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A Faerie's Farthing

Flitting through the internets looking for sparkly bits. All content mine and not to be reproduced without permission.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Ports of Impeachment

Ports of Impeachment

The 'I' word has hit prime-time television, and rather vociferously at that. Even the American Family Association has a letter campaign going on this! I think the cognitive dissonance finally went too far and some people snapped. Who knew that after warrantless wiretaps, lying us into war, and flouting the Geneva Conventions, it would take shrubya contracting our ports out to the UAE to at long last break the spell?

I can almost hear Condi saying "who could have ever guessed that outsourcing our port operations to a country with terrorist ties would upset people?"

Or maybe it's the corruption that bothers them. John Snow and Darth Cheney both have an interest in this deal; Snow's is in the form of CSX, where he worked before taking his place at the Treasury. Cheney's, of course, is Halliburton, which operates out of Dubai.

When CBS Television's 60 Minutes program visited the address where Halliburton Products and Services is incorporated in the Cayman Islands, they discovered a "brass plate" operation with no employees whose agent - the Calidonian Bank -- forwards all of the company's mail to Halliburton's offices in Houston (instead of the company's operations in Dubai), "indicating that decision-making authority may be in Houston, not the Cayman Islands or Dubai," according to the Senators. In addition, it was reported that Halliburton's operations in Dubai share the same address, telephone and fax numbers as Halliburton Products and Services - an indication that the companies do not function separately.12

"It is extremely disturbing to hear media reports of possible violations of our anti-terrorism laws by prominent American companies through straw corporations established to evade U.S. law. What makes these charges extraordinary is the involvement of the Vice President, since Halliburton Products and Services began operations in Iran during the time that Vice President Cheney was CEO of Halliburton," Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) wrote in a letter to her colleagues.

...During the 1990s, under Cheney's leadership Halliburton did business with the former Nigerian regime of dictator Sani Abacha, a brutal military dictator. The Abacha regime threw thousands of political opponents into prison, and executed nine environmental activists, including the playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa.

Freedom is all good and well until it stands in the way of a business deal, dontchyaknow? Can it be that Americans are actually catching on the gaping disparity between what these fools say versus what they do? Is it finally dawning on people that big business might be just a tad too influential in government?

And therein lies the key: in the neoliberal world of Republican, Friedmanesque fantasy, Nation-States as we know them today become increasingly irrelevant. All that matters is business, and the interests of corporations in securing their maximum bottom line. No one on either side of the debate argues this point: for liberals, the exploitation is done to enrich corporate coffers; for conservatives, it is done to maximize growth and lower prices. But no one denies that the Nation-State becomes almost a spectator in this grand opera.

...And the bottom line dictates that products, services, and yes, even national ports, will be sold off to the higest bidder--no matter which country they are from. Because the World is now Flat.

Thus it is that we now live in a world where Americans build Dubai's oil infrastructure (thus ensuring anti-American sentiment in the region), while Arab Emirates control our port security (thus rendering us vulnerable to terrorism). And no one can even complain. Because to complain would be to challenge the very economic system that our elites believe in almost as a religion.


In this brave new FlatWorld, National Sovereignty is a thing of the past.

Perhaps it's simply dawned on people that shrubya isn't really serious about security or much of anything else. And it's not just the wonks - port security is a very visceral issue. Everybody pretty well understands enough after hearing "U.S. Ports, security, country with terrorist friends." This - the idea of our port security being outsourced in this manner - could wind up being that proverbial straw:

When Bush said that we need to justify holding a Middle Eastern company to a higher standard, he showed that he in fact does not agree with the key point of his own doctrine: namely, that in a post-9/11 world, you can never be too careful.

And regardless of whether DPW is a national security threat, the fact that Bush for whatever reason has not taken the same "whatever it takes to defend the American people" approach on this issue that he has taken on Iraq, domestic surveillance, the Patriot Act and torture--that fact paves the way for questioning the motives of the other activities I mentioned--because if Bush really took the "you can never be too careful" approach to everything, why didn't he stop the DPW deal?

Bush has reneged the entire premise of his presidency.

But that's not really news, now is it?

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