Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fevered Swamp

As I mentioned briefly, last week, I have come down with a spectacular case of influenza -- one which seems to be making the rounds. This bug came with a lively fever, which does continue to hamper my cognitive abilities, slightly, by introducing the most interesting fantasies. It even seems to have struck many of our leaders in the swamplands of the nation’s capital. What else could explain the talk I keep hearing in my fevered dreams, concerning our ports?

Is it possible for an ostensibly rational set of individuals to be near foaming at the mouth because the United Arab Emirates are buying out a British company which had been running several port terminals across our country? The panic comes up over one set of solid allies controlling a business, when another solid set of allies finds it no longer as lucrative as it once was. The newcomers are long-time supporters of ours, who opened their ports and roads to us even during the first stages of the Gulf War, who sent supplies to coalition troops in Afghanistan, who have never given us reason to doubt them, now investing in a business which manages a handful of port terminals. And those businesses don’t actually have any security or personnel concerns, since that is the responsibility of the Customs agents, the Coast Guard, local police and longshoremen.

But them furriners are A-rabs. Must be a plottin’ to support bin Laden. And they’re gonna bring him in through the Port of Baltimore. Yep, them A-rabs are sneaky bas... uh, barristers.

Okay, maybe it’s not that. Maybe the folks who have been ranting about Dubai’s plot to move in on our ports is strictly about furriners running our ports. But who the heck do they think has been doing the job these last two and a half decades? We certainly haven’t. American businesses haven’t been heavily involved in international shipping since roughly the end of the Carter years. Running our ports today, we have corporations from Germany, South Korea, Japan, China, and Saudi Arabia, just to name a few. Yes, I said “China and Saudi Arabia”. So, we have our number one competitor in the world market, and we have questionable allies who are also A-rabs, whose own government is only halfheartedly in support of our taking out bin Laden and the rest of the Islamic terrorists and whose nation produced the majority of the 9/11 hijackers, each holding power over sections of our port cities. Why isn’t somebody screaming bloody murder about their “ownership” of our ports?

The most recent argument against Dubai, as of Tuesday, is that Dubai, or, rather, the United Arab Emirates have refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and refuse to allow the import of Israeli manufactured goods. And that makes them less trustworthy than our allies, the Saudis, precisely how, again? When was the last time the Saudis practiced tolerance toward anybody, let alone the Israelis? And yet, they manage 9 of our ports. How about hearing from the junior senator from New York on that one? She’s had plenty to say about Dubai, but did she object when the Saudis came into this picture during her husband’s administration? Is she protesting their operations, now?

We do business with people we disagree with, or find disagreeable, on a regular basis -- or else, how would we have filled our stores with French wine and cheeses? To declare a nation a security risk because... well, just because -- now, that’s not simply disagreeable, it’s reckless. It insults people who have every reason to be trusted, and could easily drive them to ally themselves with our enemies. If the people of Dubai didn’t hate us before, they certainly could have grounds for contempt today.

I am glad to hear that there is some discussion going on as to how our ports must be run and by whom. I think that, in a day and age when international business may also serve international terrorism, questions should be asked at the highest levels. But I can not see how the fever I am witnessing can be at all good for the nation. Fanatic knee-jerk protectionism, like any extreme, serves nobody but our enemies. It is sickening to watch.

Recommended reading: Jim Geraghty at TKS on NRO: An Organized Disinformation Campaign on the Dubai Ports World Deal; Power Line Blog: More On Port Security; David Limbaugh: Borders Policy and "Portgate"; The Counterterrorism Blog: A JIHAD WINDOW AT THE EMIRATES GATE?

strictly for humor: IMAO: Frank Advice on Port Security;

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