- Politicians and the media are loudly
decrying the Bush administration's proposal to turn over port security
to a firm owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - a country with ties
to terrorists. They are talking tough about national security - but almost
no one is talking about what may have fueled the administration's decision
to push forward with this deal: the desire to move forward Big Money's
"free" trade agenda.
- How much does
"free" trade have to do with this? How about a lot. The Bush
administration is in the middle of a two-year push to ink a corporate-backed
"free" trade accord with the UAE. At the end of 2004, in fact,
it was Bush Trade Representative Robert Zoellick who proudly boasted of
his trip to the UAE to begin negotiating the trade accord. Rejecting this
port security deal might have set back that trade pact. Accepting the port
security deal - regardless of the security consequences - likely greases
the wheels for the pact. That's probably why instead of backing off the
deal, President Bush - supposedly Mr. Tough on National Secuirty - took
the extraordinary step of threatening to use the first veto of his entire
presidency to protect the UAE's interests. Because he knows protecting
those interetsts - regardless of the security implications for America
- is integral to the "free" trade agenda all of his corporate
supporters are demanding.
- The Inter Press
Service highlights exactly what's at stake, quoting a conservative activists
who admits that this is all about trade:
- "The United
States' trade relationship with the UAE is the third largest in the Middle
East, after Israel and Saudi Arabia. The two nations are engaged in bilateral
free talks that would liberalise trade between the two countries and would,
in theory at least, allow companies to own and operate businesses in both
nations. 'There are legitimate security questions to be asked but it would
be a mistake and really an insult to one of our leading trading partners
in that region to reject this commercial transaction out of hand,' said
Daniel T. Griswold, who directs the Center for Trade Policy Studies at
the Cato Institute, a Washington-based libertarian think tank."
- Look, we've seen
this before. Just last year, Congress approved a US taxpayer-funded loan
by the Bush administration to a British company to help build nuclear technology
in Communist China. Despite major security concerns raised - and a legislative
effort to block the loan - Congress's "free traders" (many of
whom talk so tough on security) made sure the loan went through so as to
preserve the US-China free trade relationship that is allowing lawmakers'
corporate campaign contributors export so many US jobs.
- There is no better
proof that our government takes its orders from corporate interests than
these kinds of moves. That's what this UAE deal is all about - the mixture
of the right-wing's goal of privatizing all government services (even post
9/11 port security!) with the political Establishment's desire to make
sure Tom-Friedman-style "free" trade orthodoxy supersedes everything.
This is where the culture of corruption meets national security policy
- and, more specifically, where the unbridled corruption of on-the-take
politicians are weakening America's security.
- The fact that
no politicians and almost no media wants to even explore this simple fact
is telling. Here we have a major US security scandal with the same country
we are simultaneously negotiating a free trade pact with, and no one in
Washington is saying a thing. The silence tells you all you need to know
about a political/media establishment that is so totally owned by Big Money
interests they won't even talk about what's potentially at the heart of
a burgeoning national security scandal.