[The following is the full version of abbreviated remarks presented by NYCLAW Co-Convener Michael Letwin at the January 18 antiwar rally in D.C.]
There is a wall on the other end of this mall.
And on that wall are the names of 58,000 Americans–most of them poor people, working people and people of color–who along with two million Indochinese, were victims of an unjust and immoral war of conquest.
Because of that war, Martin Luther King, Jr. called the U.S. the world’s great purveyor of violence.
Today, George W. Bush and other wealthy Chickenhawks who stayed home during Vietnam are exploiting our grief over 9/11 to promote another imperial war, this time in Afghanistan, against the Palestinians, in the Philippines, in Colombia, and now in Iraq.
What possible justification is there for a war on Iraq?
The U.S. has not proved that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. And if it does, the whole world knows they came from the U.S. and other western governments–who for years also armed and funded Osama Bin Laden.
And doesn’t the U.S. have an unmatched arsenal of mass destruction?
Doesn’t it arm and support Pakistan and Israel, both of which have nuclear weapons?
Isn’t it allied with dictatorships in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and others throughout the world?
So Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” are really “weapons of mass distraction”–from oil, from U.S. empire, and from a crumbling economy at home.
This war will further victimize the Iraqi people, who have suffered horribly through ten years of U.S. war and sanctions.
Are they our enemy?
Working people in this country will continue to pay: with our sons and daughters in uniform; with destruction of our social services; with unprecedented right-wing Republican attacks on labor, civil and immigrant rights; with further blowback from terrorist attacks.
Our problem isn’t Iraq, but our own government.
Working people have the need–and the power–to stop this war. When rank-and-file soldiers refused to fight in Vietnam, the U.S. war machine crumbled.
Last week, British railway workers refused to transport war materials bound for war on Iraq. We are still a long way from that, but already unions representing more than four million members have adopted antiwar resolutions, and the number grows every day.
Many of these unions joined with groups like New York City Labor Against the War to form U.S. Labor Against the War. These include the 220,000 members of SEIU Local 1199, and 30,000-member UAW in metro New York City.
On February 15, union members will join the international day of antiwar protest in New York City.
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