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From US Labor Against the War


IN THIS MESSAGE: Bring Them Home Now Tour; In Iraq, hope should spring internal; U.S. corporations march into Baghdad

Dear Friends,

On August 31st the Bring Them Home Now Tour will ROLL from Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas to Washington, D.C. The messages and the spirit of Camp Casey will spread to communities across the country.

Since August 6th Cindy Sheehan and other Gold Star and military families have raised a clear, uncompromising call: it is time to stop the senseless death, time to end the war in Iraq and to bring all of our troops home now. As the 24-hour-a-day vigil at the front door of president Bush’s vacation ranch comes to a close, the final touches are being put in place for the next step in this campaign.

On Wednesday., August 31st three buses with members of Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace will leave from the heart of Texas and bring the same message to cities and towns across the country on the way from Crawford to Washington, DC. Each bus will take a different route and over the next three weeks, more than 27 states and over 40 cities will be visited. Local organizers who live in these cities and towns are preparing to welcome the tour, putting together town hall meetings, prayer vigils, visits to Congressional offices, media appearances and other activities. All of this organizing will help build the momentum for what promise to be three historic days of antiwar action on September 24th-26th in Washington, DC being organized by United for Peace and Justice ( http://www.unitedforpeace.org/septmobe). The bus tour will strengthen the movement in local communities to end the war, bring the troops home now, and take care of them when they get here.

You can be a part of the tour, in fact you can help make sure it is the success it must be. What we need most is right now is donations to help us get this tour rolling! You can make a donation and find out more information at http://www.bringthemhomenowtour.org.

Check out the website to see if the tour is coming to your town or region, and if it is, help get the word out and get more details about the tour and ideas for how you can help.

If you are not in a community where the busses are stopping, you can do your own event and become a stop on the virtual bus tour! Link with local members of Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and/or Veterans for Peace to bring the message and build the spirit of Camp Casey locally. Contact mfso@mfso.org; contact@gsfp.org, ivaw@ivaw.net and/or go to http://www.veteransforpeace.org to see if there are local members of these organizations to speak at your event. Please add your event on the calendar on the http://www.bringthemhomenowtour.org website!

Again, we need all of your help to make this tour a huge success! It is the support of people like you that helped to make Camp Casey possible. And now your support is needed for this unique and amazing bus tour. Please take a moment right now to make your contribution by going to the website http://www.bringthemhomenowtour.org

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Dear Friends and Colleagues

Today's (Aug 12) Newsday has my op-ed drawing from the lessons of the recent U.S. tour of senior Iraqi labor leaders, sponsored by U.S. Labor Against the War. It addresses the fear among many Americans that a rapid U.S. withdrawal will allow the terrorists to win with diasterous results for the Iraqi people and our own security. Let's keep in mind a point raised in the joint statement of the Iraqi union leaders at the end of their tour: "The occupation is fuel on the fire of terrorism." See the full text of the joint statement and other information on the Website of U.S. Labor Against the War at www.uslaboragainstwar.org .

Here's the link to my op-ed, and the text pasted in below.
Michael Zweig

http://www.newsday.com/news/opinion/ny-opzwe124379937aug12,0,5340567.story

In Iraq, hope should spring internal
By Michael Zweig

The path to stability and reconstruction in Iraq must first and foremost be
a political process in the hands of the Iraqis themselves. It cannot be
imposed by an outside power through military might.

Americans seeking an exit strategy from Iraq would do well to advocate
strengthening institutions of Iraqi civil society, including trade unions,
as vehicles to organize the Iraqi people and allow them to shape their
future.

When we think about what is going on in Iraq, it's easy to imagine the
society divided between two forces: on the one hand, suicide bombers and
mysterious insurgents pushing toward civil war; on the other, the U.S.
military striving to hold things together while promoting democracy. Some
Americans originally opposed to the war now feel worried about calling for
an end to the occupation, fearing "the terrorists will win," with
disastrous results for the Iraqi people and our own safety.

But on a recent tour of 26 U.S. cities, including Stony Brook, six senior
Iraqi labor leaders described a different and more complex reality.
American audiences who heard representatives of the Iraqi Federation of
Trade Unions, the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq, and
the General Union of Oil Employees learned something surprising. The
unions, representing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi workers in
transportation, agriculture, construction and the oil industry, are eager
to build a democratic society with equality for women and without
discrimination on the basis of religion.

These Iraqi labor leaders condemned the terror spreading in their country,
but in a joint statement issued at the end of the tour declared "the
principal obstacle to peace, stability, and the reconstruction of Iraq is
the [U.S.] occupation. The occupation is the problem, not the solution.
Iraqi sovereignty and independence must be restored. The occupation must
end in all its forms, including military bases and economic domination."
Wherever they spoke, the Iraqis stressed the need to have internal
political processes replace external military force to solve Iraq's
problems.

Iraqi trade unions have a history extending back to the 1920s. They were
severely repressed by Saddam Hussein, but -- following a brief period of
optimism after Hussein was overthrown -- it became clear that union
organizing wouldn't be easy under occupation, either. U.S. authorities in
Iraq continue to insist on enforcement of a 1987 Hussein law that prohibits
unions in the public sector (70 percent of the economy). U.S. military
personnel have arrested union officials and ransacked their offices.
Occupation authorities promote privatization of Iraqi state assets,
including oil reserves and production facilities -- policies the Iraqi
unions emphatically oppose.

The Iraqis touring the United States were guests of U.S. Labor Against the
War, a coalition of labor organizations formed in January 2003, now
representing 4 million workers. U.S. labor audiences discovered they had
some things in common with the Iraqis: a desire to end the occupation;
repudiation of terrorism; opposition to privatization; and a commitment to
a strong, free labor movement playing a central role in shaping social
policy -- not only in Iraq but also here, where the Bush administration has
stripped long-standing union protections from 180,000 federal workers
transferred to the Department of Homeland Security.

