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Lessons from Dubai

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As of this writing, it appears that the Dubai Ports World controversy is dying a welcome death.

But we must not dismiss the issue prematurely.

The devil, of course, is in the details, as Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid has pointed out.

And our future depends on the lessons learned.

So let's review a few of the lessons to date, lest they be forgotten:

We learned that the apologists for George W. Bush will not hesitate to play the race card, accusing Bush's critics of anti-Arab discrimination in an attempt to shift blame and cloud the issue. It is interesting to note that these are many of the same folks who defend the practice of racial profiling in airport security.

We learned that the contract to manage our ports was awarded in a very tight and secretive process, in which some highly qualified U.S.-based companies were never invited to make a bid.

We learned that our ports are still highly vulnerable, almost five years after 9/11. Of the more than 20"Ü000 cargo containers that pass through U.S. ports each day, only five or six percent are inspected. We learned that greater scrutiny of port cargo would be very expensive to implement. And we learned that our government believes that the money is better spent propagating the quagmire in Iraq, and on tax cuts for the rich.

We learned that the some of the hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks used the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as an operational and financial hub.

We learned that the Emir of Dubai, and the head of the family that owns Dubai Ports, is an associate and hunting companion of Osama bin Laden.

We learned that the UAE has been an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea, and Libya.

We learned that the UAE is one of only three countries to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate government.

We learned that Dubai Ports World is actually owned by the government of the UAE, meaning that our ports would have been controlled by a foreign government with known ties to al-Qaeda. In wartime, had the deal gone through, that foreign government could control all access to our ports - including access by our own military (or the enemy).

We learned that George W. Bush, whose 2004 reelection campaign centered around his allegations that only he could properly protect us, will invariably trade our security in favor of Arab oil interests every time.

And we learned that the Republicans in Congress would finally stand up to the Bush administration when the plummeting approval ratings made it clear that the people weren't going to take it any more.

How convenient.

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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