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It’s the Corporation, Stupid

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Posted on Feb 22, 2006

By Molly Ivins

AUSTIN, Texas—So, aside from the fact that it’s politically idiotic and at least theoretically presents a national security risk, just what is wrong with the Dubai Ports deal?

President Bush said: “I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company. I’m trying to conduct foreign policy now by saying to the people of the world, we’ll treat you fairly.”  So, what’s wrong with that? There’s our only president standing up against discrimination and against tarring all Arabs with the same brush and all that good stuff. (The fact that it was Mr. Racial Profiling speaking, the man who has single-handedly created more Arab enemies for this country than anyone else ever dreamed of making is just one of those ironies we regularly get whacked over the head with.)

OK, here’s for starters. We have already been warned that, should we back out of the DP deal, the United Arab Emirates may well take offense and not be so nice about helping us in the War on Terra—maybe even cut back its money, as well as its cooperation. This is a problem specific to the fact that we are dealing with a corporation owned by a country: A corporation only wants to make money, a corporation owned by a country has lots of motives.

Second, this is a corporation, consequently its only interest is in making money. A corporation is like a shark, designed to do two things: kill and eat. Thousands of years of evolution lie behind the shark, whereas the corporation has only a few hundred. But it is still perfectly evolved for its purpose. That means a corporation that makes money running port facilities does not have a stake in national security. It’s not the corporation’s fault any more than it’s the shark’s.

The president is quite correct that a “Great British” corporation has no more or less interest in helping terrorists than an Arab corporation. It is not the corporation that is supposed to have other interests—it is government. But as Michael Chertoff, secretary of homeland security, said, “We have to balance the paramount urgency of security against the fact that we still want to have a robust global trading system.”

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“Balance” is the arresting word here—keep your eye on “balance.” We have an administration that is absolutely wedded to corporate interests, both American and global. It honestly believes that “free trade” is more important than the environment and more important than the people. It has repeatedly demonstrated it is willing to let both go in order to foster free trade. There is no “balance” in its consideration on these issues, and now, it turns out, not much “balance” on national security, either.

The people running this country—and that includes most of the leaders of both parties—have proven again and again they are perfectly willing to outsource American jobs, American wage standards, and American health and safety standards all for the sacred, holy grail of free trade. Why would it surprise us that national security is ditto?

I am amused by Chertoff’s use of the word “balance.” Since the administration has done zip, nada, zilch about port security, it’s unclear what he’s trying to “balance.” In 2002, the Coast Guard estimated it would take $5.4 billion over 10 years to improve port security to the point mandated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act. Last year, Congress appropriated $175 million. The administration had requested $46 million, below 9/11 levels.

As David Sirota points out, the administration was negotiating a free trade deal with the United Arab Emirates at the same time the port deal was being negotiated. This whole thing is about free trade and the lock that big corporations have on our government to further free trade. Sirota also points out you will see and hear almost no discussion of this fact in the corporate news media.

I have no idea whether DP World represents a security threat, but U.S. News & World Report said in December that Dubai was notorious for smuggling, money laundering and drug trafficking in support of terrorists. I suppose the same could be said of New York, but it doesn’t sound pleasant.

Dubai is believed to be the transfer port for the spread of nuclear technology by the Abdul Qadeer Khan network. David Sanborn, an executive who ran DP World’s European and Latin American operations, was chosen last month by Bush to head the U.S. Maritime Administration, according to the New York Daily News.

It’ll be interesting to see just how much power the free trade lobby has over the political establishment. Right now, both Democrats and Republicans are yelling about what appears to be a dippy idea. Let’s see what hearing from their contributors brings about.

To find out more about Molly Ivins and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate’s Web page at www.creators.com.


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By Anthony, September 10, 2007 at 11:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Free trade theory is all messed up. It can’t possible work in theory so how is it going to work in real life. 

First, efficiency is only gained when technology advances, because when you use the law of averages you never get a work force that is made up of all the best people.  One gets a work force of about average, with good people, great people, and below average people making the work force average.  This efficiency is why free trade is suppose to be good.

Second, free trade is suppose to increase competition.  Free trade can only increase competition in raw material market and goods that don’t have intellectual property laws.  Most goods that the average US consumer buys, have some sort of IP law.  All IP laws make those goods become a monopoly in economics.

