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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Attacking Unions Abroad

In the category of one of those things we should have assumed, but generally didn't even think about, the Bush Administration's efforts to crush unions and promote privatization at the expense of workers and, indeed, all citizens here at home, the Matthew Harwood writes about the U.S.-run Coalition Provisional Authority, which did it's darndest to crush a free, democratic labor movement in Iraq. In a piece entitled "Pinkertons at the CPA", a discussion of how the nascent labor movement's potential to help build democracy and lessen ethnic strife as a legacy of its anti-Saddam days was squandered:

"Americans have largely left the Iraqi unions to fend for themselves, and in some cases actively undercut them. As a result, Iraq has been significantly deprived of the movement perhaps most willing and best equipped to nurture along a nascent national democracy in a religiously and ethnically divided country: organized labor."


"But given the history of labor in emerging democracies and the dearth of other nation-building alternatives in Iraq, sheltering and encouraging a union movement ought to have been pretty close to first in the reconstruction playbook. Instead, it seems to have come somewhere near last."

and ends with:

"Years from now, when historians try to figure out what precisely went wrong in the American occupation of Iraq and why, there will be many candidates: the failure to win enough international support; insufficient numbers of ground troops; the decision to ignore plans drawn up by experienced nation-building experts outside the Pentagon. But somewhere on the list will be the administration's indifference, indeed hostility, to Iraqi organized labor. The Iraqi people are paying a price for that attitude."