Windflow and General Dynamics: The Old Proverbial Hits the Turbine

Chief Reporter

Press Release ABC - 13 March 2012

The announcement that Christchurch wind turbine manufacturer Windflow Technology has signed a ten year licensing agreement with General Dynamics’ subsidiary SATCOM is eyebrow-raising in itself. General Dynamics is a gigantic US transnational corporation and a major manufacturer of weapons, military vehicles and military communications systems. General Dynamics SATCOM will use Windflow’s technology to manufacture turbines for use in US military bases worldwide, among other places. General Dynamics has a subsidiary that makes nuclear submarines (which remain banned from NZ under our nuclear free law).

Having signed up with such an unsavoury partner, Windflow would have been highly advised to simply hold its nose and stay silent.

But, no, its Chief Executive, Geoff Henderson, felt obliged to defend the deal with some truly outlandish justifications. “We see it as, to the extent that that is the case, we see the move to windpower as being akin to 'swords to ploughshares'. The manufacture of weapons of war being converted into manufacturers' peace-time implements”.

That really is an insult to the Ploughshares Aotearoa activists – Adrian Leason, Peter Murnane and Sam Land – who actually did do something about converting swords into ploughshares, namely deflating one of the domes at the top secret Waihopai spybase in 2008 (and for which they were acquitted by a Wellington jury in 2010).

But wait, there’s more. Geoff Henderson went to say: “Asked whether the deal would sit well with green-leaning or pacifist shareholders, Henderson replied there was an argument that a strong United States in the last 60 or 70 years had ensured the longest period of peace the planet had known and helped avoid the outbreak of wars”.

Yes, there is such an argument, Geoff. It’s about as convincing as the argument that fascism was good for Italy because it made the trains run on time. This really is such bullshit that gumboots are strongly recommended.

Where to start? Maybe with the Afghan villagers who had 16 of their number, including many women and children, murdered by a US soldier this week? If his US base was windpowered, Geoff, would that be OK then? Indeed the whole people of Afghanistan and Iraq or, going back a few decades, Vietnam, would have a diametrically opposite viewpoint as to whether the US military “had ensured the longest period of peace the planet had known and helped avoid the outbreak of wars”. In actual fact, the US brought war, mass destruction and misery to those countries, among many others, and still is, in the case of the first two.

Similar self-justifying nonsense was uttered by major Windflow shareholder, Wellington’s aptly named Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown (because you do need gumboots to wade through this pile of the brown stuff). “She had never asked where the energy provided by Windflow turbines was used, and her focus was on how the energy was generated, not what it was used for, she said”. The old ignorance is bliss argument, eh, Your Worship.

Murray Horton

Co-editor, Peace Researcher.