My take on the dead ports deal

For the past couple of decades the US has been a prominent leader in spreading the message of Free Trade; how it helps everyone, how it is so much more efficient than government (it generally is), how it is going to fix the problem of global poverty (trickle-down Reaganomics) and how everyone should get in on the act or be left behind (or shut out of American trade and money). But, as anyone who reads this column or knows anything of US history, this program is all a facade, a shimmering illusion of US submission to this harsh master.

For the uninititated, I am talking about how the US always makes sure that the system of free trade benefits us more than it benefits them (whoever that may be today.) How? Well, let’s see. The US has a large majority voting stake in all economic institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Free trade agreements are always written with the interests of the US in mind. For instance, why does the World Trade Organization have little or nothing to say about agriculture subsidies? Subsidies like these ensure that American farmers (heavily subsidized by taxpayer money) never have to worry about competition from foreign farmers. What this really means though, is that foreign farmers are exposed to American imports that they can not compete with. This means that the farmer can not sell his goods and goes out of business.

I know, I know. Why should we care that some foreign farmer goes out of business? What are you, some kinda traitor who hates America? Like I haven’t heard that one a million times. Let us just say, for the sake of argument, that I am just like you and I do not care and I am a “good American.” I still care about this because it means that we lie, cheat and steal in order to make our own lives better in the world. And I do not give a shit who you are–that is not the way I want to live my life. That is not the way I want my country to approach the world. For goodness sake, has everyone forgotten that we should at least try to do no harm to our fellow neighbors.

No, they have not forgotten. They have never considered foreigners as neighbors. Neighbors are someone we see as we speed off to work or the mall. Neighbors are those other white people across the Atlantic. Neighbors are those we choose to associate with this week. But if we actually have to contemplate consequences for ourselves, then, well, screw that.

So, back to the case at hand here. The Dubai Ports World deal was a fiasco for sure. But why?

Is it because we should never have considered those damn Arabs for our ports operators?

Is it because Bush supported the deal despite his own party turning their back on him?

Is it because the xenophobic reaction of the public and Congress was an embarrasment?

Is it because the deal should have gone through despite public fear?

First things first. Why was the deal even contemplated? Easy. We are supposed to be a free trade, equal opportunity country. So, when Dubai Ports World bought P & O and gained control of their assets, the US ports were part of the deal. This also explains my first question above. The operation of ports is performed by many foreign companies all over the US. But this deal involved Arabs, so it tanked.

Why did Bush support the deal? Fairly simple. 1. he knows that if he did not he would piss off a whole bunch more Arabs. incidentally, the Arabs have a huge pile of money and an even bigger pile of oil. we need both of these things. 2. bush knows that the US economy is somewhat dependent on Arabian petrodollars to fuel our economy. hell, our whole damn economy is dependent on foreign countries buying up American debt. if we screw that up, he knows we’re boned. 3. bush did not want to look like an idiot (again) for being totally unaware of the potential implications of the deal, even if those implications were patently false and irresponsible.

Why did Congress react that way? This is a little tougher to crack. I guess the Democrats figured they could win some public votes and support by attacking the Prez on a national security issue. The Republicans are fearful of Bush screwing them in the upcoming Congressional elections so they went with the Dems and fearful public. I guess then the real question is why did the American people have such a fit? That answer is a little easier I think 1. they have been beaten and tortured by the Bush administration for some 5 years now about the war on terror, color coded terror warnings and the need for constant vigilance in this long war for freedom and liberty. 2. most people are reactionary and do not actually read anything worth a shit. for instance, how many people know that port operators do not handle security or that no matter who operates the port, security is horrible with only a tiny fraction of imports being actually monitored and searched?

The deal was legal. A panel already said security would not have been affected. A new panel was convened to check the deal again. Free trade and investment requires that we comply with the same rules as everyone else. The deal should have gone through, simple as that. I do not agree with Prez Bush on much, but I do agree with him on this (read here).

But Bush got whacked on the issue and good. Why? Again, he has been battering us over the head with this fear-mongering war on terror shit. How the hell does he expect to turn around and say that this is gonna be a good and safe deal? He and his cronies have been shit-talking the Middle East for 5 freakin years now. Duh! For years now he has been preaching this unilateral stance and how you must be with us or against us, thereby turning almost the entire damn planet into a map that identifies only two places: Friends of US and Not Friends of US. This article talks a little about the up-hill battle Bush now faces.

And I will leave with one more link. This one is from an Arabic news site and is a brief sample of how the Mid-East percieves the dead ports deal.

’nuff

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