Friday, March 10, 2006

Intervening with Barbarians...

Well I admit that it’s tough to keep this going without the scotch and cigars, but I’ll try to wrap all of this up today. Both Ian and Mike wrote comments to my last post, and I’ll try to address as many of their points as I can. First, Ian:

“…1) We will come to cherish any ties we have to foreign nations very soon... because our failures in Iraq, probably soon in Iran and maybe Syria are going to throw this nation into such an isolationist/xenophobic mode that we will not be able to intervene anywhere even if some ‘barbarian’ is eating children on the nightly news!...”

Since George Washington’s farewell address encouraged this country to remain neutral in Europe’s affairs and since the first immigrant came off a boat from a country other than England, this nation has been isolationist and xenophobic. Actually since long before. And yes, thanks to decades of misbegotten foreign policy defined by the witless economic interests of this country, not to mention five years of mindblowing ineptness not exhibited since the Buchanan administration, we have pissed away most of our friends in the Arab world. Of course, I’m not certain we ever had any.

We’re already isolationist and xenophobic, and we have made it our business over the past fifty years to make certain that we have no friends, especially in the Arab world. And our history of intervening in the barbaric events in other countries has blown since the 1950s. We aren’t going to intervene in Sudan, in Uganda, in Angola, in Burma, and god knows we aren’t going to intervene in Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan or any –stan for that matter. I wish it were different, but Bosnia and Somalia proved to be political disasters at home.

Today’s killing of the Port’s Deal is not a slap to the people of the U.A.E. It’s a slap to James Baker and the oil oligarchs, and the Emirate of Dubai who is the sole owner of Dubai Ports World. The people in the street aren’t going to suddenly love us if we had approved it, and they won’t hate us any more than they already do for killing it.

“…2) Who has the most to lose if a bomb does get through ‘port security’?… the easy answer is those who are bombed..WRONG …the nation in charge of the security has a fair amount to lose, especially after all the press this has received…”

The nation in charge of Airport security on 9/11 was the United States. And no one even got fired. Not much lost there. And the hijackers? 15 Saudis, 1 Egyptian, 1 Lebanese and 2 from the U.A.E. And nothing happened to those countries. Of course we bombed Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. After all, Osama was living there (not that he was Afghani…). And when we cleaned up and installed a proper democratic government we peopled it with consultants from the pipeline corporations. Actually the first item of business from the new Afghani government was the oil pipeline across the country. Even before a constitution.

“…3) Mike hit it on the head… If Jimmy Carter is OK with it so am I. JC has NEVER backed off from bonking this administration on the noggin…”

I confess that I don’t have much to counter that one. I was somewhat baffled by that one as well, partially because not much of what he said became public more than a soundbite. So I did some Googling…The quote is from a February 20th CNN Situation Room interview with Wolf Blitzer. (Scroll down towards the bottom for the interview question on the ports deal) He talked for quite a while on different topics about the Middle East and addressed the ports deal in only one question:

”…BLITZER: Are you concerned at one of our top stories today about this Dubai-based company taking control of security at six major ports here in the United States?

CARTER: Well, I've been to Dubai, and I've seen the remarkable port facilities they have there, perhaps the best in the world. I'm not knocking the ones in the United States, of course. My presumption is, and my belief is, that the president and his secretary of state and the Defense Department and others have adequately cleared the Dubai government organization to manage these ports. I don't think there's any particular threat to our security.

Obviously, the Homeland Security would have to be involved directly with, and in a partnership with, the Dubai people as they clear folks to work in their ports, particularly in sensitive areas. So the overall threat to the United States and security, I don't think it exists. I'm sure the president's done a good job with his subordinates to make sure this is not a threat…”

Not exactly backing off from the bonking. But he’s referring to his confidence in the administration’s vetting of the deal.

The deal was “adequately cleared” by a committee chaired by the Deputy Treasury Secretary Kimmitt, and whose members included Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff. Of course the day after the ports deal was announced they were all vying for air time with the President to announce that, in fact, none of them had actually even heard of the deal, even though the bylaws of the committee require the Committee Chair to be present at all votes. Oh, and the previous vetting job that Kimmitt did for the Bush family was to vet Dan Quayle for the Vice Presidency. No joke. Oh, and I’m certain Treasury Secretary Snow’s concerns had nothing to do with his previous consulting work for…Dubai Ports World.

As I read the transcript in context, Carter’s response comes across as more boilerplate response to a political question that he didn’t know all that much about. He had detailed answers to other questions, covering situations he was knowledgeable about. But the Port’s deal had just broken, and I don’t think he knew any more than anyone else about it and responded accordingly.

Enough of the damn port’s deal – I’ve posted far too much on it. I know the whole thing’s relatively minor, but if anyone’s still in the mood, Lucian Truscott has an excellent post on Digby covering the money angle behind it. Actually Digby’s been a good source for deeper reporting on the issue. I know, I know, a damn blog. Still, the Democratic proposals for Port Security shot down by the Republicans that I posted about in my previous post were not from a blog, but from the front page of the New York Times. To me the Port’s issue was important, not for the security issues per se, but for the egregious sacrificing of potential National Security concerns on the altar of financial gain.

And yes, I am also outraged by a perceived spinelessness of the Democratic Party and their 19th century ways of playing politics in the 21st Century. It’s pathetic. But it never helps to say that they don’t have any ideas. If you’re pissed off about the lack of media traction that they get, then spread the word yourself. That’s not parroting the actions of Karl Rove. Saying they have no ideas is. That’s why I post more about politics in my wee blog than I ever planned to when I started it. Of course, It doesn’t help that most of my cigar and scotch compadres are out of town. Got to make up for it somehow.

Now Mike, keep up the blog writing. And Ian, stop reading my damn blog and finish those damn papers. Of all three of us, you’re the one in the best position to do something about the withering of Due Process in our once fair land.