Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Eye of the beholder

Once again I've tried to stay above the fray on this whole port management issue, mostly because I don't like to make snap judgments based on the inflammatory reporting we get from today's media.

I'd much rather wait until I read inflammatory blog posts before I make my snap judgments.

And to be sure, the recent conflagration surrounding the port management issue had resulted in a profusion of blog posts. But here's thought that struck me yesterday:

This issue is a terrific case study in hypocrisy.

There are several layers of hypocrisy at work here. One level has been resoundingly put forth by the self-described liberal bloggers: That the Bush administration has railed against governments that support terrorism, yet they did nothing to prevent the takeover of American ports by some of the same countries.

A second layer can be directed at the same self-proclaimed liberal bloggers: That they condemn the fear mongering by the administration, yet have no problem engaging in fear mongering when it's politically expedient.

But the third layer of hypocrisy that is particularly interesting to me - and which I am admittedly guilty of - applies pretty much to any American who has said anything about the issue.

Americans of all political stripes automatically assumed that since the contract was going to an Arab country, that there is a higher security risk. Technically, there would be a security risk with any company be it Arab, British or Klingon. But by assuming a higher security risk based on the country and region of origin, Americans have employed the same kind of fake logic that led thousands of Muslims to attack Danish embassies in response to what independent newspapers printed.

The Danish government wasn't responsible for the newspapers, yet outraged Muslims attacked Danish and other embassies, businesses and individuals in response. Neither the Dubai government nor Dubai Ports World, were responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, yet racist Americans react in kneejerk fashion to this latest port management business merger.

Two sides of the same coin. I guess sometimes hypocrisy is in the eye of the beholder.
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  1. You are reading WAY too much into my post. I just expressed surprise that Bush wants to spy on Americans without warrants, but wants to trust a bunch of Arab businessmen with ties to al Qaeda.

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  2. Hmmm. Let's see. Who was it that attacked us on 9/11?

    The French? No.

    The Belgians? No.

    The Germans? No.

    The Swiss? No.

    The Icelanders? No.

    Oh yeah, now I remember...it was Muslims! They were ALL Muslims. Two of them were from the UAE. Their money came through the UAE.

    "But the UAE are our friends now! They are helping us fight terrorism."

    Yep. They are. Just like Iran used to be our friend when the Shah was in power. Helping us fight the Commies.

    Just Like Iraq was our friend after the Iranian revoloution that ousted the Shah. Most of the munitions that are killing our troops over there were sold to Saddam Hussein by us during his war with Iran. American explosives killing American soldiers.

    Just like the Mujahjadin were our friends in Afghanistan when they were fighting Communist occupation. We trained Osamah and his followers to kill the Soviets. Now they are using those same lessons to kill us.

    Now, things have changed. Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Mujahjadin...all want us DEAD. Why? Because we pulled the rug out from under them just like we did the Cubans in the Bay of Pigs.

    We encourage insurgents around the world to put THEIR heads on the chopping blocks with promises of AMERICAN SUPPORT. The "Gold Standard" of revoloutions everywhere.

    Until things get "sticky". Or until election time. Or until public opinion changes. Then we drop them like a bad habit and let them fend for themselves.

    So, yes. The UAE are our allies now. But what about 10 years from now? 20? 50? Do we really want them in charge of our ports after the fundementalist Islamic Revolt has transformed their country and they now hate us like all of the other Muslim Theocracies?

    After all this time, and all this history, are we still that fucking stupid?

    Our electoral choices would indicate that we are.

    I'll have more on my blog later about the heavy American Republican ownership of the Carlysle Group, CSX, Dubai Ports World and how this is just another way for rich Republicans to make other rich Republicans richer.

    They don't give a rat's ass about our security. It's all about business. Pure and simple.

  3. It's all a bunch of horse shit..LOL...and I have to agree with xavier, it's business...

  4. X-

    Interesting points. You probably didn't realize that the Dubai deal is for business managemnet, not for security. That has been and will be handled by the Coast Guard. Whether the Coast Guard can provide adequate security is a separate question.

    You should also know that "Foreign companies run nearly all the port terminals on the West Coast and about half of those on the East Coast." That goes back several administrations, so "Blaming Bush" is a bit intellectually disingenuous.

  5. But I thought 9-11 changed everything . . .

    Are any of the other ports controlled by companies owned by the governments of countries friendly to bin Laden?

  6. Dan,
    The National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (NSCSA), which is partially owned by the Saudi government, controls terminals in 9 ports in the US, including Baltimore (not far from D.C.) and Houston.

    The Saudis also recognized the Taliban government, and several of the 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, as is OBL himself.

  7. emaw-

    Not helping yourself buddy. Just digging a deeper hole by pointing out other situations where the current administration is failing to "protect us".

    If "9/11 changed everything", why didn't Dubya just Nationalize all Port Administration duties with an Executive Order? Huh? He has the power. Pull all port management under US control with a stroke of a pen. Could have done it years ago.

    It would piss off a lot of other countries, but that's never bothered him before. He calls it "leadership".

    He didn't do it because commerce and corporate profits are more important to him than American lives.

    It's perfectly OK with him that low income, dark skinned Americans are dying every day to make rich, white, conservative Americans richer.

  8. x-
    Thanks again for posting and keeping the conversation going.

    I actually think my previous comment does "help myself, buddy" since it illustrates a further hypocrisy that I was getting at in the original post, namely, that there has been no outcry over the Saudis controlling port terminals as there has been with DPW.

    When you say that the government should just take over total control of the ports with the stroke of a pen, you are exhibiting ignorance of port management. That's not a dig or an insult at you, since, as a fellow flatlander, I suffer from the same ignorance. But this discussion has led me to do some quick online research to increase my admittedly miniscule understanding of the issue. I suggest you check out the Forbes article I linked above. It goes into an historical overview of how the current US port situation has evolved.

    Here’s a quick quote:
    Despite being the world's largest trading nation, America is a bit player in the ocean-borne shipping trade. To ensure good service, every big ocean carrier wants to control the terminals where it loads and unloads cargo. And these days, nearly all the companies shipping goods in and out of Long Beach, Calif., Seattle, and other big U.S. ports are foreign-run. Of the 6,409 oceangoing vessels engaged in U.S. trade in 2004, a mere 234, or around 4%, were owned by U.S. companies, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration.

    Hamstrung by higher taxes, regulation and a law that requires all U.S. flag-carriers to be manned by American crews, the American merchant marine gave way to its foreign rivals. Powerful unions and strict labor laws ensure that American crewmen cost several times their foreign counterparts. While foreign flag-carriers go largely untaxed, U.S. shippers were levied at the 35% corporate tax rate until two years ago.

    So saying the govt. should take over total management of the ports is like saying the government should take over total management of retail distribution. It's just not feasible, nor is it desirable (unless you’re Communist Russia, and we all know how well that turned out).


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