The supply of weapon parts is international: part of the F-35 fighter plane that the Netherlands has ordered from Lockheed comes from Mexican subcontractors. That makes the United States dependent. Too dependent, says President Joe Biden. Some parts may even come from China. Congress is figuring that out; more must and will be made in the US itself, even if it is more expensive.
To some extent, Biden is playing doubles. Because although he announced the end of the trade war with the EU at the recent G20 summit in Rome, he is also more Trumpian than his predecessor with its own unadulterated protectionism. You could call it Bidenism. But also balancing act – to keep Republicans on board. Soon the US will again allow certain steel imports from Europe that Trump is obscure about national securitygrounds had been established. They were also hardly defensible anymore because they were allies and steels that are not made in the US itself.
But ever since he took office, Biden has insistedForeign Policy for the Middle Class’ – with job protectionism. At the end of July, he announced that he wants to gradually increase defense production in American factories to 75 percent by 2029. That is nice for ‘Joe Sixpack’, but at the expense of importers.
This legislation looks set to make it through the House of Representatives. She has been on the table in the Senate since the end of October and she is also warmly welcomed within Biden’s Democrats. Democratic Senator Donald Norcrosse says ‘Buy American’ will ensure “jobs go back to the US”. He is supported by fellow party member Tammy Duckworth from Illinois.
Dutch military attaché
The recall of weapons jobs has also provoked a strong critical lobby inside and outside the US: from American arms manufacturers who say they cannot do without foreign imports, but also from foreign defense envoys who stand up for their own country.
The Dutch military attaché, Pieter-Henk Schroor, chairs a group of 25 countries that see their defense exports jeopardized and wrote a sharp letter to the Senate Armed Forces Committee on October 28 that exclusion of like-minded partners and loyal allies is a bad thing. Cumbersome exception procedures (where our country is based on a special memorandum of understanding would be eligible), with no possibility of appeal, could give old relations in NATO a blow.
Also read: For world trade, Biden is a Trump with manners
Schroor says to Defense News that it would not bring American jobs, but cost. At US subsidiaries abroad alone, 3 million jobs are at stake, according to the magazine. The Departments of Commerce and the Pentagon put US arms exports at $55-77 billion in 2019. So what exactly is Biden’s “middle-class foreign policy”?
The Buy American legislation would also make the American pressure on the Netherlands not to do business with China a bit weird, you can add. Schroor says to Defense News that if Buy American does indeed harden, European allies would also be more likely to look to European alternatives: a transatlantic creed, but also a small threat. That is sensitive, but it would sound like music to Emmanuel Macron’s ears: European strategic autonomy.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC in the morning of November 23, 2021