Third, corporations bring an abuse of power when they first formed in the US.  They can fire an employee and force them to take a lower wage or they won’t have a job.  Unions were created to counter balance corporation power. Since, corporations are global now, so too must unions be global.

Forth, free trade theory states that a nation can borrow infinite amounts of money if it can’t produce more exports than imports. Everyone know you can’t borrow money and never pay it back.

I never understood why trade can’t be increased without free trade agreements.  Is there anything that stops a corporation from going to Japan or Europe and starting a business there?  Yes they can’t ship to other countries for free, but they can produce a good to be sold there.  Are US corporations afraid to compete fairly with Japanese corporations?

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By Doug Smith, March 1, 2006 at 5:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Watch out guys. You’re missin’ the bigger picture. The Bushes, and Mrs. Armstrong (of the Cheney ranch shooting, are on the board of directors of the company SELLING to Dubai World Ports! Yes, BILLIONS of dollars are being paid the company the bushes and knee deep in. To say nothing of their connections on the BUYING end of this.

THIS DEAL WILL MEAN MILLIONS TO THE BUSH DYNASTY!!!

IMPEACH!

Be counted on April 1st. We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more.

APRIL 1st

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By Paul Kammermeier, February 27, 2006 at 7:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The thing that baffles me most is that it seems that no one is asking the really important question. Forget about whether our ports should be run by British vs. Middle Eastern companies. Forget about whether they should be run by privately owned vs. government owned companies. The question we should be asking is Why are our ports run by ANY companies? This seems to me EXACTLY the kind of thing our government should be doing. I know we won’t convince the privatize-everything morons in the Administration, but since it clearly is an issue central to national security, national commerce and is (apparently) profitable to boot, why shouldn’t the government do it? Shouldn’t this at least be talked about?

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By rachelle, February 27, 2006 at 4:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t understand why people agonize over why GW is suddenly nonchalant about Dubai’s threat to national security, his usual rationale for anything and everything.

It’s simple: the man is in bed with these Middle Eastern rich autocrats, and has been for years. People… just like him. A little reading solves that issue.

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By ramesh patil india, February 27, 2006 at 4:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

i am from india,and see that the indian govt is just as bad or worst than usa govt.

indian govt keep hv sold out to the arab/islamic
terrorist and chinese commies.

corrupt politicians r just selling india to
the highest bidder and no one cares.

democracy and security be damned bcoz of free trade.

why usa govt dont see that uae/dubai is a theocratic-islamic regime,who will islamiase
usa at any and every cost ??

for safety usa shud hv free trade with
only free democracies this will instantly keep
the creepy arab/osamic and commie terrorist who
want to takeover the world for their own
away from us.

now usa is the only super power,and ommies
and arab imperialists/islamic regimes r undermining it.

usa fought to destroy nazism,communism etc…

these r the enemy of democracy.

but now it seesm the lure of money is destroying
usa bcoz of bad politicians.

tomorrow if and when islam tries to dominate
the world like nazis and commies tried…there will be no usa to counter the and the whole world will be under islamic domination.

something needs to be done else we will
be living as dhimmis - second class citizens
under islamic shariat in our own countries.

http://www.faithfreedom.org

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By Dan Henderson, February 27, 2006 at 10:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bill Maher posed an interesting question on his show Real Time recently. What would Bush’s response have been in the presidential campaign debates if John Kerry had announced his support for selling control of US ports to the country that was the birthplace of two of the 9/11 hijackers?

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By Fadel Abdallah, February 26, 2006 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A Perspective from Arab-Muslim Street on the Dubai Ports’ Deal!

Leaving aside what governments, corporations and merchants of death do to further their economic interests bottom line, I think conscientious Americans should think more about what the average Arab and Muslim street person thinks about such deals, and how this is going to further complicate the bad feelings that already exist towards the West in general and the United States and Britain in particular.

First of all, the average Arab and Muslim street person considers the Gulf Arab oil rich countries as being corrupt systems based on family rule, which they perceive as incompatible with Islamic principles of justice and ruler-ship. Further more, they consider that all the governments of these countries to be stooges of British and American imperialists and occupiers, serving the West’s economic and political interests at the expense of their coreligionists. They also consider, with justification, that the billions of dollars invested in Western economies should be spent in Arab and Muslim lands to improve the economic conditions of the Arab and Muslim masses. And in light of this any multi-billion investments in Western countries and economies are seen as a further indication of these governments betrayal of their causes and concerns, and as a result these regimes are considered traitors.

