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Let Europe’s Airbus Build Weapons for the EU, Not U.S.

Gary S. Goldman is the nationally recognized host of “Business, Politics, & Lifestyles” a weekly talk show airing on WPRO in Providence RI. Learn more at garyonbpl.com.   

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The United States needs allies, as every country does. But the United States shouldn’t depend completely on those allies. We must always be able to provide for our own “common defense,” as the Constitution says. So while it is nice to have the support of the European Union (when it is willing to provide support) Americans shouldn’t rely on European military support.

Especially from the France-based military contractor Airbus.

Recent news that Airbus is refusing to fix allegedly defective aircraft they sold to Qatar has put them in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. This shows the challenges faced when a contracting dispute occurs between a government and a company based elsewhere. The aircraft Airbus sold to Qatar suffers, according to Reuters, “deterioration to paint and anti-lightning protection on the long-haul jets, which Airbus has acknowledged needs attention while insisting it does not put safety at risk.”

Don’t get me wrong: Airbus is a good company. A good European company. But that is the problem. It’s too European. In fact, it is so European, it takes big bribes from the EU to help it compete against American manufacturers. Just a few years ago, the U.S. Trade Representative scored the largest decision in World Trade Organization history against the EU because of its subsidies to Airbus.

That 2019 decision came after four other decisions that showed EU subsidies to Airbus violated WTO rules. 

“For years, Europe has been providing massive subsidies to Airbus that have seriously injured the U.S. aerospace industry and our workers. Finally, after 15 years of litigation, the WTO has confirmed that the United States is entitled to impose countermeasures in response to the EU’s illegal subsidies,” the U.S. trade representative at the time announced. 

That led to an actual trade war between the U.S. and the EU, and it wasn’t just planes that were caught up in the storm: agricultural products were subject to tariffs as well. Many things, on both sides of the Atlantic, were more expensive than they needed to be, all because Airbus had cheated.

The WTO fined Airbus a world-record $7.5 billion. “The Arbitrator calculated this amount based on WTO findings that EU launch aid for Airbus is causing significant lost sales of Boeing large civil aircraft, as well as impeding exports of Boeing large aircraft to the EU, Australia, China, Korea, Singapore, and UAE markets,” the office of USTR said at the time. 

Again, there’s nothing wrong with Europeans helping other Europeans. But as Americans, we need to make sure the Europeans cannot harm our national security. This matters now, because Airbus wants to win a key contract to build refueling tankers for the U.S. Air Force.

The European company claims it would build the planes in an American plant. However, it would actually use a European design and ship the jet frames here for final assembly. That would leave the entire process less secure, and would make it difficult to add the necessary weapons and defenses as technology evolves.

As military analyst Loren Thompson writes, it would also be a waste of money. “The Air Force has spent $1.6 billion flight-testing Pegasus [the existing tanker], and it is now certified to refuel the vast majority of combat aircraft in the joint fleet.” Bringing in a new design at this stage wouldn’t be cost-effective, even if it’s backed by massive EU subsidies.

“Bottom line: The Airbus tanker is going to look like a budget-buster to the Air Force, and many of its costs such as post-production sustainment are beyond the company’s ability to control,” Thompson concludes.

Speaking of spending, the Europeans haven’t been pulling their weight there, either. “Only a handful of European NATO members have met the alliance’s target of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense over the past 20 years, while the U.S. has consistently exceeded it, spending 3.1-4.9 percent,” Ian Bond wrote in Defense News. Europeans are happy to compete with the U.S. for contracts, but aren’t willing to spend what they should in order to be dependable military allies.

The United States has the most powerful and capable air force in the world. Its ability to refuel in flight is key to its global reach. We need to keep it that way, and keep manufacturing its new jets here at home. The EU isn’t a reliable ally in this space, and Europe’s Airbus can’t be trusted with a job this important.


Gary S. Goldman is the nationally recognized host of “Business, Politics, & Lifestyles” a weekly talk show airing on WPRO in Providence RI. Learn more at garyonbpl.com  

Opinion

NEW NATO NARRATIVE: Ukraine Can ‘Win’ War with Russia

Know one would have even considered the possibility 3 months ago.

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Well that is one heck of a turnaround, eh?

