As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, May 01, 2008

General Strike

There was some question whether or not this would actually happen, but I'm proud of the ILWU for putting principles first and pulling this off.

Thousands of dockworkers at all 29 West Coast ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach, took the day off work today in what their union called a protest of the war in Iraq, effectively shutting down operations at the busy complexes.

The action came two months before the contract expires between the dockworkers, represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and the Pacific Maritime Assn., which represents port operators and large shippers, many of them foreign-owned.

"We are supporting the troops and telling politicians in Washington that it's time to end the war in Iraq," said union President Bob McEllrath.

This is the first major general strike against the war I can think of in my personal memory. Two years ago most truckers stayed away on May Day to protest immigration policy and attend rallies in LA. But this is the entire west coast of the US and Canada.

The longshoremen understand what our politicians must: this war is immoral, unnecessary, catastrophic, and damaging to our national character. It needs to end.

(This is also why a strong labor movement needs to be sustained. Not only does it provide an engine to upward mobility for the working class, it takes the role of our national conscience.)

UPDATE: Here's an example of why the ILWU is out in the streets today.

Sgt. 1st Class David L. McDowell, 30, of Ramona, California died Tuesday in Afghanistan of “wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked using small arms fires.” The San Diego Tribune reports, “He had been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq seven times and was a recipient of two Bronze stars and a Purple Heart.”

Seven tours of duty. No end in sight. What a tragedy.

UPDATE II: Oh yeah, none of this has made us safer, either.

Al-Qa’ida (AQ) and associated networks remained the greatest terrorist threat to the United States and its partners in 2007. It has reconstituted some of its pre-9/11 operational capabilities through the exploitation of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), replacement of captured or killed operational lieutenants, and the restoration of some central control by its top leadership, in particular Ayman al-Zawahiri. Although Usama bin Ladin remained the group’s ideological figurehead, Zawahiri has emerged as AQ’s strategic and operational planner.

AQ and its affiliates seek to exploit local grievances for their own local and global purposes. They pursue their own goals, often at large personal cost to the local population. These networks are adaptive, quickly evolving new methods in response to countermeasures. AQ utilizes terrorism, as well as subversion, propaganda, and open warfare; it seeks weapons of mass destruction in order to inflict the maximum possible damage on anyone who stands in its way, including other Muslims and/or elders, women, and children.

Despite the efforts of both Afghan and Pakistani security forces, instability, coupled with the Islamabad brokered cease-fire agreement in effect for the first half of 2007 along the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier, appeared to have provided AQ leadership greater mobility and ability to conduct training and operational planning, particularly that targeting Western Europe and the United States. Numerous senior AQ operatives have been captured or killed, but AQ leaders continued to plot attacks and to cultivate stronger operational connections that radiated outward from Pakistan to affiliates throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.

This war is awesome.

UPDATE III: Good progress.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Two suicide bombers killed 30 people and wounded 65 others when they detonated explosive vests in a busy market in a town northeast of Baghdad on Thursday, Iraqi police said.

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