Thursday, March 09, 2006

Dubai Ports Controversy Ends

Dubai Ports World has agreed to sell operations to a US Company effectively ending the showdown over ports. In an amazing bipartisan effort to shut the US off from the rest of the world, Congressional Democrats and Republicans joined together to stop the deal. I just don't get this, especially the Democrats, Republicans have a long history of xenophobia and it would be unreasonable to expect it to end now. But the Democrats should not have made this the issue they made it. This will come back to hurt Democrats ultimately in the attitute it enforces. That attitude is that we must resign within ourselves because there are people in the world who seek to hurt us. Democrats saw this as a political opportunity to show the Country that they were better on national security than Bush, but it will come back to hurt them because it reinforces that isolationist attitude that Republicans thrive upon.

That said, I feel no sympathy for Bush here, he dug his own grave on this issue through his rhetoric towards Iraq. Paul Krugman pointed this out on February 24th and puts it far better than I.
The administration successfully linked Iraq and 9/11 in public perceptions through a campaign of constant insinuation and occasional outright lies. In the process, it also created a state of mind in which all Arabs were lumped together in the camp of evildoers. Osama, Saddam -- what's the difference?

Now comes the ports deal. Mr. Bush assures us that "people don't need to worry about security." But after all those declarations that we're engaged in a global war on terrorism, after all the terror alerts declared whenever the national political debate seemed to be shifting to questions of cronyism, corruption and incompetence, the administration can't suddenly change its theme song to "Don't Worry, Be Happy."

The administration also tells us not to worry about having Arabs control port operations. "I want those who are questioning it," Mr. Bush said, "to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company."

He was being evasive, of course. This isn't just a Middle Eastern company; it's a company controlled by the monarchy in Dubai, which is part of the authoritarian United Arab Emirates, one of only three countries that recognized the Taliban as the legitimate ruler of Afghanistan.

But more to the point, after years of systematically suggesting that Arabs who didn't attack us are the same as Arabs who did, the administration can't suddenly turn around and say, "But these are good Arabs."

This is all about retreat from the rest of the world, and thus Democrats should not be blocking this deal. It is nice however, to see Bush get nailed by his own rhetoric. That said, today the xenophobes have won with the Dubai company agreeing to sell operations to a US company. Next up, a 2000 mile long fence between the United States and Mexico.


Abe said...

Democrats made the smart move with the ports deal it will help us in the 2006 midterms.

Emma said...

according to NPR this morning, the Dubai company did not "sell", only agreed that these ports would be managed by a US company. The whole thing wasn't very clear, but the terms sell or divestiture were not included in the press releases