Final Word from Wednesday, September 29, 2010

If you take Petr Nečas's words at face value about corruption at the defense ministry having its roots in the 1990s, it means the "octopus" was already there and thrashing its tentacles about when the CR joined Nato in 1999. It could be argued (and we have) that Nato and other international organizations have negatively reinforced bad behavior in new member-countries by overlooking obvious failures. Nato continues to encourage corruption by using GDP to benchmark defense-spending levels. The more stolen or wasted, the closer the CR (and other countries) come to the 2% of GDP that is required by Nato. Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra told TV Prima that GDP isn't the right benchmark; defense budgets should instead be a set percentage of the total national budget. But this too misses the mark. Transatlantic defense is actually one area where more top-down planning and oversight would benefit the taxpayer. It's better for Czechs that Nato tell them which (if any) armored cars to buy than to let Omnipol do it.[Czech Republic gross national product ODS procurement]

Glossary of difficult words

face value - apparent significance or value; the apparent or nominal value;

to thrash (about) - to move in a violent and convulsive way;

negative reinforcement - the process of encouraging negative behavior;

to benchmark - to evaluate or check something by comparison with a standard;

set (amount) - fixed, established, predetermined;

to miss the mark - to fail to hit the target; to be incorrect or inaccurate;

Omnipol - a successful and controversial arms trader.

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