Auto workers at the Chrysler Warren Truck Assembly Plant in suburban Detroit expressed opposition to the moves by the Obama Administration to launch a new war in the Middle East after more than 12 years of wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Reporters from the World Socialist Web Site spoke to auto workers the day after the US House of Representatives voted to approve the Obama administration’s plan to build up Syrian “rebel” forces as part of a wider US military intervention in the Middle East. The bipartisan approval came by a margin of 273-156, with majorities of both Republicans (159-71) and Democrats (114-85) supporting the measure.
While a section of workers were swayed by the enormous propaganda drive being carried out in the media to railroad the population into a new war, a significant portion voiced opposition to war and distrust of the claims of the media and political establishment.
“Once again they are using scare tactics, claiming that ISIS is a big threat; they’re saying, ‘you don’t want another 9/11, do you?’ But people know better now; they know there is something else behind this,” said Rudy, a warren truck worker, as he was leaving the plant after his shift. “Once the US occupies a country it never leaves. They want to get rid of those in charge and put in a figurehead who will give oil and money to the US.”
Many workers recognized that once again there had not been the slightest public debate over committing the US to war. As one worker put it, “They vote and we go off to fight.”
Kenneth, another worker at the plant, added, “The working class doesn’t have a voice. Obama promised there would not be any more wars and yet we are in another war.”
One worker said, “War is a money maker. They are making trillions of dollars. I’m with you against another war.” Another added, “We’ve been in Iraq since the first Bush. All of the politicians, Democrats and Republicans, are nothing but liars—Obama too.
“What were the last two wars about? They wanted to occupy Afghanistan. It has a border with China and is near Russia. Who are the other world powers? China and Russia. Of course, the US wants a base in Afghanistan—it’s part of the power structure. It goes back to Sykes Picot (the post-World War I treaty in which Britain and France carved up the Middle East). It’s imperialism.”
Desmond denounced the squandering of resources on war at a time when politicians claim there is no money for essential social needs, a theme that was repeated by several workers.
“It’s ridiculous," Desmond said. "They find money for war but they’re closing schools, cutting off pensions, raising the water rates and cutting people off water. Big business is making so much money while the people who work the hardest get the least. What are all these wars about? Oil!”
“If we had a chance, I would vote ‘no’ on war,” said Shante. “It takes too much money and there is no relief for the poor; it would be better to help people. Take the money from war and use it to replenish workers' retirement funds, which are being cut.”
Referring to Obama’s justifications for the war, another worker said, “We went to war based on a bunch of lies under Bush, and it’s no different now.” He added, “It’s crazy. More troops are going to be sent and more are going to die or come back with post traumatic stress disorder.”
Noting the long backing by the US and its allies like Saudi Arabia for Sunni extremists, who are now supposedly the target of the new war, another worker said, “We backed the Taliban against Russia. They’re lying to the American people again just to find an excuse for another war. Obama is lying too.”