L'“Europe de la défense”, nous l'avons vue et, surtout, entendue: elle est américaine — Remarques, par Vance Coffman, CEO Lockheed Martin

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L'“Europe de la défense”, nous l'avons vue et, surtout, entendue : elle est américaine

Voici un texte intéressant, c'est-à-dire instructif. C'est le texte d'une intervention de Vance D. Coffman, Chairman et Chief Executive Officer (CEO) de Lockheed Martin Corporation (LM quand on veut faire plus court). Cela se passe le 4 octobre, devant la Convention annuelle de la Netherlands Aerospace Industries et la Convention 2002 de l'AECMA (l'association européenne des constructeurs aéronautiques), à l'hôtel Steigeuherger Kurhaus de La Haye.

Le ton est mis : le patron est en visite

Le ton de cette intervention est assez peu ordinaire et, pour cela, il faut admirer la maestria avec laquelle le climat est créé. Coffman ne vient pas en Américain, — c'est-à-dire, certes, le CEO de Lockheed Martin et tout le diable et son train, mais, tout de même, rien au-delà de l'Amérique. Au contraire, il pèse et soupèse, juge, mesure, félicite et admoneste, il est à la fois en Amérique et en Europe, un pied ici et l'autre là ; lorsqu'il dit « For our industry », on a l'impression qu'il parle de la sienne, LM et, par extension, l'américaine ; mais non, c'est au-delà, puisqu'il ajoute : « ...both here and in the U.S. », c'est-à-dire que nous (Européens) y sommes également ; pour que personne ne s'y trompe, il termine sa phrase de cette façon : « this lack of European defense funding means that excess capacity remains a major concern »... Le ton est mis : la faiblesse des budgets européens est une préoccupation, aussi bien, de l'administration US, du DoD, de LM et de Vance Coffman lui-même. Nous sommes en continent conquis, — c'est le nôtre et c'est par lui.

Il faut noter que ce n'est pas loin d'être faux. Un participant à cette réunion observait, le ton un brin sarcastique tout de même, qu'« après tout, l'Europe de la défense derrière laquelle tout le monde court est faite, elle est faite autour du JSF ». Par conséquent, Coffman, CEO de LM, constructeur du JSF, visitait effectivement ses terres en parlant devant les membres de l'AECMA, dans ce riche hôtel de La Haye. L'accueil y fut chaleureux, de la part de la plupart des participants (pas tous).

Le schéma globalisant, un tantinet trostkiste, d'absorption de l'Europe

Quelques extraits de l'intervention du CEO de Lockheed Martin montrent combien, désormais, l'industrie américaine estime avoir son mot à dire dans l'évolution de l'industrie européenne, combien d'ailleurs cette expression d'“industrie européenne” est à la limite de la décence. Il suffit, comme il va de soi, de bien comprendre que l'industrie globale, ou l'industrie globalisée dont parle Coffman, n'est rien de moins que l'industrie américaine absorbant ROW (the rest Of the World). L'Europe est une part de ROW dont nul ne disconvient qu'elle est intéressante, voire succulente. Nous avons là le constat de l'efficacité, notamment, de l'“effet-JSF” (le choix de participer au programme JSF de certains pays européens au printemps dernier), dans tous les cas dans les psychologies de nos dirigeants industriels.

Voici quelques citations de Vance Coffman, celles qu'il faut avoir à l'esprit :

• «One thing is clear: It is not realistic for countries to retreat behind national borders.» Ce constat, évident de la part d'un représentant de la puissance américaine et s'accordant avec l'activité de cette puissance, s'accompagne de l'argument désormais sempiternel du terrorisme global. (« The new security environment is one in which allied action and cooperative efforts against terrorists are absolutely required. »)

• «  We must now think of ourselves as part of the “international security industry,” not simply the aerospace or defense industry. » On retrouve tout au long du discours de Coffman, court mais dense, cette prévention quasi-instinctive, à la limite de la nausée intellectuelle (à la Sartre), contre tout ce qui pourrait avoir une signification spécifique, une existence propre, une réalité identitaire et, bien entendu, tout ce qui est spécificité, existence et identité européennes.

• « Our industry ... », ainsi Coffman a-t-il appris à parler. Personne ne le contredit et l'on a plus d'une fois l'impression qu'il parle pour tous, pour nous tous, et que c'est bien ainsi. (Voir plus haut : « For our industry, — both here and in the U.S... ») Il encourage donc les amis européens à surveiller l'action des gouvernements, et notamment leurs politiques transatlantiques, économique et politique (« Because of this close connection, transatlantic political and economic trends are of vital importance to our industry »).

