Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Enemy of our Enemy

So far this is the best criticism of Bush’s plan to allow the UAE to guard our ports.

Almost all articles evade the questions of philosophy, values, culture, and tradition. We differ from Arab/Islamic nations (such as the UAE) by having diametrically opposing value systems stemming from deep cultural differences. If we cooperated with the UAE against Islamic terrorists, it is because of a common enemy, not common values. If we trade with Arab countries it is a tit-for-tat transaction that has nothing to do with friendship. The vast sympathy for the jihadist cause in Arab and Islamic nations implies that they are materially and/or morally our enemy. If we need to cooperate with a particular Islamic regime to deal with a common threat, that does not make them a trustworthy friend—only an enemy of our enemy.

Write to your representatives in Washington.

Update: Alex Alexiev on the UAE: "With Friends Like This ..."

56 Comments:

Blogger kevin said...

Well said as usual Jason. I've wrote a couple of articles on this already. This story far outweighs cartoon jihad
in practicle danger, and it might be around for awhile if Bush sticks to his guns. 9/11, Madrid, 7/7, we learn nothing.

2/23/06, 1:46 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Just a little more info, which I've also posted at Kevin's site.

Take a look at this. Looks as if Bob Dole has been hired on as a lobbyist for DPI.

There is also this:

What you don't know is about the President's brother, Neil Bush, and his ties to Dubai....

Neil Bush is a frequent visitor to and paid speaker in Dubai, showing up there right after 9/11 trying to get investors for his failed Ignite! educational software company. While there, "[Neil] Bush held talks with Dubai's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum and Information Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan on the 'world economy in light of recent events, as well as higher education in universities," Arab American Business reported. Bush was in Dubai so much that he e-mailed his wife of his desire for a divorce from his Dubai hotel room.
(Bush's relationship with the Dubaian and UAE royals has a lot to do with his Syrian-American Ba'athist boss, Jamal Daniel, who paid him $60,000 a year for only a few hours work. Bush's marriage to his second wife was held at Daniel's Houston home.)

At a Saudi speech, he encouraged conferees to expand lobbying and PR efforts to change "perceptions" about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict....

2/23/06, 8:09 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Jason,
Something you might be interested in (although you may already have seen the info):

The United American Committee announces a protest rally on March 4 against the recent sale of the operations of our nation's ports to a United Arab Emirates-owned company. The protest will be held in New York by the port at West 42nd St. & West Side Hwy (Route 9A) in Manhattan on SATURDAY, March 4, 2006, at 12:00 Noon...

Of course, the date is after March 2, the present go-through date for the ports deal.

2/23/06, 8:15 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

And here is something else, for what it may be worth:

UAE royals, bin Laden's saviours
March 25, 2004 12:04 IST


The Central Intelligence Agency did not target Al Qaeda chief Osama bin laden once as he had the royal family of the United Arab Emirates with him in Afghanistan, the agency's director, George Tenet, told the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States on Thursday.

Had the CIA targeted bin Laden, half the royal family would have been wiped out as well, he said....


Does the UAE royal-family own DPI?

PS: Arab proverb (more or less): "It's me and my brother against our cousin. And when we finish our cousin off, it's me and my brother against each other."

2/23/06, 8:27 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Thanks, AOW, the rot is rising to the surface. As people see the corruption at the top, hopefully people will rise up.

2/23/06, 9:46 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

It’s the religion, stupid.

The UAE, as a government and people, sympathized with the jihadists; they share common values stemming from a devout embrace of Islam. It would take a major cultural transformation (over many generations) before we could view them otherwise. Even Turkey, which has undertaken a major secularization experiment over 80 years, is still considered unsuitable for EU membership. Now, after only a few years since they supported the Talliban and Al Qaeda terrorists, some want to wipe the slate clean for the UAE? What next: Hamas?

The inability of our leaders to see this threat stems from the fear of being called racist. They are afraid to make generalizations about a culture and its people. However, one has to. It doesn’t matter if there are individuals who are exceptions, you don’t risk the nation's security on the delusion that you can vet such rare individuals.

Islam is an ideology and it permeates Arab culture. Period. The idea that we should trust the very people we need to keep out with monitoring the border is absurd.

2/23/06, 9:52 AM  
Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

While you are writing your congressperson ask why there are no high quality port management companies in America.

Compared to European, Asian and Middle East ports ours are terribly inneficient.

Ask why we shouldn't benefit from the knowledge of the top port management company in the world.

Once you get over your blind hatred of muslims it will be interesting to discuss this issue. We'll have a couple of hangers on who think this has something to do with security(it doesn't) but reason may out in the end.

2/23/06, 11:33 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

I’m sure Mr. Ducky would note my “blind hatred of communist” if this was the Cold War and a communist nation bid for ownership of our ports. That people have a character that embodies values inimical to our own doesn’t seem to matter … or, on second thought, may even be seen as a plus by people like him.

2/23/06, 12:18 PM  
Blogger Cubed © said...

"It’s the religion, stupid."

Dog-gone it Jason, that was my next bumper sticker! Well, I was going to be a bit more specific - "It's Islam, Stupid."

The place where I volunteer has closed down; it was located in a part of the city heavily populated by Muslims, so I was a bit loathe to put that one on my car.

I already have the nullification symbol one, the "Kafir on Board" one, and the "It's the Ports, Stupid" one on my car, and so far, I have escaped without major damage to the car.

Maybe now, though, the one I was too cowardly to put on can go on. At least our local liberals won't kill me. I think.

AOW,

Do you think we can get the Bush Plan trashed by March 3rd?

2/23/06, 3:15 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

True, on a bumper sticker you’d have to make clear what religion you’re talking about. I trust everyone here knows the context.

I wanted to get a lapel-button with the picture of bomb-turban Mohammad but can’t find any. We don’t own a car.

2/23/06, 4:13 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Cubed,
Do you think we can get the Bush Plan trashed by March 3rd?

I think Bush is backpedaling--for political reasons, of course. For one thing, he's got his eye on the upcoming mid-term elections.

Maybe I didn't hear the story right, but early today I thought is heard a talking head say that if the deal goes through, it can't be investigated after the fact--something about the terms of the deal. Can that be true?

2/23/06, 8:55 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Jason,
I wanted to get a lapel-button with the picture of bomb-turban Mohammad but can’t find any.

Try Kwik Kopy, or something akin to that kind of store. Sometimes such places make novelties.

Try a hobby shop for button kits.

Also, maybe a graphics shop? Certain photo shops?

2/23/06, 9:00 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Jason,
Google search "lapel pins" (with the quotes).

2/23/06, 9:03 PM  
Blogger Charles N. Steele said...

Jason, I think your comments here miss the point. The relevant question is "Is DPW a competent and reliable company?"

I gather from what I have read and heard that it is extremely competent and reliable, although I don't hold an opinion on this myself.

But here's a more general question that your position raises: Suppose big investors in the Emirates decide they want to purchase equity in U.S. companies? Should this be banned? What if they try to buy a majority share? Ban this?

To me, this "hypothetical" isn't different from DPW acquiring the port management contract.

And even more generally, should investors from "potentially unfriendly" places be banned from such investment? (Assuming they personally have clean slates, of course.)

I'm interested in your answer.

2/23/06, 9:32 PM  
Blogger Charles N. Steele said...

One other point: you call this "Bush’s plan to allow the UAE to guard our ports."

I think this is completely inaccurate. DPI is purchasing the U.S. branch of the British firm that currently manages operations in 6 major U.S. ports. This isn't Bush's plan but a commerical transaction involving a UAE firm and Brit firm. Also, the management of port operations is different from the guarding of ports (which is performed by the U.S. government).

2/23/06, 9:50 PM  
Blogger American Crusader said...

You mentioned over at my site the Roosevelt/Churchill dealings with Stalin in WW2 as an example of "the enemy of my enemy" not being a reason for total trust and I completely agree. Unfortunately the United Arab Emirates seems to have the complete confidence of George W.. The average citizen in general trusts the Republicans more when dealing in international affairs, right before the 2006 elections isn't the time to start making the citizens like this.
Even if he is right (which he isn't), the whole deal just doesn't "sound right" and will give Democrats ammunition.

2/23/06, 10:18 PM  
Blogger American Crusader said...

Ducky says...
"We'll have a couple of hangers on who think this has something to do with security(it doesn't) but reason may out in the end."

Do you realize how stupid that statement is. Of course this is an issue of of security..the UAE will be operating port security. If they were handling salvage or maintenance it would still be a matter of security. Anytime you have a foreign government controlling any area of our ports, security has to be the issue.

2/23/06, 10:23 PM  
Blogger American Crusader said...

Kevin says...
"Also, the management of port operations is different from the guarding of ports (which is performed by the U.S. government)."

Kevin..if a foreign power has control of port operations, it gives them the opportunity to abuse that power. Only 5% of the cargo coming into our ports are searched as it is. Port security before this was already mismanaged so why make it even worse?

2/23/06, 10:29 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

As I was debating this issue on a dozen websites, I’ve been developing my position further (and will continue to do so.) So here is the current “state of the art” for Jason’s approach:

I single out sensitive security endeavors for special treatment with regard to certain categories of foreign ownership and trade (by certain nations.) Military technology and border operations, for example, should be restricted to longtime allies that share common values, traditions, and have been good allies in the past. This most certainly includes those countries in the Anglo-sphere: England, Australia, Canada, etc. Countries like Germany and Japan have shown 50 years of stability and commitment to reasonable governing practices. Ex-communist countries are still on probation with regards to being included in that august group but I see them coming down the line.

There are vast differences between friends and trade partners. This is true in both an individual’s life and a nation’s dealings. I trust the grocer to give me the correct change but I wouldn’t give him the keys to my house. A transaction oriented relationship, while honorable and praiseworthy, is not a deep friendship based on common values and a history of loyalty. One is limited to immediate concerns (and maintaining a reputation for possible future dealings) while a friendship is a concern for the person as a whole in a more deep sense.

I believe certain industry should be limited to nations that have a history that makes them proven friends. But the vast majority of trade, including purchasing domestic companies, should be open to a much broader world. It is transaction oriented. In an ideal world, where our values where shared by all, this wouldn’t be a concern. Of course, in an ideal world my fellow Americans would value liberty to the extent that 90% of what the federal government now does would be done privately. But that’s another problem. We should hold these ideals as aspirations but in the course of moving towards those paths we must hold back in certain key areas.

Now there is another problem with what I see as the case-study-method versus a rule-based-method. Many will point out, as you did, that looking at the merits of this case it looks manageable. However, I believe we need a firm rule that eliminates the need to study this case-by-case. It is similar to the rule of law verses the rule of men. You and I know that the public’s attention will not always be so focused on the next case. It will most likely be decided by the usual methods: lobbying by petro-dollars vs. lobbying by activist groups. With either party, corruption will be the call of the day. This is true whenever the government regulates. But if you agree that we need limits in today’s world on foreign involvement in sensitive sectors, it should be rule based to remove the behind-the-scenes temptations on our government officials.

That’s why I think it is prudent to eliminate Islamic-based or communist-based countries for sensitive endeavors. This is the result of one days debate around the Internet.

2/23/06, 10:35 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

From this article in the New York Sun (last 3 paragraphs)

quote:

One former Bush administration familiar with nonproliferation issues conceded yesterday that UAE in the past has provided access and banking intelligence to America. But this former official was also wary of the cooperation. "Do they let us sneak and peek? Yes. But when its certain Saudis funding terrorists or Iranians we might be interested in the answer is no. They let us look at people who they perceive as a threat to them."

The former official also said that the UAE was not as helpful as it should have been on the proliferation security initiative, a program designed to interdict ships, planes and trucks carrying weapons of mass destruction to rogue states. As a neighbor and banker to Iran, Dubai is of critical importance to stopping nuclear proliferation in Iran.

The freedom chair at the American Enterprise Institute, Michael Ledeen, yesterday said he too was concerned that the deal with Dubai Ports World could end up inadvertently giving the Iranians operational details about American port security. "Dubai cannot totally resist demands from Iran and they cannot totally resist demands from us. So they give us information about Iran, but they give Iran information about us."

end quote

2/23/06, 10:39 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

The long post that starts "As I was debating this issue on a dozen websites, ..." was in response to Charles (but for everyone to read, of course.) You're asking good questions and like others prompting me to test my assumptions.

Thanks, AC, for the comments.

2/23/06, 10:42 PM  
Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

It seems that Ducky and I agree on the basics of this. If we're going to discriminate against the UAE government operating port facilities in the US (not the whole port, but some of the docks and piers at those ports) on the basis of them being an Islamic nation, then we need to kick out the Malaysian and Indonesian governments' shipping companies that own chunks of our port systems. Around a third of our port facilities are foreign-owed. Many by government-owned companies. Do you think China's shipping companies in Southern California aren't subsidiaries of the Chinese military, like every other Chinese industry?

This is a raging debate on my blog right now.

I think it's wrong to view the UAE in the fundamentalist Islam light that belongs on Syria, Saudi Arabia, Roadmapistan, and Baathist Iraq just because they're "Arabs."

The UAE is extensively Westernized and modernized as compared to the rest of the Arab world. They have friendly relations with America, and allow our Navy to port there. Their crackdown on Islamic radicals and terrorist funding is something we want the rest of the Middle East to emulate.

Al Qaeda on the other hand, backs a "rebel" group the UAE has been fighting for years.

If you want to discriminate on the basis of it being a foreign government owned or backed company, do it across the board. China, Japan, Sweden, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Great Britain, buh-bye!

If you want to discriminate on the basis of Islamic government, pick on Saudi Arabia, not the UAE.

I hate being in agreement with Ducky almost as much as he probably hates carrying water for Bush on this.

2/24/06, 3:43 AM  
Blogger Charles N. Steele said...

Jason, I think you haven't directly tackled my question. Let me go at it again.

It is wrong to judge an individual on the basis of ethnic or regional origin -- his character is all that matters.

You say that certain key industries should be limited to ownership by people from "friendly nations." (I am not at all sure how "friendly nation" can be objectively determined. Is Japan a "friendly nation?" Shall we ask Michael Crichton?) But that raises two key points.

First, why the guilt by association? Should people with clean records and demonstrable competence be banned from participating in the U.S. economy simply because of something akin to racial guilt? I think not.

Obviously we should not want criminals and mafioso buying assets so they can operate in the U.S., but this is true regardless of whether they are from friendly countries or unfriendly countries. And neither should we exclude demonstrably friendly and competent people who happen to be from from allegedly potentially unfriendly countries from creating valuable services for us.

Second, which industries are off limits? How do you define the "certain industries" that should be withheld from (allegedly) potentially hostile foreign investment? There is not an industry or business in existence that doesn't offer enormous potential for sabotage to a creative miscreant. We would ban all foreign investment in the U.S., by what I perceive to be your standard.

