On April 6, President Donald Trump ordered a blatant act of war against the Syrian people. He did it without a shred of evidence that the Syrian government was involved in an alleged poison gas attack that killed civilians.
What advantage would Syria gain strategically by targeting noncombatants, when the Bashar al-Assad government has been winning the war against U.S.-backed terrorist groups — the Islamic State group (IS), al-Qaida, the Free Syrian Army and others? In fact, there is evidence that the gas attack was actually carried out by so-called rebels.
The attack on Syria was followed by the bombing of Afghanistan, employing the most powerful non-nuclear bomb ever dropped in all of world history. A military assault on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could be imminent.
Working people, organized and unorganized, have no reason to support yet another war. In fact, the chatter in the workplace is that people are outraged that Trump has dragged us into what could be a major war — or wars. There will be mass suffering as a result of billions of dollars of cuts in human services carried out to shift money to the Pentagon war machine. The suffering of the Syrian people, including the nearly five million made refugees by this U.S.-sponsored war, will only worsen.
Organized labor should be outraged! Yet its leaders, AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka and Change to Win President James Hoffa Jr., have said nothing. Silence is the voice of complicity. Their collusion with Trump — and with both Democrats and Republicans — when faced with Pentagon aggression is just their latest betrayal of our class interests as workers since the November election. These are the same leaders who sold out the heroic water defenders at Standing Rock and the migrant communities who are being rounded up, detained and deported en masse.
Labor lieutenants of capitalism — a shameful tradition
On Feb. 25, 1967, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “the bombs in Vietnam explode at home.” (tinyurl.com/aertr2e)
While this towering figure of the Civil Rights movement was risking his life by positioning himself against the Vietnam War, rare were the voices from the labor movement striking a similar chord. In its silence, organized labor was complicit in a criminal war of aggression against the people of Vietnam, funded by the poor, the workers and the oppressed people of the U.S.
Fifty years have passed. Yet we see the leaders of the AFL-CIO and Change to Win continuing to act as cheerleaders for imperialist war. They know full well that the union movement has enough muscle to bring the war machine to a halt. Even the ten percent of the working class in unions have a lot of power. Power to stop the transport of goods by truck, rail and air. Power to shut down telecommunications and government. Power to shut down the military-industrial complex at the point of production.
We believe in the old union maxim that “an injury to one is an injury to all.” This principle has no borders. When our human family in other countries is subjected to imperialist violence, carried out in our name, labor in the U.S. has no choice but to join the chorus of voices saying, “Hands off Syria, Afghanistan, Korea and the world!” This message must be heard around the world on May Day, International Workers Day, and beyond.