• «  Protected regions or protected industrial sectors are not consistent with an integrated and efficient marketplace. » : plus de protection, plus d'aide pour une industrie régionale (européenne), et ainsi de suite. Liberté complète de façon à ce que l'osmose globalisante se fasse, dans le sens qu'il faut, sous l'impulsion qu'il faut. Cela va sans dire, et encore bien mieux en le disant.

• L'AECMA parlait du rapport STAR 21 de la Commission européenne, dont nous avons nous-mêmes parlé. Du coup, Coffman en a parlé, et avec l'autorité qu'on imagine, comme s'il était effectivement partie prenante, et partie prenante majoritaire, dans l'assemblée qui en débattait.

• ... Cela pour nous dire, après avoir abondé dans le sens de certaines des propositions de STAR 21 (c'est une indication intéressante quant au crédit à accorder à ce rapport) : « ...But there is an aspect of the report with which I am not in complete agreement. I refer to a key part of the rationale in STAR 21 calling for strengthening “Europe's” industrial capabilities in defense and aerospace. I have no quarrel with that in itself, but I believe the emphasis on “European” capabilities or “American” capabilities misses a critical point about our industry : Namely, that it is increasingly globalized. » STAR 21 est bon, s'il ne prétend à rien d'autre qu'à être un mode d'emploi ; pour l'orientation de cet emploi, la réponse n'est pas dans STAR 21.

• ... La réponse se trouve trois paragraphes plus loin, dans ce qui est la phrase-clé du discours : « I urge everyone here to think of strengthening European industry as a part—a key part, yes, but just one part—of the general increase in the capabilities of the global industry, and not as an end in itself. » Voici comment le vin est tirée : l'Europe n'a pas d'existence propre.

• Enfin, voici le plat de résistance : le JSF. Moyen pour moyen, celui-là en est un fameux puisqu'à lui seul, finalement, il justifie et conforte la rhétorique de Vance Coffman. Le JSF crée un monde à lui tout seul, transatlantique, global, sans frontières. C'est une étoile brillante dans le monde accompli de Vance Coffman : « The JSF industrial model bas the potential to change the way we do transatlantic defense business and to set the tone for the next 50 years. We intend to make it a shining example of cooperation. »

• Cela annonce l'évidence qui s'impose aussitôt : les USA (LM) ne sont pas un problème pour l'Europe, ils sont la solution : « ...we at Lockheed Martin see the fundamental product of our industry as solutions. »

• Nous ne sommes nullement dispensés de la péroraison qui nous apprend, sans réelle surprise mais avec un certain soulagement, que tout cela est fait par des hommes amoureux de la paix, pour notre-sécurité à tous.  : «  Most of all, it is a future where the benefits of open and transparent competition bring best value and best security to our government customers and to our ultimate customers: the peace loving people who count on our industry and our governments to protect them against the rapidly evolving threats to world security. »

Le discours de Coffman est à la fois sans surprise et à la fois surprenant. Il s'agit d'une démonstration convaincante de la profonde réalité de la tendance totalement déstructurante de l'action du système de l'américanisme, ici l'industrie, tout cela empaqueté sous le nom de globalisation. On étonnerait Vance Coffman en lui expliquant que sa logique, à la fois déstructurante et évidemment prédatrice, renvoie au schéma classique de l'esprit trotskiste (la “révolution permanente” : tout briser pour que s'installe une organisation globale nouvelle, sous l'inspiration de celui qui a brisé), — ce qui est une évidence sans cesse constatée, chaque jour, dans la politique américaine. C'est la partie somme toute sans surprise du discours de Coffman.

Ce qui est surprenant, c'est qu'il fasse ce discours en 2002. On l'attendait en 2004-2005. Les Américains vont vite en besogne ; peut-être un peu trop vite, c'est leur seule faiblesse, la faiblesse du buffle dans le magasin de porcelaines. En dévoilant ainsi ses conceptions, Coffman montre combien ses intentions ne sont pas de simple transaction, de simple coopération, mais purement et, dirait-on, “globalement” politiques, — notamment avec l'affaire JSF. (En plus de l'action par le JSF, il y a l'action US par l'absorption de sociétés européennes, comme ils sont en train de faire avec l'allemand HDW.) Les Américains ont emporté la première manche avec le JSF parce qu'ils ont réussi, avec l'aide active de leurs hommes en place, à n'en pas faire une affaire politique. Brusquement, parce qu'ils jugent l'affaire réglée, ils (Coffman et les autres, car tout cela pense identique) politisent brutalement et bruyamment la question. Ils découvrent leurs intentions, qui est l'absorption de l'industrie européenne dans le conglomérat US. C'est un peu rapide. La patience manque à la panoplie chatoyante et multiple des vertus américaines.