Given the U.S. current addiction to spending beyond our means, we can't survive without foreign capital inflows. The closing of our borders to foreign investment that your position implies would generate a financial wreck with 100% certainty, as well as a stimulus for trade wars and increased international hostility.

As an aside, despite the gum-flapping by American Jihadist, DPW won't be operating port security.

2/24/06, 3:49 AM  
Blogger beakerkin said...

Ducky

I guess that Hillary and Schumer are not doctrinaire enough for you.

Unlike you I spent plenty of time in the ports as a logistics manager. Our ports are not run well
due to corrupt labor unions, absurd quotas and customs red tape. Customs focuses on countries like Columbia for a reason.

2/24/06, 3:50 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Charles, I defined friendly nations as having common values and maintaining traditions over a long period (several generations) both of domestic civil liberties (including elections) and a military alliance with our nation. You are right that limiting certain industries to individuals from friendly nations locks out worthy individuals and benign foreign government firms from unfriendly nations. A general rule takes the judgment of character out of the hands of our government officials.

There’s no way around incurring the opportunity loss cost without opening up the discretionary risk of giving government officials power to decide on character. A private firm loses only their wealth by a wrong character judgment; a government official doesn’t have such a motivation. Corruption is government’s middle name. But government has to provide defense and set defense policy.

That’s why I don’t favor Beamish’s policy even if it means locking out “friends” that may turn out to be friends over the long-term. Rule-based policy takes decisions out of the hands of government cronies. Besides, there really are many who could go into border industries from our country and many friendly countries. Comparative advantage and accident many have led to others moving into those areas but this isn’t a question of natural resources unique to a region of the world.

Border operations come into play because of the covert nature of terrorism and the logistics of moving weapons into our country. Defense means protecting the borders, first and foremost. I find it odd that Republicans (I don’t assume you are) used to talk about a missile defenses system to keep out all nuclear weapons or at least stop an attack from a rogue nation and now when we realize that covert delivery is possible, we’ve done very little to erect a defense system by such covert means. Such a system will rely on technology and secrecy. Banning foreign participation in the industry is as crucial as banning foreign participation in defense technology. It doesn’t guarantee our safety but it puts up a significant barrier. As you point out stopping investment in other industries (by far the vast majority) does nothing to protect the borders and costs a lot as our lack of saving and investment is compensated by foreign investment.

Defense against foreign threats is about defending the borders. It is preferable to fighting wars.

2/24/06, 6:59 AM  
Blogger American Crusader said...

Charles...let me ask you this. President Bush said that he had no idea about this until it was a done deal. Why then is he so adamant about not re-examining this? I am also troubled by the president's brother Neil's ties with Dubai and its confederation, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Why the hurry?

2/24/06, 9:05 AM  
Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Can someone please explain why jason doesn't understand the difference between "ownership" and "management".

Also note his contention "So far this is the best criticism of Bush’s plan to allow the UAE to guard our ports."

I guess jason assumes the Coast Guard and other security elements will be "owned" by the UAE. Of course the arrangement does not allow UAE to make any security hiring or dispersment decisions.

I won't wait for jason to get some level of factual content but I will ask him if he knows how much Treasury Secretary Snow stands to make on this deal.

2/24/06, 12:45 PM  
Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

American crusader, thank you very much. Nice dig on the Neil "Bag Man" Bush angle. I had forgotten about him he's so good at keeping a low profile.

Really, thanks.

2/24/06, 12:47 PM  
Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Oh, American Crusader, the family bag man in Saudi is Marvin, not Neil.

Neil handles family business with the Reverend Moon, but you make a good point.

2/24/06, 12:53 PM  
Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

I knew it wouldn't take long for Ducky to part company with me on anti-capitalist lines. We never agree on something for the same reasons.

Jason Pappas at least articulates a principled stance against the sale, although I think the his standard is way too high. Lots of nations' governments own businesses that operate in the United States. I don't believe governments, including our own, should own businesses, but that's a tangent to this discussion.

The UAE isn't the terrorist threat the media monkeys and Teamster hacks make it out to be.

2/24/06, 1:24 PM  
Blogger Charles N. Steele said...

To American Jihadist (not meant as an insult, just necessitated by a personal vow I made once to the God of Irony):

Your points regarding GW Bush are reasonable. I don't really know that DPI is a good firm (although it certainly appears to be). I do know GW Bush is a political opportunist and not very trustworthy. There are sensible reasons why this particular deal may deserve more scrutiny -- but most of what I hear (esp. from Congress) seems wrong & even hysterical.

2/24/06, 2:05 PM  
Blogger Charles N. Steele said...

To Jason: Your "general rule approach" wouldn't work and would have all sorts of negative consequences.

First: Judging an individual or firm on the basis of national origin, ethnicity, etc. is both morally and practically wrong. The moral issue is obvious, but maybe irrelevant here, since you are advocating this policy for practical reasons. It's practically wrong simply because it screens out the competent and trustworthy because they happen to have the wrong origin.

