Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Dubai Dubai do?

In the latest political flap, we have objections to the deal wherein a company owned by the government of Dubai would manage some of our major shipping ports. Opponents say this is unwise from a security point of view; proponents say the foreign investment is good for us, and anyway the objections are anti-Arab.

Let me make sure I have the "anti-Arab" thing right, before I go on. The same people who think we should delay Muslims at airports, refuse to let Cat Stevens into the country, and have unknown thousands of people on no-fly lists because they happen to come from the wrong part of the world, have the wrong family background, or pray at the wrong mosque... these same people think that questioning whether a foreign country should have control of our ports is anti-Arab? I see.

It's true, surely, that there would be far less flap if it were the government of, say, Norway that was coming in to do this. And that is an unfortunate double standard. Still, if we buy into the idea that any real "homeland security" is possible and desirable, then surely we should keep the management and security of our ports at home.

Congress wants at least a delay here, while they look into it, and I think that's the best course. Perhaps the first thing they might look into, before even worrying about the security implications, is how many Friends of George (FoGs) stand to make money on this deal. Yes, the foreign investment is good for us [nudge-nudge, wink-wink], but not necessarily for US, if you see the point.

Bush, of course, for his part, threatens to veto any bill that tries to stop this deal. The oddity of that, when he hasn't wielded a veto in over five years, convinces me, more than does anything else, that he and his cronies stand to gain a lot from this. I don't think for a minute that he has the country's best interest at heart in this case, at least.

But what seems to be the best thing here is that, again, as with the wiretap issue, the Republicans in congress are objecting too — it isn't just the Democrats. In fact, the Republican dissent is coming from some of the top Republican leaders, Senate majority leader Bill Frist and House speaker Dennis Hastert. With his monarchic approach, King George seems finally to be undoing what he had accomplished by polarizing the rest of us. Objecting to him meant joining the other side then. But now, at least a little bit, congress is uniting against autocracy and abuse of power. That is a good thing that must keep moving.

No comments: