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For Peace, Jobs and a Pro-Worker Foreign Policy
The U.S. spends more on the military than all other nations combined. This is unjust and unsustainable. When the interest cost of the national debt attributable to past military spending is added to yearly spending, it comprises half the national budget. The Department of Defense is no longer audited, so the problem is probably much worse than we can tell. The regressive impact on our economy of a militarized foreign policy is obvious. Military expenditures shift funds from productive uses, resulting in far fewer jobs created and less money spent on education, healthcare, housing, transportation, or any other social need.
We possess the biggest military in the history of the world. The U.S. military maintains weapons systems (including nuclear weapons) developed to “defend against” the long-dismantled Soviet Union, and has more than 100 military bases and a gigantic air force and navy to counter nonexistent foes. Countries such as Colombia, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland, Saudi Arabia, and Georgia are the recipients of billions in military aid labeled as “anti-terrorism” or “anti-drug” subsidies.
Despite its size, our military does not bring real security to the American people. Our standard of living continues to sink, our jobs are exported, and crime increases. The corporate medias work tirelessly to blame Social Security, Medicare, or other domestic programs for the federal budget crisis, but it is obvious the military budget is the culprit: $700 billion before off-budget supplementals to fund the wars are considered. Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimates the cost for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars will total at least $3 trillion.
The continued occupation of Afghanistan has condemned us to war without end. The killing and maiming of U.S. troops, civilian deaths and injuries, massive property destruction, and harm to our nation’s reputation are unacceptable. Private contractors now comprise a substantial proportion of our military budget and many contractors are swindling the government and robbing the taxpayers.
One positive development over the last decade is the development of U.S. Labor Against The War (USLAW). UE was one of the founders of USLAW, the major voice and forum for working people in opposing the government’s war policies. USLAW has worked with organizations such as Iraq Veterans Against the War to build a credible working-class antiwar force.
U.S. military support of many governments is intended to prop up sweatshop production zones. Working people throughout Latin America in recent years have elected a number of progressive, pro-worker governments, including those of Lula da Silva in Brazil, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, and many others. The U.S. has worked to demonize legitimately elected pro-worker governments, and in some cases actively destabilized them and supported their overthrow. In Mexico the governments of the PRI and the PAN (the two corporate political parties), supported by the U.S. and its business interests, continue to destabilize the economy by privatizing the nations resources, repressing independent trade unionism, conducting fraudulent elections, and maintaining policies which have enabled drug cartels to thrive and murder over 50,000 people in just four years.
U.S. workers continue to lose under trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). In 2011 we are threatened with trade deals with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia, a country where more trade unionists are murdered than anywhere else in the world. These trade deals promote job movement into sweatshop zones. Our taxes support a military and foreign policy which undermine our ability to earn a decent living, create harsh conditions for workers in other nations, cause hatred of our government, and threaten our security.
The Israel/Palestine conflict is an example of U.S. military and economic policy supporting destabilization and repression. U.S. policy is outrageously one-sided towards Israel, perpetuates injustice and conflict, and risks further war in the Middle East. The $3 billion in annual U.S. aid to Israel (by far the richest country receiving U.S. aid) far exceeds aid given to any other country. U.S. policy allows the continued Israeli occupation of Palestine, including the construction of illegal settlements, an apartheid wall through the West Bank, and the continued military blockade of Gaza.
We recognize the Obama administration has inherited this legacy, but working people are entitled to swift change to these policies. The removal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq is a welcome development, but the Obama administration must complete the removal of all personnel, including contractors. The U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan is a disaster which must be ended immediately. As long as U.S. and other international military forces are in Iraq or Afghanistan, the Iraqi and Afghan people will not be able to determine their own destiny, which should be the right of all nations.
U.S. military policy should defend the interests of working people, not the wealthy. U.S. policy should not destabilize democracy on behalf of billionaires. It should promote peace, jobs, and justice for all people. We demand our government build prosperity as the foundation of security for ourselves and others. Only then will we have the respect and friendship of the people of the world.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 72nd UE CONVENTION:
- Calls on the union at all levels to participate in public events, demonstrations, and forums aimed at ending the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and an end to the U.S.-NATO bombing of Libya and removal of any and all U.S. troops on the ground.
- Calls on the union at all levels to promote involvement and affiliation with U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) organization and support for Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), including invitations to IVAW and USLAW activists to local and regional union meetings;
- Calls on the union to continue its work to inform and engage the membership on the ramifications of U.S. foreign policy and on the need to change that policy to promote diplomacy, democracy, and workers rights;
- Demands that the Obama administration invest in peace by building economic security, in particular:
- A substantial reduction in the military budget and redirecting resources to provide adequate pay and benefits to enlisted personnel;
- While the military budget should be cut, not at the expense of wages, healthcare, and pensions of our soldiers and veterans;
- The immediate redeployment of these savings into the nation’s transportation system, housing, healthcare, education, environmental protection, renewable resource development, and other peaceful infrastructure;
- The refocusing of federal research and development on industrial, energy, healthcare, and consumer markets, rather than military technologies;
- The conversion of defense industries to production for industrial and consumer use, and the creation of a fund to guarantee any worker or military personnel displaced by conversion up to four years’ living allowance and educational expenses;
- Demands that President Obama renounce the Bush “preemptive strike” policy, end the use of the military as the main tool of foreign policy, and work within the boundaries of international law in cooperation with international institutions;
- Welcomes initiatives by the Congressional Black and Progressive Caucuses to redefine federal budget priorities;
- Demands that the U.S. government end incentives for corporations to profit from exporting weapons abroad, and to stop military aid programs to countries that have condemnable human rights records;
- Demands that Congress immediately cease all funding for the National Missile Defense program and instead support efforts at the United Nations to ban all weapons in space;
- Further demands that Congress take all steps to reduce the dangers of military conflicts over international economic disputes and rivalries, including:
- Limiting all current and future military treaties to purely defensive purposes;
- Working to eliminate international arms trafficking;
- Ending U.S. efforts to convert the Japanese Self-Defense Force (SDF) to offensive purposes;
- Supports the goals of Zenroren to close all U.S. military bases in Japan;
- Opposes the use of U.S. military and intelligence agencies in interventions against sovereign nations which pose no threat to the American people;
- Calls for the union at all levels to demand;
- An end to all U.S. military aid to Israel;
- An end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine;
- An end to the blockade of Gaza;
- The cessation of building, and the removal of all Israeli settlements from Palestinian territory;
- The recognition of Palestine as a state with the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital;
- Encourages the union at all levels to take part in other campaigns for new federal funding priorities;
Recognizes the best way to provide genuine support to our armed forces is to deliver on promised care and services when they come home, and demands that the Obama administration properly fund Veterans Administration medical systems.