Brad Feld

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More US Anti-Competitiveness Masquerading As Security Isssues

Apr 09, 2006
Category Random

Sometimes it’s best not to read the newspaper first thing in the morning.  Randall Stross has an excellent and disturbing article in today’s New York Times titled “Looking at the Free Market, and Seeing Red.” It leads with the story of Lou Dobbs bashing Lenovo and their recent deal to sell $13 million of computers to the US State Department.  Dobbs asserts that the PCs will provide spies within the Chinese government a way of conducting espionage.  His sound bite on the lead in was something like “when the State Department seeks secure network communications it turns to Communist China and thus renders the United States perhaps more vulnerable than ever.”

Give me a fucking break.  Last month this kind of xenophobic nonsense killed Check Point’s acquisition of Sourcefire.  This time around, Dobbs and some guy named Michael Wessel who is a member of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (an advisory body to Congress) and Larry Wortzel (the chairman on this same commission) are kicking up a bunch of dust about how dangerous it would be for the government to buy Lenovo computers.

Now – I’m not going to go so far as to say something absurd like “Lenovo is a national treasure” (I’m sure if it was still IBM’s Personal Computer Division, which is a big part of Lenovo, someone would use that argument), but given that Lenovo is a public company traded on the Hong Kong stock exchange, has an American CEO (a former executive at Dell), is partially owned by several American private-equity firms, and the computers in question are manufactured in North Carolina, my mind just boggles at the things these guys are saying.

Fundamentally, guys like Dobbs, Wessel, and Wortzel are using “security issues” and “xenophobia” to tarnish the reputation of a global company in an attempt to undermine a deal with the US government.  Maybe these guys should get focused on making sure these same Chinese that they assert are pulling all the strings would stop buying up the massive amounts of US debt that our government continues to issue – that seems like a little more “dangerous” issue to me (actually, the debt, not so much the owners of the debt.)

Maybe Penn and Teller should do an episode on Bullshit! on Dobbs and the current “security issues” running around our government that are really anti-competitiveness attacks reminiscent of the moochers in Atlas Shrugged.  Blech.