On Tuesday, Boeing will convene the 2024 Aerospace and Defense Supplier Summit (DSS) in downtown Seattle. Touted by executives as “an excellent opportunity for suppliers to showcase their capabilities,” the summit is also an opportune chance for Boeing to network directly with suppliers, vendors, and global customers on aviation, weapons supply-chain logistics, and strategy.

Governor Jay Inslee has notably and openly sparred with Boeing over the company’s scorched-earth fight against unions, its dangerous cost-cutting, and its outsourcing of work. The Governor however celebrates the convening of DSS, going as far as lending a featured quote for the summit's site, noting that he’s “pleased to welcome back the international aerospace community to the center of US aviation and aerospace innovation - Washington state.” 

But the warm welcome offered to DSS by Gov Inslee is not extended by all—especially not by those in Seattle’s anti-war, environmental, and human rights movements. 

Boeing is currently the world’s third-largest weapons transnational corporation (W-TNC), and one of the foremost profiteers from armed conflict all over the world.

As the US military continues to set records as the world’s largest institutional carbon emitter, Boeing rakes in superprofit, having secured over $14 billion in US Department of Defense contracts in 2022 alone. The company's stock soared in the wake of Israel’s siege of Gaza in November as it secured a further $2.3 billion in US Air Force contracts for KC-46A refueling jets (which enable long-range aerial attacks seen in the recent US-bombings of Iraq and Syria) on top of an established KC-46 contract with Israel worth over $900 million. These refueling jets are nearly identical to 767 commercial jets and notably all to be built in Everett. Over 30,000 Palestinians have now been killed since reports broke on shipments of Boeing AI-guided “smart bombs” also being rushed to Israel, with artificial intelligence believed to be a reason for the speed of the massive death tolls amidst blockages of humanitarian aid

While Jay Inslee and business interests may celebrate Boeing’s presence in our state, a coalition spearheaded by Resist US-Led War and endorsed by over 50 other community organizations are gathering to oppose the Boeing DSS convening on Tuesday March 12. In late January, the International Court of Justice delivered a preliminary decision supporting the “plausibility” of South Africa’s claim that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, and protesters are especially outraged by Boeing’s defense aircraft and weaponry being sold to Israel. But Boeing’s perpetuation of war is global, including in countries like the Philippines, and it is therefore complicit in global loss of life, ecocide, and the climate crisis.

Protesters with Resist US-Led War Seattle, Veterans for Peace, Answer Coalition, ICHRP and others listen to a speech outside of the Boeing Museum of Flight in March 2023. RESIST US-LED WAR 

How is Boeing complicit in human death, ecocide and the climate crisis? Less than half of Boeing’s contracts are commercial. The rest relate to global services and defense, including attack helicopters, bomber planes, and nuclear weapons missiles. Its fighter jets in particular use massive amounts of fossil fuel, measured in gallons per mile, not the other way around.

Even if the US Air Force were to “go green” and fly on some alternative fuel, Boeing would still be hungry for the raw materials it needs to build and fly aircraft. The mining of bauxite ore, a key ingredient in aluminum production, destroys forests, soil, and water. Boeing’s commercial division alone utilizes up to 150 million pounds of aluminum annually, while workers in bauxite mining hubs such as Guinea experience severe environmental degradation and exploitation, at times even halting extraction due to mass protest.

Mining for lithium and cobalt, key ingredients of batteries used for Boeing’s products, also threaten land, water, indigenous culture, and international relations, globally and domestically here in the US. And there would be no abatement in Boeing’s global presence, which mirrors that of the US military.

US military interference and dominance in the Philippines has an especially long history since the US invaded the archipelago in 1899, and Philippine communities have been surviving and resisting that dominance for as long. The most recent Global Witness report on land defenders documented 177 killings of environmentalists in the 2022 calendar year; that total includes dozens of victims throughout South America, victims in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (where over 70% of the world’s cobalt is extracted), and a total of 11 killed in the Philippines, making it the most dangerous country in Asia for environmentalists (again) for the 10th straight year. 

Seattle may also remember the impassioned plea of the Filipino delegate Yeb Saño at the 2013 COP in Warsaw, while his brother the environmentalist and peace activist A.G. Saño reported to him the devastation caused by super typhoon Haiyan laying waste to their community back home. 

While Boeing has long been a beneficiary of billion-dollar arms deals with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), abuses by the US-backed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against activists have only intensified in recent years. Since Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. came to power in June 2022, there have been increased instances of repression of indigenous land defenders, over 60,000 civilians impacted by indiscriminate bombings and firings by the AFP, and even abductions of youth environmental activists by GRP state forces, all as reported by the Philippine-based human rights alliance Karapatan in the last several months.

350 Seattle, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), and the Climate Crisis and Militarism Project of Veterans for Peace are all part of the world-wide movement to mitigate the climate crisis and promote lasting peace and justice—climate, racial, and economic justice. Environmentalists and human rights activists everywhere should be concerned not only about the US military’s vast and largely unreported greenhouse gas emissions, but also its role providing military protection for oil corporations, and its squandering of trillions of dollars needed for addressing the climate crisis and people’s needs. 

Meanwhile, people’s demands are holding the US government accountable for enriching W-TNCs such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Boeing instead of doing the hard work of negotiating agreements and treaties to de-escalate conflict and address basic needs. Only through a just and lasting peace will communities worldwide recover, rebuild, and repair sustainable and reciprocal relationships with land, water, air, and each other. 

Join us Tuesday to oppose Boeing and say “NO TO DSS”! “CUT TIES WITH BOEING”!

Wade Phillips is a member of Seattle’s chapter of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP-Seattle). Wade has previously contributed to the Voices series of the South Seattle Emerald, as well as to WASH Magazine and Post-Trash. 

Mary Cogan Paterson is a volunteer with 350 Seattle, where she works with others at the intersection of war and climate, creating literature and presentations to expose the role of US militarism in global ecocide and the climate crisis.

Will Alleckson is a director-at-large for Veterans for Peace, Daniel Ellsberg Chapter, Seattle. He was in the US Army and served in Vietnam from August 1969 to October 1970. He joined Veterans for Peace in 2005 when he happened upon an installment of the Arlington Northwest display in Bellevue City Park. After speaking with VFP members there, he decided he needed to start doing something about the people dying in conflicts around the world.