Friday, February 24, 2006

Dubai Company Takes Our Ports!

This will be a rare post where I kind of agree with President Bush. By now, you all no doubt know that a state-owned company from the United Arab Emirates is set to take over operations of 6 U.S. shipping ports on the eastern seaboard. Politically, I'm amused that Bush apparently didn't know this until somebody read him a story from a newspaper. I'm also very amused that nobody in his administration, which has specialized in framing just about any company or government from the Middle East in terms of terrorism, didn't think that having a company run by the government of the UAE taking over key US Ports would become an issue that would grab the public's interest.

It is funny, to say the least, that our current White House will argue on one hand that they need the right to spy on the phone calls and e-mails of American citizens because of the threat from Islamofascists in the Middle East, but that they'll also assume that having a government from that same region take over our ports, a prime target for a terrorist, won't rouse any public scrutiny.

That said, and given the hypocrisy and political ineptitude of the Bush administration, this corporate merger is really far less of a story than the media has led the public to believe. Like I said, I'm with Bush on this one. Let the merger go through. Here's why:

1) Those ports were being run by a British company before this merger. The Dubai company is actually buying the British one, that's why they'll have operational control when the merger is complete. So, you see, the ports weren't being run by some American company in the first place.

2) This will be cold comfort, post-Katrina, but the job of securing these ports was never laid on the hands of the company that operated it. That's for the Coast Guard and for the Department of Homeland Security to handle. The company that operates the ports is responsible for receiving cargo and passing it on, nothing else. No matter where the operating company is based, the job of security is, rightly, a government job. That our current government is being run by unqualified cronies is the fault of the White House, not the companies who deal with cargo at the ports.

3) Remember point one, about the British company. For decades and across administrations, the US has used its influence in the UN, the World Bank and the IMF to force other countries to accept the notion that international investors might own parts of key industries within their borders. One complaint about globalization has been that it's rigged to favor the U.S. and Western Europe. If we don't object to the British running ports in the U.S. but do object to the U.A.E. doing it, how are we not giving credence to those anti-globalization complaints?

4) Evidence that the U.A.E. supports terrorism seems to be based on the fact that 3 of the 9-11 hijackers are from there and that other 9-11 hijackers used banks based there. By that standard, how is Oklahoma, home to Timothy McVeigh, not also a state that sponsors terrorism?

I'm somewhat surprised that this story has such legs. Most of the reason is that the White House handled the politics so badly. But, much as I hate to agree with the White House, when it comes to substance, there's really nothing to get riled up about here.


At 7:56 AM , Blogger Ideasculptor said...

Not that I don't agree with your reasoning, but there are other issues to be considered.

First and foremost is the several potential conflicts of interest between the Bush administration and the UAE, including potential benefits to be realized by both Bush's brother and father.

Second is the apparent lack of willingness by the administration to even bother adhering to the normal process when approving this deal, which is presumably tied up in reason number 1 above.

Finally, there is politics to be considered. If congress is true to form, the GOP members of both houses will eventually quit their bitchin' and approve the deal without forcing Bush to resort to a veto, so the dems are currently sitting on a potential political goldmine in the midterm elections. The republicans have proven time and again that it is more than worth it to play politics for politics' sake, in order to gain an election advantage, and it is high time the democrats learned to do the same thing. The democrats have been depicted as weak on homeland security by the gop for so long now even many democrats believe it. this is an opportunity to posture as being strong on homeland security and I don't think we should pass up the opportunity to take it. It's mostly harmless to do so, and its not as though we'd be likely to win this battle in the long run, anyway, making it totally harmless from a foreign policy standpoint, but potentially lucrative in the midterm elections.


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