By Bruce Campion-Smith,Toronto Star, December 23, 2010
Canada may have been the target of a high-pressure sales job to buy the controversial F-35 fighter by a U.S. administration known to use “forceful” diplomacy to cement a deal, leaked diplomatic cables suggest.
Memos from the U.S. State Department reveal that Washington engaged in a carefully orchestrated campaign to persuade Norway to buy the American-made fighter jet in 2008. And praising the success of that “extensive, coordinated” effort, U.S. diplomats suggested using a similar game plan to make other foreign sales.
Two years later, Canada announced it would buy 65 F-35s at a cost of $9 billion, not including the cost of maintenance, a deal that raises questions whether Ottawa faced a similar full-court press by the U.S.
The memos, distributed by WikiLeaks, date from 2008 when Norway was deciding between the F-35 or the Swedish-made Saab Gripen jet as its fighter jet of the future.
While the notes don’t mention Canada by name, they do offer an intriguing window into the world of arms sales as government worked hand-in-hand with the private sector to secure a lucrative deal.
In this case, U.S. diplomats worked closely with officials from Lockheed Martin, the jet’s manufacturer, to combat negative media coverage, woo decision makers and publicly promote the fighter.
They even weren’t above putting Norway’s relationship with Washington on the line.
“We needed to avoid any appearance of undue pressuring . . . but we couldn’t let stand the view that the choice didn’t matter for the relationship,” one diplomatic note says.
If there is any truth to these "leaks" then the whole world has be aware that the U.S. government and its corporations are so intimately linked as to have become "Saimese twins"....because the interests of the nation have been identified with a single corporation, with regard to the F-35 Fighter Jets.
Lockheed Martin's slogan, We never forget who we are working for, is so clearly and unabashedly a sign of nepotism, and viewers around the world could easily, if we believe these "leaks," supply the word, "Pentagon" or "U.S. State Department" or "Washington" or "Lockheed Martin" itself...at the end of the slogan with the two "V's" intersecting.
When the lobbyists for a military provider of aircraft have so penetrated the intentions of the government of a nation (U.S.) that that government has linked its relationships with its allies to the purchase by those allies of a product produced by that military provider, then those countries can and must feel bullied, resentful and extremely cautious about any future dealings with that government.
The short-term interests of the company (Lockheed Martin) and the national interests of the U.S. can be seen to be so enmeshed as to make a mockery of the cries of "socialism" in the debate over health care, and government "take-over".
Let's not forget, either, that these leaked memo's are dated during the Bush-Cheney era and things may have changed with the election of President Obama.
It was the U.S. president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, himself the Allied Commander in Europe during World War II, who warned of the dangers of the military-industrial complex (to which one listener to NPR added the word "financial" in a call-in to On Point this week, altering it to "military-industrial-financial" complex).
Apparently, the U.S. was not listening to the former president. Apparently, the U.S. government is so wedded to the military "establishment" as to render the intimacy "incestuous" rather than mutually supportive.
Has Lockheed Martin become the unofficial supplier of military fighter jets to the U.S. government, and through that relationship, to the allies of the U.S.?
Has Lockheed Martin so committed the legislators on the Armed Services Committee of the U.S. Congress to its sales, that those committee members now serve as paid "pitch" men and women to Lockheed Martin, or have they protected themselves from such a charge by having their civil servants do that under-the-table work?
At least neutral countries like Norway (and Canada) would know that the government of Russia would have its fingers all over any attempt to sell Russian Fighter Jets to Norway, before any call were made. And one has to wonder if the U.S. has not become, for all intents and purposes one giant corporation whose tentacles have many different logo's, slogans and signs.
Is the U.S. government also selling hamburgers under the "golden arches" in China?
Is the U.S. government also selling caffeine-laden soda under the two logo's of Pepsi and Coca-Cola in countries around the world?
And one has to speculate....Have the U.S. government and General Electric, for example, struck a deal to jointly sell medical equipment, and financial services (under the rubric, General Electric Capital) to the world? Or, have the U.S. government and General Motors, for example, struck a deal to provide military transport vehicles to the world?
One observation is clear: It is time for the U.S. Congress to provide all the funds necessary for candidates to offer their names for election, to campaign and to pay the advertising costs...in a government funding bill.
Only in that way, can we be sure that there is no direct flow of cash from the mega-corporations to the individual candidates.
Another observation seems to be to have the Attorney General investigate a case of anti-trust involvement of the government with the various corporations. At what point does the government become another arm of a single corporation?