February 23, 2006

Getting Our Hate On: Now We Are (Almost) All Michelle Malkin

I've been far too depressed and discouraged to write for the last couple of days. I knew that I would need to address the furor over the UAE port deal, and I don't at all enjoy watching the American public eagerly prepare itself for the next war -- or perhaps we should more accurately say, for the next chapter in the continuing war. A great many Americans, almost all of our political leaders, most commentators, and the majority of bloggers deserve a very firm (figurative) smack upside the head. Well, I'm in a civic-minded kind of mood at the moment, so I will attempt to provide the required lesson, relying on facts and focusing on the overall context in which this dispute has arisen -- elements that are sorely lacking in almost all of the discussion thus far.

So that I am not misunderstood, let me immediately state the following: I will not defend the Bush administration on this issue, or on any other. It is not that I think the administration did "the right thing" in approving this deal, and there are a number of legitimate questions about it. And even if the administration had inadvertently done "the right thing" (on the broken clock principle, if you will), that does not mean they did it for the right reason. It is entirely possible to take the correct action, and to do so for the worst of reasons. On this administration's record, the worst of reasons always seem to be operative.

But as has been the case with every major controversy in the post-9/11 cultural atmosphere, the legitimate questions about the port deal are not the meat of the matter. They are not where this game is being played. The Newsweek story of last year was not about "press irresponsibility," although that was the excuse used to justify completely illegitimate attempts to intimidate the media into reporting nothing but "good news." And the entirely phony Mohammed cartoon controversy is not about freedom of the press -- but that is the cover used to stoke the fires of racial hatred and to make the very dangerous notion of a "clash of civilizations" appear to be genuine. See this follow-up post for more on the propaganda purposes served by the cartoon controversy.

In the last several days, we have been treated to a thoroughly sickening display of blatant, unapologetic racism. What is even worse is that most of the major players involved are only warming up. Before this week, I had thought it was almost certain that the administration would attack Iran in the near future. Now, I am absolutely certain that will occur, probably within the next year or two at the very outside. Given what we are now witnessing, the Democrats, together with any other forces that might have been expected to offer at least token resistance, will provide little or no opposition. I am now convinced an attack on Iran is a catastrophe that it is impossible to avoid.

Let me be very clear on another point: it is not that I think everyone who is criticizing the administration about the port deal is motivated by racism, consciously or otherwise. But you cannot look at this latest dispute apart from the surrounding context. Let me repeat what I identified as one of the results of the phony cartoon controversy:
We are further told, and a majority of Americans appears to already believe, that a potentially nuclear Iran would be "the largest threat" facing the world. That is "unacceptable." After this latest propaganda onslaught, when the bombing starts, we won't even be bombing people. So what's the big deal? Those subhumans are "barbarians." They riot and kill over cartoons. They're crazy! And the very future of civilization itself lies in the balance.

In this manner, the stage is set and the required cultural atmosphere is created for the next chapter in Bush's campaign of destruction.
Regardless of whether particular politicians or commentators are racist as individuals, the cumulative effect is the same: it is the unwarranted, indefensible, and altogether disgusting demonization of an entire people. This kind of demonization of the Arab and Islamic world has been going on for more than a thousand years, as I discussed just the other day. I went into that history precisely because these very old cultural dynamics are still fully in play, as events now prove beyond question. For the same reason, I also traced the history of vicious racism in the United States, especially in wartime. And, of course, this racism has a lengthy, repellent history within our own borders, as the aftermath of Katrina demonstrated.

Consider some of the statements offered by our leading politicians. We had this from Peter King, a Republican, about the Dubai Ports World deal:
In the post-9/11 world, there should have been a presumption against this company.
And this from Evan Bayh, a Democrat:
I think we've got to look into this company. I think we've got to ensure ourselves that the American people's national-security interests are going to be protected. And frankly, I think the threshold ought to be a little higher for a foreign firm.
And this from Barbara Boxer:
It is ridiculous to say you're taking secret steps to make sure that it's OK for a nation that had ties to 9/11, (to) take over part of our port operations in many of our largest ports. This has to stop.
And from our hawk pal, Hillary Clinton:
Our port security is too important to place in the hands of foreign governments. I will be working with [New Jersey] Senator [Robert] Menendez to introduce legislation that will prohibit the sale of ports to foreign governments.
Some people have suggested that the port story "resonates" with the public because it clearly unmasks the phoniness of Bush's claims to be motivated solely by concerns for U.S. security, and that he only wants to make us "safe." But we hardly needed more evidence on that point: the catastrophe of Iraq, which has undercut our national security in every way imaginable and probably for decades to come, has proved that beyond all question. To grasp that, however, we would need a public that can think, and leaders who actually lead. Since most of the Democrats initially supported the Iraq war or would not seriously oppose it, and because they are terrified of being viewed as "soft" on national security issues, they will not make this case consistently or convincingly. For the same reasons, they will not call for a quick withdrawal, even now.

