Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Port of Entry

I don’t know if having ports managed by a Dubai company poses any real threat, nor with all due respect, do you.  The fact is that we do business and, more importantly, are all dependent on a lot of Arab countries (remember that addiciton to oil) including the Saudis from where most of those hijackers came.  Being dispassionate about it, there is a hint of racism in our latest debate of the week.  While I was aware that we are fighting a so-called war on terrorists, most of whom happen also to be Islamist extremists; I didn’t think we were at war with the entire Arab or Muslim world.  There is something here that smacks of painting everyone with too broad a brush, something that most of us find appalling and inconsistent with the American way of life.  Will everyone on that side of the room stand please, because you’re all guilty. 

It’s hard to ignore that politics has come into play here as governors and senators in the effected states rush to the microphones.  Dubai may present a serious danger to the Union, but again I don’t know that to be the case, nor I suspect do the quickly assembled protesting officials.  So we should look at this port situation in a larger, perhaps much more symbolic, context.  The port contract is a public relations disaster and perhaps even more a symptom of the ever growing and widening (more Republicans are joining in) mistrust of the administration.  In a sense, it signifies yet another example of the deaf ear – “we’ll do whatever we want no matter how it looks and we don’t have to explain our actions to the likes of you.” 

I have no doubt that the various agencies of government, defense, justice and homeland security, vetted the proposed takeover.  The trouble is that, considering the very predictable reaction, they didn’t bother to consult (or even inform) either local governments or the Congress.  Have they not heard of a heads up?  Oh yes, “we’ll decide what’s appropriate and safe”.  That’s the communications problem, an illness that has plagued the administration from the start and despite being called on it multiple times (Cheney, guns, hello) has not abated, quite the reverse.  More disturbing, or at least it should be to the President and company, is that many of us simply don't trust vetting by these politicized departments; certainly not the accuracy of their intelligence.  The DOD was off the mark when it came to Iraq, the Attorney General has called torture and ad hoc surveillance legal, and the Homeland people badly mucked up Katrina.  Moreover, we are talking about ports and it is the generally accepted fact, that these remain our most vulnerable points of entry almost five years after 9/11.  That’s where the bad guys (as they love to call them) may bring in very bad things.

But here’s what’s really bothering me today.  I had planned on writing a blog on an entirely different subject – unrelated to the war or politics for a change.  I feel like the Don Corleone in that dreadful God Father III, “they just won’t let go, but keep on pulling me back.”  If this were a novel, nobody would believe it.  It isn’t and oh do I long for some good fiction, a story to engage but one easily left behind.

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