Union women hail Afghanistan war end, say it was always a mistake
Members of CLUW's Philadelphia chapter protest war in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 27, 2007. | CLUW

Shortly before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) endorsed a statement at its National Executive Board meeting asserting that unions must educate workers about all issues that impact their lives, jobs, and families—including foreign policy, militarism, and war.

CLUW opposed the war, urged anti-war activism and participation in U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW), the first ever anti-war organization within the U.S. labor movement. We became affiliates of USLAW around the same time.

The points made in this statement have been borne out through these long years of war:

  • that the principal victims of any military action will be the children of the U.S. working class, and innocent civilians in the occupied country who already face difficult life and economic hardships;
  • that billions of dollars will be spent, shortchanging funding for domestic schools, hospitals, housing, Social Security, environmental protection, and healthcare;
  • that war is a distraction from our domestic problems and a pretext for attacks on labor, civil, immigrant, and human rights at home, and is a vehicle to stifle dissent at home;
  • that the war would likely exacerbate misunderstandings and distrust that have led to an increase of terrorism around the globe;
  • and that military action undermines efforts toward peaceful resolution of disputes between nations, as well as the UN as a stabilizing presence in world affairs.

CLUW participated in many anti-war actions; we invited speakers, mostly wives of soldiers or female veterans, from USLAW and other anti-war groups to address our conventions; we passed resolutions at each convention to renew our affiliation with USLAW and address emerging developments, emphasizing the huge, lingering impact war has on women and families, at home and in the war zones.

CLUW members behind the U.S. Labor Against the War banner at a D.C. demo on Sept. 24, 2005. | CLUW

Now we are at the end of this long, ugly road, resulting in military failure, trillions of dollars spent, hundreds of thousands dead and maimed, millions displaced. The U.S. military inflicted barbaric torture and enriched military contractors, arms merchants, and fossil fuel corporations to an obscene degree.

Parents sent their children to fight and die for ill-defined missions and lies. U.S. foreign policy propped up weak, unpopular leaders, allied with corrupt warlords, and ignored the lessons of past wars with cultures very different from ours and opponents much more invested in victory in their own homelands than we will ever be.

There will be terrible consequences to ending our longest war, especially for Afghani women and children and those who have worked with the U.S. government. We welcome the war’s end nonetheless; we support President Biden’s refusal to spill more blood and expend more U.S. resources on a war we cannot win, an occupation we cannot sustain.

We support the members of our military being provided resources they need to fully heal from their physical and mental wounds and resume productive lives, and our nation must commit to never again send them to fight and die in unnecessary wars. We must also:

  • provide humanitarian aid to the Afghanis, including those fleeing their homeland, and apply diplomatic and economic pressure on the Taliban government to protect human rights, especially women’s and female children’s rights to education, employment, and freedom from abuse;
  • employ diplomatic measures to resolve international conflicts, through our membership in the United Nations and our alliances around the globe, only using military action as an absolutely last resort;
  • reduce the U.S. military budget and redirect funds to urgently needed social programs, infrastructure repair and rebuilding, support for local and state governments, and job creation at home.

As with all op-eds published by People’s World, this article reflects the opinions of its author.


Coalition of Labor Union Women
Coalition of Labor Union Women

The Coalition of Labor Union Women is America's only national organization for union women. Formed in 1974, CLUW is a nonpartisan organization within the union movement. The primary purpose of CLUW is to unify all union women in a strong organization to determine and seek remedies to our common problems and concerns.