Second: it doesn't avoid the "rule of men" problem of having to make specific judgements about the trustworthiness of those who *are* allowed to invest; "friendly" countries have their own mafias, terrorists, and similar undesirables. Since we still need this "rule of men" step (it's really not correct to label it such), your general rule gains nothing here.

Third: There is no industry to which this wouldn't apply. *All industries -- telecommunications, agriculture, transportation, banking, insurance, heavy and light manufacturing, etc. -- offer enormous potential for terror if they were in the wrong hands. There's no reasonable standard to define what is and isn't sensitive, so you are simply closing the U.S. economy to most of the world.

Fourth, any domestic industry that wants protection from foreign competition will bill itself as strategically important. Your approach would simply worsen rent-seeking and protectionism.

Fifth, the "several generations" part of your rule simply closes the U.S. economy to all the growing economies of the world, punishes those who are trying to reform, and rewards the tired old non-reformers (W. Europe and Japan). You've just eliminated Ukraine, and guaranteed they'll have to return to Russia's fold. You've just guaranteed that anti-American hardliners in China's gov't win out over those who argue China can peacefully coexist & trade with the U.S. (Don't forget that the Chinese are currently the number one purchasers in the world of U.S. gov't debt). And do Germans qualify? Why? Who in recent times has come up with systems worse than what they have done?

Sixth, it is, in fact, almost impossible to distinguish the nationality of owners of a firm. The DPI case is relatively easy, but most aren't. This was brought home to me by a Russian acquaintance who organizes trade fairs in Moscow. He was trying to do one that featured Russian-only products from Russian firms, but essentially gave up because any definition of what constituted Russian ended up looking entirely arbitrary. (So they anyone in.) What if DPI shares were publicly traded, and owned by Americans, Saudis, Brits, Russians, French, Chinese, Indians, etc? When does it become a firm of approaved or unapproved nationality? Any definition will be completely arbitray and beside the point, since the character and competence of the management is the relevant issue. (I can't figure out at all where India would fit on your spectrum, completely democratic since its founding, with a free press, attempts at socialism, attempts at compulsory sterilization, lots of corruption, lots of private enterprise, Hinduism, highly educated & skilled westernized workforce etc.) (And probably soon to be the world's fastest growing economy.)

Seventh -- oh OK, I will shut up. This is your blog, not my soapbox (I have a DPI essay on my blog now, so feel free to beat on me there).

2/24/06, 2:41 PM  
Blogger Charles N. Steele said...

OK, I *DO* insist on making point seven: What if a bunch of British Muslims start a port management firm? Are they OK or not?

(And what percentage of the current firm, P&O, is owned by Muslims, Brit or otherwise?)

Now I'll shut up.

2/24/06, 2:59 PM  
Blogger American Crusader said...

I'm getting tired of hearing how much a friend the United Arab Emirates are. If they are such a great friend, then one company losing one deal shouldn't make any difference.

2/24/06, 6:05 PM  
Blogger American Crusader said...

I was unfamiliar with Marvin's dealings Ducky. Apparently he has dealings with Kuwaiti financial institutions and has made a few dollars off the "Patriot Act". What isn't the Bush family into?

2/24/06, 6:23 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Jason,
You might want to look at this.

2/24/06, 7:48 PM  
Blogger American Crusader said...

Good one AOW..
Bush administration officials in recent days have argued that the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection handle security. Port operators largely move containers off ships to trains or trucks.

However, a former congressional aide said this overstates the role of federal agencies in protecting ports.

“They've been saying that customs and the Coast Guard are in charge of security; yes, they're in charge, but they're not usually present,” said Carl Bentzel, who helped write a 2002 bill on port security.

I spent 7 yrs in the USCG and this is what I was trying to explain. The Coast Guard isn't equipped to monitor cargo or monitor operations at the piers. Plus, the Coast Guard reserves handle port security not active duty members. Most people don't realize that.

2/24/06, 9:00 PM  
Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

bang

2/25/06, 4:00 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Charles, there’s much with which I agree. Foreign investment is highly desirable as is immigration. For cultural and structural reasons our citizens failure to save and invest, on a net basis, creates an opportunity for foreign citizens to fund our industries and national debt. The former is job-creating. Part of the differece in their greater savings rate is cultural, as I’ve said. Individuals in the Pacific Rim desire to save a large fraction of their income and invest it in productive activities. Part of our lack of savings is structural. Americans put their money under their mattress figuratively speaking (i.e. they invest it in their home.)

Housing is a consumption asset that is not used in the process of production of commercial goods. Once the house is built few jobs are created aside from domestic help for the well-to-do. We benefit from those (rich Americans, retired Americans, and foreign investors) whose net investment makes possible the creation of productive facilities (i.e. businesses) for ongoing employment.

What are the structural factors? Taxes favor investment in one’s home. Zoning creates scarcity and limits supply in the face of demand, thus helping to push up prices to give home-owners a good return. Anti-growth measures do the same. Even Peter Lynch says the first investment you want is a home. And he’s right. (By the way, I rent.)

