Thursday, March 16, 2006


Emotions versus Reason

Victor Davis Hanson dissects the Dubai Port Deal controversy in a Post Mortem he conducts for Real Clear Politics.

He finds lots of fault: the Bush Administration of course for the oft remarked political tone-deafness; Democrats in Congress placing political opportunism above their longstanding moralizing on racial and ethnic profiling; and an ignorant public which remains totally oblivious to the many ways the US depends upon interactions with foreigners and foreign governments (including the Communist Chinese). In Hanson’s view, “Rarely has reason been so routed by pure emotion.”

Hanson correctly observes that the United Arab Emirates is foremost among Arab countries in the Middle East in Westernizing, and supports the US and Coalition Global War on Terror through Intelligence sharing and military support and assistance. Nowhere in a serious review of the realities behind the Dubai port controversy, could one locate anything other than domestic political concerns, as serious support to argue that the deal needed to be undone. The UAE have been strong supporters of our efforts in the Middle East.

Hanson’s discouragement with the political posturing and triumph of ignorance over reason is deeper, however, for in it he sees a confirmation of a public attitude about globalization that is even more troubling long term:

But more importantly, the Dubai port deal shows how at odds are American perceptions and reality. For the last half-century, we have been living in a complex interconnected world of mutual reliance. Soon we will import more food than we grow. We already burn more oil than we pump. For years we have bought more than we export, and we borrow far more than we lend. To justify these precarious dependencies, America assures foreign business leaders, investors and lenders that our markets remain open and immune to the distortions of xenophobia and provincialism.

Americans may not like that devil's bargain, but it was made long ago and, for better or worse, we are long past being an agrarian republic. The resulting singular affluence of the American consumer derives from just these tradeoffs in our autonomy -- and the trust we receive from those who loan and sell us things we cannot immediately pay for. So rejecting the Dubai port deal is not only hypocritical, but in the end dumb.

Read the whole thing.

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