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For Jobs, Peace and a Pro-Worker Foreign Policy

The U.S. military budget is larger than those of the next 10 nations combined. When the interest cost of the national debt attributable to past military spending is added to yearly spending, it comprises half the national budget.  More than 800 U.S. military bases circle the globe. Countries such as Israel, Egypt, Colombia, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland, Saudi Arabia, and Georgia receive billions in military aid. Donald Trump seeks a $54 billion increase in military spending next year.  The gigantic military budget takes away from addressing the needs of our people and weakens our economy.

Our government’s involvement in wars and destabilization in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Latin America and elsewhere makes us less safe. The two major U.S. wars of the past decade, Iraq and Afghanistan, while costing us billions of dollars and the lives of thousands of our young soldiers, have produced more extremism, more war, more instability, and more danger.

In the weeks leading up to this convention, President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have the world on edge as they exchange threats of nuclear war. During the Korean War in the early 1950s, delegates to UE conventions called for negotiations to end that war. But the Korean War never officially ended and there’s still no peace treaty. For 63 years there’s been an armed truce, with periodic provocations that threaten a return to war. The current government of South Korea advocates negotiations for peace, and it’s time for that to happen.  

For many years Donald Trump had spoken against the continuing U.S. war in Afghanistan, calling it “a waste.” But in his first major foreign policy speech as President, he reversed all his past statements and his 2016 promises and announced that he’ll send more U.S. troops into that war. At 17 years and counting, Afghanistan is the longest war in U.S. history, yet Trump now says we must avoid a “hasty” departure from Afghanistan. 

A great danger to peace is the growing war hysteria in this country against Russia, based on the never-proven claim that Russia hacked the computers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) last year. The DNC made the charge immediately after Wikileaks released internal emails revealing how much the DNC worked with the Clinton campaign to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ run for president, and the mainstream media have repeated the claim daily ever since. A group of retired intelligence experts, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), recently issued a report based on forensic examination of the leaked DNC documents. They conclude that the DNC was not hacked, and that the release of its incriminating emails was the result of a leak by a DNC insider. VIPS is the same organization of intelligence professionals who in 2003 warned us not to believe the “intelligence” that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the reason we were given for invading Iraq. One does not need to like Putin or the Russian government — nor the governments of Iran, Syria, Venezuela or North Korea — to recognize that negotiation and cooperation are better than war. 

In the Middle East, the U.S. is involved in a tangled, contradictory web of alliances and wars. The terrorist group ISIS would not exist if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq.  Our government now supports the Kurds who are fighting ISIS but also supports Turkey bombing the Kurds. The Syrian government is fighting ISIS, but the U.S., at least until recently, has been trying to overthrow the Syrian government. Our government supports Saudi Arabia waging a brutal war in Yemen against the Houthi rebels, even though the Houthi consistently fight against Al-Qaeda. On his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, Trump doubled down on U.S. allegiance to the Saudis and enmity toward Iran, on the false premise that Iran supports terrorism and the Saudis do not. The Saudis have funded Al-Qaeda and ISIS, and supply their ideology in the form of Wahhabism, the extreme form of Islam that the Saudi rulers embrace and export. Iran, for all its shortcomings, has consistently fought against ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

In recent years, working people throughout Latin America elected a number of pro-worker governments, including Venezuela’s, which the U.S. government has tried repeatedly to overthrow.  Recently Trump imposed new sanctions on Venezuela and said he would not rule out a “military option.” The U.S. media and politicians have recently been even more overwrought in their denunciations of President Nicolás Maduro’s elected government, ostensibly because it held an election for a constituent assembly. Apparently holding an election without the U.S.’s permission is a sure sign that you are trying to impose a dictatorship.

Foreign and military policies should defend the interests of working people, not the wealthy. UE has long supported the labor movement promoting its own foreign policy ideas based on diplomacy and labor solidarity. We are proud to be a founder of U.S. Labor Against the War, which advances such a policy. Our government should not destabilize democracy on behalf of billionaires. It should promote peace, jobs, and justice for all.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 75th UE CONVENTION:  

  1. Calls on the union at all levels to:
    1. Promote involvement with U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) and support Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW);
    2. Inform and engage members on the need to change U.S. foreign policy to promote diplomacy, democracy, and workers rights;                                
  2. Demands the U.S. government invest in peace and build economic security by:              
    1. Reducing the military budget while improving wages, healthcare, and pensions of soldiers and veterans;                    
    2. Reappropriating defense savings into transportation, housing, healthcare, education, renewable resource development, or other peaceful infrastructure;
    3. The creation of a fund to guarantee any worker or soldier displaced by conversion from a war economy to a peace economy  up to four years’ living allowance and educational expenses;  
  3. Further demands the U.S. government:
    1. End incentives for corporations to profit from exporting weapons abroad;
    2. Cease military aid to countries with disgraceful human rights records;  
    3. Cease all funding for the National Missile Defense program and support efforts at the United Nations to ban all weapons in space;
    4. Cease using U.S. military and intelligence agencies in interventions against sovereign nations which pose no threat to the American people;
    5. End the use of taxpayer money for further militarization of Latin America;
    6. Cease all harassment of the democratically-elected government of Venezuela;   
    7. Cease the use of drones to attack foreign nationals or U.S. citizens;
    8. Return to a policy of cooperation and negotiation with Russia, instead of the current confrontational policy of increasing tensions in Ukraine and trying to surround Russia with hostile states;
    9. Uphold the agreement negotiated with Iran which prevents its development of nuclear weapons;
  4. Welcomes initiatives by the Congressional Black and Progressive Caucuses to redefine federal budget priorities;
  5. Supports the struggle of our sister union Zenroren to halt the repeal of Article 9 of Japan’s Peace constitution, to close all U.S. military bases in Japan, and to halt all U.S. efforts to convert the Japanese Self-Defense Force to offensive purposes.