I’ve argued your thesis for decades, Charles. In the 1980s I’ve argued that is was good that the Japanese investors bought Rockefeller Center. That the owner lives on Fifth Avenue rather than Tokyo makes little difference. I was surprised at how even intelligent people (despite their PhDs,) people I’ve known for years and decades, who don’t have one drop of bias nor any signs of patriotism, seemed oddly opposed to foreign ownership of these buildings.

I’ve tried to explain to people that the so-called trade deficit, our buying more of their consumer goods than they buy of ours, is a misleading pseudo-problem. They do buy something in return: capital goods in the form of business ownership. They create jobs in the process. In a similar sense, we have a “trade deficit” with Bill Gates. We buy billions of dollars of his products but he doesn’t buy and consume billions of dollars of our goods and services in return. He invests in capital goods, business expansion, and other business (to the extent that he diversifies.)

So, you’ll find no greater supporter for world-wide trade among non-economists than I. So where do we disagree? Let me come back later and explain. (End of Part I.)

2/25/06, 8:53 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

The main principle behind your argument, Charles, is that every individual should be treated as an individual despite citizenship. Of course this principle doesn’t just apply to purchasing goods from the citizens of other nations or investing across borders. It also applies to purchasing and living in a home, to working and employing across borders, and ultimately to all the rights of citizenship including voting. You’re argument is based on the universality of human rights and the equality of every individual in a moral sense.

It’s a good argument and the full implementation should be an aspiration … a long-term aspiration. What’s required is a cultural revolution, both domestically and world-wide. We can’t do much about the latter and should focus on evolving our society towards that which was once envisioned by the best of our founding fathers, or even better.

But can that cultural change happen with open borders? Is a liberal order viable with the elimination of citizenship or the granting of open access? What if Denmark allowed unlimited immigration, would anyone doubt that the last remnants of liberty would perish? Recently Holland has decided to test immigrants on Dutch culture. But such a test can’t prove commitment to the ideals of tolerance.

I claim that in the short rerun citizenship has to be restricted if a culture is to survive and liberty flourish. Thus, your lofty goal is correct: “Judging an individual or firm on the basis of national origin, ethnicity, etc. is both morally and practically wrong …” It just can’t be implemented overnight. Where should we start? How about convincing our fellow Americans that discrimination based on race is wrong? We have both laws and customs that embrace racism using the euphemism “affirmative action.” If we can’t change our culture to accept our lofty principle, unlimited immigration isn’t going to help the situation. Most countries have greater levels of prejudice with the exceptions of homogeneous societies that aren’t put to the test. Some societies are so virulently anti-Semitic that open immigration from these nations will totally destroy any sense of judging people by their character and not their ancestry.

Let’s work within the citizenship-systems to reform and evolve our culture. This is first and foremost a non-governmental activity. However, culture affects law. We have laws that are unfair to the individual, that deny individual sovereignty and self-ownership. Ridding ourselves of these laws is both moral and practical. That’s one area where one might focus. It’s a gigantic task. Immigration is wonderful but it has to be subject to assimilation rates or our culture will decay even faster.

Now, I’ve opened the discussion to the most general manner of elimination of “national origin” as a criterion. If we are talking about a partial implementation, I’m generally more in favor of international trade and immigration than most Americans. And I’m more in favor of individualism than most. But it matters where you start. I’d start both at home and with low risk foreign societies. Besides, we have experience with such limits in the past. We can change where we draw the line in this matter but let’s pick our battles. If you agree that we have to draw the line, it makes sense to talk about that and I’ll do it in the next post. If you don’t agree, it makes sense to talk about the elimination of all boundaries and we should talk about the general case in all its ramifications. I wasn’t quite sure where you’d draw the line so I took the liberty of addressing the full implications of your statement. In part III, I’ll discuss the specifics of defense-related aspects.

2/25/06, 9:48 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Most of the specific examples that you raised, having to do with defense, can be addressed by reference to our experience during the Cold War. If you hold that in mind, you can almost guess at my answers.

Islam, like Marxism, is first and foremost a political ideology. However, there are differences in degrees and modes of manifestation that depends on the individual. Not every adherent is involved in espionage and sabotage against our nation. For citizens, we have laws that protect their rights and they should be fully respected. On a personal basis, it pays to make vast distinctions between various levels and manners of sympathy for the principles that are the anti-thesis of individualism. I’ve dealt with Marxists and Muslims and will continue to do so. I’m sure everyone will. Within our society, we need to full debate these ideas. However, the atmosphere in universities isn’t always welcoming of a full debate when critical of these two orthodoxies. Here a cultural change is needed. Today, we don’t have discrimination against socialism and Islam but against the critics of socialism and Islam.

During the Cold War, we’d never consider allowing a firm from a Communist nation to run or own our defense manufacturers nor our port operations. The same should be true with respect to Islamic nations. We would play one totalitarian nation against the other (China vs. the USSR or the USSR vs. Nazi Germany) but when we did that didn’t elevate either to the status of the UK—a long trusted friend with common values. We can join with one Islamic nation against another, but such an alliance doesn’t make a friend.

