Friendly Fire?

With the world becoming an ever smaller place, how far does the responsibility to protect your neighbors travel? The United States entered Iraq in 2003 with the purpose of determining whether or not they had weapons of mass destruction.  They did not.  Yet, as the humanitarians they are, the United Stated decided that the troops must stay in Iraq in order to eliminate the large terrorist groups that were ruling the nation and implement a system of democracy.  The United States’ need to protect the world is directly related to the effects of globalization and the drive to make the world a better place.  United States troops are now on their way home, but it is unsure if they left the country in a better state than when they initially entered.  The United States Government and Military has been working with Iraq to develop a stable democracy, which has included helping them in the aspects of both politics and war.  With this help package, the United States sold F-16 fighter jets to help the country build a modern army – a move which deontologists may determine to be immoral.

Increased international trade and exchange of ideas has led to great improvements in world economy and open-mindedness, but not all aspects of globalization are good.  International countries and corporations need to act carefully so that their effects do not harm their stakeholders.  Although the United States is not a corporation, they should still abide by the same rules that Thomas J. Donaldson set out for international corporations.  Donaldson explains that corporations have the duty to protect those that their actions affect.  One of the duties is to maintain a stakeholders right to physical security (Donaldson, 147).   The United States Government needs to be careful that their actions in Iraq do not affect the physical security of the Iraqi people and the United States people.

The United States’ use of selling military machinery to foreign countries is not just a recent incident.  In 1972, after Nixon took a trip to Iran, he helped facilitate the transaction of selling F-14 Tomcat fighter jets to Iran.  At this point in time, Iran was a United States ally, but the situation soon blew up with political turmoil (Associated Press).  The Iran Government which the United States had relations with was overthrown and the Iran-Iraq conflict escalated.  The righter jets that the United States had sold to Iran were used in the conflict.  Iranians, however, did not have the technology to build these jets, and therefore relied on foreign help to maintain them.  Before leaving the country, American technicians working on the F-14’s were able to sabotage some of the missiles that are specific to the planes, but the Iranians continued to rely heavily on foreign markets for military weapons and spare parts (Goebel).  This led the United States government to cease the production of future F-14’s and destroy some parts that are considered unique to the Tomcat.  The government believed that Iran was trustworthy enough to handle the military responsibility of fighter jets, but was proved wrong when their alliance failed.  If the government should have learned anything from this disastrous situation, it should have been the need to fully assess the stability of a country’s situation before producing options for destruction.

Lenin’s idea that “the capitalists will sell us the rope by which we will hang them,” can be directly applied to this situation and the political instability of the other countries that the United States interacts with (Navrozov).  Although the fighter jets that were sold to Iran in the 1970s are now out of date and did not have all of the same features as they did when they belonged to the United States, Iran has continued to update them with their own technology and some still could be in use today.  The places that the United States is selling to Iraq however, are newer.  Although they are not the most innovative and advanced planes, they are still an aggressive piece of military equipment that will modernize the military of Iraq (Entous). With a government that has not yet fully gained power over the country, it is debatable whether or not this sale will help to bring stability to the country or further its destruction.

The fact is that the Iraqi government does not have control of the country.  The original deal to sell the planes earlier this year was actually interrupted by the Arab Spring protests across the region. These protests have spread across the Arab region to show a dissatisfaction with the government and general situat  The population has continuing social and political divides that maintain this instability.  With a fear that the current government could be overthrown, the United States needs to determine whether or not it is ethically right to provide them with more possibilities for destruction.  The United States should look at every stakeholder in the transaction, which would include the Iraqi people.  In order to further their society, they need better education systems, increased equality between sexes, and more political freedom.  Acquiring new fighter jets will not increase these rights and may in fact cause more turmoil by introduction more sophisticated weaponry to the country.  It should therefore be the duty of the American Government and Military to consider these potential disadvantages and help to protect the stakeholders affected by their actions.

