floor.
“Mr Fulgham, in an advertisement published in the program of this event, Lockheed Martin says it is ‘proud to have contributed to smart defense with products such as the F-35’ fighter jets,” I said, looking directly at him. “Are you proud that in 2010, your company signed a contract to supply 20 of these fighter jets to the State of Israel?
“Are you proud that other weapons manufactured by your company have been used by Israel to butcher Palestinian civilians? Are you proud that your pay slip is stained with the blood of Palestinian children? And if you are not proud, can you give me one good reason why your company should not be prosecuted for crimes against humanity?”
“Thank you,” said Javier Solana, a former NATO top dog who was chairing the conference. “Next question, please.”
“Excuse me, Sir,” I interjected. “I would like an answer to my question. You are not secretary-general of NATO any more. You are a mere European citizen. I have exactly the same rights as you.”
(I regret my inference that senior NATO officials are more important than anyone else who has to use a bathroom every few hours; in mitigation, I plead nervousness and the fact I was ad-libbing).
Solana tried to proceed with the meeting. As there was no indication that Fulgham was willing to reply, I stood up and fetched my bag. “I am leaving in protest at the participation of Lockheed Martin,” I said, loudly.
“If you are leaving, you will not get a reply to your question,” Solana said.
“Well, is he going to answer it?” I said, turning again to Fulgham, who betrayed no emotion.
“I very much doubt it,” said Giles Merritt, a corporate lobbyist who organized the conference. “It has little to do with the topic we are discussing.”
“It has everything to do with it,” I said. “You people have been talking about complexity. The issues are actually very simple: a large proportion of the people in this room are warmongers. You profit from war and human rights abuses. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
With that parting remark, I headed towards the exit, ready to enjoy some rare Belgian sunshine.
Lockheed Martin, it should be emphasized, is probably the single biggest beneficiary of US military aid to Israel. The F-35s it is delivering to Israel are intended to replace F-16 jets as Israel’s principal attack weapon. Israel has the largest fleet of F-16s, many of them made by Lockheed, outside the US. These weapons of mass murder were used widely during Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s three-week assault on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009.
Lockheed and Raytheon – another sponsor of today’s conference – are also joint developers of the aptly-named Hellfire missiles that Israel has “battle-tested” on innocent Palestinians.
Chad Fulgham’s résumé, incidentally, depicts him as the personification of America’s military-industrial complex. Having held risk assessment, “security” and technology posts for Lehman Brothers (remember them?), JP Morgan Chase, Arthur Andersen and IBM, he served with the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 2008 until earlier this year. There, he oversaw the introduction of the Sentinel computer system, which was designed for the FBI by – you guessed it – Lockheed Martin.
His recruitment by a firm that had benefited from his work looks to me like a conflict of interest or, at the very least, a case of revolving doors between the private and public sectors. I didn’t, however, confront him on that. Though a serious matter, a conflict of interest is of far less consequence than how Lockheed arms Israel.