Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What Did We Learn From the "Port Control" Debacle?

From James Pinkerton, a moderate conservative (believe it or not):
First, all Americans, starting with Bush, should be alarmed that such an important issue was handled so sloppily...To assure the public that such fecklessness isn't to be tolerated, some high official should be allowed, or asked, to resign. That would send a signal that those who hold high jobs are supposed actually to do them.
Well, Jim, that would be nice, but after the intelligence failures of 9/11 and "yellowcake uranium" produced precisely zero resignations, do you honestly think anyone in this administration has the cojones to step up to the plate?

Hell, even after Katrina, Brownie had to be forced out of his position first, and then quietly allowed to become a consultant.
Second, we are all being schooled in foreign-policy realism. Since 9/11, the president has mostly expressed himself in the language of good-versus-evil morality. As he said Sept. 20, 2001, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." Such rhetoric might have been useful in getting Americans psyched up for fighting Saddam Hussein. But, as the long war drags on, "moral clarity" has morphed into murk. So today we see that the UAE and Saudi Arabia - which have and will continue to play footsie with al-Qaida, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Hamas and other nogoodniks - are our best available allies. That's the difference between realism and idealism: Idealists see the world as they wish it to be, realists as it is.
Orwell said it best: "Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy...we mean, Four legs bad, two legs better." It stops being idealism when it becomes caving in.
Third, Bush's democracy-is-on-the-march speechifying is now at rest. W.'s high-flying lyricism peaked with his second inaugural address, in which he declared that the "untamed fire of freedom" would burn away tyranny everywhere. But in the past year the White House has looked the other way as Arab countries across the Mideast have suppressed democratic movements - although not in the UAE, because there never has been any democratic movement there. And, with the UAE as a possible partner in future port security, it's a safe bet that the United States won't be encouraging elections in that country, thus risking a replay of the recent Islamist victory in the Palestinian territories.
Can't argue with Pinkerton's assessment here. For the sake of his birthright, he has sold his brethren into slavery.
Fourth, in regard to the cold realities of this world, most Americans have only recently learned that overseas interests already control many of our ports.
The Teamsters seem to have finally taken notice as well. This issue is STRICTLY an economic one: port masters want to keep American union workers from the docks. It would mean importer and exporters paying slightly higher fees to ship.

Gee, there's a concept: "insurance" against terrorism.
Fifth, no matter who owns the ports, the greatest concern should be cargo inspection. Estimates of how much cargo is searched vary, from 2 percent up to 6 percent. So, port ownership aside, the bigger question is whether Uncle Sam is scrutinizing nearly 9 million potentially bomb-laden containers a year.
There is a side issue as to whether we can, but the effort must be made. If you're going to have an uproar over illegal border crossings of immigration, then you really do have to take a closer look at what (or who) is being smuggled into this country with unfettered access to a major hub of commerce for America.

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