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Sunday, 2.26.06: Dubya and Dubai
"What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know, it's what we know for sure that just ain't so."
Like everyone, I was dumbstruck at the Bush Administration's decision to sell port management rights to Dubai.
Like a lot of people, I spent the week trying to get some facts straight. Was I really just joining a xenophobic mob? Or is there reason to be alarmed?
First, with this administration there is always reason to be alarmed. They are secretive and incompetent and convinced they are always right. Arianna Huffington quoted Mark Twain this week: "What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know, it's what we know for sure that just ain't so."
That being said, here's a list of facts (or what I've heard that sounds credible) along with today's conclusions.
Apparently port management is thoroughly internationalized. A specialty. American firms have gotten out of the business. Why? American ports are post-WWII relics. And they are unionized.
Dubai is willing to invest money into modernizing our ports. The United Arab Emirates will run out of oil in the next few years, so they are using their enormous wealth to invest in other industries.
Dubai is "modern." What this means is that their god is the almighty dollar.
Dubai is "modern." What this means is that their god is the almighty dollar. They don't do democracy.
In any society where money reigns supreme, loyalty is simply another commodity up for sale. Like Swiss bankers, they are blind to the morality of their customers. This year, the U.S. is filling their coffers, so they are our friends. When al-Qaeda or the Taliban are the ones with the dough -- their gold glistens just like ours.
Not responsible for security? The statement that port managers are not responsible for security is hogwash. It's like saying that doctors simply manage patients, while the quality assurance department is responsible for quality and the lawyers are responsible for risk management. Get real.
We owe Dubai. (Because we pay them) they have provided needed services for our benighted occupation of Iraq. If we screw them on this deal, their loyalty will vanish in an instant. I heard one pundit say "we need to stop pissing off Arabs." Isn't it a little late for that nugget of wisdom?
Who can blame We The People for conflating Islamist terrorists with Arab capitalists?
This uproars underscores the fact that none of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations around port security have been implemented. We are investing billions in making new enemies in the Mideast, while Coast Guard and border security get only the privilege of being dumped into the disastrous and underfunded Homeland Security Department. It's good we're finally taking notice.
The irony: We are so freaked out about this because of Bush's effort to spin the warrantless wiretapping program. For weeks, he's been touring the country like an old red-baiter talking about the enemy at our doorstep. The terrorists are everywhere and too wily for any kind of judicial process. So while we are being cowed into letting our phones be tapped, suddenly our ports are being sold off to guys with creepy connections to the Taliban and al-Qaeda and AQ Khan? Whuuuuuuh?
If Bush can conflate Saddam Hussein with Osama bin Laden, who can blame We The People for conflating Islamist terrorists with Arab capitalists?