Americans learn early-on in schools that the goal of every company is to maximize profits. What they don’t tell you is “At what moral point the spilling of blood in the service of maximizing profit should a CEO say “I’m not willing to cross that bridge”. It’s an individual choice that CEO‘s around the globe deal with everyday; and for every CEO that crosses that bridge without flinching, there areÂ many who find it difficult to justify their revenues through blood letting.
Bloomberg, as I wroteÂ exactlyÂ one year ago, has been on the Avant-Guarde of exposing those companies who have crossed that bridge and along the way may have broken US or EU laws.
Lately, Bloomberg citedÂ the AmericanÂ stalwartÂ Hewlett-Packard for equipment it sold Syria for the purpose of surveillance and Internet monitoring, which, as we all know, often result in torture and/or death. In the Bloomberg article, Hewlett-Packard kicked the ball down to Area SpA, an Italian concern with a past history of selling to the Assad regime its own ware to monitor Syrians, by noting it did not know of who the ultimate end-user of its own equipment.
The US Commerce Department own Bureau of Industry and Security monitors export licenses for the purpose of screening end-users around the world. Its job is to enforce exports controls over US materials sent to the wrong people and for the wrong purpose. In fact, there is a consolidated screening listÂ developedÂ in cooperation with the Department of State and the Department of Treasury to coordinate at all levels those exports deemed dangerous to National Security.
So when companies whose CEO crossed that bridge make public statements along the lines of “We did not know”, it flies in your face as utter lies. When too many people are paying attention to the matter, companies usually control damage by expressing remorse, but when the US Government makes no effort and the public just shrugs its shoulders, US companies take the “We did not know” damage control route. This is PR Crisis Control 101.
Therefore, the responsibility of enforcing sanctions lands at the feet of the US Government and its different Departments handling sanctions and enforcement of sanctions against the Assad regime. When they fail to do so over and over again, it exposes either incompetence or the real policies of the US with regard to Syria, which essentially say “Sanctions are just bones to stop the barking, not to harm the thief”.