July 27, 2003

SWISS RECALCITRANCE is producing a “buy American” push in Congress:

Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, also said Switzerland, a neutral nation, blocked delivery of grenades to British military forces during the conflict because it opposed the war.

“The British went into battle in Iraq without a full grenade load,” Mr. Hunter said in an interview.

Regarding the JDAM parts, Mr. Hunter said 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.

If these stories are true, they should certainly cost these companies — and perhaps Switzerland as a whole — procurement business. But whether this should translate into “buy American” legislation isn’t so clear.

Then, of course, there’s the question of why we’re acquiring bomb parts from the “Swatch” folks. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Bob Pence emails:

By not providing parts, Swatch endangered many Iraqis. A given bomb, depending on the importance of the target and the degree of shortage, may have dropped with or without the JDAM tail for precision guidance. Without it, the bomb might miss its target by a few meters and destroy a mosque or an apartment block, but also we wouldn’t just drop one bomb – we would drop enough to guarantee the target was destroyed. Without precision guidance that’s a lot of extra bombs possibly aimed at the Ace of Spades but having a bad effect on people who were never even dealt into the game.

Fortunately we found a domestic supplier, probably at higher cost mostly because of the short turnaround needed. When it comes to display parts like that, there are also some likely Japanese and South Korean suppliers. I suspect that Boeing is even now processing an engineering change document for that assembly listing multiple vendors – none of them in driving distance of Lake Geneva.

This is the kind of thing that makes me want to go down to the nearby mall that has a Swatch Store and smash the display cases there. Or hand out protest fliers. The “neutral” Swiss have a shameful history of war profiteering, yet they have here stooped lower, conceivably denying us bullets and forcing us to use shotgun blasts in their place.

Moves Italy up another notch on European vacation destinations.

Lake Lucerne is lovely this time of year. But so is Lake Como.