I don’t think anyone is naive enough to believe that the highly state-controlled business of arms sales isn’t a tool of foreign policy. With that is mind, news of this deal might be interesting:
“Lockheed Martin has won a contract to supply 48 new F-16 fighter jets to Poland, in Eastern Europe’s biggest military deal.
The US firm beat off competition from the French manufacturer Dassault and a joint British-Swedish venture by BAE Systems and Saab to secure the deal.”
I have not the first clue about the relative technical merits, or otherwise, of the various fighter jets concerned but I do know that high-grade weapons deals such as this are loaded (scuse pun) with political and diplomatic significance. The arms business is seldom just about business as one of the parties to the negotiations is only too quick to point out:
“Dassault chief executive Charles Edelstenne accused the Polish government of making a political decision by choosing an American plane rather than a European one.
“The political element was the dominating element, much more than the quality of the material and the price,” he told Radio France Info.
“I felt for a very long time that they very much favoured rapprochement with the Americans. So it’s not a surprise,” he said.”
Sour grapes? Well, possibly. But, then again, he might just be right:
“Lockheed was backed by a $3.8bn US government financing package and some heavy lobbying by President George W Bush’s administration.”
Alright, every government lobbies on behalf of its domestic arms industry. But Poland is one of the ten or so former Eastern Bloc countries pencilled in to join the European Union in 2004 and, arguably, the most important of them. How odd that the Poles should so publicly rebuff their prospective Euro-partners in favour of the Great Satan.
Could it be that the above-mentioned ‘lobbying’ was about more than jet-fighters and that the Bush administration has decided it would be good strategy to gently lure the Poles away from the twitching tentacles of Brussels? Watch that space.