Now, your points:
1 Yes, we need to cultivate a culture of judging people by their character, let’s start at home among American citizens and expand judiciously to other nations in a step-by-step manner (we’ve been doing this for decades.)

2 Yes, we should allow individuals to judge other individuals for many purposes but some areas should be kept off bounds just like we did during the Cold War.

3 There is no way to eliminate terrorism but risk reduction is possible. Both secure borders, restricted entry from Islamic states, and fighting the enemy abroad, can achieve a high level of security. Buying “Food Line” (which is a Dutch owned supermarket chain if I remember correctly) isn’t the same as buying a firm that has R&D in guidance systems. We wouldn’t let the Soviets do that.

4 There was such a danger during the Cold War, but industry wide laws are in the public eye more than firm-by-firm decisions. If you can’t draw the line are you willing to allow for ownership of defense industries by anyone?

5 I’m only closing defense industries including border operations (which is the most important point of defense.) I agree that the other areas should be open. By the way, we have a poor record in the other areas. We change laws all the time that virtually destroys the economy of other small nations. I understand the changes in shipping laws virtually destroyed Greek shipping. And changing a few financial laws will destroy the Bermudan economy. Thus, there is much work to be done to keep trade free and remain a good trading partner. Let’s focus there.

6 When public stock reaches a certain level, especially if that stock is used to control a company, it becomes publicly known.

7 Don’t shut up, you raise important issues from a respectable position. I hope my respect is apparent. I’ll make it to your blog latter today. You raise so many issue that I have to do a lot of thinking and writing.

2/25/06, 10:26 AM  
Blogger beakerkin said...

I do like this new avatar that Mr Beamish designed Beakerambo. It is excellent for Wahabi Marxist Duck Hunting.

2/25/06, 6:18 PM  
Blogger Charles N. Steele said...

Jason: well, if nothing else, I inspired a 3 part manifesto. I still think you are largely sidestepping the issues I have raised. (But you are wrong, there definitely are times when I should shut up!) (At the very least, I need to work and sleep occasionally.)

Whether I am correct about you being off target or not, here's what I see as an important and somewhat scary point: security from terrorism is becoming an excuse used by protectionists and xenophobes to hamstring international trade and investment. In the long run, this has the potential to do more harm to the world, including us, than the terrorists might.

2/25/06, 7:29 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

I understand your concern Charles and I sympathize with your motivation.

2/25/06, 8:33 PM  
Blogger kevin said...

AC, are you sure you don't have me mixed up with someone else? I thought I made it pretty clear I'm against Dubai buying our ports.

2/25/06, 8:52 PM  
Blogger Cubed © said...

"Almost all articles evade the questions of philosophy, values, culture, and tradition. We differ from Arab/Islamic nations (such as the UAE) by having diametrically opposing value systems. . . If we cooperated with the UAE against Islamic terrorists, it is because of a common enemy, not common values. . . The vast sympathy for the jihadist cause in Arab and Islamic nations implies that they are materially and/or morally our enemy."

Yes, YES, YES!!!

The DEFINING DIFFERENCE between Islam and us is the differences in our choice of our "standard of the good" - in other words, it's our MORAL CODE!

A "moral code" is a set of values chosen to guide our thoughts and actions. The operative term here is "CHOSEN."

To explain just what a value is, and how we choose which ones to base our moral codes on, would take up FAR too much space here, but it can be done. For the sake of brevity, just let me say that Islam's choice of a value to use as the "standard of the good" is very, very different from ours - as Jason has said, their choice and ours are diametrically opposed.

No intact human being on the face of the earth can endure the mental anguish of feeling immoral. A wife-beater makes himself "feel morally justified" by blaming the wife; a murderer blames the victim; Islam blames the infidel.

Islam will never change its moral code, so it will never stop doing what it is doing pestering its moral superiors; any "accommodation" we make with Islam can never be made on the basis of of common values, because we have no significant values in common. Our most fundamental values, the ones that characterize our moral codes, are not at all alike.

Now for the port deal. I oppose this port thing because:

1) no point of entry into our country, by land or sea or air, should be in the hands of another government under any circumstances.

2) We don't need Dubai or any other Muslim country to help us deal with Iran; we can do it ourselves or with the help of others with whom we DO share values in common.

3) The current arrangement is, contrary to what Bush et al. are saying, a serious security threat. Just as one small example, when Michael Moore (I'm not kidding!), Senior Vice President (Commercial) of Dubai Ports World was asked this morning (2/25) on Neal Cavuto's show (I think that was it) if his company would have to participate in security issues, he answered "Of course!"

4) Dubai Ports World is a government-owned company, and is therefore a de facto branch of Dubai's Muslim government, with all that this subsumes: sharia, taqiyya, kitman, hudna, etc. As a Muslim nation, it is bound by the Islamic moral code. Furthermore, as a government-owned company, it is in no way part of the free-enterprise system.

Thank you, Jason!

2/26/06, 1:57 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Thanks, Cubed. I still stand by that summary. Ed Cline has a good commentary, too.

