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Letters to the editor

October 17, 2003 | Page 4

OTHER LETTERS BELOW:
Labor's struggle for global justice
SW misrepresented Al Gore's position
Bush's hypocrisy on display at UN
Does SW have an alternative in mind?

Our resistance is global

Dear Socialist Worker,
U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand Charles Swindells had to cancel a planned speech at Victoria University of Wellington last week after student antiwar activists reminded him of his administration's brutal slaughter in Iraq and Afghanistan. Activists called for a "minute of silence" for the dead in Iraq--and, when Swindells' minders thought that would be the end of the matter, announced a "moment of rage" for the continuing oppression of the Iraqi people.

Chanting "Occupation is not liberation," activists forced Swindells to abandon the meeting and leave without having said a word. As the representative of George Bush in this country, he was offered calculated discourtesy to show the rage that ordinary people have for his government's murderous regime.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark and the news media have condemned students for denying Swindells' "freedom of speech" and for rudeness. But his speech was published and discussed anyway. And what is worse--the brutal and discourteous occupation of a country or the gentle and discourteous occupation of a meeting?

It was great to be able to point activists toward articles in Socialist Worker about the activities of the Campus Antiwar Network and to show the inspiring activism of students in the United States. We stand with you in the struggle against occupation and war. Our resistance is global!

Dougal McNeill, International Socialist Organisation, Wellington, New Zealand

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Labor's struggle for global justice

Dear Socialist Worker,
I was lucky to participate recently with about 100 other activists, organizers and union officials at the "Labor and the Struggle for Global Justice" conference in New York City. Timed with the recent demonstrations against the World Trade Organization, the conference made clear that the left wing of the labor movement is again putting global justice on its agenda.

UNITE President Bruce Raynor set the tone, arguing for a militant organizing strategy as the only way to take on globalization. He used UNITE's campaign at Brylane--which united American unionists with Italian union members, who picketed Gucci, owned by the same company as Brylane--as an example of how unions can use international links against global forces.

Raynor also argued that labor had to confront the fact that both mainstream political parties accept the terms of the global economy. He told the story of how Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry had laughed in his face about keeping American manufacturing jobs.

The fight against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is also a priority. The Communication Workers of America (CWA), for example, have produced 100,000 postcards in an effort, modeled after a similar campaign in Brazil, that targets the trade deal as "NAFTA times 10". The CWA is also planning on mobilizing their retirees for the Miami summit around the FTAA in November.

Marjona Jones, of conference cosponsor Jobs with Justice, highlighted the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, as a next step in the global justice fight. She spoke of a "season of struggle" extending from the anti-WTO protests to the freedom rides, to November's planned anti-FTAA protests, all the way into the Republican National Convention next fall.

Along with sense of excitement, there was also a tone of serious debate, especially over what attitude to take towards the presidential elections. Some argued that Bush represented "very dangerous forces" and must be opposed at all cost, even if that meant supporting the Democrats, while others pointed to the missed opportunity that the labor movement had with the Nader campaign in 2000 to back a serious global justice candidate.

Peter Lamphere, New York City

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SW misrepresented Al Gore's position

Dear Socialist Worker,
You have misrepresented the words of Al Gore regarding his feelings about the war in Iraq in your article "Would Al Gore have gone to war?" (SW, October 3). Nowhere will you find any words showing him condoning a pre-emptive, illegal strike on Iraq. Nowhere will you find his condoning the "shock and awe" tactics used by the Bush administration that killed innocent women and children, put our troops unnecessarily in harm's way and put this country in more danger.

Al Gore believes that the United Nations (UN) inspections should have been allowed to continue, and that, I believe, is what he meant by calling for a wider coalition to be put together regarding Saddam Hussein--to hold his feet to the fire regarding compliance with standing resolutions.

I also believe Gore meant that before any military action would ever be condoned, reliable evidence regarding weapons of mass destruction with the intent of endangering America would most certainly have to be provided unquestionably to the American people--with them involved in the debate and the decision. In the case of the Bush administration, it was not.

You simply cannot sit there and distort Gore's words as if he would have gone about this in the same manner. As far as Madeleine Albright is concerned, she isn't Al Gore and should worry about her own culpability involving the sanctions she condoned in Iraq.

I believe it is unprofessional journalism to quote others as if they have credibility in speaking for someone else--just to infer something about a person you wish to misrepresent.

Read Al Gore's words, for it is undeniable that he was against this war from the start. Why won't you give credit where credit is due?

Jan Moore, Bayonne, N.J.

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Bush's hypocrisy on display at UN

Dear Socialist Worker,
In his September 23 speech to the United Nations (UN), George W. Bush condemned the international trade in human beings, especially children, who serve as sex workers under near-slave conditions. But Bush's "abolitionist" campaign is just as selective as U.S. "humanitarian" military interventions.

He has singled out Cuba, Myanmar and North Korea for sanctions. The inclusion of the North Korean state as "sex traffickers" is a real stretch. As the State Department Web site explains, North Korean women often end up as prostitutes in China--after they've left the North as economic refugees.

Not surprisingly, there's no mention of U.S. complicity in mass prostitution in South Korea, where the U.S. has 37,000 troops stationed. According to Selig Harrison, a longtime reporter on U.S.-Korean relations, there is at least one South Korean prostitute for every seven U.S. soldiers.

This is a humiliating throwback to the Second World War, when the occupying Japanese troops forced Koreans to become "comfort women." The treatment of Korean prostitutes has not improved much since then.

Last year, a U.S. soldier evaded arrest for murdering a 65-year-old sex worker by using his soldier's exemption at an airport security check. At the UN, Bush demanded "certainty of punishment" for offenders, but he's applying the same standard that he invented for the International Criminal Court--no prosecution of those who wear a U.S. uniform.

David Whitehouse, Chicago

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Does SW have an alternative in mind?

Dear Socialist Worker,
I have read articles on your Web site during the past month with more than just a passing interest. The way you have exposed the imperialist designs of the present U.S. president and his cronies is really an eye-opener for those who are not aware of the issue. For those who are (mis)informed through the regular channels, it is a valuable alternate view of the situation, resulting in a broader view of the world matters.

This is how far it goes, however. When I went through many articles on the Web site, I found that the tone was always negative, and at some places bitter.

To generate awareness about the ills in society and the world is a good starting point, but if your initiative is not complemented with an agenda to rectify the situation, it is only a task half-done. It would be really helpful if the articles present an alternative or guide the disillusioned reader to an alternative to the madness that you expose.

Krishna Dharasurkar, Pune, India

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