Murphy's Law: Necessary Criminals

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June 24, 2008:  Indian efforts to curb corruption in defense procurement have hit a snag. Part of the anti-corruption program has been a black list. Firms that have been caught paying bribes to Indian officials, or otherwise misbehaving, are blocked from doing any more business with India. It soon became apparent that this was not going to work in some cases. Spare parts and replacement munitions were needed for many systems manufactured by firms on the black list. The navy, for example, wanted more Barak anti-missile missiles for its ships.

 

Over the last six years, Israel has sold nearly five billion dollars worth of arms to India. The biggest single item, with sales of nearly half a billion dollars, has been the Barak anti-missile systems for ships. The Barak system uses small missiles to shoot down incoming anti-ship missiles. Israel weapons have a solid reputation for reliability and effectiveness. Israeli success in several wars adds to the appeal of their armaments. U.S. and Israeli arms manufacturers often work together, which also gives Israel an edge when selling their equipment.

 

An Indian corruption investigations revealed that large bribes were paid to Indian officials, to make those Barak sales happen. Those naughty Israelis joined naughty Swedes and naughty people from several other nations that had made major weapons sales to India. It's not like India is the only nation that has corruption problems in the military procurement area. All nations do, but the extent of the corruption varies quite a lot, and India would like to move away from the top of the list. This will please Indian taxpayers, as well as those concerned about defense matters, especially people in the military. When military suppliers are selected mainly on the basis of how large a bribe they will pay, you often do not get the best stuff available.

 

But once you've made a major purchase via a tainted process, you have to keep buying material to keep the system (assuming it meets your needs) operational. Despite the bribes, the Barak missiles have performed as advertised. So did the Swedish artillery, and many other items bought only after the procurement officials got their gratuity.

 

 

 


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