Click on the title to link to an "Under The Hood" (Fort Hood G.I. Coffeehouse)Web site online article about the "Oleo Strut" Coffeehouse, an important development in the anti-Vietnam War struggle. Hats off to those bygone anti-war fighters.
‘HOT CARGO’ MILITARY SUPPLIES TO IRAQ
Over the past year or so I have been propagandizing for the creation of anti-war soldiers and sailors solidarity committees as a practical organizational vehicle for implementing the Immediate Unconditional Withdrawal of U.S. Troops from Iraq slogan. I have dealt in an earlier post with the fact that I have taken flak in some quarters for a ‘military deviation’ on anti-war strategy. This charge comes mainly from people who have advocated, and continue to advocate for, the manifestly dead-end strategies of reliance on parliamentary procedures or organizing ever more mass peaceful protest in the streets. I will not re-fight that issue here.
However there is, on reflection, a kernel of truth to the ‘military deviation’ argument of my opponents. I have always conceptualized the committees as a stopgap measure to reach our political goal of immediate withdrawal in the face of the obvious lack of class struggle by working people in America in the present period. In better political times we would be calling not for action by the troops to end the war but for labor strikes and other militant actions by the working class to slow the war machine down. We will know that we are in a very different political time when the labor movement strikes not only for its necessary wage and benefits packages but also against the Iraq war. Today, however, that is the music of the future.
Or is it? I bring to your attention the following. In mid-May a group of anti-Iraq war protesters organized as an ad hoc Port Action Committee demonstrated in front of the ship terminals in Oakland, California and asked the longshoremen there not cross their lines. In response the longshoremen honored the line and no ships were unloaded that day. Bravo. The ships in port at the time were not, however, loading or unloading military cargo. Moreover, the longshoremen did not themselves initiate the action. Nevertheless this exemplary labor action is just a taste of what working people could do to bring this damn war to an end. I note that the West Coast-based International Longshoreman’s Union has a long history of respecting picket lines for political purposes and has been a haven for left-wing political activities since the days of the San Francisco General Strike in 1934. This event points to the way we have to be thinking strategically these days. Linking up labor’s untapped power to slow down the war machine with the political fight in the barracks to end the war. That is the ticket.
An appropriate call today by militant unionists in the affected unions is the call to ‘hot cargo’ military shipments to Iraq and Afghanistan. That call is particularly important in the East Coast and Gulf Coast ports that do the bulk of the maritime transport to the Middle East. And as this call is raised other militant unionists and their unions must be ready stand in solidarity. Raising this tactic should, moreover, finally get me out from under the ‘military deviation’ charge. Right? LABOR ‘HOT CARGO’ MILITARY SHIPMENTS TO IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN.