Final Word from Wednesday, December 17, 2003





Czechs are getting a first-hand view of just how nasty military contracts can be. The U.S. has launched an unprecedented campaign to counter a bid by the Swedes for supersonic fighters. There are two main trains of thought about what is transpiring. According to one, the Americans were surprised by a clearly superior Swedish bid and are now desperate. They had thought that "bribing" Premier Vladimír Špidla with fame (a trip to the White House, words of friendship from Bush) was enough. The other hypothesis, articulated in MFD today by Ivan Gabal, hints at more than just fame as the instrument of corruption. Gabal noted that KDU-ČSL, which supports the Swedish bid, has gotten its hands dirty before. No one is openly talking about kickbacks this time, but enough doubts have been raised about both bids that Czechs can't be sure what the deciding factor will be. Sweden BAE Saab

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