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    'Money Could Be Spent on Useful Things' – Former Belgian Politician on F-35 Deal

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    French President Emmanuel Macron called Belgium's decision to purchase US F-35 jets instead of the French Rafale F3R a move that goes "against European interests." Sputnik discussed the matter with Lode Vanoost, a political analyst and former deputy speaker of the Belgian parliament.

    Sputnik: In your view, is Belgium's decision to purchase F-35 jets from the US a betrayal of European interests?

    Lode Vanoost: Actually, the real debate here is not whether this is a betrayal of European interests or something else. I believe even if Belgium would have bought a European plane, it would still go against the interest of the ordinary people.

    Namely, that this is money that could be wasted for other things, first of all. Secondly, that it will still enhance, even make bigger, the danger for nuclear proliferation, because, as you know, one of the reasons that the US F-35 was chosen was because it is plane that has the technological capacity to carry nuclear arms. In the present situation that does not bode well for our future relations with other countries, with Russia and others.

    Now, the arguments that our prime minister gives is that this [plane] is commercially more viable. Well, this is really something that has been used even in the days when it was about the Starfighter and then it was with the F-16 afterwards, etc.

    READ MORE: Belgian PM Explains His Country's Choice for US-Made F-35 Next Gen Fighters

    It's this idea that because certain parts of these planes will assembled, not manufactured, in Belgian factories that that will create jobs etc.; that this is somehow good for the economy. But what it doesn't mention is that this money could have been spent on producing useful things.

    On top of that, whether it would have been a European plane or an American plane, these planes are going to be used in the context of NATO. For NATO operations, mostly in the Middle East, that would even make the security situation there even worse, that will exacerbate the refugee crisis and so much more.

    So, for me, the debate is not whether the F-35 was a good choice. For me the question is whether it was a good choice to buy military bomber planes of that kind. That is the debate that is hardly ever being held in the political arena in Brussels [as the capital of Belgium].

    READ MORE: In US' Footsteps: Britain Grounds Entire F-35 Fighter Jet Fleet

    But the point is many of the people that argue against the issue of weapons will say "well we do this because we're pressured by the US and we dare not go against them." Well, that is not the case. The people, who make these decisions totally agree with the policy of the US and think it's a good thing that we have a very menacing posture against neighboring blocs and that what we do in the Middle East is a good thing.

    So, therefore, to argue whether they should have bought European [planes] or the American ones it hardly matters for people, who are striving for peace in the Middle East and for a more relaxed relationship with our Russian neighbor; that hardly matters. It remains the same. This is a military weapon that is used for attacking people in other countries. This has nothing to do with defense.

    The views and opinions expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    opinion, military contacts, purchase deal, F-35 Lightning II, United States, France, Belgium
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