Sweeney Is Silent on Ties to War Hawks
Who Are Promoting Bush’s Global Agenda

By Harry Kelber

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney has declined to explain why his name and title appear on a list of supporters of the Project for the New American Century, an organization whose prime activity is to promote the establishment of an American global empire through the use of military and economic power.

On the list of “people associated” with the Project, besides Sweeney, are: Vice President Dick Cheney, a founder; Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and a gallery of neo-conservatives, many from the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. The list is “current to Dec. 2004.”

The Project for a New American Century is a think tank, founded in 1997, whose principles are now the governing foreign and military policies of the Bush administration. In September 2000, the Project released a “grand plan” that called for sufficient combat forces to fight and win multiple major wars and be equipped for “constabulary duties” around the world, with American rather than U.N. leadership. The Project supports the doctrine of pre-emptive war and the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons.

Union members are entitled to know what, exactly, is Sweeney’s relations with the PNAC? What prompted him to collaborate with an organization that, to say the least, is hardly a friend of organized labor?

Sweeney is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, regarded as the most influential think tank on foreign and economic policy, whose recommendations are often adopted by the government. Executives from 200 “international companies representing a range of sectors” participate in special Council programs. They include the largest commercial banks, insurance companies and strategic planning corporations. Petroleum, military and media companies are also well represented.

How is Sweeney’s presence on the Council of any benefit to the 13 million union members he represents? Doesn’t his name on the Council imply support for its activities?

Although Sweeney has continuously criticized President George Bush on domestic policies, he has remained conspicuously silent on Iraq and the war on terrorism, even in the final days of the presidential elections, when Bush was especially vulnerable on his handling of the war.

In the two years since the invasion of Iraq, Sweeney has refused to comment on any of Bush’s embarrassing problems: the failure to find weapons of mass destruction; the rising toll of dead and wounded American soldiers; the exorbitant cost of the war, and the lack of an exit plan for the return of our troops.

Moreover, the AFL-CIO, with Sweeney’s apparent approval, has maintained a strict blackout of news and information about Iraq, homeland security and terrorism. Most affiliated unions have followed Sweeney’s example; their leaders have refrained from issuing any statements that criticize Bush’s foreign policy, and their publications act as though the war in Iraq is not an issue for America’s working families.

The news blackout is enforced even within the labor movement. AFL-CIO publications and policy statements by the Executive Council have consistently ignored the anti-war movement and its advocates among members of its affiliated unions. U.S. Labor Against the War reports a list of unions, representing better than a third of the entire AFL-CIO membership, that have passed resolutions calling for an end to the American-led occupation in Iraq and the return home of our soldiers. Yet this is not considered newsworthy by the AFL-CIO’s official magazine, America@Work and other union publications.

It is high time for Sweeney to be accountable to the AFL-CIO membership. There are a few straightforward questions that require straightforward answers:

  • Does he approve of the Project for a New American Century? If so, why? If not, will he publicly denounce it and ask PNAC to remove his name from its list?
  • Why has he maintained membership in the Council of Foreign Relations? What has been his role within the Council? Does he intend to continue his Council membership? Why?
  • Why has he remained silent on Iraq and the war on terrorism since the invasion? Why has he refused to criticize President Bush on foreign policy? Who ordered a strict blackout of news and information about Iraq? Will he announce an end to the blackout?

Brother Sweeney, silence is no longer an acceptable option.

Harry Kelber’s e-mail address is:

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