Thursday, January 10, 2008

GE, Halliburtan and their business with Iran

Despite US sanctions against doing business with Iran, GE, Halliburton and other companies have continued to do business with that country and others such as Syria and Libya.

While they don't do it directly, they go through foreign subsidiaries and have defended the practice by stating that they are in compliance with current US law.

That may be the case, but how do you morally and ethically justify doing business with a regime that we know is supplying weapons that are being used to kill Americans in Iraq and Afganistan? The companies believe they are looking after the best interests of their shareholders. I would submit that supporting state sponsors of terrorism against US citizens is a bigger concern to their shareholders than an extra couple of cents in their dividend payment.

Capitalism at its best is not all about cash. It's about improving your quality of life by finding ways to improve the quality of other people's lives. It's about creating value. Providing support and stability for regimes that want to kill us is not providing value.

Claiming a legal responsibility to honor existing contracts is complete BS. The minute the Iranians and others decided to sponsor the killing of Americans they voided any legal rights they may have had. No legitimate court in the world would hold GE or Haliburton to those contracts if they terminated them tomorrow, which is what they ought to do. Even if it did mean taking a hit in court, how about sucking it up and taking one for the team? Suppose a company like GE got involved in a highly publicized case in which they refused to honor contracts with Iran because of their involvement in the killing of US service members. What do you think would be worth more? The less than 1% of revenues that GE makes on Iranian business, the penalties or fines they might have to pay, or the PR?

I would highly recommend that US citizens refrain from patronizing any company or its subsidiaries that continues to do business with our enemies, regardless of existing contracts.

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