Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Kum ba yah . . .

Ok, boys and girls; this is a tough one for Spot to write. People all over the political spectrum are going crazy over the fact that a company out of Dubai is set to take over the operation of six major ports in the United States.

The reason this is tough for Spot to write is not because of the proposed management takeover, but rather because he agrees with George W. Bush on this one. Spotty is not sure that has ever happened before, and it is a frightening prospect to face.

It is a mark of how xenophobic and fear-ridden we have become – for which Spotty does blame George W. Bush – that the announcement that Dubai Ports World would, upon acquisition of a British firm, operate these ports has created such a knee-jerk firestorm of opposition.

Even Al Franken got into the act today. When the administration said that Dubai Ports World was being held to a different standard than the current operator, Franken said Yes, but that’s because it’s a Middle Eastern country! Yuk, yuk.

The United States has long had a regime of regulating and limiting foreign investment in industries sensitive to national security, including maritime interests. This transaction was examined and approved by the Treasury Department, just as the one putting the British company in as an operator would have been.

What people are complaining about, and what Franken meant, is that Dubai, part of the UAE, is in an Arab country, or even worse, a Muslim one. Frankly, this is just bigoted. There are perhaps reasons to second guess the administration on its call, but not simply because Dubai is a Middle Eastern country.

Boys and girls, we don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of having better relations with Middle Eastern countries in this generation or the next if decisions are made on the basis of the public’s xenophobic hysteria. Come on liberals, where is your nuance?

By the way, it will still be the Keystone Kops at the Department of Homeland Security (actually that’s not fair; there are a lot of really good people working border enforcement, customs, immigration, and Coast Guard) in charge of security. The real problem is the administration’s inept efforts to beef up port security in the first place.

And don’t worry, the ports will not be overrun by a bunch of Ay-rabs. US immigration law will limit labor immigration for ports work to Dubai Ports World managerial people and perhaps some specialists in port operations.

Settle down; take a pill; get some rest.


Spotty heard a couple of more points on the radio: Jonathan Alter says that UAE ports were used to transship nuclear material. Nothing has ever been smuggled in or out of a US port? How about a little condemnation of the source of ther material, our buddy Pakistan? And there were a couple of hijackers on 9/11 from the UAE. How about the two US citizens and the permanent resident who were arrested this week on terrorism charges? Bullshit generalization are just that: bullshit.


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