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Stop U.S. War on Iraq! No Blood for Oil!
U.S. Trade Unions Launch U.S. Labor Against War!
As we go to press, the U.S. government continues to mount the biggest military buildup in the Persian Gulf since the Gulf War of 1991.
More than 100,000 soldiers and 50,000 reservists have been called up and deployed to the region, where they are joining the tens of thousands of U.S. troops already on the ground in Kuwait, Qatar, Djibouti and Saudi Arabia. All are poised to attack and invade Iraq -- as soon as they get the order.
Bush and his cabal have made it abundantly clear that they are hell-bent on invading Iraq, come what may. Dr. Richard Perle, Bush's top national security adviser, admitted as much when he told a Conference on Global Security in London on Nov. 24 that, "Inspections or not, we'll attack Iraq." Perle stated that evidence from even one witness on Saddam Hussein's weapons' program would be enough to trigger a military onslaught -- even if the UN inspectors found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction. (London Mirror, Nov. 25)
Bush has presented this same view under a more disguised form, stating that any "omissions" in the UN's inspections report or in Iraq's 12,000-page report would be tantamount to an acknowledgement that Iraq possesses such weapons of mass destruction -- even if the UN report itself produces no evidence of a smoking gun. On Jan. 13, Bush administration officials announced that as many as 350,000 troops may be required for the projected invasion and occupation of Iraq.
It's About Oil and Empire
What is becoming more and more obvious to millions of working people the world over is that the whole issue of alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction is simply a charade orchestrated in conjunction with the United Nations to give a semblance of a justification to invade Iraq.
Italy's daily newspaper La Repubblica, in an editorial dated Dec. 9, put it this way: "The 'puritans' are bound to find that the accused is guilty of something. They are combing Iraq's 12,000-page report to find omissions, errors, ambiguities -- which are inevitable in a report of this length, even if it were compiled by the most honest notaries and politicians. ... The execution will take place, with meticulous respect for procedures, with the cotton soaked in rubbing alcohol to disinfect the dead."
Even columnists in mainstream newspapers across the United States have felt compelled to expose the Bush administration's double-standard and hypocrisy in its dealings with Iraq and North Korea. They note that North Korea kicked out the UN inspectors and announced they were building nuclear weapons -- and Bush's response has been to seek a negotiated solution. Iraq, on the other hand, has allowed the UN inspectors unfettered supervision of everything in the country, including the kitchen sink, and yet Bush is poised for war -- even if there is absolutely no evidence of such weapons.
The reason behind the U.S. drive war to Iraq is no longer a secret: It's about oil and empire -- nothing else.
France's business daily, Les Echos, put it this way in an editorial dated Nov. 13: "During the two months that the negotiations on the UN resolution have lasted ... not one chief of state, not one diplomat, has made reference to the question of oil for fear of being accused of mercantilism. Nonetheless, if Iraq -- which holds the second largest oil reserves in the world, after Saudi Arabia (estimated 260 billion barrels of oil) -- had no oil, there would be little interest in the country."
British Labour Member of Parliament George Galloway issued the following comment after hearing Colin Powell's announcement that the United States would "secure" Iraqi oilfields immediately on commencing war. Golloway stated: "The point of the invasion is to steal Iraq's oil. This [Powell's statement] is naked confirmation that they intend to seize it, ramp up production, and thus cut the price of oil.
"They are no longer hiding the purpose of aggression, and they are fooling themselves if they think they are fooling the Arab population. I am speaking from Egypt, where a U.S. State Department poll has just revealed that only 6% of Egyptians have a favorable view of the United States. They are going to reap a terrible whirlwind from all of this." (The Herald, Great Britain, Jan. 3)
The U.S. and international press have reported that contingency plans have been formulated in Washington to partition Iraq into three or more distinct regions and that the franchise for exploration and distribution of Iraqi oil has already been pledged to various -- mainly U.S. -- multinational oil corporations.
Antiwar Sentiment Grows Across U.S.
