How can we stop imperialist war?

If our unions take principled positions against British war crimes, we will have the backing we need to refuse to cooperate as individuals.

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The Nato bombardment of Libya in 2011 destroyed 40 years' worth of people-centred development.

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At their national conference in April 2009, delegates from local branches of the Stop the War Coalition (StW) overwhelmingly endorsed the following resolution, keen to really do something that might actually stop war.

No cooperation with war crimes

This conference condemns Britain’s continued involvement in the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and calls for the immediate recall of all British troops from both these countries.

While the City of London’s financial elite sought to benefit by joining arms with the US to seize Iraq’s oil wealth and manipulate her domestic and foreign policy to their advantage, this conference affirms that the entire bloody debacle has always been contrary to the interests of the vast majority of British workers, who have consistently demonstrated their opposition to this modern-day Anglo-American colonial crusade.

Since 2004, more than 1.5 million wholly innocent Iraqi men, women and children have been slaughtered as a result of the illegal invasion and occupation of their country. This can only be termed genocide. In addition, more than 4 million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes as internal and external refugees, and the resultant dislocation of Iraq’s cultural, political and economic life is near total.

In Afghanistan, tens of thousands of people have been murdered, and the country’s infrastructure smashed to pieces as a result of the Anglo-American oil monopolies’ quest to control the routes of projected pipelines.

This conference notes with shame the fact that ‘our own’ British imperialist Labour government has been a key player in planning and perpetrating these heinous war crimes against the Iraqi and Afghan peoples.

Conference notes that many British workers were browbeaten, by a compliant political and media establishment, into accepting these wars on entirely false premises (Afghan responsibility for the 11 September attacks, Blair’s ‘45 minute’ claim about Iraqi WMD, etc) that sought to paint Afghanistan and Iraq, rather than Anglo-American imperialism, as the aggressors. Thus the necessary ground was laid to send British and US soldiers (workers in uniform) to do the bankers’, oil magnates’ and armament manufacturers’ dirty work.

This conference believes that war fought to enforce subjection and servitude upon another nation is morally abhorrent; to fight and die in such a cause is demoralising, corrupting and meaningless.

This conference realises that, although individually powerless, collectively, British workers do have the power to stop the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, since the government and corporations cannot fight them without us.

This conference therefore resolves that the coalition will do all in its power to promote a movement of industrial, political and military non-cooperation with all of imperialism’s aggressive war preparations and activities among British working people.

Union mobilisation remains key to the success of such a policy, and this conference instructs the incoming Stop the War steering committee to campaign vigorously among trade unions to encourage them to adopt a practical policy encouraging their members to do everything not to support illegal wars or occupations, directly or indirectly; and to render every support to members victimised for taking this principled stand.

This conference welcomes the magnificent examples set by such signal actions as:

2002/3: FBU strike action immediately preceding the invasion of Iraq, which threatened the entire enterprise.

Jan 2003: Fifteen Aslef train drivers refused to move arms from Glasgow factories to Glen Douglas base on Scotland’s west coast (which remains Nato’s largest European arsenal, and from where they were bound for the Gulf).

9 Aug 2006: Protesters occupied the Derry offices of Raytheon when Israel invaded Lebanon, to “prevent the commissioning of war crimes by the Israeli armed forces using weapons supplied by Raytheon”.

May Day 2008: tens of thousands of US west-coast dockers defied court injunctions to strike in protest against US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite the decision of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) leadership to withhold official sponsorship for the strike.

Dec 2008: Smash EDO demonstrators occupied and disabled production at Brighton-based missile-delivery system manufacturer EDO (recently acquired by Armament Giant ITT) during Israel’s massacre of Gazans.

Feb 2009: Norwegian train drivers staged a national stoppage to protest the Israeli massacre in Gaza.
Resolutions asking Bectu media workers to resist the transmission of imperialist war propaganda will be considered at the union’s forthcoming congress.

Calling all anti-war activists and trade unionists!

Shamefully, in the nine years since it was passed, nothing has been done to turn this programme into a reality. Wars in Libya and Syria have gone ahead without any interference from British workers, as has the continued dispossession and slow genocide of the Palestinian people.

It is not too late, however. As the war machine grinds on, and threatens us with ever-wider conflagration, all of us who want to stop the juggernaught in its tracks must take this resolution into our workplaces and organisations and popularise the position contained within it.

Many jobs in Britain are connected, directly or indirectly, with the criminal British, US and Israeli war machines, whether it be making or transporting munitions, serving in the forces, aiding the occupations, or helping to write, print or broadcast the propaganda that excuses, endorses and tries to justify the illegal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Palestine and elsewhere.

We need our unions to take principled positions against British imperialism’s war crimes in order that we get the backing we need to refuse to cooperate as individuals.

Moreover, we need to demand that the work of those brave investigators who are daring to bring the truth out of countries that are demonised by the corporate media, like independent reporters Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley, are supported by the anti-war movement and given every opportunity to bring their evidence to the widest possible audience.

The first condition for preparing workers to actively oppose war will be the smashing of the warmongering narrative that has been pushed for so long by the presstitutes in British and US corporate media – including and especially such bastions of ‘liberal’ opionion as the BBC, Channel 4, the Guardian and the Independent.

Let our message be heard loud and clear:

No more cooperation with war crimes!

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