My Take on the Port Controversy
As much as I hate to admit it, I think President Bush made a good point yesterday when he suggested that there's something wrong with opposing an Arab-owned company operating U.S. shipping ports when a British-owned company has been doing the job for years. He's right, there is a double standard at play in this debate, and it is tinged with an uncomfortable hint of racism, or at least of playing favorites with our allies and business partners.
But the president, in his usual zeal to support corporations and big business deals above any other concern, misses the very important question at the heart of this matter. It isn't, "Why is it okay for a European company to operate our ports but not a Middle Eastern one?" The actual question is (or ought to be), "Why in the hell are we allowing any foreign company to operate our ports?"
Now, I don't believe that I'm especially xenophobic or isolationist, but, at risk of sounding like one of them totalitarian, anti-capitalist types, I do believe that certain industries and activities are so intimately connected to our national security that we should restrict them to home-grown companies only, if not outright nationalize them. Transportation is the obvious (and pertinent) example. Communication is probably another. How is it that a president who has built his entire reputation on the rubric keeping the nation safe from outside danger doesn't seem to see this?
(I'll give you a hint: the answer is in the second paragraph...)