Monday, December 06, 2010

Wikileaks Report: Embassy Acts as Dealership

I'm tired of hearing that, "gee, well, we didn't really learn anything, anyway," from the Wikileaks naysayers. We've learned quite a lot. For example, did anyone know our embassy in Brazil is acting the part of Ernie Boch (no, not that one), doing just about anything it can to push the product onto the consumer?

Well, swap Boch's car brands for Boeing and cars for fighter jets -- and you, the consumer, for Brazil -- and it's true. That link leads to a diplomatic cable giving a detailed plan by a state official at the US Embassy in Brazil on how to get Boeing a big fighter jet contract, by beating out the odds-on French competitors.

In it, the writer makes a case to
  • mitigate the lack of US support in Brazil by being "forward leaning in approving transfers of technology in support of this sale,"
  • get the President to write a letter to them to let them know that we're definitely going to approve that transfer of technology, to assuage their doubts, among employing other high-level US officials, including Secretary Clinton,
  • come up with strategies to get the Brazilians a good financial package, up to and including a congressional solution,
  • making the PR case for Boeing in selling the plane in question as the superior option (because, apparently, Boeing has the government to do that for them),
  • and, finally, attacking the French bid.
While this sort of a role, on behalf of a major international corporation based in the US, may or may not be appropriate for the State Department to be taking up, it is certainly something people should have an understanding is going on. Additionally, should such things continue to go on, there's no legitimate reason they should be done in secret. Either we think it's appropriate that our embassies are fighting for our corporations (and I think that's a perfectly debateable point), and such things will no longer be kept secret from the public, or we shouldn't tolerate that kind of corporate-government collusion at all.

At the end of the day, this revelation may not amount to something that would shock the world, or even be something many would be grossly opposed to (so long as the Embassy isn't allowing its corporate interests to interfere with its other duties), but it is a key insight into the way our government -- and our State Department in embassies across the world -- works. And people should have the right to know that. In large part thanks to the work WikiLeaks has done, in this instance we do.

No comments:

About Ryan's Take