While it is most certainly true that Democrats have disingenuously jumped on the DPW ports contract spat, this is true for any number of administration critics and supporters who have also leapt to the conclusion that any port operations contract must necessarily be bad if it goes to a state-controlled Arab company.
I claim no belief about the actual security issues that may or may not be extant as regards this deal. Earlier, I may have given the impression
that I thought there were inherent risks, but my larger concern was in the story as distraction.
There is both less and more here than meets the eye. Less because security is likely not the issue here anymore so than it was before the deal was announced. More because, as with any deal George Bush is behind and sworn his ill-gotten veto to support, it most assurdly will have some deeper and unwholesome meanings.
Bush's heartfelt plea for fair treatment in the marketplace is just so much bullshit.
It is, however, entirely amusing to watch as the blowback hits the White House, gale force. It is experiencing the very fear-mongering tactic so effectively employed over the last few years against any and all perceived enemies/opponents (there is real no difference between these in the Rovian paradigm of politics). Security risk or no, the deal is nothing if not just plain stupid. Not because of the deal itself, but because of the self-serving and secretive manner which this White House, once again, chose to behave toward the legislative and oversight branch of government. This is not new behaviour for the White House, but the GOPers in the House and Senate seem finally to have snapped, what with elections coming up.
But what I find even more amusing is how many Bush critics are now calling for calm and reasoned negotiations and discussion over the port deal. Arthur Silber is utterly irked
by the knee-jerk reaction to the ports deal announcement and goes so far as to urge for fact-based argumentation regarding the issue:
I will attempt to provide the required lesson, relying on facts and focusing on the overall context in which this dispute has arisen -- elements that are sorely lacking in almost all of the discussion thus far.
Well, Mr. Silber is certainly correct in the latter statement. Facts have been sorely lacking this argument. But this is true in the justifications surrounding most, if not all, of this administration's policies.
After five years of the Bush administration, which has implemented any number of policies based, not upon known facts, but upon fringe legal theories of executive power, falsified, coerced or gerrymandered intelligence, suppression of information, secret meetings, and the politicisation of the federal bureaucracy
intended to further repress, it cannot
be surprising that this tactic would be used in this argument. The difference now is that the White House is on the receiving end of their own politics of fear.
So it is with the case of the DPW ports deal. Yes, the knee-jerk reaction against the deal was , for the most part, race-based. And? Does Silber think this doesn't carry weight in the political climate extant in the United States? He might like to believe that it shouldn't. While Silber and others are arguing for reason and fact, I have to wonder where on earth they have been the last five years. Maybe their noble impulse to engage reason has not waned over these last years because they full-well know just what kind of political environment the Bush administration has been sowing all this time.
As best as I can tell, the concern appears to be that denying the port deal to DPW would cripple our image in the Arab world as not being fair and open in the market place. I don't quite know how much more absurd such an argument could get. At this point, the Arab world is entirely aware of our racist biased against them and it has little to do with our business dealings with the UAE.
The word "xenophobia" has been tossed around a lot in the ports deal discussion by those very people who argue that the deal cannot be viewed by this prism; the entire Arab world is a rampant terrorist hotbed, teaming with extremists who would do us harm. I would agree that this is true, the deal should not be viewed that way. But that won't mean it won't be. It already has.
Given that the Bush administration has promoted just this very environment since 9/11, it can hardly be surprising that a furor has broken over this deal. It should have been obvious, especially to the White House, that this is exactly the reaction that would have occurred. Those who would now argue that it should not be the reaction of the country have apparently chosen to ignore just how effective the White House has been in their anti-Arab fear-mongering. And, it would seem, so has the White House.
But maybe not. It is easily imagined that this is exactly why
the ports contract was done as a closed door deal with no oversight or consultation with Congress. It was
politically charged and it was so precisely because
the political climate sown by the White House made it that way. They knew it and tried to slide the deal under the door. To argue now that reason and fact should prevail in this discussion is at least clueless as to conditions "on the ground" in this country.
But the more bizarre aspect of fact-based argumentation in the DPW deal is that denying the contract would engender the perception of racism and "Islamophobia" in the Middle East. Please, we are well-past that point and for things far more serious than denial of a multi-billion dollar contract to a company and a country with close ties to the Bush administration.
The real Islamophobia is far better demonstrated by the deaths of several tens of thousands of innocent Muslim civilians, the post 9/11 round up and detention of Arab muslims on US soil, rendering and torturing innocent Arab Muslims around the world, illegal wars against Muslim nations, screwing with Arab nations, first under the pretext that they would blow us up and, when that didn't work out so well, under the condescending pretext that we know what's best for them. The US continues to support and befriend brutal and/or authoritarian regimes while Iraq slides into civil war, just as the Bush administration tries, so far successfully, to ratchet up more anti-Arab paranoia over Iran. There is no, nor will there be an end to the anti-Arab bigotry drummed up by this White House as long as it appears to work. It doesn't seem that this White House will recognise when that assault is not working.
This reality is something that most American refuse to admit or even recognise; that our brutal footsteps have not seared into Muslim minds an overriding racist message. It has and this is something that bin Laden and other terrorist recruiters have been relying for sometime.
Arguing that allowing the deal will show the Arab world that we're not bigoted, but fair and balanced is risible. We are well past salvaging US image in the Arab world, which has already received the message about who we are, loudly and clearly.
The greatest threat that denial of the port deal will be is, as has actually been argued by the White House, an uncertain business climate for foreign investment. I would agree with that, but again, arguing for the deal, like it will somehow magically mitigate our many and varied egregious global behaviours, is pissing into a racist blowback wind of our own creation. Good luck with arguments based on reason. Or fact. This administration has been disposing of those tools since the World Trade Center was turned into a crucible of anti-Arab hatred, a crucible this administration has used to fuel their magic carpet ride into the Middle East.