New York, NY – This past weekend, opponents of Trump’s lunatic drive for more war moved swiftly to denounce the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleiman and the administration’s disastrous push for further military intervention in the Middle East. Additional acts of civil disobedience and protest will continue in NYC and around the country throughout the month of January — but will organized labor be a part of it?
It’s a pertinent question to ask because, as history has continually demonstrated, it is working people who will bear the ugly costs of more war. When the next round of firefights start, it will be working class people who will fill the “boots on the ground” — and it will be people who work for a living who will be targeted in the inevitable acts of revenge and retribution that will be visited upon this country and its allies.
“War is a class conflict, too,” Congress Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Tweeted in the aftermath of Soleiman’s assassination — a mob-style hit that also killed at least of half of dozen others in a U.S. missile attack in Baghdad. “The rich and powerful who open war escape the consequences of their decisions. It’s not their children sent into the jaws of violence. It is often the vulnerable, the poor, & working people – who had little to no say in conflict – who pay the price.”
People who work for a living will also suffer as more war in the Middle East gives Trump and his billionaire cohorts the political cover they need to further dismantle worker rights and protections; pack the courts with anti-worker judges; subvert the National Labor Relations Board and replace good middle-class union jobs with unsustainable “gig” work driving for Uber or delivering consumer junk for Amazon.
“We call for the immediate, unconditional withdrawal from Iraq and no catastrophic war with Iran,” the group US Labor Against the War says on its website. “Our members have more in common with the working brothers and sisters abroad than with the Trump administration or any chicken-hawk politician.”
The history we’re seeing repeat itself can hardly even be thought of as “history” because it’s happened so often — the playbook the Masters of War use to bolster power and profit off of human misery and death is worn thin. That’s why, at the start of a new year and a new decade, it’s so maddeningly frustrating to see it pulled out yet again.
What are we — idiots?
Soleiman was reportedly on a mission to broker peace in the region when he was assassinated on January 3. Just like Bill Clinton in 1998, Donald Trump launched a missile attack in Iraq in 2020, attempting to save his presidency from impeachment.
Again, are we all idiots?
Two years ago, at a rally protesting US bombing in Syria, Teamsters Local 808 Secretary-Treasurer Chris Silvera wondered why unions were not striking in opposition to more war.
“I don’t have a speech; I have some questions,” Silvera said from the podium. “Why are unions not striking? Unions are not protesting the direction of the country [sufficiently] regarding the waste of money on the war machine versus better roads, improving the system we have now, etc. We have already lost a trillion dollars we could have spent putting people to work, paying teachers in West Virginia and Oklahoma. Unions have a role to play besides being a cheerleader for the Democratic Party.”
Silvera’s frustrations are still valid.
On Thursday, January 9, MoveOn.org and its partners are sponsoring afternoon anti-war rallies at Foley Square, Columbus Circle and Senator Chuck Schumer’s Midtown office, as well as Nassau County Court House and Resistance Corner on Long Island and other locations, as part of another round of multi-city demonstrations. More anti-war rallies here in NYC and Washington, DC are slated for Noon on Saturday, January 25.
Rank and file trade unionists are being encouraged to turn out in force — labor leaders need to get on board now.
All the hard-fought for wins at the bargaining table — all of the organizing — and all of the campaigning accomplished in this town and across the nation over the last several years won’t mean very much if chaos is once again allowed to rain down on working class heads.