Là-dessus et ci-dessous, le discours.

The Future Transatlantic Defense Marketplace

Remarks by Vance D. Coffman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lockheed Martin Corporation, – Before the Annual Convention Netherlands Aerospace Industries, Steigeuherger Kurhaus Hotel, The Hague, The Netherlands — October 4, 2002

Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to be with you today. I appreciate the opportunity to share with you my personal views on some of the key issues affecting our industry,

We in the aerospace industry currently face a number of very demanding challenges, from the near collapse of some of our key commercial aircraft markets to the rapidly changing requirements of our government customers. Prom CEO level interactions, to our respective Board meetings, to our various working groups—AECMA here in Europe and AIA in the United States have been actively involved in developing responses to these challenges. The Commission on the Future of the Aerospace Industry in the United States and the STAR 21 Report in Europe are current and positive examples of such activities.

I know that this afternoon's discussion will focus on the STAR 21, recommendations. In a few moments I will offer you some of my observations on several of the recommendations made in the STAR 21 report Before doing that, I think it is useful to reflect on the current global environment for our defense and aerospace industry.

We are now living in what we might call the ''Era of Global Threats.'' The notions of national security that we held during the Cold War and post Cold War periods are undergoing a comprehensive reassessment. The global terrorist threat must be dealt with in addition to the traditional threats to security posed by hostile nation states.

One thing is clear:, It is not realistic for countries to retreat behind national borders. The new security environment is one in which allied action and cooperative efforts against terrorists are absolutely required. The threat is global so must be the response. Governments must cooperate globally, and they must be able to coordinate their policies and their military and law enforcement actions.

What do these new threats and changing government priorities have in common? They require the complex systems integration skills that those of us in the aerospace and defense industry have spent years perfecting. Now we are called upon to apply these skills in new ways to meet new threats.

We must now think of ourselves as part of the ''international security industry,'' not simply the, aerospace or defense industry. In that regard, I expect companies such as Lockheed Martin and others in our industry to take a leading role in providing the technologies and services necessary to meet the requirements for preserving what we in the U.S. call ''homeland security.''

Evolving Transatlantic Relationship

Our industry is, of course, highly dependent on the actions of governments. Governments are one of our most important customer groups Governments are one of the primary sources of our research and development funds. Governments regulate our industry closely. And governments set the requirements for many of the systems we provide. Because of this close connection, transatlantic political and economic trends are of vital importance to our industry, As I look at these trends today, I see both positives and negatives for transatlantic cooperation.

Capabilities Gaps. The rapid advances in defense technology and capabilities continue. Each time our military forces are called upon to execute demanding operations, we witness the value of continued defense technology development, The current deployment of coalition forces. in Afghanistan shows that these trends are especially apparent in command and control, intelligence, remotely piloted vehicles, precision strike, and global logistics support. As is well known, however, there are vast disparities between the levels of investment in capabilities in the United States and in Europe.

The consequences of the funding and capabilities gape within the NATO alliance becoming increasingly apparent. NATO has recognized this problem and is focusing on malting its defense capabilities initiatives more achievable.

For our industry . both here and in the U.S. this lack of European defense funding means that excess capacity remains a major concern. The European defense industry has traditionally relied upon export markets to support the scale necessary for efficient production. The continuing reductions in European defense spending emphasize the need of European industry for export markets, but global defense spending as a whole continues in decline, and the world market for traditional defense products is actually shrinking.

At the same time, as you know, the United States is experiencing one of its cyclical increases in defense spending that will expand the gap between the United States and Europe to an even greater degree. One danger of, this trend is that ''fortress mentalities'' will develop on both sides of the Atlantic, with consequences that would probably make the current capabilities gap even worse. Not only would there continue to be insufficient resources, but the resources that would be available would be spent inefficiently.

The critical point is this: We cannot afford this type of fragmented resource allocation if we are to successfully meet the new security challenges we all face.

STAR 21

The STAR 21 report recognizes this problem explicitly. Its section on defense calls for more coherent allocation of resources, harmonized requirements, and an overall increase in spending. The report also advocates steps toward common and integrated European armaments policies.