We’ve gone from watching Russia amass an enormous fighting force on the borders of Ukraine, (all while telling the world that it was all routine and to butt out), to watching those same tanks and personnel roll into the sovereign neighboring nation, all the while worried that Russia would simply steamroll Kyiv and take the whole country for itself in a matter of days.

Nearly three months later, and that story is changing…and dramatically.

Ukrainian forces say they have pushed back the Russian military in the region around Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine, and near the border with Russia, continuing a counteroffensive that has prompted Russian troops to withdraw from around Ukraine’s second-largest city.

Then came a surprising suggestion.

NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Sunday that “Ukraine can win this war” following an informal meeting of the group. His comments came after Finland announced it would apply to join the military alliance in what marks a historic move for the traditionally neutral Nordic country.

Joining the military alliance will “maximize” Finland’s security after Russia’s unprecedented invasion of Ukraine in February, President Sauli Niinisto said.

Sweden is expected to follow suit with both applications likely to enflame tensions between NATO and Russia further. Moscow warned last week of “retaliatory steps” if Finland joined the alliance.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid as well, having claimed that Eurovision will be able to hold its enormous, annual songwriting competition in Mariupol next year.

 

Well that is one heck of a turnaround, eh? We’ve gone from watching Russia amass an enormous fighting force on the borders of Ukraine, (all while telling the world that it was all routine and to butt out), to watching those same tanks and personnel roll into the sovereign neighboring nation, all the while worried that Russia would simply steamroll Kyiv and take the whole country for itself in a matter of days. Nearly three months later, and that story is changing…and dramatically. Ukrainian forces say they have pushed back the Russian military in the region around Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine, and near the border with Russia, continuing a counteroffensive that has prompted Russian troops to withdraw from around Ukraine’s second-largest city. Then came a surprising suggestion. NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Sunday that “Ukraine can win this war” following an informal meeting of the group. His comments came after Finland announced it would apply to join the military alliance in what marks a historic move for the traditionally neutral Nordic country. Joining the military alliance will “maximize” Finland’s security after Russia’s unprecedented invasion of Ukraine in February, President Sauli Niinisto said. Sweden is expected to follow suit with both applications likely to enflame tensions between NATO and Russia further. Moscow warned last week of “retaliatory steps” if Finland joined the alliance. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid as well, having claimed that Eurovision will be able to hold its enormous, annual songwriting competition in Mariupol next year.  

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Opinion

Biden Approval Crashes Again, This Time to Historic Low

This is just sad at this point.

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Look around your country.  See the struggle in real time.  Watch how hard it is for the rest of this nation to get to where they need to be, every day, and ask yourself “why does it need to be like this?”.

And then realize that all of this trouble is coming to America in what was supposed to be the launching months of a new “roaring twenties”; as COVID faded and the economy roared back to life, America was poised to be a global show for the ages.

Instead, the last year and a half have been filled to the brim with turmoil and strife and not much nice.

US President Joe Biden is taking his lumps on account of it.

An NBC News poll released Sunday shows Biden’s job approval rating has plunged to a fresh low, with just 39 percent of Americans approving of the job he’s doing and 56 percent disapproving.

This was a new milestone for the reluctant leader.

Those numbers represents the lowest mark of his presidency.

Inflation, the economy and border security are the three main areas where voters see Biden failing them. The overall cost of living is standing as the public’s top issue.

Biden’s approval rating has experienced a few brief reprieves over the course of his presidency, but has continued on a steady decline almost from the start.

Look around your country.  See the struggle in real time.  Watch how hard it is for the rest of this nation to get to where they need to be, every day, and ask yourself “why does it need to be like this?”. And then realize that all of this trouble is coming to America in what was supposed to be the launching months of a new “roaring twenties”; as COVID faded and the economy roared back to life, America was poised to be a global show for the ages. Instead, the last year and a half have been filled to the brim with turmoil and strife and not much nice. US President Joe Biden is taking his lumps on account of it. An NBC News poll released Sunday shows Biden’s job approval rating has plunged to a fresh low, with just 39 percent of Americans approving of the job he’s doing and 56 percent disapproving. This was a new milestone for the reluctant leader. Those numbers represents the lowest mark of his presidency. Inflation, the economy and border security are the three main areas where voters see Biden failing them. The overall cost of living is standing as the public’s top issue. Biden’s approval rating has experienced a few brief reprieves over the course of his presidency, but has continued on a steady decline almost from the start.

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