Wikileaks: cables show that US diplomats are key part of Boeing sales force

State Dept. cables newly released by WikiLeaks show that U.S. diplomats served as deal-brokers, pressuring world leaders to purchase billions of dollars worth of Boeing jets (instead of European competitor Airbus). "To a greater degree than previously known, diplomats are a big part of the sales force." Here's the actual cable, and here's the NYT article.


    1. Much much worse, rather see it go the other way around, and require companies to label products with GM foods.

    2. i thought we may have seen the worst of the cable revelations and these new ones are pretty startling. the language in the GMO one is just weird: comes across as arrogant, entitled and almost militaristic.

      xeni, more cable coverage is always welcome. the guardian seems to relegate new releases to smaller and smaller headlines and the times barely covers them at all. as the sensationalism has ebbed out of the story, people seem to be turning away to their regularly scheduled distractions.

  1. Of course, it’s called the U.S. Commercial Service (

    “The United States & Foreign Commercial Service (U.S. Commercial Service) is one of four official Foreign Affairs Agencies under the Foreign Service Act of 1980. The U.S. Commercial Service is responsible for Commercial Affairs. Foreign Service Officers in the Commercial Service are assigned to foreign and domestic field offices, as well as Washington, D.C., to promote the export of United States goods and services and defend United States commercial interests abroad. The U.S. Commercial Service, through its customized business solutions, creates economic prosperity and more and better jobs for all Americans.”

    Nothing sinister or surprising here.

    1. The problem is that is the government favoring one company over another? “Hey Senator, what company do you have stock in again?”

      Also I’d be concerned if foreign relations were being managed to make a company, and it’s profit minded executives and shareholders, happy. And yes, I know about oil and the Iraq war.

  2. Does it count as a ‘Godwin’ if I quote Mussolini?

    “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”

    1. Not at all. The quote does not see enough light.

      They’re not “evil” in any metaphysical sense. Truth, justice, and compassion are just not as profitable.

    2. It doesn’t count as Godwin for bringing out the Mussolini quote mentioned above, but it does qualify as grossly misunderstanding the quote.

      Mussolini was not referring to corporations in any modern sense when he used that quote — Corporatism (ie Corporativism) is a philosophy that basically stresses solidarity of a group — whether that group is a religion, a union, a company, or a neighborhood.

      Let’s keep the anti-corporate invective notionally grounded in some kind of reality?

  3. So, who thinks that the conversations between the GOT and any of the ambassadors from any of the EU countries that are home to Airbus are any different? Except for the Turkish astronaut part.

  4. Old news. From the film “Syriana” (2005):

    Nasir: “Exactly, except your President calls my father, says I’ve got unemployment in Texas, Kansas, Washington State. One phone call later we’re stealing out of our social programs to buy overpriced airplanes.

    Oops, my bad – that was fiction.

  5. I don’t even think that this one is news worthy. Of course US diplomats push countries to purchase US goods, it is critical for the health of the domestic economy and a central component of foreign policy. Guess what. Other countries are doing the same thing. There has been a long lasting tug of war as both the European Union and the US push their domestically produced aircraft. These are high dollar contracts that move billions of dollars. This is what our representatives should be doing instead of fomenting bullshit wars and conflict, this is a good example of state craft.

    1. I don’t even think that this one is news worthy. Of course US diplomats push countries to purchase US goods, it is critical for the health of the domestic economy and a central component of foreign policy.

      I’m a little confused by the fact this article exists myself. I mean this is news?

    2. “I don’t even think that this one is news worthy. Of course US diplomats push countries to purchase US goods, it is critical for the health of the domestic economy and a central component of foreign policy.”

      I’m sure that this isn’t surprising to you. It really isn’t to me. What is ludicrous and, indeed, dangerous, is the State Dept making this a secret document.

      What exactly needs to be secret here? Who is being endangered by making this public?

  6. I’m being absolutely honest when I say–given these contracts (according to the article) can be worth 11,000 to 100,000 domestic jobs–this is bribery I can believe in.

