The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

He won’t be working for cluster bomb maker

with 11 comments

So your company’s bought by another. And this other makes things that maim children – things that the U.N. has cluster bombsasked world governments never to use. Is it your problem?

[Update, 2-19-08: Today’s Common Dreams reports “Children Are Forty Percent of Cluster Bomb Casualties“]

[Update 2, 3-6-08:  See new post American clusters bombs still explode Laotian children]

Paul Cottle is not a pacificist. But when he found himself working for Alliant Techsystems (ATK), which makes cluster bombs, depleted uranium shells and landmines—all war products that remain lethal after the troops go home—here’s how he called it:

clipped from
0213 03A man from Beckley has made headlines in Canada for quitting his job. For three years, Paul Cottle worked as an engineer at MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, an information solutions company in British Columbia. […]In January, the CEO gathered all employees and told them half the company would be sold to Alliant Techsystems, a Minnesota-based arms manufacturer known as ATK. […]“I knew [ATK] was nothing I wanted to be involved with,” the 31-year-old said. “Leaving my job … was an absolute certainty that I knew right away.” … So he quit right then. […]

ATK describes itself as “an advanced weapon and space systems company.” It is the world’s leading supplier of solid rocket motors and the largest U.S. manufacturer of ammunition. … It also makes cluster bombs, depleted uranium shells and landmines. […]

“What I am against is working for a company that makes weapons that have been shown to be as to harmful to civilians as to soldiers.”

  blog it

Seems heroic to me. How ’bout you?

Tags: , , , , , , , Monte Asbury


Written by Monte

February 17, 2008 at 4:48 pm

11 Responses

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  1. Good question! And I suspect it points to the often unseen fact that our ethics aren’t very seriously Biblical – they are mostly cultural. One of the situations you describe is culturally disapproved of, the other isn’t. Since we see ourselves as a Christian culture, we often never ask the kind of question you’re asking, but instead assume that “good” in the culture’s eyes must be what Ozzie and Harriet do.
    Imagine how appalling Jesus would be in our nation – where wealth and power are admired by the Church, where encouraging greater consumption is thought to be healing to the economy, where 43 cents of every tax dollar goes to a military larger than all others on earth combined, while the world starves and the American church waves the patriotic flag.
    Perhaps religion is the opiate of the people.


    March 11, 2008 at 9:09 pm

  2. I was thinking about this post lately, and I was reading a book where the author posed a question: If someone who works at a strip club or works as a porstitute becomes a Christian, most Christians would expect that person to eventually quit their job because it goes against the sexual ethics of the Bible. Why do we not expect the same of someone who works for a company that produces weapons that kill innocent people-or of someone who works for a company who has sweatshops in third world countries? Is there a difference?


    March 11, 2008 at 7:57 pm

  3. Way to go Paul! It’s heartening to see such courage. If you have a second, check out the open letter to Paul from the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines at

    Monte Says: Thanks, Dan! I followed the link and blogged on it here. Much appreciated!


    March 5, 2008 at 2:00 pm

  4. Ressentiment, thanks especially for your insight. This one is so thought-provoking: “The only danger to the system is peace and reconciliation …” Excellent.


    February 26, 2008 at 3:05 pm

  5. “everyone that supports an American institution is a brainwashed cog in the machine”

    Bill – has anyone here suggested this?


    February 21, 2008 at 6:31 pm

  6. ressentiment:

    I assume by “think for themselves” you mean “think like me.”

    It is possible for someone to think for themselves and decide to stay and make bombs, right? Maybe not. I’m sure they are all just evil or are mindless tools of the oppressive and mean old state.

    I can’t bring myself to believe that anyone actually buys into even their own “everyone that supports an American institution is a brainwashed cog in the machine” rhetoric anyway. It’s got to be some kind of inside joke.


    February 20, 2008 at 9:57 pm

  7. So Zeke, are you saying you’d be OK with working for anyone – no matter what the business?


    February 19, 2008 at 1:37 pm

  8. I expected someone like you to come along Zeke.

    No one can live completely conflict free, but living as much as possible to support what I believe helps the planet and it’s people is my goal and the goal of people whom I admire. Some people are willing to sacrifice for their principles. Some people have no choice. That’s called integrity.


    February 19, 2008 at 12:54 pm

  9. Wow, I work for a grocery store, so I think I’ll quit because of all that fat I sell that is killing people. And my wife works for a gas station, so I think she will quit because she is selling all that oil that the oil companies are using the profits from to exploit people.
    This guy sounds like someone from the far left. I supposed he is going to work now for Code Pink. Now there is a bunch of folks who really need to get a job.


    February 19, 2008 at 10:51 am

  10. My husband quit a very cushy high tech job when the company’s main clients became various US Intelligence Agencies. His pay check was being provided by these sources. Some people do live their ideals.


    February 18, 2008 at 3:32 pm

  11. Thanks for publishing this article, Monte. It gives new hope that maybe some people do think for themselves instead of going a long with the hive mind. I’m pessimistic though. I don’t think there are enough people like Mr. Cottle, who think for themselves and for our collective future, to make a significant difference. The a large percentage of us will accept whatever rolls out of the fascist sluice as long as it’s accompanied by a paycheck. That’s why Fascism works so well for many people. The trains run on time and everyone gets paid.

    The Military Industrial Complex is so well distributed across the States that each and every congressman and senator has a vested interest in voting for defense appropriations to keep the gravy train going. The only danger to the system is peace and reconciliation and the failure of the state to supply more enemies.


    February 18, 2008 at 1:54 pm

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