GUNS-AND-BUTTER ISSUES

Bob Muehlenkamp writes: Thirty-one antiwar trade union leaders met in Chicago on April 26 to consider the future of US Labor Against the War (USLAW), founded in January to oppose an invasion of Iraq. The result? An ambitious new “guns or butter” campaign. “American working families face a domestic crisis,” reads the group’s new mission statement. “This crisis has been intensified by the Bush Administration’s foreign and domestic policies of military intervention abroad and neglect at home that benefit corporations and the wealthy at the expense of working people. We cannot solve these economic and social problems without addressing US foreign policy and its consequences.” During the 1960s, participants pointed out, you could argue that military spending created some good jobs. Today, that is no longer the case, as defense contractors send jobs overseas. Then, “guns and butter” seemed an easy mix; today, these labor activists argued, we can’t have both. USLAW decided to throw its energies behind the AFL-CIO’s plan to do what it takes to effect “regime change” in Washington. But the diverse group–representing national unions CWA, APWU, UE and UNITE; central labor councils in LA, Seattle, Philadelphia and Washington; and locals from SEIU, UAW, the Teamsters and the AFT–plans to do far more. It will create a Labor Veterans Committee to coordinate with other veterans groups in opposing cuts to vets’ benefits. It will begin a massive education campaign within the labor movement on how Bush’s pre-emptive war policy and his permanent war economy will make working families less, not more, secure, in terms both of personal safety and economic survival. And it will argue for a different US foreign policy approach, one that “strengthens international peacekeeping and human rights institutions and that solves disputes by diplomacy rather than war.” Plans will progress at a national Labor Assembly for Security, Peace and Prosperity in Chicago on October 24.

TWO VOICES FOR RACIAL JUSTICE

Retired New York Episcopal Bishop Paul Moore, who died on May 1 at 83, was born to be everything but Paul Moore. A child of wealth, graduate of St. Paul’s and Yale, decorated Marine Corps veteran, he should have been a CEO or a Cabinet member. Instead he became one of the country’s most outspoken religious leaders for peace and social and economic justice. Active initially in civil rights, he later became an opponent of the Vietnam War and an advocate for equal rights for women and gays. Last month, near death from cancer, he used his final sermon at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to preach against the Iraq war, denouncing George W. Bush’s invocation of faith to justify it as a perversion of Christian values…. A few days later, South Africa, too, lost a great champion of racial and social justice with the death, at 90, of Walter Sisulu, retired deputy president of the African National Congress. Sisulu shared years of leadership and years of imprisonment with Nelson Mandela, who called him “my friend, my brother, my keeper, my comrade.”