Sunday, February 26, 2006

Conflicts Ahoy

So about this whole UAE ports deal, Bush says:

"This is a company that has played by the rules, that has been cooperative with the United States, a country that's an ally in the war on terror, and it would send a terrible signal to friends and allies not to let this transaction go through."
So let me just make a list of things that bug me about this whole plan. A list of conflicting information we've received from our loyal, steadfast President since 9/11/2001, along with some bits of factual information that always seem to get in the way:

1.) States that sponsor terrorism are bad. They're off our Christmas card list.
2.) We've got to police the boards like rabid dogs. Especially Mexico because maybe terrorists will come through Mexico. Oh, and we should also watch that Visa Waiver Program because special relationships we may have with countries should not be considered, nor should common sense or, say, the facts of any situation.
3.) Iraq is a state that sponsors terrorism (never mind that its former leader had zip to do with 9/11).
4.) Confused talking TV heads wrinkle their brows in consternation over the notion that we're supposed to be fine with this ARAB nation taking over our entire Eastern Seaboard’s worth of ports.
5.) Modern terrorism operates free of any particular state, taking only from some the kind of economic benies that we take from not-so-nice countries like, say, that enemy of the First Amendment, China.
6.) Dubai is a state, and a friendly one at that. Our naval ships dock there and our sailors enjoy liberty on its shores and in its deserts - availing themselves of this new jet-setter's vacation destination.
7.) The article links above and says some of the terrorists flew from Dubai to the US. Okay, but really, once they were here, they flew around and learned to fly from American instructors, let's not get all blame-game with Dubai, eh?
8.) So it seems to me, then, that the MSM's main problem with this, justifiably, is that it makes no sense to paint the Arab world with such a broad brush and then turn over port control to a state owned country. But going back to points 5 and 6, aren't we being, well, racist assholes to look at Dubai, as a state and as a participant in the market, and think "terrorist threat?"
9.) And speaking of point 8, looks like Bush has been successful in convincing us that They are all bad and we should fear Them and regardless of whether any "state" sponsors terrorism, we should just assume they come from everywhere, like Iraq who had nothing (everything! everything! be afraid!) to do with 9/11. And we're using that lesson to mess with your Presidency.
10.) I think the idiom we're looking for here is, "be careful what you wish for."


Scott said...

I think the bigger issue here is that:
1) The UAE would not or could not handle security within its own borders enough to prevent (a) the laundering of money to the 9/11 hijackers; or (b) the illicit movement of nuclear materials through their ports by the A.Q. Khan network.
2) This is also a nation from which a not insignificant portion of their royal family has been in close contact and even gone hunting with none other than Osama bin Laden (though nobody was shot in the face)

I think its beautiful that the booga-booga-Arabs-under-your-bed racist mentality pushed for 4 years by the Bush admin. is coming back to bite them in the ass by the very morons who responded to this fear (and put them back in office). But there is legitimate reason to be jittery that a Dubai-owned company will be handling our already dreadfully insecure and uninspected ports.

If Kim Jong Il can get nukes to North Korea through Dubai, it worries me who'll be able to get their nukes (or whatever) into the good ol' US of A.

Anonymous said...

Neither Dubai, nor the company, is responsible for port security. We are.

Hell, the Chinese and their businesses run half the west coast port interests - you're not worried about them at all?

I just think the "but look at their legitimate 9/11 connections" line overlooks the immense amount of time all 19 hijackers were here among us and were never nabbed, etc.

Seriously, how is this Dubai's fault? They've been closer, truer friends than, say Saudi Arabia. It all just seems like hollow objections to me. It's true that Bush is OUT OF HIS F-ING MIND to think that this wouldn't be looked at with general curiosity, but I hate to legitimize his racist warmongering by arguing his party line to this point.

Scott said...

I'm less worried about the Chinese due to the fact that Sino-US economic interests tie the two countries so closely together that a calamity occurring to one would have a significantly adverse effect on the other. Think economic mutual-assured-destruction. Not the best situation for port security, either, but the Chinese government has much more of an ironclad grip on their operations and they know better than to start World War III.

Second, you're right that the ability of the FBI/CIA to track the movements of Al Qaeda on our own soil was just as poor as Dubai's ability to keep the 9/11 money and the nukes out. However, that doesn't negate the fact that the money and the nukes did, in fact, arrive at their final destination through their ports. Which brings me to...

Third, and most importantly, Dubai's ability or inability to secure the shipping containers in their custody wouldn't be as much of an issue if port security in our own country weren't such a nightmare waiting to happen. When Senators and TV stations hold press conferences to show us the stinger missiles they managed to sneak into the US via our nation's ports, and then proceed to remind us that 96% of the shipping containers entering those ports aren't even given a cursory glance before heading off on the Union Pacific Railroad to the 50 states....IT FREAKS ME RIGHT THE F*%K OUT.

I'm not opposed, in principle, to the idea of Dubai, or China, or any other foreign government running our port operations. My issue is that if our domestic inspection regime is going to be practically non-existent, we might want to consider the recent past of a company that will more or less be able to facilitate the shipment into the US of any material it or its benefactors so desire.

Anonymous said...

Why is Dubai more willing to initiate WWIII?

Terrorism doesn't operate from any state - despite what GWB so desperately needs us to believe.

I also just don't get how two pieces of anecdotal evidence are supposed to convince me that Dubai, in and of itself, is an inherently more dangerous choice of foreign powers than anyone else given your other example of stinger missles being snuck into our country already.

I'm not saying ANY of this is okay, but I just don't see why having any particular foreign power is, at the end of the day, worse than having any other when, it would seem, only an American company could possibly be wholly committed to our security in the way that we'd want them to be. It's that whole self-interest angle.

But apparently, no American company is up to the task - which is another thing we should probably be discussing.

Scott said...

Dubai's not more willing to start WWIII, because smuggling arms onto American soil for Dubai would only touch off a minor conflict versus the superpower to superpower smackdown that would ensue should China deign to do the same.

That being said, in your post you've made at least one of my points.

"only an American company could possibly be wholly committed to our security in the way that we'd want them to be. It's that whole self-interest angle.

But apparently, no American company is up to the task - which is another thing we should probably be discussing. "

We could give our port operations over to Dubai, to China, to Mongolia, to whoever, but until we have our own house in order and find a way to inspect all the cargo that comes into our ports every day, our security depends on whether or not some foreign government official or corporate officer is willing take a few extra bucks on the side to deliver a "special" package and not ask any questions.

The fact that foreign companies run our ports now is really not such a smart idea. And, yes, there are distinctions to be made between nations in terms of this particular type of deal. Letting an Iranian-owned company run our ports, for example, is obviously not the best way to go. Ditto with Uzbekistan or other nations that are question marks. In my book, Dubai is still a question mark. As are most nations for that matter.

Guess my solution is to fund Customs to the point that they can keep track of everything that's coming in. That way we could give over the ports to Osama and he couldn't get anything through (OK, maybe not the best plan...but you get the idea) Yes lots of spending required here. Question is, are we willing to pay for our security, or are low taxes the priority? We've got the technology to do it. We just need the willpower.