CEO of Palestinian Home-Demolition Inc Elected to IBM Board

According to CNET news, IBM has elected James W. Owens, the Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar, to its board of directors. Caterpillar, known among most as manufacturer of construction and mining equipments, sells the Cat D9 bulldozers through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales Program to the state of Israel. The bulldozers are then converted by Israel into armored machines used in demolishing Palestinian homes, structures and agricultural areas.

One of the four mission statements of Caterpillar declared that “Caterpillar is dedicated to improving the quality of life while sustaining the quality of our earth. We encourage social responsibility.”

On Caterpillar’s “Corporate Overview” page about its social responsibility:

Caterpillar’s reputation for making a difference in the world is something we are proud of as a company. In response to the Asian Tsunami disaster, Caterpillar and its dealers provided machines, money and resources for relief and recovery efforts. Caterpillar is also proud to be the lead corporate donor in The Nature Conservancy’s Great Rivers Partnership project. And Cat has once again been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.

And yet, why is Caterpillar continuing to sell and service bulldozers to Israel, knowing that these giant demolition machines are then used to destroy Palestinian homes and farms as a form of collective punishment and land expropriation ? What kind of social responsibility is Caterpillar encouraging? Is Caterpillar proud of being the corporation known as the provider of machines used in the killing of Rachel Corrie, who put her body in the path of an Israel D9 bulldozer in trying to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian home?

Caterpillar’s response to this criticism is that “activists have wrongly included Caterpillar in a publicity campaign aimed at advancing their much larger political agendas,” and that “as a well-respected and responsible global citizen, Caterpillar fully complies with all local, U.S. and international laws and policies governing sales of their products.” Furthermore, Caterpillar has “neither the legal right nor the tangible ability to regulate how customers use their machines.”

So essentially, Caterpillar is saying that they are here to make a bunch of money and they do not give a damn on how their machines are being utilized as long as the money keeps coming in. Is this the role of a “global strategic player” that “is driving positive and sustainable change on every continent”, as claimed by Caterpillar?

Also, what does it say about IBM in electing the CEO of Demolition Inc to its board?

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