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Could You Please Pass the Port?

Dubya Does Dallas

by NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN

OK, you got me. Dallas doesn’t have a port.

But if it did, it would likely be among those given over to be run by a Dubai company, as are the ports of New York, Newark, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Miami and New Orleans.

Arguments are flying about who decided what, whether safeguards are in place, and about the fact that a British company had been doing it earlier, etc. None of this should obscure the single most significant aspect of this bombshell, which is this: in the so-called ‘post 9-11′ world which the superpatrioitactors in Washington keep talking about, it is OK to to traduce liberties at will, but real national security can be freely shortchanged in the name of tradition.

Worse, such dubious (Dubaious?) decisions are justified in the name of trade. The Secretary of Homeland Security, Mr. Michael "Bird Flu over the Superdome" Chertoff, said on television that while national security needs were important, they could be attended to while still maintaining our commitments to global trade. Who died and made him chairman of WTO? Why is he talking about global trade when asked about homeland security?

The Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, spent time assuring Dubai that this matter would be sorted out to their satisfaction. Great. How one wishes she had brought the same attitude when she appeared before the 9-11 Commission and had so little time to sort out the Aug 6 PDB ("Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US") to anybody’s satisfaction.

If the United States really does not have the internal capability to manage its ports (every single one of them), then would that fact itself not seem worthy of urgent attention?

A combination of low cunning and high farce stalks the land. The lack of an opposition party is telling. You can count Bush’s new brother Bill to come in and say something to muddy the debate, as he did with Cheney’s shooting, where he talked at length about how hunting accidents were common (they are not), downplaying the obvious cover up and possible malfeasance in not reporting it to the police in timely fashion. The media is finally stirring, though it may be too late for any good, after so much damage has happened. And they are still too afraid. You probably saw David Gregory apologize for his exchange with McClellan at the first shot across the bow by Mary Matalin.

"Did they (Dubai) beat out Al Qaeda by a hair in the bidding", asked Jay Leno Monday night. It was only half-funny.

The UAE (Dubai) was one of only three countries (our buddies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia making up the rest of this elect trio) that had diplomatic ties with the Taliban regime. When an Indian airliner was hijacked by terrorists in 1999, it was to Dubai they wanted to fly, from where they proceeded to Kandahar. Dubai made the Indians twist in the wind during those days, offering only lip service instead of stopping the plane.

All this may be ancient history, but why, in today’s world, would any country outsource port management to another country, friend, foe, or foe-turned-ally?

Whether we defended America is less important than whether we defended free trade. Michael Chertoff can rest happy that there will be no let up on this matter, and Bush that the money saved by such outsourcing could go towards tax cuts. Long ago, Lenin wrote that capitalists would sell you the very rope with which to hang them.

And he had never even visited America. What imagination! What prescience!

NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN can be reached at njn_2003@yahoo.com.

His blog is at http://njn-blogogram.blogspot.com.