by Unicorn Jones | May 19, 2013 6:11 pm
Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Richard Blumenthal are currently pushing a bill that seems like such a no-brainer that it raises some serious questions about why there’s a need for actual legislation. It’s called the Never Contract with the Enemy Act and if passed, it would prohibit the U.S. government from granting contracts to foreign countries or entities deemed enemies of the state, like Iran and North Korea.
Because, as you know, although they clearly hate us and threaten to nuke the United States and it’s closest friends on a regular basis, apparently, the Department of Defense still occasionally hands their national industry a lucrative, multi-million dollar defense contract to build a weapon that we’ll probably use against them. : According to the Act, the Senators are looking to prevent: “knowingly provided funds directly or indirectly to an enemy of the United States or a person or entity…supporting an enemy.” I mean, why not.
Well, you might think this is all crazy, right? Wouldn’t we know by now not to hand construction of defensive materials over to people who aren’t on our side? You’d be surprised. And what’s even more surprising is that, even if the Ayotte-Blumenthal legislation is passed, some foreign entities that indirectly support enemies of the United States could still be eligible recipients of U.S. defense contracts.
How? Because the Never Contract with the Enemy Act defines ‘enemy’ as any:
“person or organization determined by the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of State to be hostile to United States forces or interests or providing support to any person or organization hostile to United States forces or interests during the time of a declared war, peacekeeping operation, or other military or contingency operation. [Or] Any organization designated as a terrorist organization.”
So while its probably unlike that we’d send blueprints for our next bomber to Al Qaeda, or farm out our tank-building operations to Islamic militants in Indonesia, there have at least been a few recent incidences: of the Obama DOD giving contracts to foreign-owned companies that are controlled by governments that, while not grievous enough to fit the bill’s description, are actively critical of the United States and supportive of enemies. One example: the U.S. Air Force recently granted a contract for Light Air Support (LAS) planes to Brazilian-owned Embraer — over an American company that submitted a competitive bid. Though not an enemy combatant, Brazil’s status as a vocal critic of our foreign policy calls into question the logic of giving a company essentially run by their government a defense contract.
Right. We actually gave someone critical of our foreign policy the power to control our aircraft. Over an American company, Beechcraft that, by all rights, was completely capable of building the same – or better – aircraft. In the United States. Where we need jobs. : In fact, had the DOD opted to go with the American manufacturer, Kansas would have received 1400 new open positions – something desperately needed in Middle America, especially now that the Obama Administration is dragging their feet on the Keystone Pipeline.
And if you didn’t think that was enough of an argument against outsourcing our military aircraft to potential UN opposition, Embraer is actually quasi-connected with the Brazilian government, in a bit of a socialist scheme that allows Brazil to subsidize the industry in an effort to prop up their interests across the globe.: Brazil holds what is called a “Golden Share” in Embraer’s company structure, entitling them “to the same voting rights as the holders of the common share.” Like something out of a D-grade zombie horror flick where the government research facility releases it’s own toxin on the population through a series of unfortunate events, it further gives the government control of any transfers of equity control and creation of military programs Brazilian or not, among other entitlements. Not to mention tax breaks amounting to a $500 million subsidy and debt forgiveness, to the tune of $700 million.
Oh, and remember that part where I said that it’s unlikely we’d be handing military contracts right to people who hate us? Well, I might have been wrong.: Just four years ago Brazil’s foreign minister held talks with North Korea, which was followed by a 40 percent trade increase between the two countries. The year ended with North Korea being one of several nations that received a tariff cut from Brazil, and at the close of 2011 it was the nation’s ninth largest trading partner.: Then there’s the time Braziillian government-owned BNDES Development financed the sale of Embraer planes to Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela. Chavez gleefully dubbed it a “very cheap” deal. Of course.
At least the Venezuela deal was seemingly on the up-and-up, which is more than can be said for a recent sale of Embraer planes to far left Argentina’s Austral Lineas Areas. In April, Argentina’s La Nacion newspaper reported potential irregularities within the transaction, including allegations of bribery. A recent Fiscal Times report on Argentina’s ongoing soap opera of corruption featured an Embraer-issued denial that it was conducting internal investigations of bribery — never a good thing to have to deny.
But at least we got a great deal on those military aircraft! Maybe. Possibly. We have yet to find out.
Congress doesn’t do a heck of a lot of things right these days, but the Never Contract with the Enemy Act seems like a decent idea. At least, for now.
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