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‘It’s Working People and Poor People Who Will Be Sent to Fight This War’

January 15, 2020

By Joe Maniscalco

New York, NY – “I don’t think there’s a single one of our colleagues who’s for this war.”

New Yorkers protesting the looming threat of war in Iran demonstrate at Foley Square.

On January 9, an energized group of New Yorkers concerned that the Trump administration’s assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleiman and a number of other Iranian officials earlier this month is being used to plunge the U.S. into to all out war with Iran, rallied at Foley Square and other spots around the city in staunch opposition.  

During last nigh’s latest Democratic Presidential Debate, the looming threat of war with Iran came up again when Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice-President Joe Biden tangled over the last time the U.S. government concocted a scheme to get us into war in the Middle East — 2003’s invasion of Iraq. 

“Joe and I listened to what [Vice-President] Dick Cheney and [President] George Bush and [Defense Secretary] Rumsfeld had to say,” Sanders said. “I thought they were lying. I didn’t believe them for a moment. I took to the floor. I did everything I could to prevent that war. Joe saw it differently.” 

Sanders has already teamed up with California Congress Member Ro Khanna [D-17th District] to introduce new legislation barring Pentagon funding for war in Iran without congressional approval. 

California Congress Member Barbara Lee [D-13th District] has also sponsored legislation to finally repeal the blank check Congress gave to all U.S. presidents to unilaterally plunge Americans into war around the globe — 2002’s Authorization for Use of Military Force — or AUMF. 

“If Trump goes to war, he will be bombing innocent people using our healthcare dollars — it’s as simple as that,” UAW Local 2320 member Natalie James told LaborPress during last week’s anti-war rally in Foley Square. “Money that should be used to help everyday people survive in this country is instead being used for utter destruction and horrific acts abroad.”

Fellow UAW Local 2320 member and Brooklyn Legal Services staff attorney Nicole Salk expressed similar fears. 

“I think this is a distraction from the impeachment,” Salk said. “I just think that it’s working people and poor people who will be sent to fight this war. Any money that’s spent on the war is taken from services, education and healthcare. And the people who go to war are poor and working people. It’s not Trump’s kids who are going to be going. It’s our kids.”

The U.S. lost two more soldiers just last week, during active duty in Afghanistan. Another two service members were also wounded in the southern province of Kandahar. Nearly 7,000 U.S. service members have now been killed fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 50,000 have been wounded. 

And the carnage doesn’t end there. As many as 100,000 U.S. veterans have died by suicide since September 11, 2001. According to veterans advocacy group Home Base — more than 20 U.S. service members commit suicide each day. Overall, the first two decades of America’s so-called “War On Terrorism” has cost the lives some 500,000 people around the world. 

“Foreign intervention in the name of peace has been sold to Americans as a noble endeavor so we don’t ask who’s profiting from the destruction of cultures and human lives,” Iraqi war Zack Henson said at Foley Square. “This isn’t just about Trump, this isn’t just about Republicans. We cannot worry about an evil president with his finger on the button and not challenge the people who put it in front of him — we can’t pretend this isn’t a systemic problem.”

With the lives of working men and women in the balance, both James and Salk expressed their hope that the American Labor Movement will rise up and rally against more war. 

“I think it should,” Salk said. “Our union has joined with other unions to be against the war; there are a lot of people who’ve been active in our union who are against war and against militarism. — it’s just not good for the country.” 

“My hope is that the Labor Movement, such as it exists in this country, will be part of a broad movement that’s opposed to war and for necessary social spending for everyday people — working class people,” James said. “I know that in the past, labor sided with the Vietnam War, for instance, for too long — but I’m hoping that we can really become aligned with the Peace Movement instead.”

In his address to the Foley Square demonstrators, NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams underscored the reality of more war when he noted that if Donald Trump’s kids or the children of his allies had to fight and die — “they would never send this country to war.”  

“[But] it is poor people — and black and brown people — who are looking for a better life — who are looking for housing — looking education — that go onto the Armed Services,” he said. “And [the elites] think they’re dispensable. But they’re not — and we’re going to stand up.”

January 15, 2020

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