“The malice of the wicked is reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous,” warned Winston Churchill leading up to World War II. While Churchill spoke of Western vacillation in the face of Nazi tyranny, he could have easily been referring to the state of affairs in the U.S. leading up to the attacks of September 11, 2001, a mindset that appears to be returning as the memory of those attacks fades.

Consider the Pentagon’s decision to award a lucrative contract to build a new generation of Air Force tankers to the French company EADS and its minority partner, Northrop. For the first time in history an essential weapon in the war on terror could be controlled by a foreign cartel whose government is hardly known for taking an uncompromising position on taking the fight to the terrorists or the states that sponsor them.

When the U.S. and thirty other nations, including Great Britain and Japan, removed Saddam Hussein from power, the French just said “non.” Then-president Jacques Chirac denounced the “pitfalls of unilateralism” and claimed in a fiery speech to the French diplomatic corps that liberating Iraq would be a boon for the terrorists. The French foreign minister promised to make Saddam pay, only to beat a fast retreat. While U.S. soldiers gave their lives and limbs in Iraq, high-ranking French politicians and Chirac cronies like Patrick Maugein took bribes and gifts from Saddam’s oil ministry in the United Nations oil-for-food scandal.

One would think that this conduct would not be rewarded with a $35 billion military contract, but to bipartisan howls of protest, the Pentagon has now outsourced U.S. national security to France. While French president Nicholas Sarkozy has been friendlier to the U.S., recent losses by his party at the polls suggest his views are in the minority.

The tanker deal is so absurd that it could only happen in the nation’s capital. Consider this: EADS has received tens of billions in illegal subsidies from the French and other European governments in violation of international law. The U.S. Trade Representative, whose offices are steps from the White House, filed the largest lawsuit in its history before the World Trade Organization. Meanwhile, across the Potomac the Department of Defense hands EADS billions in U.S. tax dollars and refuses to even take into account EADS illegal trade practices.

Paul Rohrer

Paul Rohrer served his country in the U.S. Navy for more than four decades retiring as a Rear Admiral.