Though opinion polls can be misleading and easily manipulated, it is worth noting that according to the leading pollsters in the country, a majority of the U.S. population (54%) is now opposed to a U.S. war against Iraq.
This antiwar sentiment can be found everywhere -- from the most remote corners of the Midwest to the major cities across the land. "Never before in human history," wrote Ruth Rosen, a columnist with San Francisco Chronicle, "has an antiwar movement grown so fast and spread so quickly. It is even more remarkable because the war has yet to begin." (Jan. 13)
Rosen notes that countless "mainstream" organizations have joined the antiwar movement, including the National Council of Churches, the National Organization for Women (NOW), Sierra Club, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Win Without War (Hollywood celebrities, including pop-rock artist Sheryl Crow, who received her Emmy's award in Los Angeles on Jan. 13 wearing a T-shirt reading "War is not the answer!" and concluded her acceptance speech with, "Peace, peace this year!")
Jerry Gordon, a veteran antiwar activist in Cleveland, Ohio, provides one example among thousands of the rising antiwar mood that is sweeping the country. In a letter to the editor of The Organizer dated Jan. 12. Gordon writes:
"Something truly extraordinary happened last night. An antiwar meeting was held in a Black church, whose minister is outspoken on social issues. A number of peace activists, Black and white, were on the committee organizing the event. About a thousand people showed up, which for Cleveland is really HUGE. The speeches were superlative and lambasted Bush for wanting to make war for oil. The mayor saw fit to attend. This morning's Cleveland Plain Dealer had a half-page picture of the rally on the front page and an accompanying sympathetic article.
"This event made clear that antiwar sentiment is reaching fever pitch. There was nothing during the Vietnam antiwar movement in Cleveland, even at the point of its highest development, that is comparable to what is happening here now. The Black community is coming together in vocal opposition to the war and it has been joined by the labor movement (by unanimous vote of the Cleveland AFL-CIO). NOAC [Northeast Ohio Antiwar Coalition] has been playing a key role, having been out there before some of the other developments and serving as catalyst."
Last October 26, more than 300,000 people marched against the war in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, with tens of thousands marching in scattered protests in smaller cities across the midwest, including hundreds in small towns like Grogan, Indiana. This coming January 18, again at the initiative of the ANSWER coalition, even greater numbers are expected in mass demonstrations also planned in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.
Trade Unionists Launch U.S. Labor Against War
What is new and most encouraging is the growing involvement and participation of U.S. trade unions in this burgeoning antiwar movement. To date, scores of union locals, 12 AFL-CIO central labor councils, 13 district and regional labor bodies, five AFL-CIO state federations, and countless prominent labor officials have taken a stance against the war. In addition, scores of Labor Against War (or Labor for Peace and Justice) coalitions have been formed nationwide.
Such antiwar organizing within the trade union movement is unprecedented.
In one of the most promising developments on the labor antiwar front, more than 100 trade union leaders and activists met in Chicago on Jan. 11 at the Teamsters Local 705 hall to launch a new organization -- U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW). The new group adopted a Statement of Purpose, which we are reprinting as a sidebar in this issue.
In an email posting to labor activists across the country, Bay Area labor organizer Michael Eisenscher, who presented the opening remarks to the meeting, described the step that was taken in Chicago as follows:
"On Saturday, January 11 in Chicago history was made. More than 100 trade union leaders gathered there to found U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW). These union officers, officials and activists came from organizations representing more than 2 million members."
The meeting produced a final resolution, which according to Eisenscher, was "adopted unanimously after a lively and thoughtful debate, represent[ing] the blending of elements from two resolutions submitted for consideration by organizers of the meeting and by some of those attending."
Kansas City veteran labor activist Bill Onasch posted an article to the kc.labor.org website with his report on the Jan. 11th meeting. He wrote:
"Teamsters Local 705, the second largest Teamsters Local in the country, offered to host the gathering shortly after their members overwhelmingly passed an antiwar resolution at a well-attended (over 400) meeting. [See report on this meeting in this issue of The Organizer.]
