Striking a Blow for Disarmament in Maine Shipyard

by

Let us pause to honor Charles Fury.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have protested America’s bloated, out-of-control military, and millions more are outraged that the US spends upwards of $1 trillion a year on war and preparing for war. The protests and the opposition to military spending have had little effect, as the military continues to grow in size and cost, backed by a Congress whose members are bought by the arms industry, and a ruling elite that wants its global investments protected–at taxpayer expense.

Fury, 25, while perhaps not an opponent of the US military, with one little action, managed to do more to damage the US war machine than all those protesters and war opponents put together.

Reportedly suffering an anxiety attack in the cramped torpedo room of the USS Miami, a 361-foot-long nuclear attack submarine that he and a group of fellow maintenance workers were renovating at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, and wanting to get sent home early, Fury, a civilian painter and sandblaster, lit a small pile of rags on fire. His plan was to create a small conflagration that would force an early end to work that day. Instead, the fire he set spread and raged out of control for 12 hours, destroying the whole forward section of the massive vessel. Only one man, who fell through an opening on the deck breaking a couple of ribs, was injured by the 2012 fire.

The sub was destroyed as effectively as if it had taken an enemy torpedo. There was talk of repairing all the damage, but in the end, Congress has decided it is not worth the estimated $750 million needed to fix everything, and so the Miami is being scrapped.

A federal court, rejecting a prosecutor’s call for life in prison, sentenced Fury to 17 years for arson, but also ordered him to pay $400 million in restitution, a ridiculous sum that will leave him indentured to the federal government for the rest of his life.

But the real question is, why was the government in the first place spending hundreds of millions of dollars refurbishing the Miami, one of 41 Los Angeles-class attack subs that patrol the world’s seas and that, during America’s endless wars like Afghanistan and Iraq, actually launched cruise missile attacks? Why, more broadly, does the US have to maintain, at staggering expense, a fleet of 72 submarines — part of a navy that is larger by itself than the next largest 13 of the world’s navies combined?

The answer is that there is no justification for such a huge naval war machine, except to support a global empire. All those ships, including huge country-destroying Trident missile subs, 12 aircraft carrier battle groups, 22 cruisers and 62 destroyers and over 320,000 sailors in uniform, don’t make the US safer, and were unable, fighting along with the US Army, Marines and Air Force, to defeat rifle-toting insurgencies in Iraq or Afghanistan, or to stop terror attacks at home or abroad.

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire
Halyna Mokrushyna
Decentralization Reform in Ukraine
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Norman Pollack
World Capitalism, a Basket Case: A Layman’s View
Sarah Lazare
Listening to Iraq
John Laforge
NSP/Xcel Energy Falsified Welding Test Documents on Rad Waste Casks
Wendell G Bradley
Drilling for Wattenberg Oil is Not Profitable
Joy First
Wisconsin Walk for Peace and Justice: Nine Arrested at Volk Field
Mel Gurtov
China’s Insecurity
Mateo Pimentel
An Operator’s Guide to Trump’s Racism
Yves Engler
Harper Conservatives and Abuse of Power
Michael Dickinson
Police Guns of Brixton: Another Unarmed Black Shot by London Cops
Ron Jacobs
Daydream Sunset: a Playlist
Charles R. Larson
The Beginning of the Poppy Wars: Amitav Ghosh’s “Flood of Fire”
August 27, 2015
Sam Husseini
Foreign Policy, Sanders-Style: Backing Saudi Intervention
Brad Evans – Henry A. Giroux
Self-Plagiarism and the Politics of Character Assassination: the Case of Zygmunt Bauman
Peter Lee
Making Sense of China’s Stock Market Meltdown