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March 10, 2006

Apparently, They Can Hear

From an editorial in the Arab News:

Some Democratic senators have joined Sen. Bill Frist, Republican leader in the Senate, in a move to legislate against the deal on grounds of national security. One of their concerns is that two of the perpetrators of 9/11 crimes were UAE citizens. They fear that Arab management of US ports might offer an opportunity for international terrorists to attack the US.

Unfortunately, this is bigoted nonsense that once again raises the deeply objectionable notion that all Muslims are terrorists. Leaving aside the fact that any attempt to stop the free movement of investment capital would probably run afoul of WTO rules, this reaction to the takeover is not only irrational but also lacks sense. Sen. Frist and his colleagues seem oblivious to the fact that British legislators have voiced no such objection to the fact that some UK ports will also be owned and run by DPW. Nor have there been any protests from authorities in China, Hong Kong, South Korea, India, Australia, Germany, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic — all countries in which DPW operates.

The US Customs and Coast Guard have introduced a strict procedure for the control of containers entering US ports — in 2005, there were 10 million. A full cargo manifest has to be filed by every vessel at least 24 hours before it enters US waters. High technology initiatives to scan the contents of containers and tag them with tamper-proof radio monitoring devices are already well advanced. There are no reasonable grounds for supposing that the way in which DPW would run the six US ports would be any less secure than under P&O’s management.

The knee jerk reaction of Sen. Frist and his colleagues is as regrettable as it is ignorant. President Bush is right to say that if this deal is blocked, it will send entirely the wrong signal to the rest of the world about the even-handedness of US foreign policy. The suspicion must be that these US legislators are playing to the electoral gallery in advance of the November elections.

In seeking, however, to discredit a highly reputable international firm on the grounds that it is Arab, these politicians discredit themselves.

Posted by Cassandra at March 10, 2006 07:59 AM


I admit to my own knee-jerk reaction opposing the deal before I knew anything about it. I don't know that such a reaction makes me a "bigot," however. I think that Americans have earned the right to their reservations towards the Arab world. It's a damned unfortunate, but entirely human, response to events in the not-so-distant present.

What I cannot understand, however, is why the "World's Greatest Deliberative Body" [sic] couldn't pick up the same newspapers as me and read about the real deal behind the xenophobic hyperbole dished out the talking heads. Once I understood the background I became convinced that this business transaction put the nation at no more risk than when Daimler-Benz bought Chrysler. (Just think of all those Islamic fundamentals running around free in Germany!) Rather than jump overboard and leave the President with egg on his face, Frist should have encouraged his party colleagues to stand firm and explian to the frightened citzenry what there is nothing to fear. Instead of showing their political backsides to the Democrats, Senate Republicans should have taken the opportunity to show why they can be trusted with the security of the nation.

What we witnessed is plain political cowardice.

Posted by: spd rdr [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 10, 2006 01:18 PM

Hey - look at my first post on the subject.

I had exactly the same reaction: ARE WE NUTS???

But then it took me all of 8 hours (actually not even that) to calm down and begin to inform myself about the issue. And I began to feel like a damned fool.

People are not stupid, nor wrong, to draw generalized conclusions from experience. I have said before that discrimination is not a bad word. It is when it becomes hardened into inflexible prejudice - when people won't allow any opposing thoughts into their minds - that it becomes counterproductive.

There is nothing wrong in my mind, for instance, in observing that in general, certain groups of people tend to behave in certain ways *on average*, so long as you remain open to the possibility that individuals can and often do behave differently: that their behavior is not solely determined by their membership in some race, class, or gender group. Generalizations are how we learn from experience. We just need not to become overdependent on them to the point where we are rigid and inflexible.

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 10, 2006 01:39 PM

Good points here and below Cass and Spd. Unfortunately now you know why I never joined your party to begin with!

Ah yes. Good ol' Dubai! The Switzeland of the Arab world and now demonized for no reason what-so-ever. What a good friend and drop-dead gorgeous spot on the planet. The sheer willingness to handle our ships is worth anything we can do to repay. But I guess if you haven't lost a shaft in that part of the world and had the repair work done IN THE ONLY DAMN COUNTRY THAT WOULD ALLOW IT then I guess it just really doesn't matter.

Would you like to debate government indoctrination centers now? (AKA "public schools") And I worry about the ignorance of the fanatical Muslim world? Hell, we don't need to go outside our own broders to find that type of blatant ignorance!

You might wanna' check into what is happening with the new Republican bankruptcy law as it is now fully implemented. Make a good story for you Cass. (hint: you might want to look at the HUD and mortgage riders)

Oh well, what do I know? I'm just a dumb ol' Suthin' Redneck but I can figger when my Country is being invaded. It's from the southern border and not anywhere near UAE!

