From Rich Whitney, GPAX Co-Chair
This received almost no corporate media coverage, but I think it is significant that the AFL-CIO now advocates that “workers and our unions promote a foreign policy independent of the political interests and foreign policy of Wall Street and corporate America . . . . that the AFL-CIO promotes and advocates for a foreign policy based on international solidarity of all workers, mutual respect of all nations and national sovereignty, and calls upon the president and Congress to make war truly the last resort in our country’s foreign relations.”
WHEREAS, in 2005, the AFL-CIO Convention passed a historic resolution calling for the rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and an end to the country’s occupation; and
WHEREAS, in 2011, the AFL-CIO Executive Council declared that American troops must be brought home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the militarization of our foreign policy has proven to be a costly mistake; it is time to invest at home; and
WHEREAS, now 75% of Americans believe the “result of the war in Iraq was not worth the loss of American lives and other costs”; and
WHEREAS, the eventual cost to taxpayers for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars will top $4 trillion; and
WHEREAS, since 2001 the United States has used military force in numerous countries, leading to the death of an untold number of civilians, the destruction of infrastructure, a massive number of refugees and the destabilizing of sovereign nations–—there are now military threats directed against Iran and North Korea, with a potential death toll in either country in the millions and which, in the case of North Korea in particular, involve the threat of nuclear war; and
WHEREAS, while the United States ranks first by far in military spending, it ranks 7th in literacy, 20th in education, 25th in infrastructure quality, 37th in quality of health care, 31st in life expectancy, and 56th in infant mortality; and
WHEREAS, 6,831 United States military personnel have died in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and about one million have been injured. There are over 39,000 homeless military veterans; on any night, more than 1.4 million are at high risk of homelessness, of which 9% are women, and 20 military veterans/active duty military take their own lives each day; and
WHEREAS, it is vital that the workers and our unions promote a foreign policy independent of the political interests and foreign policy of Wall Street and corporate America;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO promotes and advocates for a foreign policy based on international solidarity of all workers, mutual respect of all nations and national sovereignty, and calls upon the president and Congress to make war truly the last resort in our country’s foreign relations, and that we seek peace and reconciliation wherever possible; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO calls upon the president and Congress to bring the war dollars home and make our priority as a nation rebuilding this country’s crumbling infrastructure, creating millions of living wage jobs and addressing human needs such as education, health care, housing, retirement security and jobs; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the AFL-CIO will advocate for the necessary federal funding to meet the needs of veterans by providing them comprehensive services for health care, housing, education and employment, and to establish outreach to at-risk veterans who may not be availing themselves of existing programs.
Earlier this week Jacqui Deveneau was awarded the Peace Action Maine Peace Worker’s Award. Her prepared remarks are below.
I am very moved to receive this award. When I moved back to Maine in 2002 the first organization I signed up with was the Green Party which is no surprise to you all. But right after that I was walking down by Monument Square and ran into a group of Peace activists collecting signatures for Nuclear Disarmament that was a nation wide petition. I hung out with these folks the rest of their time there and at the end when it was time to leave, Greg Field, who I grew to know and admire greatly as the director of PAM at that point, turned to me and asked if I would be the one to take this on! And that is how I got involved with PAM. So many wonderful people, many are in this room worked with me back then.
There are many stories I could share with you, but I think the best is the Noam Chomsky one. In 2010, Beth Streeter came to a meeting and said that she met the woman who was Noam Chomsky’s left hand person and that he was looking to come to Maine to do an event and so I was asked if I might help put together an event with him. It was decided a fundraiser around our yearly Peace Supper at the Woodsford Congregational Church would fit the bill. So myself and Brad Cummings who worked in the office got to work myself taking phone reservations and Brad putting them [I thought] into the data base. 700 people! So the project was that we could only seat 300 for the supper. So we had to get through the supper and that program and get 300 people up into the sanctuary from the church basement where the supper was and then check in the other 400.
Well, we got to the church and only half of the room was set up, we were in the mean time doing the check ins outside, so as I was going to tackle the fact of only half the room being set up, someone came to me from outside and said that all these people were checking in and their names were not there. So I had to run outside where I quickly realized that Brad must not have been saving some of the entries because I sat there while he was entering them so I knew he had. But as I was about to have a melt down as I knew I had to get back inside to attend to the set up, when I went in the door it was all set!! Yes, that is the beauty of this wonderful Peace community that I am part of. People just took charge and got it done.
The moving folks up to the sanctuary in a timely manner to get them settled and the other 400 in and get Noam to the front of the church all to start in time was a feat that to this day I do not know how we did it. It was one of those things that if it worked I would be crowned queen of organizing, but if I didn’t I would have 700 people very unhappy with me. Again the fact that we made it work was because of so many wonderful Peace folks, including those I call my Peace troops, the VFP who helped hold back the crowds when I needed! I have brought with me and many of you may have seen on the way in the picture of me getting Noam to the front of the church, I call it my Peace wedding, I sent a copy to Noam and he agreed.
It was after that event that I was hired on to run the PAM office form 2010 to 2012 which was the most perfect job for me that I have ever had in my life. To be paid to do Peace work! So I won’t go on, but I just want to say that there are so many of you who have continued this work, doing more actively then me at this point. I just went to the closing ceremony of the 2017 Peace Walk with so many wonderful folks. So I thank you all for never giving up against all odds and to the new young folks stepping up, as I said to the Peace Youth group I ran into at a rally in Boston, I am so glad you are here, I am so tired! And in closing I want to say that I sure hope Loukie is looking down on tonight because I think she might like that I got this award. I miss her so much. Thank you.