Those readers that have played Advanced Dungeons & Dragons should be familiar with character “alignments”. Your alignment spells out your basic outlook on the universe, and is divided into “Good”, “Neutral”, and “Evil”. Pretty basic. Each of the three is also qualified with either “Lawful”, “Chaotic”, or “Neutral”, leaving you with alignment options such as “Lawful Good”, “Chaotic Neutral”, “Lawful Evil,” etc. One of the options is “Neutral Neutral”, or, as we always referred to it, “True Neutral.” True Neutrals were not aligned with anyone or any ideal.
I bring this up because it appears that a Swiss company refused to ship components of our GPS-guided JDAM units after the invasion of Iraq.
Swatch Group AG, and its Micro Crystal division in Gretchen, Switzerland, refused to send key components used in the bomb guidance equipment used on the JDAM after the Iraq war began.
The Swiss company’s president blocked the parts to Honeywell, which was a subcontractor for Boeing Co. in making the tail kits for the satellite-guided bombs, 6,600 of which were dropped with great effect during the period of major conflict in Iraq.
The delay forced Boeing to buy the parts from a U.S. manufacturer at nearly twice the cost, a defense official said. The shipments resumed after the Bush administration pressed the Swiss government.
According the article, the Swiss government itself blocked shipments of British hand grenades.
There’s language in the House’s Defense Authorization Bill that would require defense contractors to “buy American” more often. The White House is generally opposed to “buy American” laws. While I think contractors should be able to get their components from wherever they can get the best price/performance results, this is potentially very damaging to our interests and puts the lives of our people at risk. Instead of “buy American” laws, why not write up contracts that include provisions for transfer (at the same terms) to other parties if something like this comes up? In this case, if the situation fit the requirements, other companies could acquire the rest of the contract for the JDAM parts. Also, specific companies that leave us in the lurch should be “blacklisted” when new contracts are up for review.
The Swiss company, and the Swiss Government for that matter, are certainly free to sell to customers that they are comfortable dealing with. If they oppose our actions, they are certainly free to stop selling us military components. On the other hand, we should also keep those sorts of things in mind, and the government has a responsibility to its people to make sure that our military gets what it needs.
All along I’ve been saying that we will learn who’s really on our side. This isn’t “just business.” If their alignment is different than ours, or if they interpret it differently, that’s their prerogative. But if it is, we can’t count on them and our dollars shouldn’t be going their way. It’s important that we stand up for the things we say we stand for. This would be one way of doing so.