Wednesday, February 22, 2006

What's Good for GWB Enterprises is Good for the Country

The political firestorm that the Dubai port management issues has ignited appears to me to be all smoke and virtually no flame.

Of this country's 100s of port facilities, how many are operated by foreign companies? Anybody have any idea? Most US ports have some aspect of foreign corporate management, either at the port or terminal level.

How many of the thousands of cargo ships that deliver goods to US ports are US flag carriers? Virtually none.

How many of the originating ports for ships and containers delivering goods to the US are operated by US companies? A tiny fraction.

The largest companies in the port operations business are all foreign. The single largest corporate entity is Chinese. Number 2, Singaporian.

Container cargos are shipped much like airline passengers in the US. Containers are shipped to hubs and combined with containters from other ships for shipment to US ports. That is what makes ports like Singapore and Dubai among the world's largest. They are hubs in a global transportation system.

All this bluster from both sides can't change the way the global shipping world works.

Nor will this bluster from Republican in congress cover up the fact that they have repeatedly voted against improving port security in the US. I guess you could say that they were against port security, before they were for it.

The political problem here is that this deal exposes the Bush Administration for what it really is. Not the protectors of Americans from terrorists. Not the deliverers of democracy to a world hungering for freedom. No, the Bush Administration has only one mission - to free the world's corporations to make as much money as possible.

Where members of congress dream only of currying lobbyist favor and the perks that go with it, in the White House the dreams are of expanding corporate wealth beyond any reasonable bounds. It was in the corporate world that Bush and Cheney became rich. That is their real constituency, not the religious right, Reagan Republicans or NASCAR fans.

George Bush reminds me of the character, Milo Minderbinder in Joseph Heller's classic novel, Catch-22. Minderbinder was a character so immoral and obsessed with his corporate mission that he contracted with the Germans to use American planes to bomb his own Air Force base (as I write this, the parallel with 9/11 strikes me).

This is a business deal. In George Bush's mind that trumps any other national interests or sensibilities. The war on terror is important, but business is business. That's why Bush is so unwilling to bend on this issue. Corporate profits are at stake.