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«In the Interest of Democracy»

The Rise and Fall of the Early Cold War Alliance Between the American Federation of Labor and the Central Intelligence Agency


Quenby Hughes

Until recently, there has been little concrete evidence linking the American Federation of Labor (AFL) to the U.S. government’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In this book, based upon recently opened archival collections, the author investigates this controversial and complicated early Cold War relationship. Contrary to arguments that the AFL’s international activities were entirely controlled by the U.S. government to the detriment of the independent international labor movement, or that the AFL acted on its own without government involvement to foster legitimate anti-communist trade unions, the author’s examination of the archival sources reveals that the AFL and the CIA made an alliance of convenience based upon common goals and ideologies, which dissolved when the balance of power shifted away from the AFL and into the hands of the CIA.
In addition to tracing the complicated historical threads which resulted in an apparently unlikely relationship, three specific examples of how the AFL worked with the CIA are investigated in this book: the development of the anti-communist trade union federation Force Ouvrière in France; the AFL campaign against the Soviet Union’s use of «slave labor» at the UN; and labor’s role in the activities of the National Committee for a Free Europe, including Radio Free Europe and the Free Trade Union Center in Exile.


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Acknowledgments -xi


Acknowledgments I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the many individuals who have been instrumental in the research and writing of this book. First, I would like to recognize the advice and assistance of my doctoral committee at Harvard University: Professors Stephan Thernstrom, Ernest May, and John Womack, Jr. Each has in his own way contributed invaluably to the many steps in the construction of this manuscript. Archivists at the George Meany Memorial Archives, the Hoover Institution Library and Archives, the National Archives, and Wayne State worked tirelessly to aid my detective work. Two summer research grants from the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard allowed me to conduct research in Washington DC, Palo Alto, and Detroit. After I had completed much of the legwork required to collect the evidence for this text, a two-year fellowship from Harvard’s Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations allowed me to take a break from teaching and devote myself to this book and the study of nongovernmental organizations. My colleagues at the Hauser Center, and since at Rhode Island College, provided a warm and intellectually stimulating environment for me, and I am grateful for their attention and support. Even before I began graduate study at Harvard, several excellent teach- ers and scholars strongly inf luenced me to pursue my love of history and writing. I would like to recognize Dr Jane Lancaster and Professors Stanley Lemons, Robert Cvornyek, and Spencer Hall of Rhode Island College. Their enthusiasm, excellent teaching,...

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