Shooting ourselves in the foot
Vladimir Putin shelters Edward Snowden at Moscow's Airport. Rosoboronexport, the Russian arms-export company, is a principal arms supplier to Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, whereas the United States plans to arm the other side in the Syrian civil war. And U.S. taxpayers continue to pay $550 million to the Russian company to supply Russian Mi-17 helicopters to the Afghan military.
That, of course, is ridiculous. Yet 70 of the aircraft already have been delivered and more are on order, even though some members of Congress contend that the Connecticut-made Sikorsky S-61 helicopter is comparable to the Russian Mi-17.
The Pentagon wrote the sole-source specifications for the acquisition in a way that freezes out American companies because, it says, the Afghans are accustomed to flying and maintaining the Russian model. Training the Afghans to fly and maintain an American model would cost more money, it claims.
Apparently, Afghan children are born knowing how to fly the Mi-17. Future pilots and mechanics have to be trained, regardless of whether it's on Russian or American equipment. Having invested hundreds of billions of dollars in Afghanistan, U.S. taxpayers gladly would bear the cost of retraining current personnel to secure a long-term commitment to using U.S. aircraft.
Amendments to pending defense appropriations bills in the House and Senate would bar use of U.S. funds to buy anything from Rosoboronexport. Congress should pass it and demand accountability for spending U.S. funds with a company dedicated to harming American interests.