The port story "resonates" for much more obvious reasons: first, almost every important public voice is piling onto this story, and spouting the same inane arguments. Second, as indicated above and explained in detail in the earlier referenced posts, the fear of "foreign governments" taking over our ports ties into all the central myths and forces that still drive us: the "uniqueness" of the United States, the fear of "the other," and the demonization of entire races. Still another factor is very painful to note: it is quite simply the extraordinarily limited intellectual capacity of the American public. To understand why the invasion of Iraq has been and continues to be so disastrous, you need to be able to trace consequences over a period of years. You have to read about the effects that are rippling out from the continuing occupation, and you must be able to grasp results that can't be shown in simple pictures on your TV. Most Americans are incapable of this kind of thinking and analysis, and the same is true of most of our political leaders and commentators.

But the port story is exceedingly simple: foreigners are going to take over our ports! And they're not foreigners like us, the way the British are. They're those people. Those people are crazy! They want to kill us! If this deal goes through, we're all going to die! It's pathetic.

There are two overall reasons that all the objections to the UAE deal reduce to racism in the end, even if the motive in an individual case in not racist in the first instance. The first reason is that the objections most frequently offered don't stand up to serious scrutiny. For example, we are told that two of the 9/11 terrorists came from the UAE. To my amazement, I've heard several liberal radio talk show hosts make this argument repeatedly, up to and including this morning. I suppose I must remind you that Richard Reid, he of "shoe bomber" fame, was a British citizen. Yet that seemed to pose no problem when the British still owned the company in question.

Moreover, we've had our fair share of homegrown terrorists. On this argument, we can't be trusted to run our own ports. (In fact, we can't. But you already know that, and making that case would take me too far afield.) Even Kathleen Parker, a columnist of remarkably small intellect who is almost always wrong -- and who is resolutely wrong on the larger questions here -- grasps this point:
[I]t's hardly reasonable to condemn or fear an entire nation - or a federation of emirates - on the basis of a few random acts by a tiny percentage of the world's 1.25 billion Muslims. When weird Christians misbehave, we don't expect the world to stop doing business with Alabama.
But Parker then goes on to state the following, which eloquently proves my point about the broader cultural atmosphere in which the port story arose:
But, politically, handing over our ports to a part of the world where the U.S. is not currently beloved is tantamount to taking arsenic to treat acne. It is particularly grotesque in the midst of the cartoon melee now consuming parts of the Middle East, which has cast in stark relief the philosophical chasm between much of the Muslim world and our own.
See? Those people are crazy! They're barely human!

Or we're told that terrorists in general, or the 9/11 attackers in particular, used funds that went through Dubai banks. Since Dubai is perhaps the leading financial center of the Middle East, that's hardly surprising. And once again, if we credit this argument, we ourselves, and not any dreaded "foreigners," are least qualified to protect ourselves. From Carl Levin's website:
Money laundering occurs when criminals disguise proceeds from criminal activities as legitimate funds. Terrorists, drug traffickers and other criminals rely on money laundering to move funds, disguise dirty money and carry out criminal acts. Current estimates are that $500 billion to $1 trillion in illegal funds are laundered through banks worldwide each year, with about half going through U.S. financial institutions.
Those damned Americans! They do half the money laundering for terrorists and criminals every single year! Bomb them now!

Or we're told that the problem isn't that Arabs are involved (except that the people being criticized and questioned so vehemently all happen to be Arabs): the real problem is that the company is owned by a foreign government. That is certainly a problem, and I don't deny it. But this objection also is far from convincing, because the outrage is so selective. Corporate statism is largely the way business is conducted throughout the world today -- and a massive and constantly increasing crony corporate statism is swallowing up almost the entirety of the U.S. economy itself. The amalgamation between the U.S. government and nominally private corporations is so pervasive that it cannot be avoided, either domestically or internationally. In many if not most crucial respects, the operations of our major corporations are "private" in nature in name only. The "outsourcing" of many aspects of our military operations is only one example of this blending of the public and private spheres, and the corruption, inefficiency and disappearing funds in the billions of dollars that permeate our occupation of Iraq is only one of the latest and most dramatic instances of this neofascist state capitalism.

But let's consider this argument a bit further. First, the wonderfully clear-headed Tom Knapp lays out some realpolitik considerations, and contrasts the consequences for a U.S. company with those that might be visited upon a UAE company that allows a disaster to occur:
Now, let's imagine what happens if Dubai Ports World screws up -- through action, inaction, error, negligence or any other failure -- and terrorists utilize one or more of those ports in conducting attacks on the US. There won't be fines. There won't be a few random jailings of culpable executives. Instead, the State Department will add the UAE to its list of state sponsors of terrorism, the President of the United States will freeze and/or seize not just the Dubai Ports World investment, but every UAE asset in the United States, and the armed forces of the United States may just decide to locate a shiny new crater where Dubai used to be.

