I'm not sure what to make of this whole "sale of American stateside ports management to a United Arab Emirates based company" hub-ub. Part of me says, "wtf? Isn't that like the fox guarding the henhouse?" But then I take a deep breath and tell myself to stop being such a prejudiced, racist slimeball. But then I think that to be "okay" with the sale to a UAE company is to be on President Bush's side. And that's one prejudice I really don't feel like relenting. Just like if I stop travelling by air, "the terrorists win," if I don't object to the UAE company sale, "the purzident" wins. CRAP! It's such a conundrum! Which knee jerk prejudice do give in to? The one that fears that everyone south of Athens and east of Rio de Janeiro wants a sea of dead Americans? Or the the one that recoils at that a hazing-loving, science-fearing, subpar, lying leader may be in the right every now and then? ... I think I'll just have to eat crow on this one and at least superficially agree with the purzident.
It's my understanding that these ports were most recently owned and managed by a British company. I question at least the surface wisdom of selling any stateside transport management to any foreign country - probably because we live in a post-9/11 country. However, it seems that as long as there's that precedent, to deny sale to an economic and political ally just because a lot of people in your country associate another country as "one of them," is just wrong and caves into prejudices like mine or worse. Frist - or some other Republican lawmaker - was talking from the house or senate floor yesterday about how 3 of the 9/11 hijackers either came from or had ties to the UAE. He seemed to think this was enough for us to deny this sale. Well, if our fearless elected officials (or "defaulted by voter apathy" officials) truly worried about business with countries who gave us baddies, we'd've long ago ditched Saudi Arabia and we'd've been legally mandated to ride bikes or drive super-alt fuel cars. Or, of course, we would've gone to war. But ... y'know ... whatever.
If the UAE based company sale is completed, I figure one of many, but probably two, things could happen: A) Nothing. The ports go on as they always have and the Coast Guard does their job, protecting us as best they as they are able. B) An inevitable terrorist attack occurs in our porous ports. The UAE company has major egg on their face, just because they were the ones in ownership and virtually every non-Muslim American's fear has been confirmed. (Maybe even confirming the fears of some Muslim Americans.) Shrub and Co. start piling the shit as high as possible to divert attention from the fact that they haven't done a good job building up the safety of American ports, and they end up blaming the Coast Guard. ... That said, I think the UAE company is going to do all it can to make itself look good to the average American. I have no idea if or how theocratic the UAE is, but I suspect this company will do what it can to keep not only a very secular image in the US, but weed out any potential "right-wing" employees, so as to minimize the occurence of or appearance there could ever be an occurence of an "inside job." I actually have more confidence in the UAE company to monitor itself over here than I do in my own government's commitment to increasint and improving port security. But the UAE company has more to lose in public opinion if anything goes wrong.
I'm unhappy with the sale, but I can live with it a lot better than I think Capitol Hill or the media can.
In the meantime, I'm reading a cool book called Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. It's by the dude who wrote Tipping Point, which is still on my to read list. I'm only like 50 pages into this one, thus far, but I love how he's getting into the whole "gut reaction" thing. I'm finishing up the piece on the Gottman Institute at UWashington which studies marital and similarly committed relationships. If you've ever heard the piece on This American Life about it (episode 261, "The Sanctity of Marriage" air date 3/26/04) you know the gist of this chapter. If not, you must listen to it. ... my honey is falling asleep, so I should probably turn out the light and catch my 40 winks, too.
I'm sure all 2 of my readers will have something to say to chasten my igorant ass, tomorrow.