But you're acknowledged what I think is the main point: opposite standards of values (not just different.) There is a deep difference that in the long-run puts us on opposite sides. They may need us because they fear Iran just as Stalin needed us to fight Hitler. And we may join forces to fight a specific threat. But, as the title notes, an enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend.

2/26/06, 7:44 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

From the Alexiev article:
More recently, a $2.5 million donation by the late Sheikh Zayed to Harvard University for the establishment of an Islamic chair, had to be withdrawn after it became known that another Sheikh Zayed Center in UAE engaged in scientific activities such as proving that the U.S. masterminded the 9/11 attacks and that “Jews use gentile blood for holiday pastries.”

Do we want to do business with such a country? And if we do conduct business with UAE, will we be funding support for terrorism?

Cubed makes an excellent point, one worth remembering:
Dubai Ports World is a government-owned company, and is therefore a de facto branch of Dubai's Muslim government, with all that this subsumes: sharia, taqiyya, kitman, hudna, etc. As a Muslim nation, it is bound by the Islamic moral code.

And that code calls for our destruction. Mark Alexander has made the point that, unlike in the West, with Muslims the tenets of Islam will trump economic considerations. He lived in the Middle East for years, so I pay attention to his observations.

2/26/06, 8:51 AM  
Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Note to Jason:

1. Islam is a religion

2. Marxism is an economic theory

2/26/06, 12:33 PM  
Blogger beakerkin said...

Jason

Today is the thirteenth years since the explosion of the WTC in 1993. I was on hand but didn't even know the place was bombed.

2/26/06, 1:25 PM  
Blogger Cubed © said...

Charles N. Steele said...

"It is wrong to judge an individual on the basis of ethnic or regional origin -- his character is all that matters."

Charles,

One's character - that is, those qualities that "characterize" him -is based on one's philosophy (and even if we can't spell the word, we all have one).

Philosophy has five major branches; ethics (the "moral code" thing), epistemology (how do humans acquire knowledge?), metaphysics (the study of the laws of nature), esthetics (what is it that we consider beautiful, and why?), and politics (the application of ethics to social behavior.)

So, in a sense, you're correct; one's "character" is everything. But inasmuch as virtually every Muslim's "character" derives from Islam, the philosophy of which opposes ours in every important respect - from ethics through to politics - we can never entrust any aspect of our security to any Muslim.

If you remember nothing else about Islam, remember this: the "Prime Directive" of Islam, which binds every Muslim, is the elimination of the infidel.

That's the bottom line; don't believe our politicians when they try to tell you "It's not that simple."

Yes, it is; it's that simple.

2/26/06, 2:53 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Jason,
virtually every Muslim's "character" derives from Islam...

True! The Koran and the ahadith regulate almost every aspect of an individual's life. And the surest way to the best place in Paradise is jihad. For some, I'm sure that aspect is a significant motivator.

The bottom line is simple. As you pointed out: the "Prime Directive" of Islam, which binds every Muslim, is the elimination of the infidel.

I see no hope of compromise in that dogma. And since Islam and the state are not separate entities, that dogma has serious impact on the rest of the world.

2/26/06, 7:14 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

The deal is for $6.8 billion in cash + millions more in direct investment into American infrastructure. This is merely the tip of an iceberg, Gulf Arabs have trillions of dollars invested in your country. Will you also violate their property rights on the basis of how they worship God? The sale is by a British company will you compensate them to the tune of $6.8 billion or must they also be punished for their non-compliance with your religious decree?

You are asking that basic principles of capitalism be set aside so that religious choice may take precedent. You talk as if cultural and religious philosophy built America. America was built by capitalism. Turn away this trade and you distort markets -hurting capitalism, hurting America.

This trade is for administration of port facilities. It does not impinge on the security of the port. The terrorist supporters in UAE gain nothing from the deal except the possibility that they may make a profit. To sneak in material they will need to compromise the existing security networks, no change prior to or after the deal. Spreading the list of protected assets beyond military and security operations in this way damages American capitalism.

2/27/06, 4:39 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

You’re arguing an all-or-nothing posture. The vast amount of trade and capital investment is outside the areas of defense industry and border operations. Thus, they can get a good return on their investment in other areas and they do: the largest owner of Citigroup is a Saudi Prince.

Are you really willing to sell military technology companies to Islamic and Communist countries on economic groups?

2/27/06, 5:03 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

This is not the equivalent to military technology.

It does not physically inspect or determine what is inspected of the cargo entering the United States. It moves cargo across the docks, it is not relied upon to be integral to the security of the USA. Banning this is equivalent to barring Chinese or Arab courier companies, airlines or trucking firms. Pointless interference in the market for no apparent benefit, other than religious preference.

2/27/06, 5:55 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Your original argument was in such general terms that I assumed there were no limits to what you'd allow foreign citizens or their governments to control. For example, you said: "You are asking that basic principles of capitalism be set aside so that religious choice may take precedent."

Now you implicitly admit there are limits: "This is not the equivalent to military technology." Thus, we are only quibbling about where the limits are, correct?

2/27/06, 6:39 PM  

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