  7. I agree with Swampdog – US diplomats and other US government officials promoting US-made military aircraft and weapons in general are a much more serious problem. At best they’re sold to peaceful countries that don’t need them, but often they’re sold to countries that will actually use them, whether it’s to attack their neighbors or just to bully them, or in many cases to use them against their own citizens (especially common with helicopters and small arms.)

    Civilian airplanes are a Good Thing for the world, and while US and European governments shouldn’t be adjunct sales reps for the manufacturers, it’s good to have more of them around, moving more people more places on equipment that’s newer, safer, and more efficient than the older planes they’re often replacing.

    Also, why are officials of other governments involved in civilian aircraft purchases? Should their countries be running their own airlines, as opposed to letting private airlines operate there?

  8. So this isn’t news?

    Turkey sort of bribing your government doesn’t concern you? Mmkay.

    They’re saying, well, knock a bit off the price, give us some assistance from the FAA, maybe consider taking a Turkish astronaut and we’ll buy from Boeing.

    It is reassuring to me that the cable seems to suggest that of course there is very little the embassy can do in terms of these value added aspects, but it is still slightly concerning.

  9. @Cjeam,

    How does qualify as bribery? What American government officials are benefiting materially who negotiated this deal. Please give names and benefits. If you can do this in a convincing manner then please then please join me in seeing this person/s losing there jobs, being fined and possibly going to jail.

    1. No indeed it is not really bribery.

      However it is not a perfect way for embassies to behave. Like I said, if they had reassured the buyer that co-operation from the FAA etc would be forthcoming if the deal went ahead then I would be very concerned. I am re-assured that the cable almost goes ‘obviously we can’t do this’. I was more trying to provide opposition to those who are suggesting this isn’t news worthy and even should be happening.

  10. What’s really funny is that the people benefiting from this are a lot of the same people screaming about the evils of government. They’re completely fine with government intervention of this kind; they just hate the kind that makes them be nice to the peons.

  11. I think there is a big difference here. US companies get the help of the foreign dep., NSA and Echelon. Very few other countries have such an aggressive foreign policy aimed at enriching their own country.

    This US hipocrisy is hurting the fight against terrorism.

    My country does not do this. Our foreign policy does not employ government spies and government spy systems to further the goals of the largest corporations.

    In fact, our goverment shares all our intelligence with the US to help against terrorism. Does noone understand that we will stop doing that as soon as our politicians understand that the US use our information to backstab our companies?

  12. You’re saying diplomats pushed foreign companies to buy American products? Well that’s just insane. That or their job.

  13. So US diplomats do their salemen jobs, what is shocking in that (and I speak as a european) ?

    Honestly in some european countries, like France, the local president is not even moving is royal derriere to any embassy if there is no Airbus or High speed train contracts planed ahead (by diplomats alike). The difference being that the media circus is bound to announce that “He came back” with a shitload of contracts (when of course the deals are made way before his arrival).

    And concerning the “influence” of diplomats on airplanes sales, understand this : We live in a world where there is only two giant consortiums selling commercial airplanes. In this situation, the interest of the client, whoever he is, is to keep those two companies even, to avoid any monopole. In other words, Airbus and Boeing are condemned to share 50%/50% until some other guy shows up (wich is not likely to happen before long).

    Honestly Europeans are more concerned with all the illegal subsidies Boeing is getting from the US government by the total secrecy of it’s military contracts with the US airforce.

  14. @Cjean,

    I am glad you admit that your earlier accusation of bribery was hyperbole. So why should U.S diplomats not be furthering the trade interests of their company? What is the ethical problem you see here?

    1. “their” company? Now I’m confused. Are Boing representatives also employed with the government?

      Anyway, not really surprising. Though I always thought that Americans preach “free trade”, claiming that the market will find an optimum equilibrum and adjust itself.

  15. “their” company? Now I’m confused. Are Boing representatives also employed with the government?”

    So am I.

    “Anyway, not really surprising”

    Do you think it is unethical in some manner for diplomats to further their nations business interests? How does that interfere with free trade or anti-ethical to it?

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