NYCLAW Speech at DC Antiwar Rally

Presented by Michael Letwin

Ever since 9/11, there have been some who ask “why is war a labor issue?”

Well, labor knows that this war is about oil profits and U.S. empire; about distraction from corporate thievery and from a crumbling economy.

And we know who will pay the price.
Gulf War I killed 100,000 Iraqis and, twelve years of sanctions have killed another one million–including 750,000 children under the age of five.  How many more Iraqis will die in this war?

Fifty-eight thousand G.I.s—most of them working class and people of color—were killed in Vietnam.  Nearly half the G.I.s of Gulf War I have suffered Gulf War Syndrome.  Are we ready to sacrifice another generation for an empire run by Vietnam Chickenhawks like Bush, Cheney and Wolfkowitz?

This antiwar movement offers the only way to support troops: Bring them home!  Right now!

The United States is in deep economic crisis.  Unemployment is soaring.  We’re told there’s not enough
money for education, healthcare or Social Security.  Yet the war in Afghanistan has cost up to $20 billion, and an Iraq war will cost up to $1.9 trillion.  Even low estimates are at $9 billion– per month!  Are we prepared to squander that on this war of empire?

Thousands of Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants have been detained or specially registered.  New York City refused to give us a march permit on February 15.  Ashcroft is peddling USA Patriot Act II.  Are we willing to accept more attacks like these on immigrant rights and civil liberties?

Rumsfeld warns that blowback from war on Iraq will breed more terrorist attacks in this country.  Wasn’t 9/11 enough?

In 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. protested the Vietnam war waged by what he identified as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today—my own government.”  This war is no better.

But the good news is that we have the power to stop it.

When G.I.s refused to fight in Vietnam, the U.S. war machine ground to a halt.

In January, British railway workers refused to drive trains loaded with weapons for war against Iraq, and yesterday, millions of workers in Europe held an antiwar strike for 15 minutes.
You may think that this can’t happen here.  But what we do makes a difference.

After 9/11, and even six months ago, groups like NYCLAW were lone voices within U.S. labor. In November,
after thirteen years in office, I lost reelection as President of the UAW Local 2325/Association of Legal Aid Attorneys for having spoken out against this war.

But just a few months later, millions of people have protested the war, even before it has fully begun. And on
February 27, 2003, the AFL-CIO came out against the war–its first antiwar statement ever.

Now it’s up to us to mobilize our co-workers and our unions to do whatever it takes to stop this war.

Can we stop this war?  When?

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