Now, tell me: Which company do you think is going to be more particular about genuine port security?
He has more, and I recommend you read it.

And returning to the selective nature of the objections being raised, I can play the paranoia game, too. Here are a few other things you perhaps should be a bit more concerned about. Take a look at another story involving Dubai, from last November on DefenseNews.com:
U.S. defense firms looked to capitalize on Gulf states’ unabated need for sophisticated new military equipment at the Dubai air show Nov. 22, with Washington hoping such sales will reinforce strategic alliances.

Despite an increased focus on counter-terrorism, defense budgets of Gulf countries are likely to remain stable, analysts say, given regional instability and the need to upgrade existing systems and equipment.

"This is a cautious region that will watch developments across every border that they perceive might present a threat to them," said Robin Hughes, deputy editor of Jane’s Defense Weekly.

Countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE), together spent about 277 billion dollars on defense and security between 1995 and 2002, according to Arab League figures.

The area is sandwiched between Iraq and Afghanistan, where the United States is waging its "war on terror". The GCC states spent about 37 billion dollars on defense in 2004, according to Jane’s.

Although Saudi Arabia -- with the biggest air force and military aircraft fleet among Gulf states -- remains the most attractive target for air defense suppliers, the UAE has become an increasingly sophisticated and demanding customer.

US air defense giant Lockheed Martin started delivering this year to the UAE air force its most advanced F-16 fighting jet, the so-called Fighting Falcon, as part of a previous multi-billion dollar order for 80 planes.

The UAE also owns 30 Apache Helicopters made by the defense arm of U.S. aircraft maker Boeing.

Northrop Grumman, another U.S. defense major, said it was in talks with the UAE to sell it its latest generation Hawkeye surveillance plane.

"My princip[al] mission is relationship building, and helping our friends and partners have the right capabilities to meet their requirements for their own security and to foster interoperability between our air forces," said Bruce Lemkin, a senior U.S. Air Force official in charge of international affairs.

He said Gulf countries have become even more staunch allies of the United States given what he described as the "common enemy" in the form of international terror.
We're all going to die! And chances are, we'll be killed with weapons that we sold to countries that were once our trusted allies -- and the deals will have been encouraged and made possible by our own military officials.

Not completely hysterical yet? Try this, from the Federation of American Scientists:
Saudi Arabia is America’s top customer. Since 1990, the U.S. government, through the Pentagon’s arms export program, has arranged for the delivery of more than $39.6 billion in foreign military sales to Saudi Arabia, and an additional $394 million worth of arms were delivered to the Saudi regime through the State Department’s direct commercial sales program during that same period. (Foreign Military and Construction Sales and Direct Commercial Sales are recorded and published by the Dept. of Defense in Foreign Military Sales, Foreign Military Construction Sales and Military Assistance Facts; the most current online edition includes information through FY 1999.)

Oil rich Saudi Arabia is a cash-paying customer. It receives no U.S. military assistance to finance these purchases, although it does demand that about 35 percent of all major contracts be "offset"-that is, economic benefits equaling 35 percent of the arms contract value must be steered back to the Saudi economy.
(Check out the Offsets Monitoring Project for more information on this phenomenon.)


With billions of petro-dollars, Saudi Arabia has been buying very modern, deadly weapons from America.

Many of the systems on order, such as the M-1A2 Abrams main battle tank, M-2A2 Bradley armored vehicles, F-15E Strike Eagle attack aircraft and Patriot surface-to-air missile, are the top-of-the-line systems deployed with U.S. forces.

A flurry of expensive arms sales followed the 1990-91 Gulf War. However, long before Iraq invaded Kuwait, Saudi Arabia sought to obtain America’s most sophisticated weaponry in order to counterbalance its much more populous regional rivals-Iran and Iraq. From 1986-93, these three countries accounted for nearly 40 percent of all arms exports to developing world countries. Saudi Arabia imported $55.6 billion in arms, Iraq imported $22.7 billion, and Iran imported $13.9 billion. (Richard F. Grimmett, Congressional Research Service, Conventional Arms Transfers to the Third World, 1986-93," 29 July 1994)
Given the trend of world events, even if by some miracle many millions of people don't die over the next decade, it cannot be denied that we have one of the most deeply embedded death wishes ever seen in world history.

