April 23, 2008
Robert McEllrath, ILWU President
1188 Franklin Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 775-1302 FAX
Dear Brother McEllrath:
New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW) salutes the ILWU’s Pacific Coast May Day Shutdown to Stop the War in Iraq and Afghanistan.
From the beginning, Bush & Co. have sought to justify this war for oil and empire with phony claims about “fighting terrorism,” finding”weapons of mass destruction,” and spreading “democracy.” Despite overwhelming rejection of its policies at the polls, the administration has steadily escalated its war in the Middle East.
This has meant not only ordering thousands more troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, but also arming and financing Israel’s war on Lebanon and its increasingly brutal slow-genocide of the Palestinians, launching a proxy invasion of Somalia, bombing Pakistan, and threatening to attack Iran.
As in all such wars, ordinary working people pay the price. In Iraq and Afghanistan, this war has killed more than a million people, caused more than 50,000 G.I. casualties, promoted civil war, cost at least $1.2 trillion and pushed the economy into crisis — with no end in sight.
At home, the administration continues to attack civil liberties, the Arab-Muslim community, undocumented immigrants, Katrina refugees, people of color and labor.
Yet this is a bipartisan war. Congressional Democrats — including senators Clinton and Obama — have given Bush every penny he has asked for. They have refused to filibuster war spending (which requires only 41 Senate votes) and won’t even promise to get out by the end of the next presidential term in 2013. At most, they call for “redeployment” to maintain U.S. control of the region.
A generation ago, a war ended when Vietnamese resistance and the Black freedom movement ignited a grassroots working class mutiny in the military, auto plants, ghettos and barrios, against what Martin Luther King Jr. accurately called “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today . . . my own government.”
It will take a similar mutiny to end this war. The ILWU has a proud tradition of work stoppages to protest South African apartheid and U.S. death squads in Central America. Your May Day action shows how workers — both in and out of uniform — have the collective power to end this war, bring the troops home now, and get the U.S. out of the Middle East.
Issued by NYCLAW Co-Conveners
(Other affiliations listed for identification only):
Former President, NPMHU Local 300
Former President, UAW Local 2325/Assn. of Legal Aid Attorneys
Former President, AFSCME DC 1707; N.E. Regional Coordinator, Million Worker March Movement