Saturday, February 25, 2006

Restless Conservatives

Tom Bevan and pundits at RealClear Politics ( have become quite restless regarding the Port Deal. Charls Krauthammer is not much different. This episode not only shows something about Democrats, it does reveal lot about Conservatives too.

Let me start by saying that yes, Democrats are surely opportunistic. But when Tom Bevan has to write sounding apologetic

“Let me close by saying that I've always been a national security first-type. Always. People who've visited this space for any extended period of time know that to be true.”

We have got a problem. The problem is why are Conservatives feeling the guilt? Is it because it has been politically profitable for Conservatives to be ‘security first’ type after 9/11? If Tom Bevan makes himself read through all blog entries written on his site; he will realize how ‘unsteady’ he has been. First, he started with opposing the deal. Then when Pres. Bush started to defend it, the take was why this Administration is wasting the precious capital. Then when the tide started to turn at least in the Press (due to good articles of David Brooks in NYT and many others); Tom wants to back the deal! I guess in the end when Pres. Bush succeeds in defending the deal, the same blog will start singing the praise for the Commander in Chief! Why are Tom Bevan and Conservatives like him not “flip flopper”? They are indeed. Looking at the latest Rasmussen Poll Result, Conservatives feel the heat and they are more worried by looking at the favorable impression about Democrats over the Republican USP – National Security.

The real issue is Conservatives are possessed with the arrogance that they are the only ones who can talk about National Security. As if America was totally in chaos when Democrats ruled or when Democrats will rule in future. Criticism of Democrats because they may not have a creditable National Security Plan is different than to turn red face when Democrats catch Republicans off guarded using the same cheap tricks Republicans have been using all these five years. Why assume that Republicans have monopoly on the security issue? They do not have.

Finally, about the port deal. Obviously Pres. Bush is right that you can not do profiling based on country. He is right in this matter and the deal has to proceed.

The only valid questions are:
- Can we have American citizens employed on the key roles whatever Congress feels so that those are accountable to American legal system in case something happens?
- Can we have all documents and data stored in America itself so an American court has full access to those documents?
- And finally, what is the periodic review arrangement so that DHS and Congress can look into the company operations on regular basis as well as surprise checks?

As long as America gets good enough answers to these questions and solid arrangements for security concerns, the deal should go ahead. The other alternative is, as some have suggested, Dubai Ports World can form a separate American company to manage American ports and that company can have American CEO with headquarters in America. The DPW can have the ownership and profits of the business. There can be distinct governance board out of public lime light which addresses the security issues. Apparently such arrangements are common for foreign defense and security related firms. The point is Congress and all those who have concerns about the deal can work out a satisfactory arrangement, the deal does not need to be cancelled.

It is good that Pres. Bush is asserting his support emphatically. Two times in recent history Pres. Bush has been exemplary – one after 9/11 when he brought in Muslim Religious Leaders in White House and emphatically said that America’s War on Terrorism is not a fight against Islam and America would stand for religious freedom of Muslims in America and second time when he said one can not profile business deals on the basis of countries and deny P&O deal to UAE. Conservatives, wake up, smell the coffee and look at the calendar – this is 21st century and get used for American assets being bought by foreigners for whom Conservatives may have prejudice. If we have security questions, let us get those addressed and implemented; but we can not go far by rejecting standard globalized business deals?

As far as Democrats and their politicking about this issue – only those can object who did not applaud and who did not have fun when Karl Rove questioned patriotic credentials of Ted Kennedy and Democrats because they questioned Conservatives about National Security? Conservatives were watching Rove’s fun and nobody came forward to point the fallacies of those arguments. So then, Conservatives need to shut up now and use their brains about where the deal is and where should it go on what basis. Conservatives do not need to spoil their good night sleep about what Democrats are doing. Getting furious about Democrats is not a way to address the real concerns on hand.

Umesh Patil
San Jose, CA 95111
February 25, 2006

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