Aug 1, 2005
The AFL-CIO, in its convention, passed a resolution about the war in Iraq.
The AFL-CIO leadership, and the group US Labor Against the War (USLAW), say that the resolution calls for a "rapid" withdrawal of U.S. troops.
In fact, it says nothing of the kind.
There is very little in the resolution that Bush would disagree with. It doesn't argue against the war, but merely with different aspects of the way the war is being fought – the same kinds of quibbles that Democrats sometimes raise, without calling into question the war itself.
The resolution points out that the Bush administration had misled the public about the reasons for war, while saying nothing of the Democrats' role in this deception. It gives support for the "democratic" process in Iraq – the same sham process Bush brings out to show his policies are working there.
The resolution makes a big point of speaking about solidarity with the Iraqi workers' movement, about supporting them in their struggle for democracy. It even mentions that labor leaders are being targeted by terrorists.
But it does NOT do the biggest thing Iraqi union leaders were hoping for, and the one thing that would really help them: it doesn't call for an IMMEDIATE withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
The resolution does not even acknowledge that the U.S. military presence is responsible for destabilizing the country. Instead, it accepts the U.S. government statements that the U.S. will need to remain in Iraq in order to "stabilize" the country and bring about "democracy." It calls for "greater security on the ground," as an "unmet precondition" for the U.S. to leave. It just asks for some kind of vague timetable, or "benchmarks," for an eventual pullout – the same thing congressional Democrats are asking for.
In the guise of being an anti-war resolution, this is actually a justification for further support of the war.
(And if anybody's wondering what the new split-off union coalition had to say about the war – they haven't said a thing.)
But the AFL-CIO leadership must be feeling a certain pressure from below to even pretend to make a statement against the war. It's the mark of the depth of the opposition to the war in the AFL-CIO rank and file – and in the public as a whole. It shows what workers COULD do, if they really used the power they have to force their views to be heard.
The goal of US Labor Against the War has been to get the AFL-CIO to take a position against the war. Well, if we wait for these folks to act in our interest, we'll be waiting a long time.