Nike was in a similar position when they were doing business in China and got caught up in the corruption of their supplier’s factories.  They were indirectly responsible for the inhumane treatment of factory employees by providing revenue to the factories and therefore feeding the system of political and social instability.  This is similar to the United States in Iraq because although they are not causing the riots, they are providing war and weapons that continue to feed the system of instability and political disarray.  The United States Government is not technically an international corporation, but they do business abroad and should therefore follow the same list of Donaldson’s fundamental international rights that every corporation should.  This includes the duty to maintain a stakeholder’s right to physical security (Donaldson, 147).  The duty to protect physical security is also now just to the stakeholders in Iraq, but also around the world, including United States Citizens.  If the government in Iraq gets overturned, similar to Iran’s in the 19070s, they could use our own military weapons against the United States, proving Lenin’s idea of being hung by one’s own rope.

The United States also just agreed to upgrade Taiwan’s current fleet of F-16’s, which is also not a politically stable country because of the conflict they have with China (Spegele).  China still sees Taiwan as part of their country, but America agrees to recognize it as an independent country.  Here the stakeholders are not only Taiwanese citizens, but also the Chinese and American citizens because China could take action against Taiwan for upgrading their military or the United States for providing support to Taiwan.  Here, the United States must decide whether it is ethically right to support the Taiwanese people’s right to freedom from China and the American stakeholder’s rights for protection from an angry China.

Although globalization has led to positive exchange of ideas and goods across the world, it should be taken with a grain of salt.  It may not be one country’s or even a group of countries’ duty to rule the world.  Each civilization has their own culture and beliefs, and outsiders should respect and protect these beliefs instead of trying to make everyone just like them.  The Untied States entered into Iraq to help them create a democracy, but it would be interesting to hear what Iraq thinks of the situation and if they feel they are actually being “helped” by the United States presence and purchase of fighter jets.

Successfully implementing this sale of fighter jets or any other military weapons in the future should be done carefully and only after there is proper evaluation of the country and its political, social, and economic stability.  Using Donaldson’s deontological approach to international corporations’ duties would help the United States to evaluate whether or not the deal is morally right.  As for now, we can all just hope that Iraq’s government is able to maintain stability of their country and that the United States fighter jets don’t end up in the wrong hands, again.

Works Cited

Donaldson, Thomas J. “Rights in the Global Market.” Multinational Corporate Responsibility: 139-62. Print

Associated Press. “Pentagon Ends Jet Parts Sales to Iran –US News – Military –” – Breaking News, Science and Tech News, World News, US News, Local News – MSNBC, 31 Jan. 2007. Web. 17 Oct. 2011.–parts-sales-iran/

Entous, Adam, and Nathan Hodge. “Iraq Completes Deal to Buy F-16s –” Business News & Financial Nws – The Wall Street Journal – Wall Street Journal, 27 Sept. 2011. Web. 19 Oct. 2011.

Goebel, Greg. “The Grumman F-14 Tomcat.” In The Public Domain. 1 June 2003. Web. 19 Oct. 2011.

Navrozov, Lev. “China Provides Rope for Unitied States to Hang Itself.” Newsmax – – Breaking News, Politics, Commentary. News Max, 30 Jan. 2009. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. <>.

Spegele, Brian. “United States National Security Adviser Donilon Flying into Beijing Amid Rising Tensions – China Real Time Report – WSJ.” WSJ Blogs – WSJ. Wall Street Journal, 19 Oct. 2011. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. <htpp://>.

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4 Responses to Friendly Fire?

  1. Jordi says:

    Is this ironic?
    “Yet, as the humanitarians they are, the United Stated decided that the troops must stay in Iraq in order to eliminate the large terrorist groups that were ruling the nation and implement a system of democracy. ”
    Just as a point of fact, the Iraq Body Count project estimates at least 100,000 deaths in Iraq since our invasion. That is.3% of the population. The equivalent here would be a million people for a supposedly humanitarian agenda.

  2. Jordi says:

    More irony?
    “The United States Government needs to be careful that their actions in Iraq do not affect the physical security of the Iraqi people and the United States people.”
    I think it is too late for that…

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