What We Said March 20, 2003

KC Labor Statement on the War

Despite strong opposition from most of the world's governments; appeals from the Pope and the National Council of Churches; a plea from former President Carter; resolutions from the labor movement, including the AFL-CIO executive council; and demonstrations involving millions on all continents, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair have launched a war on Iraq.

There are some who say that now dissent must cease, that we must all rally around our government and our troops. We don't accept such demand for silence.

On the contrary, now that American, British and Iraqi casualties have begun to mount we have an even greater duty to try to stop this unjust war.

The jingoist media cynically tries to manipulate our emotions by calling for “support our troops.” Their idea of support is to send them off to Iraq, to kill or be killed, in a war that benefits only American and British Big Business.

Like all Americans we also care deeply about our men and women in uniform. They are, after all, our children and grandchildren, siblings and spouses and parents. They mainly come from the working class. They all signed up to defend their country. Many signed up because they needed a job.

But they are not being used to defend our country. Despite all the bullying and bribing—and outright lies—Bush and Blair could not convince even their closest allies that Iraq was a serious threat to anyone, much less the United States.

This war is not about self-defense, not about disarming weapons of mass destruction, not about dealing a blow to terrorism—and certainly is not about bringing democracy to Iraq.

This war is about establishing the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive strikes. They plan an unprecedented display of high tech horror as an example to the whole world. This, they are saying, is what we can do anywhere, anytime we want, regardless of the UN or world opinion. Better get with the program or you may be next on our list of evil.

The objective of the Bush Doctrine is to use the might of the world's only remaining superpower to advance their corporate agenda abroad as well as at home. Its weapons may be high tech but the mission is good old fashioned imperialism.

Some foolish workers may think this is a good thing, that we will all prosper through American dominance of the world. They are dead wrong.

Success of the Bush Doctrine will speed up the flight of capital and jobs from this country to low wage areas secured by U.S. military might. It will make the race to the bottom for competing workers of the world even more frantic. Only the ruling rich will prosper under the Bush Doctrine.

The war abroad will also be used to justify stepping up the war on workers rights and living standards at home as well. 

Already under the pretext of “homeland security” Bush and Ridge have withdrawn collective bargaining rights for tens of thousands of federal workers organized in unions and have declared airport security workers ineligible for unionization.

The roundup and deportation of immigrant workers certainly has a chilling effect on their ability to organize.

“Patriotic” pressure will be brought to bear on any “selfish” union workers trying to protect their jobs and living standards during war.

Environmental protections will be thrown overboard.

And who will pick up the enormous tab for this new war? School kids, welfare children, transit riders—and all the most needy and vulnerable members of the working class, victimized by draconian slashing of social programs. Not to mention the chuck holes in the streets, “user fees” for services supposed to be covered by our taxes, and many other annoying results of paying for war.

Far from defeating terrorism we can expect that outrage about this war will result in a new determined wave of terrorists who will target the United States, Britain and Israel. 

This war is morally wrong.

This war is legally wrong.

This war, and the American military occupation to follow, will hurt, not help the long-suffering working people of Iraq with whom we have no quarrel.

And this war is not in the interests of the working class majority of the United States.

That is why we cannot and will not remain silent.

Support Our Troops—Bring Them Home Now!

KC Labor Home

National Assembly To End the Iraq War and Occupation
Cleveland June 28-29

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