Reprinted from US Labor Against War (USLAW)
Sisters and Brothers,
For the first time since World War II, at the close of a long night of
terrorist attacks on November 13th, France found itself under mandatory curfew.
Since the announcement that France would treat this as an ‘act of war,’ over 150
counterterrorism raids have taken place. A manhunt is raging, not to mention the
bombing of the capital of ISiS in Syria. The events that have transpired in
France are a stark reminder of the violent and challenging world we live in. We
mourn the loss of life our brothers and sisters from acts of terrorism and
condemn the violence that caused that loss of life.
We should be clear about where this problem of rapidly metastasizing
terrorism comes from. Our problem has consistently been us – nations with power
and influence Our problem has consistently been us – nations with power and
influence. Instead of using diplomatic means to solve crises, we have turned to
military strategies that have lead us farther and farther down the wrong path.
Even our president has admitted that using the military to solve this problem
seems futile. So killing and maiming many innocent civilians in pursuit of
terrorists will likely make things worse, not better. Sadly, the very people
we’ll be bombing in Syria and elsewhere hold the key to the solution. It will
take the work of the citizens of this region to make their situations better.
Anything else will lead to more displacement.
We should also remember that what happened in Paris on that Friday night
happens with regularity in a Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan. These countries
experience similar tragedies yet don’t receive the goodwill bestowed upon the
French. Most days they are ignored. While it doesn’t diminish the horror and
sadness that we should all feel at what Parisians have experienced, it certainly
makes you wonder where we draw the line when it comes to human suffering. Are
Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis, Afghans or Lebanese somehow less deserving? We should
view a loss of life anywhere just as deserving of international solidarity and
support. Anything less is hypocrisy.
In times like these, it is easy to get caught up in rhetoric and nationalism,
forgetting that war has been an expensive venture that leads to no substantive
gains. To quote Phyllis Bennis “Terrorism survives wars; people don’t.” That’s
why it is important to tell the truth about terrorism and the War on Terror. The
economic wellbeing of the country is threatened by the overhang of debt created
by the reckless funding of war and the distorted federal budget priorities that
fund U.S. militarized foreign policy, instead of devoting those resources to
urgent domestic human needs.
Finally, even in these dark moments we must remember to reject these racist
and reactionary attacks on refugees and immigrants. The terror of war has forced
hundreds of thousands to flee their homes and countries. The Islamophobic
attempt to characterize these victims of violence as potential terrorists is
intended to stoke fear and feeds the broader racist xenophobic attack on
immigrants and people of color. The vast majority of those who have been victims
of terrorism are themselves Muslims. The perpetrators of these attacks are no
more representative of Islam than members of the Ku Klux Klan are representative
of Christianity. The U.S. has a moral duty to provide aid and sanctuary to
refugees fleeing wars that are largely fought with arms that our country has
poured into the Middle East.
As we reflect on the terrible continuing effects of the Iraq war, we in U.S.
Labor Against the War commit ourselves to continuing and deepening our
partnerships within the labor movement and with peace, veterans, and community
organizations. We will continue to work with our partners in the Iraqi labor
movement and Iraqi civil society. We will not turn away from our longstanding
commitments to peace and justice across the globe, and for our veterans and the
We are determined to end our country’s militarized foreign
policy, no matter where our government seeks to apply it, and to promote true
security for our people through universal education, health care, and modern
US Labor Against the War