UNITED STATES «The American People Refuse To Go To War!» Interview with Nancy Wohlforth, Co-Convener of US Labor Against the War (USLAW)
Donald Trump took the world to the brink of a major, frontal armed war with Iran. While the crisis situation appears to have died down, it could flare up again at any moment. What is your assessment of what has transpired over the past few weeks?
Trump began the war escalation against Iran when he pulled out of the Iran nuclear weapons deal. It soon became clear that he wanted to rattle sabers.
The U.S. bombing of the activist camps in Northern Iraq on December 29 was a provocation that unleashed a terrible crisis which, as you pointed out, took us to the brink of a full-fledged war with Iran. The situation was terrifying, particularly as we have a madman in the White House who has control over the use of nuclear weapons.
I also should point out that the entire crisis over Iran these past three weeks was aimed at diverting attention away from Trump’s impeachment trial.
Having said this, Trump — at least for now — had to pull back. The American people don’t want to go to war. This has been expressed in poll after poll, but also in the rapid response of a unified antiwar movement, which on January 4 took to the streets in 90 cities across the United States — in the tens of thousands of people — to demand, « No War with Iran! Bring All the U.S. Troops Home Now! »
But the danger of a major war has not disappeared. Trump is so unstable that he could manufacture a new provocation at any moment.
We also have to oppose another dimension to the U.S. war against Iran, and by that I mean the economic sanctions that have targeted Iran’s sales of oil to countries in Europe and beyond. These sanctions, which have bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress, have devastated the country’s economy, targeting poor women and children in particular. An untold numbers of deaths resulting directly from the sanctions.
Many legislators are hoping that Congress should reclaim the authority to go to war as a way of reining in Trump. What do you think?
Given the madman at the helm, it is understandable that legislators and activists should seek any and all means to rein in Trump. You should not have a situation, moreover, where just one person, whatever their party affiliation, has the sole power to launch a war against a country like Iran.
But returning the war powers to Congress won’t solve the problem. The United States launched its war against Iraq in 2003 with the overwhelming approval of the U.S. Congress. There were only a few dissident voices, namely, Rep. Barbara Lee and Senator Bernie Sanders. Millions of people died or were driven from their homes and communities by the U.S. war on Iraq, with a vote by the Congress.
The only way to stop these U.S. wars and interventions abroad is to shut down the U.S. military bases worldwide, bring ALL U.S. troops home now, slash the U.S. war budget, and return to a peace economy here at home — with a Just Transition away from the military-industrial complex.
US Labor Against the War has become reactivated in the recent period. I see that you have endorsed and are actively building the January 25 Global Day of Action Against the War in Iran. Please tell us more.
We have a new group of younger trade unionists in our USLAW leadership and on our staff. It’s very exciting.
Last week we participated in a conference-call teach-in that drew 1,200 callers. We have drafted a template resolution against the U.S. war in Iran to be used by unions affiliated with USLAW. I understand that our template resolution was adopted by the San Francisco Labor Council just a few days ago.
And we are now actively promoting the Global Day of Action on January 25, which is being built by a united antiwar movement, something that is very encouraging. Though the immediate danger of an all-out war has subsided, we expect a good turnout here in Washington, as people understand that the U.S. government could spark a new war on any continent at any time.
I hope that the International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers’ International (IWC) will promote this Global Day of Action widely, with unions and antiwar coalitions the world over organizing actions and events that they deem appropriate.
You, Nancy, are a supporter of the IWC and an endorser of the World Conference Against War and Exploitation that will take place in Paris next November? Could you tell us about this effort?
The Appeal for this World Conference has been endorsed by unionists and political organizations of diverse backgrounds in more than 50 countries. It will be a gathering place to organize a united fightback against war, exploitation, precarious labor, and « free trade » on all continents.
More than ever we need unity to beat back the warmakers and exploiters. It is not too early to begin making plans to get your unions and organizations to endorse the World Conference and raise the funds needed to send broad-based delegations.
Interview conducted on January 16 by Alan Benjamin
Resolution to Support the Rising Anti-War and Pro-Peace Movement
Whereas, President Trump has placed the whole world on alert and brought the United States closer to war due to the irresponsible assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani; and,
Whereas, President Trump has threatened Iranian cultural sites with attack, a threat which, if carried out, is a war crime; and,
Whereas, the Trump administration recently approved a defense budget that, at $738 billion dollars is higher than all the countries of the world combined despite the continued struggle of workers for health care, housing, and good-paying jobs; and,
Whereas, according to the Wall Street Journal, the United States, governed by both Democratic and Republican administrations, has spent more than $5.6 trillion in involvement in post-9/11 conflicts; and,
Whereas, incalculable harm has been done to the region through the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, the vast majority of them innocent Iraqi citizens; and,
Whereas, unions, the voice of the organized working class, continue to fight for a more just and dignified economy, civil rights, social justice, racial equity and a genuine democracy here at home; and,
Whereas, the AFL-CIO has twice passed anti-war resolutions at its national conventions and made the connection between the cost of war and the need to fund the needs of working people; and,
Whereas, US Labor Against the War, a national organization of unions and other labor organizations founded in January of 2003 to oppose President George Bush’s then threatened war on Iraq, was instrumental in passing the historic 2005 resolution at the national AFL-CIO convention; and,
Whereas, thousands of people in over 90 cities in the United States took to the streets on January 4, 2020, demanding “no war with Iran,” and creating the stirrings of a new anti-war movement; and,
Therefore, be it resolved that the San Francisco Labor Council restates the AFL-CIO’s Resolution 50 passed during its 2017 National Convention, promoting and advocating for a foreign policy based on the international solidarity of all workers, mutual respect of all nations and national sovereignty, and calls upon the president and Congress to make war truly the last resort in our country’s foreign relations, and that we seek peace and reconciliation wherever possible; and,
Be it finally resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council endorses the call for Global Day of Protest– No War on Iran! – on Saturday, January 25, 2020 and will send notification to its delegates inviting them to the actions.