Many would further think that the British company would not have been sold if it was profitable. So the argument goes that the books must have been cooked to show the company as profitable, and this is another scheme to steal these stupid governments, money in the name of free trade.

So it might come as a surprising irony, for the uneducated Westerners, that there are millions and millions of average Arabs and Muslims who might be praying that this deal will not go through. If it goes, then there are many American Muslims, like myself, who worry that this deal might help the radicals in recruiting more angry people who would try to sabotage the oil facilities of the United Arab Emirates.  Furthermore, I do worry that once the Dubai Company takes over, there will be radical and fanatic Americans and foreigner merchants of death, who would go to work on staging another big 9/11 style event to create another justification this time to take over the whole gulf states and freeze the billions and billions those dirty rich have invested here and many other places in the West.

My conclusion is that, it is in the interest of both Arab-Muslim nations and American people that this deal would not materialize. I am just one among millions who are praying for this!

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By johnkonop, February 26, 2006 at 7:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

QAEDA CLAIM: WE ‘INFILTRATED’ UAE GOV’T

By NILES LATHEM
————————————————————————————————————————
February 25, 2006—WASHINGTON — Al Qaeda warned the government of the United Arab Emirates more than three years ago that it “infiltrated” key government agencies, according to a disturbing document released by the U.S. military.
The warning was contained in a June 2002 message to UAE rulers, in which the terror network demanded the release of an unknown number of “mujahedeen detainees,” who it said had been arrested during a government crackdown in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

The explosive document is certain to become ammunition for critics of the controversial UAE port…

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By johnkonop, February 25, 2006 at 7:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

White House and Congress Trade Away American Security

The United Arab Emirates ports management deal finally exposes our economic and trade policies for what they are:  a government’s pursuit of money (for a select few) over the interests of most Americans.

The ports management deal is not an isolated mistake. Far worse has happened, but perhaps nothing as nakedly blatant. For example, how does it benefit Americans when:

Drug companies are allowed to write a new Medicare prescription drug benefit that keeps prices artificially high for seniors by forbidding government-negotiated prices based on volume?
The American-funded Import/Export Bank subsidizes Chinese nuclear power development? Is it possible we are not sending enough money to Communist China?
Congress has repeatedly neglected our national and economic security:

The majority of our oil comes from abroad, much of that from countries with unstable, unfriendly populations
The majority of our computer equipment is manufactured overseas
The majority of our food in imported from foreign countries
Over two-thirds of the products sold in major retailers is imported from countries like Communist China and Mexico
Our soaring budget deficit leaves deeply indebted to foreign countries like Communist China, to whom we owe $1 trillion
Illegal immigration is accepted—and legal immigration is abused—to secure cheap labor (exposing us to unknown security risks)
Congress sees the results of these unhealthy dependencies (declining American wages, record trade and budget deficits, national security vulnerabilities) and just pours fuel on the fire. It passed CAFTA after NAFTA. It refused to crack down on widespread illegal Chinese trade practices by threatening to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Most in Congress have demonstrated that they will not change course; they are simply too indebted to big-money campaign donors and lobbyists. We must replace them.

Report this

By johnkonop, February 25, 2006 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

White House and Congress Trade Away American Security

The United Arab Emirates ports management deal finally exposes our economic and trade policies for what they are:  a government’s pursuit of money (for a select few) over the interests of most Americans.

The ports management deal is not an isolated mistake. Far worse has happened, but perhaps nothing as nakedly blatant. For example, how does it benefit Americans when:

Drug companies are allowed to write a new Medicare prescription drug benefit that keeps prices artificially high for seniors by forbidding government-negotiated prices based on volume?
The American-funded Import/Export Bank subsidizes Chinese nuclear power development? Is it possible we are not sending enough money to Communist China?
Congress has repeatedly neglected our national and economic security:

The majority of our oil comes from abroad, much of that from countries with unstable, unfriendly populations
The majority of our computer equipment is manufactured overseas
The majority of our food in imported from foreign countries
Over two-thirds of the products sold in major retailers is imported from countries like Communist China and Mexico
Our soaring budget deficit leaves deeply indebted to foreign countries like Communist China, to whom we owe $1 trillion
Illegal immigration is accepted—and legal immigration is abused—to secure cheap labor (exposing us to unknown security risks)
Congress sees the results of these unhealthy dependencies (declining American wages, record trade and budget deficits, national security vulnerabilities) and just pours fuel on the fire. It passed CAFTA after NAFTA. It refused to crack down on widespread illegal Chinese trade practices by threatening to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Most in Congress have demonstrated that they will not change course; they are simply too indebted to big-money campaign donors and lobbyists. We must replace them.

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By William Durbin, February 25, 2006 at 7:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There’s a posting on daily kos this morning documenting that the Bush family investment vehicle, The Carlyle Group, has set up a large shop in Dubai and the UAE is investing millions with that group. Surprise, surprise that Bush should protect the family investments.

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By Robin, February 24, 2006 at 8:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

With measurable success Buddha and Christ and Mohammed went in peace to educate the world to their beliefs. Had any one of them owned the ports and railroads of the countries to which they brought their sweet fruits the whole world would now be of that religion.  To offer similar fruits to Americans from the hands of a state-owned corporation from a country where religion and politics are one, regardless of the best of intentions strikes me as unduly naive and uninformed. So what else is new?

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By Ian Brewer, February 23, 2006 at 8:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Molly for the brilliant spot on analysis. The problem is not that we are selling our ports to an Arab corporation but that we are selling our economic future to foreign interests. That giant sucking sound is the sound of capital being whisked out of the country taking American jobs and our future with it. I won’t hold my breath waiting for the corporate media to bring this issue up, rather they will blather about whether or not we should trust an Arab company to run our ports, thus backing opponents of this sale into a corner and making them appear anti-Arab. Unfortunately, many of our Democratic politicians have given up on economic issues important to American workers in their slavish devotion, or cowering capitulation, to the corporatist agenda. Because of this, they will be left with no argument other than posturing over a questionable national security issue.

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By Bill Wolfe, February 23, 2006 at 4:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree that we won’t hear much about this underlying casue in corporate media - but that doesn’t mean that progressives can’t put pressure on the democrats to speak out on the real issues of corporate control (instead of just Bush crony bashing or trying to outdo the drooling jingoist Republican factions).

We need to fore Demns to re-enage the trade debate, and use the UAE deal to put the issue on the radar screen - just like Katina was supposed to re-ignite the debate on poverty, race, and social welfare.

And, in addition to the ports, railroads and highway privatization fiasco’s, folks should check out who owns their local drinking water systems.

The hollowing out of amercia is not limited to just wholesale de-industrialization, disinvestment, and outsourcing.

All of this was predicted by the opponents of McWorld (GATT, NAFTA, et al).

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By jeanne, February 23, 2006 at 3:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This latest assault by the Busheys is another remindar of how they like to keep things in the family.  Do we still think that the hand holding that was photographed at “the ranch” last summer was just W’s courteousness?

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By Konnie, February 23, 2006 at 9:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I also heard on NRP that this same corporation purchased CSX - the giant railroad network - last year and there was not one peep out of anyone.

That would mean the containers that arrive on their ships - to ports managed by them - are placed on railroad cars and transported to 23 states - without anyone ever checking what’s inside.

Orwell was right!  And while America was in a trance watching “Corporate-owned” tv programs like “Survivor” and “Springer” our country was sold out from under us.

In Indiana “corporate-man Mitch” our current governor is ramming thru leasing our Northern Indiana Toll Road to some European group…...

Today the “leader” is in my home town - at a religious right college - stumping for our
2nd district congressman - Chicola - another company man…...........

Its all over - we can strike our breasts and shout to the heavens, wail to each other - but there is no one to listen or care.

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By seajane, February 23, 2006 at 9:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The day Queen Elizabeth goes on a hunting trip with Bin Laden and our 9/11 commission reports that Prince Phillip financed some of the 9/11 terrorist and we find out that Tony Blair allowed Pakistani traitors to ship nuclear secrets through British ports—I’ll be the first to say let’s ban Great Britian from owning port operations in this Country too.  This isn’t about racism—this is about consequences.

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