"Two veteran organizers, Gene Bruskin and Bob Muehlenkamp, did a good job of assembling this impressive gathering on short notice. The initial invitation letter was signed by Alan Benchich, President, UAW 909; Jerry Brown, President, 1199NE/SEIU, Hartford; Bill Hennings, VP, CWA Local 1180, NYC; Bruce J. Kipple, General Sec.-Treas., UE; Richard Mead, President, ILWU Local 10; Bob Muehlenkamp; Alan Netland, President, Duluth CLC, President AFSCME Local 96; Sal Roselli, President, L. 250/SEIU, Oakland; Brenda Stokely, President, AFSCME Council 1707, Co-chair, NYCLAW; and Gerry Zero, Sec-Treas., IBT L. 705, Chicago.
"After hearing presentations from David Cortright, Fourth Freedom Forum, and Bill Fletcher, director of TransAfrica and a former special assistant to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, the delegates went on to a vigorous debate over a resolution to establish basic principles. The most contentious issue was that of the United Nations. A few wanted to denounce the UN as a tool of the U.S. while a few others wanted to praise the UN for preventing war on Iraq to this point. In the end the delegates decided we could live without saying anything about the UN. The final language of the resolution is reproduced below.
"The gathering had a practical discussion of how to take our positions into the rest of the labor movement. The first priority is to get as many union bodies as possible in the next few weeks to adopt resolutions and contribute money to the new organization. A continuations committee, made up of representatives selected by unions with sizeable delegations, was established to set up structures to carry on USLAW's work."
We concur fully with Brothers Eisenschers and Onasch. The founding of USLAW marks a historic development in the United States. At no point during the anti-Vietnam War movement did a labor coalition against war of such scope come together. The task is now to build and help USLAW grow into a formation representing the majority of the U.S. labor movement.
We call on our readers to get your unions, labor councils, state federations and Internationals to endorse USLAW and to join the growing antiwar movement out in the streets in mass, peaceful protest.
* All out for the Jan. 18 demonstrations against the war!
* Stop the U.S. war against Iraq!
* No blood for Oil!
We Establish U.S. Labor Against the War (Statement of Purpose)
WHEREAS, over 100 trade unionists from unions, Central Labor Councils and other labor organizations representing over 2 million members gathered in Chicago for an unprecedented meeting to discuss our concerns about the Bush administrations threat of war; and
WHEREAS, union members and leaders have the responsibility to inform all working people about issues that affect their lives, jobs and families, and to be heard in the national debate on these issues; and
WHEREAS, the principal victims of any military action in Iraq will be the Sons and daughters of working class families serving in the military who will be put in harms way, and innocent Iraqi civilians who have already suffered so much; and
Whereas, we have no quarrel with the ordinary working class men, women and children of Iraq, or any other country; and
Whereas, the billions of dollars spent to stage and execute this war are being taken away from our schools, hospitals, housing and Social Security; and
Whereas, the war is a pretext for attacks on labor, civil, immigrant and human rights at home; and
Whereas, Bush's drive for war serves as a cover and distraction for the sinking economy, corporate corruption and layoffs; and
Whereas, such military action is predicted actually to increase the likelihood of retaliatory terrorist acts; and
Whereas, there is no convincing link between Iraq and Al Qaeda or the attacks on Sept. 11, and neither the Bush administration nor the UN inspections have demonstrated that Iraq poses a real threat to Americans; and
Whereas, U.S. military action against Iraq threatens the peaceful resolution of disputes among states, jeopardizing the safety and security of the entire world, including Americans; and
Whereas, labor has had an historic role in fighting for justice; therefore
We hereby establish the "U.S. Labor Against the War' (USLAW); and
Resolve that U.S. Labor Against the War stands firmly against Bush's war drive; and
Further resolve that U.S. Labor Against the War will publicize this statement, and promote union, labor and community antiwar activity.
(Adopted January 11, 2003 in Chicago, IL)
The above article appeared in the current (Nov.-Dec. 2002) issue of The Organizer newspaper Copyright The Organizer 2002. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .