Labor Party Interim National Council Statement Against War in Iraq February 20, 2003
The Labor Party believes in the American Dream of opportunity, fairness and justice. We stand for a world that values working people, their families and communities. That vision includes the right of all people to live in peace and security.
We and our children are the first to be sent to war. We are the first to die on the battlefield. Always, working people have risen to the defense of our country and the principles of freedom and justice.
We have earned the right to speak out on questions of war and peace. We have fought for the freedom to have our voices heard. And today we exercise those rights:
We oppose the war in Iraq. We oppose it because it will kill thousands of innocent people. We oppose it because it will hurt, not bolster our security. We oppose it because it will undercut our liberties and squander our resources. We oppose it because it will strengthen the hand of those who seek to impose their corporate agenda at our expense.
The brutal and senseless attack on 9/11 horrified our nation and the people of the world. The slaughter moved billions of people to open their hearts in sympathy and support for our people. Our grief was theirs as they urged their governments to bring to justice those who attacked us. The attacks reminded us all that our collective security required cooperation. And cooperation among our nations and peoples began to grow.
In one short year, the Bush Administration has squandered this good will with its push for war in Iraq. In the court of world opinion, our nation stands virtually alone. The cooperation needed to protect our shores from terrorists grows weaker. We are becoming less, not more secure.
We are alone because the Bush Administration's war is unjust.
Let there be no mistake about it. The Labor Party supports the legitimate use of security to protect our country and its people from terrorist attacks from domestic and international sources. But this war is being carried out under the Bush Administration's new doctrine of preemption. They claim the right to attack, invade and occupy any country that is perceived as a threat. This violates our sense of fairness and justice.
Certainly, Saddam Hussein and his regime are brutal and violent. He is not alone. The world is full of leaders who crush their own people. Many punish and torutre their own citizens for speaking out. Many condone and profit from sweatshops that use young children as disposable labor. Many have weapons of mass destruction.
Does our security require that we go to war with each of them? Who makes that decision? Do we no longer support the concept of an international community bound by mutual rights, duties and oblligations? Or are the interests of the international community trumped when access to valuable resources---such as oil---is at stake?
The Bush doctrine of preemption will not make the world safer for our children. It will not protect us from real threats to our security. Preemption means permanent war.
And with permanent war comes the loss of civil liberties and economic well-being. Already, the rights of citizens, innocent immigrants, and unions are being violated as the war in Iraq is cynically used to divert attention from the one-sided class war against us at home.
Already, the disgraceful "Homeland Security" bill has been used to attack the meager collective bargaining rights of federal workers.
Already, the smokescreen of "national security" has been used to invoke the hated Taft-Hartley law against the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in an effort to tip the balance of power in favor of the waterfront bosses.
In the name of national security, we face more surveillance, more suspicion, and more rules to prevent unionization. Immigrant workers are scapegoated and coerced into silence while those who grow rich from their labor are rewarded with tax breaks and government contracts.
In the name of preemption, economic resources will be squandered to fight endless wars. Plant closings and layoffs accelerate as the recession is worsened by enormous war expenditures and the steadily rising price of oil. Our healthcare system continues to melt down while millions of health care workers are ordered to submit to a potentially deadly vaccination program in the name of national security.
Meanwhile, our children and co-workers are increasingly becoming "economic conscripts". They are forced into the armed services in order to obtain what should be their by right---a steady job, access to higher education, healthcare for themselves and their family.
Labor must lead.
Working people, both here and abroad, reject the path of preemption and war. War, terror and the destruction that they visit on working people must be repudiated as substitutes for negotiations and diplomacy.
The drive to war and the attack on workers at home has produced willing accomplices in both political parties. We reaffirm our call for independent working class politics. Both political parties are beholden to the same corporate interests that drive the global policies of the Bush Administration. With this war, they are prepared to sacrifice not only our economic well-being but also our very lives---and the lives of thousands of innocents around the world---to the global corporations who are this policy's only beneficiaries.
The Labor Party opposes the launching of military force against Iraq. We re-affirm our stand against appeals to "homeland security" as pretext for attacks on the rights of immigrants, working people and their unions. We endorse U.S. Labor Against the War and urge all Labor Party members, affiliates and endorsers to support and participate in this national union coalition opposing the Iraqi war.
We call upon our brothers and sisters to rise up in defense of our country by opposing the pernicious doctrine of preemption and this war without end.