I welcome these recommendations, A European defense market that is more integrated, rationally organized, and adequately funded would benefit industry as a whole. But as those of us in this room understand well, markets that consolidate and rationalize also produce winners and losers. This cannot be avoided.

Protected regions or protected industrial sectors are not consistent with an integrated and efficient marketplace. The political tradeoffs required to achieve such a marketplace are difficult and let me add they are no less difficult in the United States.

The STAR 21 report also argues for a more rational and coordinated approach to aerospace in Europe. An increase in resources devoted to civil and military space is also recommended. Again, these recommendations arc to be applauded. An industry with only a few large customers cannot thrive or even survive if those customers decide to take an extended procurement holiday.

An Integrated Transatlantic Marketplace

As you can see, I find much in the STAR 21 report that is valuable and sensible, and I commend the efforts of many in this room who produced. the document and the necessary consensus that underlies it. But there is an aspect of the report with which I am not in complete agreement

I refer to a key part of the rationale in STAR 21 calling for strengthening ''Europe's'' industrial capabilities in defense and aerospace. I have no quarrel with that in itself, but I believe the emphasis on ''European'' capabilities or ''American'' capabilities misses a critical point about our industry : Namely, that it is increasingly globalized. It is an industry whose very characteristics including the rapid transmission of information and data across borders actually define and drive the global economy,

To argue that we can be leaders in this industry and not participate in the global marketplace or that we can protect a home market and still expect to be competitive globally is, in my view, an argument that falls under its own weight. It does not hold up in the face of technological, economic, or even political trends. And I need hardly add that in the commercial side of our business, we are already in one of the most globalized marketplaces ever seen.

By the way, I fully expect the report of the National Commission on the Future of U_ S. Aerospace which is due out next month will support this view of our industry. To put the matter simply: Governments should set the framework and standards for the global aerospace marketplace. Companies can then compete and cooperate within that framework.

For that reason, I urge everyone here to think of strengthening European industry as a part—a key part, yes, but just one part—of the general increase in the capabilities of the global industry, and not as an end in itself.

Lockheed Martin has consistently called for a Single Integrated Transatlantic Defense Marketplace. We continue to think this model is the right one for defense and for aerospace, and the reasons we have advocated it for several years remain valid today:

• An integrated marketplace would make it possible for governments to share the costs of developing future systems and to harmonize their requirements across the Atlantic.

• It would ensure competition through the formation of transatlantic industry teams.

• It would increase interoperability through the expanded sharing of industrial and technical knowledge.

• It would strengthen the health of the transatlantic industrial base.

• It would and this is the bottom line—enable the European Union and the NATO alliance to meet security requirements more efficiently—to get better value for money.

Our Vision for the Future

We at Lockheed Martin are working hard to make our vision of ark integrated transatlantic marketplace a reality. I will say to you candidly that this is not an easy task or a straight path. But we believe it is the right path for our industry, for our shareholders, and, ultimately, for our key customers.

We are pursuing global opportunities with global partners. We rife bringing international partners into major programs earlier than ever, and offering high value advanced technology work for the duration of those programs.

The F 35 Joint Strike Fighter contract, awarded to the Lockheed Martin Northrop Grumman BAE SYSTEMS team, is already rewriting the possibilities for global cooperation. The JSF program will soon have eight nations participating in addition to the United States the United Kingdom, Italy, The Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Denmark, Norway and, in the very near future, Australia. These governments are making significant investments, and their industries will contribute as well as share in—world class technology. The JSF industrial model bas the potential to change the way we do transatlantic defense business and to set the tone for the next 50 years. We intend to make it a shining example of cooperation.

To return to the theme I mentioned at the beginning, we at Lockheed Martin see the fundamental product of our industry as solutions. We are called upon to face some of the most dangerous challenges in the world today, and our job is to provide affordable and effective solutions to our customers.

We are not simply selling products and services. We are developing highly integrated solutions for the most complex security problems that our customers face. We bang world class technology and long term, high quality jobs for our global industrial partners. We will continue to team globally with partners to develop and deliver these solutions. We will continue to bring world class breadth and depth of systems integration skills to the transatlantic marketplace, And we will continue to create examples of transatlantic success.

The future I envision is one of new partnerships among allies and friends. It is a future where cooperation and partnership will, over time, replace industrial offset and economic dependency. Most of all, it is a future where the benefits of open and transparent competition bring best value and best security to our government customers and to our ultimate customers: the peace loving people who count on our industry and our governments to protect them against the rapidly evolving threats to world security.