Sure wish someone would come up with a kick ass third party!!!

Posted by: JarheadDad [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 10, 2006 04:30 PM

Jarhead, in all honesty, my friend, I don't understand your argument. My point was that the structure of the business deal for port operations, and the responsibilities resulting from that business arrangement, would not endanger the security of United States ports any more so than a French-owned Nestle would threaten the U.S. food supply. My assertions are not scientific, but based upon a reasonable reading of the plans and safeguards as reported by such radical broadsheets as the Wall Street Journal.

I take it from the tone of your comment that you find this international business debacle to be a mere tempest in a teapot, compared (justifiably) to the social and political problems wrought by illegal immigration and poorly performing public schools. I disagree. We spend half of our domestic energies making sure that we don't offend anybody. The Congress spent less than ten days before deciding to offend the entire non-fundamentalist Arab world, and to do so without any more reason than a fear of the bogey man behind the bed. That's just piss poor strategic policy, grounded in plain politics, Mac. And you damned well know it.

Maybe the fallout won't be so bad. Maybe the cash-rich UAE will continue to invest in the U.S., despite their shock at having the welcome mat of capitalism yanked from beneath their feet. What happens now will depend on how the U.S. administration smoothes over what will clearly be interpreted as a insult to a friendly power in an otherwise unfriendly region. One thing is for sure, China and India are poised to fill the breach in an ever-widening race for an ever-shrinking pool of energy resources. I wonder what that will cost us in the end, don't you?

Sometimes... geezus... you've just got to think past your own damned day in the sun. Not you, JHD. Them.

Posted by: spd rdr [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2006 01:20 AM

I think you two are basically in agreement. The sad thing is that spd is probably right: with any luck the UAE will continue to invest in US ventures where they haven't been scared away by the prospect of ridiculous protests.

The bad thing about this is that it has made it easier for the extremists in the UAE (which the govt was, for a while, starting to make some inroads against, but no longer I fear) to foment trouble. The Emirates govt. is between a rock and a hard place: they have to placate anti-American interests to stay in power and we have just made their job exponentially harder.

Nice job, Senators Schumer and Clinton.

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2006 07:50 AM

I was being sarcastic Spd. Yeah, we agree on UAE. They have been a friend when no one else would even consider supporting us. For quite a long time they have shown nothing but steadfast resolve (remember the support in '83?). They are even better than a modern day Switzerland because they actually physically participate in the WoT. They are a highly modern sophisticated capitalistic society against all odds!

I am "extremist" in my view on Congress. Both sides of the aisle. Frist is the one that led the charge against Dubai and had plenty of Republican support. The Democrats have just simply gone so far off the deep end they will never return to the party that was once relevant. Unless the leadership of the Repubs continues down this road to stupidity. I am against BOTH parties!

I do not weigh the destruction of our homeland security by generations of government indoctrination through the politically correct public schools and the money driven illegal immigration to the big business for cheap labor as any more or less important than a fear driven foreign policy. Both are equally dangerous. If you do not believe in the dumbing down of our society just look at the reaction to the UAE and GW's poll numbers. The people that should be taking the hit are not. We, as a Country, have become so lazy and stupid that we do not even understand the world outside our own borders. Let alone know how our own government works.

So call me extremist and paint me as a total whacko centrist with strong right leaning tendencies. I see nothing conservative anywhere in this Congress. I see the little guy's rights being stripped and usurped on a daliy basis. I see idiotic courts making rulings like eminent domain that are another direct attack on the average joe. Property rights are the cornerstone of our Republic. I see the new bankruptcy law shielding an unbelievable attack on individual rights in support of big business. I see spending that has not simply gotten out of control but has gone into the stratosphere of destroying conservative values. I see our Allies being treated with disrespect and held with suspicion even though they have BLED with us!

No Spd, I do not like your Party. Until now I have never feared them though. The level of contempt I hold the Dems is close to being equaled by the sheer stupidity of the leadership of the Repubs!

Clear it up any?

Posted by: JarheadDad [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2006 09:25 AM


Irishmen. They will be the death of me.

Why do I get the feeling the two of you would get along like a house afire...after you had drunk all the beer in the refridgerator and burned it down? :)

Posted by: Cassandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2006 11:16 AM

Sory, JHD, I didn't mean to get on my high horse. This bit a wholesale stupidity got yhe best of me. But just so you know, the Republicans aren't "my party," they just get my vote most of the time. Right now, I'd like to take my 12EEEE's and plant them firmly where the sun don't shine while every last one of them.

Posted by: spd rdr [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2006 01:50 PM

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