But of course, the United States government has a long history of doing precisely this kind of thing. We seem congenitally incapable of seeing beyond next month, or next year at the outside. When he was considered an ally, we sold a lot of WMD to Saddam Hussein, although they were long gone by the time we made war on him a second time. We helped arm and empower the muhjahadeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s. And, irony of present ironies, we encouraged Iran to develop a nuclear arms program 30 years ago:
The White House staffers, who are trying to deny Iran the right to develop its own nuclear energy capacity have conveniently forgotten that the United States was the midwife to the Iranian nuclear program 30 years ago. Every aspect of Iran's current nuclear development was approved and encouraged by Washington in the 1970s.
This is the weaponized version of how we create our own enemies, which I discussed in broader terms the other day. So if you want to worry about how governments are leading us into catastrophe, don't be so concerned about those allegedly terrifying "foreign" ones: start right here at home.

Ivan Eland is one of the dwindling handful of people I can always rely on to keep their heads, while everyone else is losing theirs. In a column appropriately titled, "Dubai Ports World: Commercial Racial Profiling," he writes:
American companies are permitted to operate some U.S. ports despite the fact that Timothy McVeigh, Jose Padilla, and other U.S. citizens are convicted or accused terrorists. For that matter, how do we know that even an American company running the ports would be immune from terrorist infiltration?

In fact, since two of the 9/11 hijackers were from the UAE, Dubai Ports World might even have a stronger interest in operating safe and secure ports than companies from other nations. Dubai has a worldwide presence, an extensive history of operating ports, and a reputation to uphold. If a terrorist incident occurred in one of its ports, the company would probably lose more business worldwide than a non-Arabic company would under the same circumstances.

The company should be evaluated on its qualifications to operate the ports, not on McCarthy-like litmus tests for Arabs or the UAE. Besides, although Dubai Ports World will operate the ports, U.S. federal and local authorities will remain in charge of security.


But if Arab companies truly cannot be trusted to operate U.S. ports, then shouldn’t they be banned from all involvement with U.S. airports, farming, electrical generation, water works, nuclear power plants, chemical, biomedical, and pharmaceutical production, and tunnel, bridge, stadium, and skyscraper construction? Extending this flawed logic further, perhaps even airlines from Arab countries should be banned from landing at U.S. airports because they might be used in terrorism or bring terrorists into the United States—in spite of the fact that the planes used on 9/11 were U.S. airliners.
But Eland's view is a tragically lonely one, even though it is supported by more than ample evidence, logic and common sense. As documented above, almost everyone else is parroting the same hysteria-driven, xenophobic, and ultimately racist talking points.

And so in the midst of this cultural paranoia and notable lack of sanity, we have Michelle Malkin trumpeting her victory and her vindication, in a column entitled "They Are All Profilers Now":
For the past several years, I've been condemned as an "extremist" for advocating nationality profiling -- unapologetically applying stricter scrutiny to terror-sponsoring and terror-sympathizing countries in our entrance, immigration and security policies.

Now, mirabile dictu, some of the same Democrats who have routinely lambasted such profiling are rushing to the floors of Congress and in front of TV cameras espousing these very same policies.


Perhaps the UAE will be hiring Gore to condemn the "abusive" practices now being championed by his fire-breathing extremist Democrat colleagues?

After all, they are all red flag-raising, threshold-hiking, thorough review-espousing, foreign ownership-banning profilers now.
She's entirely right. And the Democrats wonder why they keep losing. If they offered a serious alternative, and if they managed to step outside the rotted cultural framework that gives rise to the demonization now going on, perhaps they wouldn't. But instead of providing a desperately needed alternative way of viewing the world, we have Democrats like Hillary Clinton who would probably order bombing runs over Iran faster than Bush, if only they could.

At this point, the hate only needs to be ratcheted up a few more notches. Then the American public will be ready. We can start bombing Iran (or Syria, I suppose it doesn't matter now), and almost no one will object. Those people aren't really like us, you know. Why, they're barely civilized. What does it matter if tens of thousands of innocent civilians are killed, or if we unleash Armageddon? They aren't even human, not like we are.

So to most of you, I offer my hearty congratulations. Well done. Let the bombing begin.

[This is probably a bad time to bring this up, since this latest essay may well have antagonized some readers. But as the saying goes, I calls 'em as I sees 'em. In any case, my immense gratitude to everyone who has made donations to the site. I truly am unable to express my thanks adequately. Once again, you've enabled me to keep going and to get current on most of my bills. But as I must note from time to time, my only income now is from my writing here and at The Sacred Moment. I'm trying to get together my March rent money, and I still can't afford to get some medical attention I need. So if you'd care to support my writing in any amount at all, I'd be profoundly grateful. Thanks as always for your consideration. PayPal and Amazon links are on both sites. And as I've indicated in a few recent posts, there is a great deal of writing I'm currently working on, and some of that will be completed in the near future. I'll try to keep the posts coming more regularly now, although the more complicated pieces do take some time, of course. But I'll see if I can throw in some simpler posts along the way.]