The Racism of the Ports Debate.
Upon hearing this proposed Dubai Ports deal, my first reaction was to side (I shudder to report) with Bush:
I think it sends a terrible signal to friends around the world that it's okay for a company from one country to manage the port, but not a country that plays by the rules and has got a good track record from another part of the world can't manage the port.And then I settled down, assuming that I'd hear a few racy details showing Bush was not only wrong but morally bankrupt as well. That's how it usually goes. Well, I've done an exhaustive investigation (ie, read this post by Kevin Drum) and conclude ... that Bush is right. It's an ugly thing and not something I'm proud to admit, but there you have it.
According to Kevin's research, state-owned ports are common. He identifies China and Singapore, two countries with dubious leadership. Further, there appear to be a number of safeguards in place to stop owners (nefarious or neglegent) from letting their ports be entry points for terror. So why the worry?
When we invaded Iraq, we did so mainly because bigots in this country thought it all added up. There was only one link between the 9/11 bombings and Iraq, and that was skin color. (Okay, you may argue "creedist," but I don't buy it. Americans are way less alarmed by Indonesian Muslims than Middle Eastern ones.) A friend of mine compared it to having the Italians bomb your country and then you invade Ireland--hey, they're all white Irish.
The ports things smells of the same bigotry. I'm prepared to be convinced otherwise, but to single out the UAE for non-ownership while waving in the Chinese seems hard to explain otherwise.