Millions of Americans unable to purchase medical treatment, “government” programs designed to exterminate the poor, the infirm, the elderly. Swelling ranks of homeless, kidnapping people and disappearing them into torture camps that dot the globe, invading and occupying other countries, Halliburton, Wal-Mart, Abu Ghraib photos.
All these things put together do not hold a candle to the outrage expressed by Americans, all across the political spectrum, over the recently announced purchase by DWP, a port management company based in a US client state, of a British port management company whose contracts happen to include some American ports.
Admittedly, it is not without a certain deliciousness that I watch Mr. Danger’s own liege men of life and limb howl. Arabs! Running American ports! The blood pressure medication industry will be forever in the debt of everyone involved in this essentially routine business deal.
From what the US has instead of a “left” to the Rutherford B. Hayesian dungeons of the far right, or the mainstream, whichever term you prefer, you would think someone had suggested that US spend 200 billion dollars to implement a universal health care system, or housing for single moms. This one just might get the White House stormed.
And along with the deliciousness comes the rather sour irony of Mr. Danger himself for once, being the one to ask, albeit without realizing just how spot on he is, “The UK company or the UAE one, what’s the difference?”
The answer, of course, is that there isn’t any.
It’s not like the American public is unaware of cronyism, sleazy dealings, unchecked greed. And it’s not like there have not been any grumblings, or feisty editorials, or strongly worded blogrants, even the occasional politician will intone something stirring, to the checkwriting delight of those of his devotees who are among the grumblers and ranters.
But the deafening roar of outrage has nothing to do with any of that, this is bigger than the breakdown of the social fabric, bigger than Halliburton and Bremer and executive decrees that all Iraq’s oil is belong to US, and certainly bigger than any run of the mill shady sleazy cronyism deal, bigger than Abu Ghraib.
This one is about the A word.
And America screams with one voice in outrage.
Oh no, you see it is not about that at all, it is about port security. Port security has been what Americans have really been most worried about since 911.
Yet despite this overwhelming concern about port security, over the last few days, it has been impossible not to note that many Americans, including bloggers, corporate journalists, and politicians, seem to have been unaware that to begin with, there are only a handful of companies on the planet who are large enough to provide port management services to ports as large and busy as American ones. And unaware that not one, that is zero, of those companies is a US company.
The fact that the UAE has been a US client state as long as it has existed also appears to have somehow slipped under the radar, and one would think that the notion that profit is the first priority of any corporation anywhere is a completely new and ghastly revelation that has come from out of the blue and horrified the US from sea to shining sea.
It’s that A word. Everyone knows that if Wal-Mart, for instance, had only had the foresight to launch a port management division along with its DVD rental program that no one would have to worry about America’s ports. They would be secure because Wal-Mart always puts people before profits. Not like that A word company.
Port security is important, you see, because evildoers who hate freedom might exploit weaknesses in America’s port security to smuggle in other evildoers who hate freedom. And dirty bombs and anthrax. Wal-Mart would never let that happen. Or Halliburton.
So let’s consider some facts for a change. First, client states. Let’s take UAE. No, it is not a democracy. If the citizens of UAE, and other client states, were permitted to elect their own governments, it is almost certain that the governments elected could not be counted on to put US business interests above the needs of the citizenry.
It is equally certain that those elected governments would be opposed to many longstanding US policies, especially those that impact other nations.
This is why Americans pay so much of their hard-earned tax money to ensure that these rogue citizens are kept in strict crackdown, to prevent such terrorist acts as kicking out princes and emirs and electing a government of their own choosing.
Being a client state means that your state owned company cannot buy the UK company unless Washington says it can. And in this case, Washington said it could. And did not stipulate that contracts to manage US ports be excluded, and then award them to the Chinese company. The one that runs both ends of the Panama Canal. Or the one in Singapore. Or the other one that I forget where it is, maybe it another Chinese one.
What do you think Lou Dobbs would say about a Chinese company running America’s ports?
Now let’s consider port security. Drugs, weapons and human beings are the most profitable businesses in the world. Having secure ports could impact, even reduce profits of American entrepreneurs and wealth builders. Risk takers. Owners in the ownership society.
The questions Americans should be asking are:
1) How does maintaining client states at the cost of my well-being and that of my family, in order to facilitate the commission of crimes against humanity assure me the benefit of security, safety, and a future for my children?
- How does corporate rule benefit me, featuring, as it does, cronyism, shady deals, and most of all, putting profit before my well being and that of my family?
- Similar to #2: How does keeping America’s ports safe for entrepreneurs and wealth builders who are building their wealth in the profitable drugs, weapons and human beings businesses benefit me and my family?
There is plenty of fuel for true and justified outrage at these things, outrage that Americans could even channel into saving the nation they hope to have, the nation they hope will be there for their children, and their children’s children.
Arabs and Muslims are nothing more than an enemy du jour, an Emanuel Goldstein.
Instead of misdirecting that outrage as the corporations desire, Americans have a rare opportunity to defy the corporations, ask the hard questions, the real questions, and despite frequent protestations to the contrary, I believe Americans do have the strength to face the answers, and not only bear it, but do what it takes to preserve them a nation.