Statement of Michael Letwin
Co-Convener, New York City Labor Against the War
Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325
Troops Out Now Coalition Rally Central Park, NYC — March 19, 2005
The U.S. war in Iraq has never had anything to do with finding weapons of mass destruction or Al-Qaeda; it has brought neither liberation nor democracy.
From day one, it has been a naked grab for oil and empire. It is part and parcel of the Bush administration’s shameless exploitation of 9/11 to promote unjust wars and occupation in Afghanistan, Palestine, Haiti and abroad, and to assault immigrants, workers, and civil liberties at home.
It has brought neither liberation nor democracy — only death, torture, devastation and oppression.
Like Vietnam, this war is thoroughly bipartisan — from Democratic support for the invasion of Afghanistan and the Patriotic Act, to John Kerry’s pro-war presidential candidacy, to this week’s overwhelming Congressional passage of $81 billion more for the war.
It has inflicted countless civilian casualties and bred vicious racism. It has killed more than 1500 G.I.s. and maimed thousands of others.
But there is hope. The U.S. government lost in Vietnam because that war inevitably bred anti-colonial resistance, mass protest at home, and a G.I. mutiny that crippled the most powerful war machine the world had ever seen.
Today, the United States is losing in Iraq because *this* unjust war also breeds resistance.
We see that resistance when ordinary Iraqis fight back the U.S. occupation and its collaborators. That’s why the U.S. hasn’t been able to invade Iran or Syria.
We have seen it reflected in the largest mass protests in world history; in Burlington, Vermont’s vote of a few weeks ago to bring the troops home now; in the growing counter-recruitment movement; and in Italy’s announced troop withdrawal.
We see it in the unions — including AFSCME, postal workers, communication workers, mail handlers, and SEIU — that have come out against this war.
We have seen it in the growing number of American G.I.s — workers in uniform — who are quitting at the end of their enlistments, refusing to fight, going AWOL or deserting, and in the rising number of teenagers who are refusing to join up in the first place.
And as we stand here in New York City, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out and other vets and military families are leading antiwar protests in Fayetteville, North Carolina, home of the huge Army base at Ft. Bragg. Let’s give them a strong shout-out.
So don’t lose heart. Together, we have:
*The power to end U.S. occupation in Iraq.
*The power to end imperial war and occupation in Afghanistan, in Palestine, in the Philippines, in Colombia, in Korea, in Haiti, in Puerto Rico — and across the globe.
*The power to fight against the war being waged at home against workers, immigrants, civil rights and civil liberties.
Bring the Troops Home Now!