Veterans for Peace members Tarak Kauff and Ellen Davidson have launched a campaign in Woodstock, NY to get Rotron, a local manufacturer of parts for weapons systems, including drone systems, to convert to non-military products.

Here is a report by Tarak.


Photo by Ellen Davidson

We were at the Town Green Saturday and Sunday (July 2 & 3) in Woodstock with brochures and a petition (got many signatures) urging the conversion from war material production to sustainable human needs. The fellow with the beard I’m talking to, is VFP’s Mike Tork, who is working hard on the SOA Watch campaign.  It’s all connected. Present tabling were Sequoia Cohen and her friend Sam, (many of their friends came by and signed the petition). Jeff Cohen showed up both days, longtime VFP activist and Viet Nam vet, Dayl Wise came by, and WW II combat veteran, Joltin’ Jay Wenk, who saved the day, or at least saved Ellen and myself from possibly getting arrested on Saturday when a police officer wanted us to leave because we “didn’t have a permit.” We were not about to leave in any case but Jay who is a town councilman and who has great relations with the town police walked down to the station and got the okay from the Sgt. on duty. We didn’t need no damn permit anyway. We weren’t selling anything.

Here are links to a campaign flyer and sign.



Here is the petition to Rotron:


The protest has generated a letter to the editor of the Woodstock Times from Rotron; Tarak's response, appearing in Attachment C (below), addresses the essence of the Rotron letter.

Tarak Kauff's Letter to  the Editor of the Woodstock Times

Regarding Jay Wenk’s letter of last week and former Rotron Vice President Peter Stewart’s the week before, I will second what Jay said, as it is true. Unfortunately, much of what Peter Stewart said was not.

Mr. Stewart started his letter off denying what nobody said, that Rotron was “manufacturing drones, missile delivery systems, nuclear weapons, planes, tanks, guns, bullets or explosives as Mr. Wenk and his ilk would have you believe.” Of course Rotron is not making drones, nuclear missile delivery systems, tanks, missiles or fighter planes; nobody claims that. A denial of something no one ever said is absurd. Mr. Stewart was setting up a straw man.

The cold, hard and uncomfortable facts are, however, that Rotron does make essential parts for drones, fighter planes, tanks, and other weapons of destruction, which have been responsible for many deaths, mainly civilians. In 1973 Rotron received a special award from Rockwell International for its contribution to the nuclear missile program. ICBMs still rely on components made in Woodstock.

Defending Rotron, Mr. Stewart says that, to the best of his knowledge, “no one has ever been killed by any of its products!” Wow. I guess by his reckoning, because Rotron makes only essential parts for drones, missiles, and cluster bomb delivery systems and not the totality of these weapons, “no one has ever been killed” by one of their products.

On the positive side, we all recognize and appreciate that Rotron provides hundreds of well-paying jobs and good working conditions, as well as a number of other things that benefit the community. Nobody challenges that.

What many of us object to is the underlying basis for those good jobs and community benefits – Pentagon contracts. Would we be happy if a company in Woodstock was manufacturing the AR15s that have been used to kill men, women, and children here in America? I think not. How far removed from that is Rotron’s making essential parts for U.S. drone warfare?

The U.S. military is part of an Empire, a machine with over 800 bases around the world insuring U.S. full-spectrum dominance at great risk to all of us. Contrary to making us safer or being used for defense, drones and other forms of warfare create more hatred of the United States internationally and actually make us less safe.

Is this what Woodstock wants to be part of? Can we think about conversion to peaceful products?

Tarak Kauff

28 Arnold Dr.

Woodstock, NY