Bring The Troops Home Now

United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America 68th National Convention August 24-28, 2003 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
September 25, 2003
The war in Iraq is long over but the death toll — Iraqi and American — continues to mount daily. Whatever goodwill U.S. troops enjoyed in the immediate aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s fall is evaporating as Americans in uniform continue on as an army of occupation.

The already astronomical costs of the occupation are also rising. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator of occupied Iraq, said in July that the cost of rebuilding the country could be $100 billion and take three years. But private analysts estimate the military and nation-building operations will cost taxpayers as much as $600 billion.

At a time when public entities are laying off workers and curtailing basic services — including important security services — the expenditure of huge sums to further the Bush Administration’s aims in Iraq is unconscionable.

Much of those huge sums will be pocketed by corporations with close connections to the White House. Among the bigger windfalls, Vice President Cheney’s company, Halliburton, is expected to realize $400 million in taxpayer-funded profits through its exclusive contracts. Bechtel is the recipient of a $680 million contract that covers upgrading Iraq’s water and sewer systems. This pursuit of billions in profits is protected by U.S. troops subjected to daily assaults.

The Administration’s goals of privatization and creation of a regional free trade zone are an indication that reconstruction is taking place to benefit American big business, not Iraqi working people. In the wake of the war’s destruction of so many workplaces, many Iraqi families are now without any income. In late July, U.S. troops attacked members of the Union of the Unemployed engaged in peaceful protests against the treatment of unemployed persons by U.S. corporations and occupation forces. The August 2 arrest of 52 of their leaders is a strong indication of what kind of “democracy” the Bush Administration intends for the conquered country.

By its nature, democracy cannot be imposed from the top down. The people of Iraq should decide their future and enjoy complete control of their resources. That is the only real democratic option.

The delegates to the 67th UE Convention last September said that “the Bush Administration is cynically using inflated claims of Iraq’s threat to vastly increase the military budget, to help his friends in the oil business control oil production in the Middle East, and to boost his own popularity and prop up the electoral fortunes of the pro-corporate Republican Party. None of these will help to prevent terrorism, but all of them will hurt workers in the U.S. and abroad.”

We believe events have proven those statements to be correct. Let there be no mistake. Saddam Hussein was a ruthless tyrant whose misrule will not be missed. But let us not be fooled into thinking that Hussein’s misdeeds were the reason Americans were sent into war. The world has too many dictators. Not every dictator controls the world’s second largest oil reserves. Saddam did — until he was deposed by U.S. might. Prior to this, Saddam’s brutal, blood thirsty regime enjoyed the material support of successive administrations, including that of the elder Bush, as long as it suited the purposes of U.S. foreign policy.

President Bush repeatedly misled the American people about the reasons for war. He refused to talk about the oil. He tried to link the Iraqi government to terrorist networks. There was no link. He claimed Iraq possessed and was producing chemical and biological weapons. None have been found. He claimed Iraq was developing nuclear weapons. There were none. He used bogus information to claim that Iraq was buying uranium from Africa. He has since been forced to admit that information was false, in hopes all the other lies will be ignored.

In opposing the war, this union has been concerned from the first for the well-being of the men and women in uniform, who include our members, relations, friends and co-workers. We will not rest easy until they are out of danger and are safely returned home. Our experience in Afghanistan teaches us to distrust the Administration’s claims about quick and easy victories and to question its concern for the well-being of our troops.

Ultimately the greatest gift we can give the women and men of the armed services is to construct a democratic foreign policy based on the best interest of the American people, not corporations — a policy that promotes peace and security based on the rule of law and the will of the community of nations as expressed in the United Nations.

1. Calls on the Bush Administration to immediately cease military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to bring home U.S. military personnel; and turn over the task of rebuilding Iraq to a genuine, multinational peace-keeping force under the supervision of the United Nations, with the United States making good on its obligation to finance rebuilding;

2. Endorses the “Bring Them Home Now” campaign of Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace and other organizations;

3. Calls for Congressional hearings to investigate war profiteering and the secretive, closed-bid reconstruction contracts in Iraq;

4. Endorses efforts to halt the U.S.-led drive to hand over Iraq’s industries, services and public resources to powerful multinational corporations;

5. Backs the right of Iraqi workers to organize democratic trade unions;

6. Endorses the U.S. Labor Against War coalition and the October 24-26, 2003 U.S. Labor Assembly for Peace and encourages all districts and locals to send delegates to that conference;

7. Urges UE at all levels to continue education and discussion on the Iraq war and occupation, and participation in activities that oppose the occupation.

Some comments by the US cde who brought this article to our attention:

"After skimming the resolution, however, I noticed a few weaknesses:

It calls for turning over the task of rebuilding Iraq to a multinational imperialist United Nations peace-keeping force rather than letting the Iraqi people determine their own destiny and form their own democratically elected government.

It also calls for "Congressional hearings to investigate war profiteering and the secretive, closed-bid reconstruction contracts in Iraq." This is pretty silly for the unions to promote the illusion that the same Congressional politicians who are receiving funds from corporations that are profitting off the war will then turn around and seriously put a stop to war profiteering. Also, the complaint that contracts to profit off Iraq were handed out without an open bidding procedure is a complaint that certain corporations that got left out of the loot have raised, but that is not something unions should echo.

To see what the American members of the CWI stand for, visit their site.

For other reports from the anti war movement go to our sitemap