Common interests underlie an international solidarity that emerged at the
AFL-CIO convention in Chicago last month, though it was little noticed
because of the departure of three large unions from the federation. For the
first time in history, the AFL-CIO opposed an ongoing U.S. war when
delegates overwhelmingly called for the rapid withdrawal of American troops
from Iraq, the substitution of UN forces, and the strengthening of Iraqi
unions as alternatives to terror and occupation.

The United States has an obligation to help Iraq rebuild after the
destruction wrought by the war. We can make good on that responsibility by
ending the occupation and sending money from the peace dividend to the
government that the Iraqis build, anchored in the civil society that they
are dedicated to creating in our absence.

Michael Zweig, who directs the Center for Study of Working Class Life at
SUNY Stony Brook, is the author, most recently, of "The Working Class
Majority: America's Best Kept Secret."

(c) Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.

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http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-juhasz14aug14,0,118...
Bush's economic invasion of Iraq
U.S. corporations march into Baghdad, at the expense of self-determination.
By Antonia Juhasz

ANTONIA JUHASZ is a scholar with the think tank Foreign Policy In Focus. Her book "The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time" will be published by Regan Books in 2006. August 14, 2005

August 14, 2005

ON MONDAY, Iraq's National Assembly will release a draft constitution to be voted on by the people in two months. Since February, vital issues have been debated and discussed by the drafting committee: the role of Islamic law, the rights of women, the autonomy of the Kurds and the participation of the minority Sunnis.

But what hasn't been on the table is at least as important to the formation of a new Iraq: the country's economic structure. The Bush administration has succeeded in maintaining a stranglehold on issues such as public versus private ownership of resources, foreign access to Iraqi oil and U.S. control of the reconstruction effort ­ all of which are still governed by administration policies put into place immediately after the invasion. The Bush economic agenda favors foreign interests ­ American interests ­ over Iraqi self-determination.

Over a year ago, orders were put in place by L. Paul Bremer III, then the U.S. administrator of Iraq, that were designed to "transition [Iraq] from a … centrally planned economy to a market economy" virtually overnight and by U.S. fiat. Those orders were also incorporated into the transitional administrative law ­ Iraq's interim constitution ­ and the economic restructuring they mandate is well underway.

Laws governing banking, investment, patents, copyrights, business ownership, taxes, the media and trade have all been changed according to U.S. goals, with little real participation from the Iraqi people. (The TAL can be changed, but only with a two-thirds majority vote in the National Assembly, and with the approval of the prime minister, the president and both vice presidents.) The constitutional drafting committee has, in turn, left each of these laws in place.

A central component of the Bush economic agenda is foreign corporate access to, and privatization of, Iraq's once state-run economy. Thus, an early Bremer order allowed foreign investment in and the privatization of all 192 government-owned industries (excluding oil extraction).

After the election of the transitional government, the Ministry of Industry and Minerals fell right in line, announcing plans to partially privatize most of its 46 state-owned companies and open them to foreign investment as part of a plan to establish a "liberal, free-market economy."

Oil is, of course, at the heart of the agenda. In 2004, U.S.-appointed interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi submitted guidelines to Iraq's Supreme Council for Oil Policy suggesting that the "Iraqi government disengage from running the oil sector … and that the [Iraq National Oil Company] be partly privatized in the future" and opened to international foreign investment, according to International Oil Daily. (U.S oil imports from Iraq increased by more than 86% between 2003 and 2004 alone.)

Plans for a new Iraqi oil law were made public last December at a news conference in Washington hosted by the U.S. government. The U.S.-appointed interim Finance Minister Adel Abdul Mehdi explained that the new law would be "very promising to the American investors and to American enterprise, certainly to oil companies."

A few weeks later, Mehdi became one of Iraq's two vice presidents and Allawi was elected to the National Assembly. Iraq's new oil law is on track for implementation in 2006.

Finally, consider Iraq's reconstruction, which also remains firmly under U.S. control. One of Bremer's orders denied the Iraqi government the ability to give preference to Iraqis in the reconstruction effort. Instead, more than 150 U.S. companies were awarded contracts totaling more than $50 billion, more than twice the GDP of Iraq. Halliburton has the largest, worth more than $11 billion, while 13 other U.S. companies are earning more than $1.5 billion each.

These contractors answer to the U.S. government not the Iraqi people, several thousand of whom in the last few days have protested the failure of U.S. companies to provide accessible water, sanitation and electricity at pre-war levels. Iraqis argue that they have the knowledge, skill and experience to conduct the reconstruction themselves; what they need is the money and decision-making control that they are being denied.

By all accounts, the draft constitution has failed to provide Iraqis with the means to control their economic future. As Iraq prepares for the October 15 referendum on the constitution these crucial issues must be added to the debate, and the influence of the Bush administration countered, so that Iraqis can truly determine their own economic and political fate.

Just as discussions are finally emerging for ending the U.S. military occupation of Iraq, so too must the economic invasion be brought to an end.

-- The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time. by, Antonia Juhasz Regan Books, Harper Collins Publishers Out early 2006 http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0060846879/102-2663260-255...

"Plundering, slaughter, and rape they call by the false name of Empire, and when they have made a desert, they call it peace." - Tacitus, Agricola 30, 98 CE.

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U.S. Labor Against War (USLAW)
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www.uslaboragainstwar.org
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U.S. Labor Against the War - www.uslaboragainstwar.org - 1718 M St., NW #153, Washington, DC 20036.

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