- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2006

A cartoonish rage

Paul M. Rodriguez’s Op-Ed column on the cartoon rage (“A Muslim viewpoint,” Monday) hardly convinces me that saner voices can prevail in the Muslim world anytime soon. In expressing approval of “boycotts similar to what occurred during the American civil rights movement,” the author displays the same abysmal lack of perspective that is all too common in Muslim society.

First, only those who believe in “collective guilt” would agree that the action of one Danish newspaper justifies a boycott of all Danish products.

Second, by implying that the cartoons constitute a form of “civil rights” abuse, Mr. Rodriguez plays on the delusions of morally addled Americans who equate criticism of a belief system with racism.

The author fails to transcend the same collectivist, honor-obsessed mindset that gives rise to societies that condone honor killing, anti-Semitism and terrorism against women and children.

This is not to say that Mr. Rodriguez approves of these practices, only that his soul-searching and “moderation” leave much to be desired.

ANTONIO CHAVES

Hyattsville

‘No’ to the Dubai ports deal

Your Wednesday editorial “Scotch the Dubai deal ” was right on target. The United Arab Emirates’ record on terrorism is very mixed, to say the least.

The UAE was one of three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. The UAE has been a key transfer point for illegal shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Libya. Money was transferred to the September 11 hijackers through the UAE banking system. After the attacks, the Treasury Department reported that the UAE was not cooperating in efforts to track down Osama bin Laden’s bank accounts.

The United Arab Emirates is a kingdom. The royal family that rules it owns Dubai Ports World. Members of that same royal family used to hunt with their pal Osama bin Laden at his camp in Afghanistan. The United States reportedly could not bomb Osama bin Laden despite multiple opportunities in 1995-2001 lest they take out half the UAE’s royal family.

The UAE has a questionable history of cooperation and mixed loyalties when it comes to al Qaeda. Is that good enough for the A+ rating this deal clearly demands?

The revelation that President Bush knew nothing about it and — worse — and that neither he nor Congress was informed because the “highly qualified” folks who brokered the deal saw nothing of national-security-related importance screams “inept,” “incompetent” and “dangerous.”

No wonder this administration likes to maintain secrecy. It and the deals it brokers are like mushrooms. They need to hide in the darkness, among decay and filth, to prosper. The light of truth and openness in governing hinders their growth.

Time and again, this president has said his highest goal is to protect the American people. In a post-September 11 world, we can’t be too careful. Why take any chances on this?

ALAN L. LIGHT

Iowa City, Iowa

The Bush administration, after secret discussions headed by Treasury Secretary John Snow, inexplicably has agreed to allow a company headquartered in Dubai and controlled by the government of the United Arab Emirates to take operational control of six major American ports.

Never mind that the UAE still supports the Taliban as the “legitimate” government of Afghanistan. Never mind that it supports the destruction of Israel. It has been — to a modest extent — an “ally” of the United States in the war on terror, so we are supposed to think this idea is just terrific.

To those raising objections and protests and demanding — at least — a public discussion of the reasoning behind the administration’s decision, President Bush says we should explain why we oppose allowing the UAE to control the ports when we didn’t mind having a British-owned company in charge.

Well, Mr. President, it’s simple. There is a two-word answer: September 11. The British did not fly planes into the World Trade Center towers or the Pentagon or aim one at the White House or the Capitol. Al Qaeda, which was closely allied with the Taliban government of Afghanistan supported by the United Arab Emirates, did.

What guarantee have we that, even if the current UAE government is somewhat supportive in the war on terror, some future government will not be controlled by the most radical Islamist extremists? And where would that leave the security, or even the smooth operation, of American ports?

This deal is rotten to the core and has to be stopped, no matter what the president says. Congress should pass legislation to halt it and override any presidential veto.

LYNDA MEYERS

Arlington

Last summer’s scheme to allow the Chinese to purchase Unocal was a better deal than this state-owned company in Dubai taking over the management of ports in New York, Miami, Baltimore and other major cities (“Bush vows ports deal will stand,” Page 1, Wednesday). Public opposition to the China National Offshore Oil Corp. bid forced it to collapse faster than you could say “congressional oversight.” Kudos to the Democrats and Republicans in Congress who want to bury this Dubai port agreement. You are true American patriots.

A.L. CYNTON

Laguna Beach, Calif.

The recent port-operations transfer by the London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. never even should have been considered out of common respect, decency and concern for the safety of the United Kingdom’s closest ally.

It certainly has left America in a state of chaos and turned just about everyone against the president on this issue.

P&O understands that its action is self-serving; it shows very little respect for a nation that has sacrificed hundreds of thousands of lives to ensure freedom and rights. This is suspicious.

I wonder how England would have felt if an American company had transferred the ownership of its subway stations to the United Arab Emirates.

It’s my opinion that P&O owes the American people and the United Arab Emirates an apology for its recent actions. In the future, it should look to start trouble in some other country.

RICHARD HELLSTROM

Lexington, Ky.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is working to keep Maryland safe. The possible sale of some port operations to a company from the United Arab Emirates prompted Mr. Ehrlich to begin exploring all options for the state to review and possibly block the sale. As the governor said to reporters this weekend in the State House rotunda in Annapolis, “We needed to know before this was a done deal, given the state of where we are concerning security.”

Mr. Ehrlich has joined with New York Gov. George Pataki to review all options at the states’ disposal. Mr. Ehrlich is deeply committed to ensuring the safety of the port of Baltimore, the men and women who work there, and the goods that pass through it. He did a tour of the port and had briefings on the port’s security.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, has responded to the calls from Mr. Ehrlich and others and requested that the federal government stop the sale, or he will introduce legislation requiring further review beforehand, effectively putting the deal on hold.

It’s embarrassing for Baltimore’s boy mayor, Martin O’Malley, when he tries to grab the spotlight and get his face on television with this story. What is most embarrassing for Mr. O’Malley is that he obviously wasn’t aware that the port’s operations already are performed by a foreign entity.

So, when Mr. O’Malley says he will not let that happen, not as long as he breathes, well, he must have had trouble catching his breath when he was informed of the facts.

AL EISNER

Wheaton


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