OK, I know. I said no serious posts, but isn't it pretty clear that I'm a crazy rule breaker? I mean half of my posts are at least quasi-serious. I can't help it I guess, I'm just addicted. So sue me, or better yet, just skip the posts you don't like. No one is forcing you to read them. Hell, based on my traffic numbers nobody is forcing you to read the blog at all...
So, the Washington Post editorial board did it today. For perhaps the first time in modern history, the Post knocks it out of the park with three editorials with which I agree. I know, it's shocking. The few of you who know me or know who I am, know that the Post is about my least favorite favorite newspaper. I read it, because it's, for the most part, well written, but it's not aligned with my preferences for the most part.
The first editorial is the one with which I agree most. It points out that all of the concern over the deal to sell the management of some U.S. ports to a company based in the UAE is much ado about nothing. Some key points from the editorial...
At stake -- in theory -- is the question of whether we should "outsource major port security to a foreign-based company," in the words of Mr. Graham. But those words, like that of almost all of the others, sound, well, tone-deaf to us. For one, the deal cannot "outsource major port security," because management companies that run ports do not control security. The U.S. Coast Guard controls the physical security of our ports. The U.S. Customs Service controls container security. That doesn't change, no matter who runs the business operations. Nor is it clear why Mr. Graham or anybody else should be worried about "foreign-based" companies managing U.S. ports, since P&O is a British company. And Britain, as events of the last year have illustrated, is no less likely to harbor radical Islamic terrorists than Dubai.
Ah, those pesky little facts, don't you just hate it when they get in the way of a good story? Turns out security isn't handled by the company currently managing the ports or by the company planning to buy the port management rights. In reality, port security is handled by the U.S. government, just like it should be. Now, whether they do a good job of that is another question. Container security seems particularly troubling from what I've read. Unfortunately, the deal to sell to Dubai World Ports won't do anything to help the security situation, but it seems unlikely to help either. But, but, DWP is foreign! Big freaking deal! The ports are run by a foreign company already. A foreign company based in an allied country. Just like the company that is buying that company.
What an allied country you say?
Even more disturbing is the apparent difficulty of members of Congress in distinguishing among Arab countries. We'd like to remind them, as they've apparently forgotten, that the United Arab Emirates is a U.S. ally that has cooperated extensively with U.S. security operations in the war on terrorism, that supplied troops to the U.S.-led coalition during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and that sends humanitarian aid to Iraq. U.S. troops move freely in and out of Dubai on their way to Iraq now.
Sounds like an ally to me. I mean, what more do we want from them? It seems like they're one of the most cooperative countries in the Middle East when it comes to fighting terrorism. What message does it send if we don't reward countries that support our goals? As for democracy, they seem to be moving that way. They have separate secular court system (though still maintain an Islamic court system for family and religious matters). They announced indirect elections for half of the parliament. Sure, they have a long way to go, but they are far ahead of some of their neighbors. The Post closes with this exact point...
Finally, we're wondering if perhaps American politicians are having trouble understanding some of the most basic goals of contemporary U.S. foreign policy. A goal of "democracy promotion" in the Middle East, after all, is to encourage Arab countries to become economically and politically integrated with the rest of the world. What better way to do so than by encouraging Arab companies to invest in the United States?
I was going to discuss the other two editorials as well, but this post has become tremendously long on it's own. I'll follow up later today on the other two, if I get the chance. Until then, you can read them here (cigarette taxes) and here (Harvard's close-mindedness).