November 21, 2002
Canadians who have devoted their lives to social justice and peace must understand that some things did fundamentally change on 9/11. But not everything. Many of our causes remain as crucial as always, and we must not neglect them as we address new and unprecedented challenges.
Our determination to oppose unjust aggressive wars by the strong against the weak must remain unshaken. President Bush's obsession with Iraq's Saddam Hussein - and the oil fields he controls - is one such example.
Saddam Hussein is a murderer and a dictator that many Iraqis would dearly like to see replaced with a democratic government. However, as miserable as Iraqis are living in Saddam's Iraq, most faced even more terror from the U.S. bombs dropped on them during the Gulf War. Even today, the legacy of that war lives on in an elevated rate of cancer from depleted uranium from bombs dropped during the attacks 12 years ago. Above all, Iraqis blame the U.S. for the punishing UN sanctions that have cost the lives of more than one million Iraqis, especially from lack of medical supplies.
Saddam is a tyrant, without question, but so are many of the other leaders whom Bush welcomes to his hypocritical "war against evil". We must be grateful to the UN Security Council for stalling the Bush drive to war by insisting that weapons inspectors return to Iraq. We must also hope that they do not find a new store of weapons of mass destruction; if Saddam has lied about this, nothing will stop the U.S. and many other countries - probably even Canada from deciding that he must now be taken out, at whatever terrible cost to civilian lives.
Our union's battles against corporate globalization must continue, as evidence steadily accumulates of the enormous damage done by neoliberalism to billions of our sisters and brothers in Africa, South Asia and Latin America. As the IMF, the World Bank and the U.S. government continue to impose their "free market" dogmas on the poorest countries of the world, so the gap between rich and poor dramatically continues to increase. And so the hatred of the powers that so callously put profit ahead of people's lives grows too.
But at the same time we must recognize that the terrorist war being conducted by Islamist extremists throughout the world is only too real. The problem is that under the leadership of President Bush and U.K. Prime Minister Blair, the terrorists are winning their war. The fact is, as every new terrorist act and terrorist threat against innocent people around the world makes abundantly evident, leaders of western countries have little idea how to stop this menace, which puts us all in jeopardy.
Old ways of thinking have already proved irrelevant. The real priority is not knocking off Saddam. It is not the unimaginable military power that Bush's half trillion dollar defence budget will generate. The priority is settling the Arab-Israeli conflict, one of the great sources of tension between the Muslim world and the west. The priority is to stand up against the latest version of American imperialism: Bush's insistence that the U.S. has a natural right to intervene unilaterally in any part of the globe for any reason it decides, really a form of state terrorism. The priority is to reconstruct Afghanistan. The priority is to demand that such dubious American allies as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia commit to democracy, women's equality, and the equitable development of their societies. The priority is to treat Muslim immigrants in western countries with the respect due all citizens.
The priority is to attack the real, complex causes of terrorism, not to defend the interests of George Bush and those he represents. If we get our priorities right, we then also advance our traditional goals of peace, equity, social justice, and greater economic equality throughout the world.
Our union stands committed to these priorities and urges the Canadian government not to be drawn into the war against Iraq, into the same old violent and simplistic solution of war.
Adopted by the CAW National Executive Board - November 21, 2002