About Rationally Speaking
Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Bush and the ports, not my predictable take
First, the United Arab Emirates is not Saudi Arabia (from where most of the 9/11 hijackers came). Let's not mix apples and oranges again (like, with 9/11 and Iraq). Second, it is not true that this is the only case of a government-controlled private company having a major role in operating US ports (a very similar situation holds for a Chinese company currently operating in the US). Third, according to most experts on port security, the deal is not a significant threat – when will politicians stop disregarding expert advice just to score pre-electoral points? Fourth, it is silly to accuse Bush of not having knowledge of the deal ahead of time, since there are many similar deals being concluded all the times, and this one simply doesn't rise to the level of presidential (so to speak) attention. Fifth, we can't allow ourselves to fall into the “every Arab is bad” paranoid idiocy. Sixth, it's about time to get off the naïve idea that there can be such thing as total security: living in an open society means that, well, we're open, and not just for business.
Of course, Bush is to blame for this mess indirectly, since he has been fostering for years a state of continuous suspicion, fear and paranoia about terrorism and the Middle East more generally. It is, in fact, ironic to see Republicans (like Bill “I can tell if Terry Schiavo is conscious while looking at a video” Frist) to accuse George W. of jeopardizing national security. What miracles can an impending mid-term election with a lame duck president do!
What is disgusting, however, is the Democrats playing the national security card (starting with Hillary “I want to be on the 2008 ballot even though I have no chance of winning because half of America hates me Clinton”) at precisely the wrong moment. National security has been jeopardized by a war in Iraq that was based on phony premises, by the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, by the disregard for human rights (allegedly, what we are fighting for) at Guantanamo, not to mention an irresponsible domestic policy that is putting the US more and more into debt -- owed, by the way, mostly to the largest communist country in the world, China.
The Democrats have so many issues to run on during the '06 elections (want more? Health care, especially the debacle of the new private assistance program for seniors; the NSA internal spying program; the blatant disregard of the White House for US and international law; the new appointees at the Supreme Court who will likely re-criminalize abortion in this country; the continued rape of the environment; the consistent pro-big business and "let's make the rich even richer" policies, and on and on), that there really is an embarrassment of choices. And the Dubai Ports affair is what gets Clinton, Schumer and co. upset? Get a life, and get serious.