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[casi] U.S. blackmail: Case against Franks could cost Belgium 50,000 jobs

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U.S. blackmail: Case against Franks could cost Belgium 50,000 jobs

The United States (U.S.) brought up the heavy artillery to put pressure on the Belgian government. 
Washington threatens openly that investments might be pulled out if it comes to a judicial 
investigation in the war crimes case against General Franks.

Peter Franssen

On Tuesday May 13, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers was in Brussels 
for a NATO meeting. At that occasion he said: "The case against General Tommy Franks could have a 
huge impact on the relations between Belgium and the United States. It is a very, very serious 
situation." 1 He added that Washington might even transfer the NATO headquarters to another country.

Last May 7, the Vice-chairperson of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American ambassador in 
Brussels visited the chairman of the House, Herman De Croo. After their meeting De Croo said: "A 
judicial investigation against General Franks would be extremely damaging for our country." 2 De 
Croo added that the Americans threatened to pull out their investments, "costing Belgium an 
estimated 50,000 jobs in 2 to 3 years."

Keep ranks!

De Croo also said: "For the Americans the outcome of the case is a test of judicial stability in 
our country."2 In other words, they will judge us: Will Belgium be a good or a bad boy? Will we be 
spanked or do we get the sweets? Apparently, De Croo didn't realize that Belgium is an autonomous 
and sovereign country and that we are not accountable to the Americans.

The Americans' blackmail demonstrates they believe they can hold sway over anything under the sun. 
Anybody has to keep ranks. We are supposed to listen to American orders militarily, politically, 
diplomatically and even on judicial matters. Those who resist, risk a punitive expedition. We are 
living on our knees, face down and with an American soldier's knee in the neck.

Among those who resisted are the two doctors who took the initiative for the case and who collected 
the testimonies in Iraq: Geert Van Moorter (RESIST) and Colette Moulaert (WPB).

Who is afraid of whom?

But allow us to discuss the 50,000 jobs that will be lost if the case leads to a judicial 
investigation. Isn't it all too obvious, that blackmail?

First of all: What's the color of money? Not one week passes in the U.S. without news about a big 
company that has invested where it is officially forbidden. Bechtel, Shell, Coca-Cola, Honeywell, 
IBM, Lockheed, Raytheon, they all have invested in countries like Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, 
Afghanistan, in violation of sanctions imposed by the U.S. government. Only a few days ago, 
representative Henry Waxman submitted some urgent inquiries to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. 
He asked how it is possible that Halliburton, a company that has been chaired by Vice-president 
Cheney for five years, could invest in Iraq, Libya and Iran while there was an embargo against 
these countries. 3 Rumsfeld hasn't answered yet, although it is quite simple: nobody cares about 
the law when there's lots of money at stake.

Secondly: Most American multinationals like General Motors, Ford, Caterpillar, Johnson & Johnson 
and IBM are already in Belgium for decades. They haven't only built their production plants here, 
but also their commercial hubs to other countries in Europe. They have lobbyists at the European 
Union and other international institutions. It is unthinkable that they will all just leave at 
Washington's polite request. If Washington would be willing to risk their commercial interests 
(which is already very unlikely) there will have to be an official embargo and official sanctions. 
In the current economic relations between Europe and the U.S. that is unthinkable. Sanctions 
against Belgium would be tantamount to a trade war, not only between the U.S. and Belgium but with 
France and Germany as well. Paris, Brussels and Berlin have attuned their foreign policies to one 
another since March of this year.

The U.S has invested 640 billion dollars in Belgium, France and Germany but the same three 
countries have invested for as much as 800 billion dollar in the U.S., and consequently they can 
hit harder. Moreover, the French and the Germans have bought for 150 billion dollar shares on the 
American stock exchanges while they lent 65 billion dollar to American companies and own 70 billion 
in American treasury notes. 4 If the Europeans would withdraw that capital, America would be 
bankrupt. Washington would better change its tune. America is more dependent on the axis 
Paris-Berlin-Brussels than the other way around.


1 Plainte contre Franks: Washington s'Únerve, Le Soir, May 14th 2003.

2 De Croo noemt zaak tegen Franks slecht voor BelgiŰ, De Standaard, May 8th 2003.

3 Letter from Henry A. Waxman to Donald H. Rumsfeld, April 30th 2003, published on and

4 All figures come from Survey of Current Business, 2001, the most recent year that has been 

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