Plant fear, reap fear

Posted in Society at 9:20 by RjZ

Many around the web have already been observing that the row over Dubai Ports World’s purchase of British-owned P&O—and therefore the six or so U.S. ports on the eastern coast—is really a product of the fear that the Bush administration has planted over the last five years.

The administration has worked hard to sow fear and doubt about just about anything Muslim or Arab. They made up connections between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaida, and they have continued to raise the specter of Muslim extremists whenever poll ratings drop. It’s not surprising, then, that when a company owned by a perhaps questionable ally (but ally nonetheless) of the U.S. wants to operate ports in the States, everyone jumps on the bandwagon to show that they are better at protecting homeland security than the next guy.

In actuality, the owners of the ports have little to do with security (That’s handled by the Coast Guard.) and while it might be “easier for foreign nationals to infiltrate the U.S.,” there are dozens of ways to do this now. The 9-11 terrorists didn’t need to work for a port management company to come into the U.S. They came in through the front door! Dubai Ports World is owned, in part, by the government of Dubai, but the multinational management (with a U.S. American president) has an excellent reputation and simply runs ports well!

It’d be humorous to see the flowering of Bush’s tree of fear were it not for the isolationism that it creates. I can see the anti-WTO types teaming up with conservative Republicans to slow growth and prosperity, and save the borders of the U.S., all at the same time. In fact, though, the media and everyone else will notice that there’s nothing nefarious about trading one foreign national port-management company for another, and the Dubai company, if they’re nice enough to stick with the silly political wrangling in the U.S., will end up running the ports after all. In the meantime, the Democrats who have jumped on this issue to show that they’re tougher on security are, once again, see that they’ve picked the wrong horse when the realization occurs to us all that, instead of being thoughtful leaders, they once again offer a policy the center tenet of which is “They’re wrong!”

This is all frustrating to me because I hope to travel to many of these places someday, and U.S. politicians seem to be a doing a great job of alienating as many countries and cultures as possible. Maybe I should have gotten that Dutch passport when I had the chance!

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