The president used the phrase “my government” in recent remarks, no doubt because he really thinks it is his government which would explain a lot about the way he does things. Actually, it’s his presidency, and he’ll have to answer for that, but it’s the people’s government, and we need to pay better attention to what goes on. That’s a tall order, because a lot goes on in secret.
Which is one reason why the Dubai deal has caused such a flap. It isn’t only that folks are nervous about a state-owned Arab conglomerate taking control of our ports; it’s also because most people didn’t realize that we haven’t controlled our ports, except on the local level, for some time. Into the bargain it has become obvious that our surveillance apparatus at these shipping centers isn’t very advanced or thorough. Ever since 9/11 this administration budgets huge sums for airport security but a pittance, by comparison, to protect our seaports, or rail system for that matter. Sudden public awareness of these factors has created much of the angst surrounding this issue.
It may be, as some have suggested, that we’ve reached a confluence of security constraints and globalization. It may also be that a country dependent upon deficit-ridden, short-sighted economic policies has come a cropper in terms of conflicting national goals and principles. To finance expensive conflicts in The Middle East, tax cuts and the expansion of entitlements, the current administration has yet to face up to the economic sucking sound of job losses, industry failures and high energy prices. The question is whether the only answer is to borrow more or sell something. We are it seems clear, increasingly in the grip of those nations who hold our debt; how that plays out for the future is unclear.
The president and his administration continue to toy with national emotions and ignore genuine concerns about their policies and competence. Having successfully scared a majority of ordinary Americans into believing that they were the best source of national security, all evidence to the contrary, they are shocked and appalled that there has been such an outcry about the proposed change of hands in the management of our ports. And, as usual, the word has gone out to opinion shapers that they should berate Democrats and others for, in this case, being racist, anti-Arab malefactors.
It isn’t supposed to concern us that the Arab Emirates have a checkered past of providing a haven for terrorist operatives or that they are a conduit for all sorts of illicit goods. They are our friends now according to the president. Remember when Saddam was our friend because he was waging war against Iran? My how time flies and how times change. But perhaps this deal is a good one in most respects, and perhaps we will be able to find a way to be more vigilant in safeguarding the ports. After all, one of the few areas in which we can still claim proficiency is technology. Shouldn’t we be able to develop some advanced procedures for scrutinizing containers for drugs, nuclear material and other questionable merchandise? Instead of wasting more money on a missile defense system that has failed miserably for years now, perhaps we could devise a system to provide fly-over surveillance that would help us to feel more secure no matter who controlled the ports.
Whatever the final resolution, Dubai World should be required to provide access to its records just as other entities have in the past. No exception should be made for this company to help it hide under-the-radar financial dealings. The United States should not become a safe haven for questionable business arrangements. And maybe the Emirates should be asked to recognize Israel as a condition of doing business here as well.
In any case, the answer to our troubling economic picture shouldn’t be to just sell off bits and pieces of the country, whether it is federal lands or border access. This land is our land; this government belongs to the people, and the president should be encouraged to keep this in mind.

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