Final Word from Wednesday, November 8, 2023

In a leaked cable to the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Defense Intelligence Agency, CIA and other agencies in March 2009, Chief of Mission Mary Thompson-Jones of the U.S. embassy in Prague wrote that the Czech defense ministry has a long history of shady deals and that successive governments seem to have viewed defense contracts as a way to reward themselves and their political supporters with lucrative business deals, cheap asset sales and kickbacks. The most notorious case was the decision to lease Gripen fighters, she said. In a private note she might have told a colleague, "They're all a bunch of corrupt SOB's." Now that the tables are turned and political commentators like Lukáš Jelínek are questioning the expensive purchase of F-35 fighters from Lockheed Martin, at a time when schools have trouble finding two pennies to rub together and teachers are going on strike, a U.S. diplomat in Prague might send a similar cable with the postscript, "But now they're our corrupt SOB's." [ Czech Republic dept. WikiLeaks United States of America procurement ]

Glossary of difficult words

SOB - son of a bitch; a worthless or contemptible person;

shady - of doubtful honesty or legality;

kickback - an illicit payment made to someone in return for facilitating a transaction or appointment;

to turn the tables - to reverse one's position relative to someone else, esp. by turning a position of disadvantage into one of advantage;

two pennies to rub together - a minimal amount of money to live on; any money at all;

postscript - an extra piece of information about an event that is added after it has happened.


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