Can America go "private," or is it too late?

Surrounded by mirrors, sooner or later it had to happen; we cannot go on forever without eventually having to take a good look at ourselves. And the recent DP World free-for-all gave us an opportunity to prepare for a first glance, if nothing else.

It was a swift bi-partisan revolution, although resolution might be a more appropriate term that put an end to a controversy which came to save the day for many a politician, particularly Democrats. Flying the nativist colors, and reassured by the idea, whether fact or factoid, that 3 of 4 among those who vote are Arabophobic; all the politicians marched to battle knowing that the issue was politically safe, a no-brainer. This became a godsend opportunity for them to side with the basest in base populism. And so, the lynching came to pass without much fanfare, and not an ounce of embarrassment or shame.

But, wasn’t it Dubai Ports that asked to be disrobed of the six US ports in favor of an American entity? Yes, but after the fact. The deal was already hanging from the noose, neck broken, after it became evident that any anti-DP World legislation by Congress would withstand the promised presidential veto by Bush.

The political expediency in Congress was such that little time was allotted for the acts de rigueur that need to take place so that high-rank players in business and diplomatic affairs may save face. Not just the Maktoum family and two American presidents involved, but a retinue of present and former politicians holding fast on behalf of the UAE. It was a humiliating embarrassment that will resonate for time to come… a pile-on by politicians that chose to make if not the wrong decision, certainly the wrong way of transmitting it to the world in general, and the Arab community of nations in particular.

American elected politicians certainly have the right to be wrong or stupid but, for the sake of their constituents, not rude. And action taken by Congress this past week was not only anti-Bush, but it failed miserably the common sense, diplomacy test.

All the US government now needs to do now is find “an entity” to manage the six ports, which could turn out to be Halliburton, or a Halliburton look-alike. At whatever cost! And it will cost taxpayers… for the art of running ports is one of the many arts we have lost.

The US-ports share of the deal with the British company amounted to $680 million for Dubai Ports World, but that’s small change for Congress. This sum will just be a token payment as the nation embarks on a program of buying back any “critical” infrastructure which is now in foreign hands. That can turn out to be a great buzz, a battle cry, in the nation’s capital as mid-term elections near: America must have its infrastructure back! One can rest assured that trillions in American assets are in foreign hands, although politicians, at least for the time being, will only consider a small percentage as critical.

Politicians can adapt either way. Globalists or protectionists, they don’t much care! But America is not simply a public company trying to go private, buying back its stock. It is a nation that borrows and consumes, producing very little of what the world wants. So for America to go “private,” it will take much more than just legislation in Congress.

For America to go private at this stage will require additional borrowing difficult to come by, unless some type of confiscation is part of the plan; or, as an alternative, a change in consumption patterns brings back the curse to consumerism: savings. And the probability for the latter to happen in the short run approaches zero. No, it is zero!

We have learned two things during this recent confrontation… not with Dubai Ports or the UAE, but with the mirror. One, we are finding ourselves to be a nation that has a difficult time dealing with prejudice that’s intertwined with fear, and are not coping any better today with anything prefixed Arab than over six decades ago, when dealing with our own American-Japanese. Two, one cannot, or should not, live beyond one’s means; either as individuals or as a nation. Unless one is willing to give up some options, and America has given up too many of those options already after taking an unwavering path towards global capitalism.

As for politicians, nothing has changed. No; they have not recently gone through epiphanies that uncovered the ineptitude and idiocy of the Bush Administration. They simply wish to be re-elected, keep their jobs… and DP World offered them the perfect life preserver to grab.