Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Spier: U.S. Port Control - The Hullabaloo

by Bill Spier

I had not given much thought to the hullabaloo over United Arab Emirates management of critical U.S. ports. Having just now read mainstream media reactions and listened to johnny-come-lately posturing by Speaker Hastert and the dim Frist, I think the attention this deal is getting is a good thing; but not because an Arab controlled corporation will manage the ports. After all, China and multi-national corporations have similar contracts with port authorities in the United States. The UAE is not part of the radical Islamic world. It is a modern financial and tourist center. I do have a few comments on the matter though.

There a couple of recurrent issues now surfacing and which need a public airing. The first is the obvious one that the U.S. should take responsibility to secure its most vulnerable national entry points. It has not been doing that since 9/11. The second is that this administraton has appointed people (like Treasury's Snow) and commanded them to jettison federal control and ownership of public resources and national patrimony. How much traction these issues get is anyone's guess.

The third issue is that the whole outcry is phony and riddled with Arab-hating rhetoric. The UAE and Dubai are major international financial players and not primitive desert dwellers. They may very well be a real ally of the United States and whose major industry is tourism. Placing the UAE in the middle of 9/11 is pure bull. Democrats and Republicans are equally hypocritical here. Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, my senators, are two of the worst perpetrators of the vitriol. (They really thick Barbara Boxer is clueless.) The Christian right is jumping on it too. It gives these bigots a public forum to advance their racism and ignorance. If there is any hope that the United States can keep moderate modern middle east governments in power, the Arab-hating political opportunism has to end.

The problem with Bush's speech yesterday is how it broadcasted administation dictatorial intentions and grating highhandedness. You cannot have it all ways, Mr. Bush: one, attack an Arab state and be responsible for the death of over 100,000 Arabs, and, two, then tell your nation to trust you, the Dubai Arabs are good guys. The result will be this sort of hypocritical backlash. Now Republican careerists in congress are running for cover and pretending outrage. Who knows? Maybe some of them will benefit from the drama.

Next to the lies used to make war on a country that did nothing to us, the squandering of the national treasury, Katrina, traitors in the White House, and preparation for an invasion of Iran, this isssue of Dubai is not so big. But by trying to slip this one (port security sale) by unnoticed, this incompetent government just tanked their "safe from terrorists" reputation. That is good. Everything else leaves me nauseated.

Two weeks ago, Cheney tried to blow off someone's head. This week, it is not Bush who is trying to make enemies of every Arab in the world, but the nation's ignorance of economics and knowing who the real enemy is. I am sure millions of Americans feel a sense of looming national doom that Iraqis felt when we invaded their country in 2003.

Bill Spier: It is one week later, and I am beginning to feel that my attack on Hillary and Chuck was wrong. Both have been talking a long time (especially Hillary) about Bush's lack of interest in securing the ports of New York and New Jersey. I still think they hit the boards with the wrong message first. The issue is still port security, not Arab owners. If there was true port security, no middle east company would have even tried for this deal.

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

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