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Stampede!

Commentary by Greg Lewis / NewMediaJournal.US
March 23, 2006

"I've cross herded, trail herded, circle herded, too,
But to keep you together that's what I can't do,
My horse is leg weary and I'm awful tired,
But if I let you get away, I'm sure to get fired.
Bunch up, little dogies, bunch up.
— Ramblin' Jack Elliott, "Night Herding Song,"
from the album Young Brigham

Until recently, a cow's mental capacity had been thought to be significantly lower than a human's. That was until our federal legislators, acting the part of a herd of cattle to perfection, spooked and went on a stampede of their own over the Dubai Ports World business deal.

In some ways, it's really an insult to cows to call congress's actions a stampede; it implies that the collective intelligence of our federal legislative bodies is greater than that of a herd of cattle, and I can't find the evidence to support that notion. Their behavior regarding the port management deal over the past several weeks has been marked by nothing short of extreme stupidity, fueled by a level of hysteria that can only be the result of the colossal ignorance they've displayed with regard to the facts and implications of the deal. In other words, they've behaved in a manner previously seen only among livestock.

As late as last week I heard congressmen assert that we were letting Arabs "take over the security" of our ports, a blatant falsehood bordering on fraud. New York Democrat Senator Charles Schumer described the deal as "a homeland security and commerce accident waiting to happen," while New York Representative Peter King has disingenuously described the United Arab Emirates as "a country where Al Qaeda has such a strong presence."

That was several weeks ago, when our legislators were considering the not unreasonable idea that the deal should be held up for 45 days for further review. In the meantime, as the stampede gathered momentum, they decided to just scuttle the deal altogether without even bothering to examine the facts.

Never mind that the company designated to take over operations of six American ports also operates other ports around the world through which cargo destined for America passes, and so has already demonstrated its ability to do its part in managing security issues at other major ports. And never mind that no company on earth which buys another for 6.8 billion dollars is doing it for the purpose of letting a bunch if Islamist thugs destroy their business by allowing terrorists to transport weapons into the U.S. under its nose.

And for that matter, never mind that DP World won't get within a pasture's length of being responsible for security in the American ports in the first place. Besides which, no terrorist would so much as think of letting a nuclear device out of his control by putting it on a ship and hoping it got unloaded in an American port and subsequently delivered to the bagman on the other end.

Despite all this, our legislators have insisted that to allow DP World to manage our ports would put us somehow in grave danger of terrorist attack.

Schumer and King, among the more prominent bovine bloviators in Congress, made their comments a couple of weeks ago, when they were recommending that the ports deal be put on hold temporarily for further review. Shortly after, though, they joined rest of the herd as they completely lost their composure and what little of their minds seemed to be left and decided to totally scotch the deal.

Now the Democrat knock on President Bush has always been that he's not very smart, certainly not nearly as intelligent as they are. But the fact is that it's Democrats (recently joined by a significant number of Republican cohorts, to be fair) who seem not to be able to grasp the big picture in this situation.

First, the obstructionist position on the DP World deal is blatantly racist. Since they deigned to do their homework and find out the facts, Congressional detractors have ended up focusing their case on the fact that it's an Arab company that would be taking over port operations. The very fact that they parade around saying, "It's not because they're Arabs that we don't want this deal," is proof that that's precisely why they don't want the deal. It's a shameful case of weakening America's position in the war against terror by capitalizing on the increasingly negative image in Americans' minds of Middle Eastern people that has built up because of the brutal and murderous actions of Islamist terrorists.

But, in addition to being racist, this position ignores the fact that it is not "Arabs" who have declared war on us, it's not even Muslims who have done so. It is a cadre of radical Islamo-fascists against whom we're fighting a war on terror.

Although the United States is overwhelmingly viewed in an unfavorable light by most Arabs in the Middle East, those numbers have been declining in the past few years. And notwithstanding their negative attitudes toward the U.S., most Arabs do not want to see us wiped off the map. Nor do most Muslims. President Bush has been pursuing a policy of developing strong allies among Muslim countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. The United Arab Emirates has been a strong American ally for many years.

The effect of the Democrat-led stampede to deny an Arab-owned company — a company with several Americans well-respected in the shipping industry among its senior leadership — its legitimate right to manage American and other ports has been to damage a positive international policy that has slowly been making inroads in the negative American image among Arabs, not to say one which has had precisely the effect of gradually making American interests both here and abroad more, rather than less, secure.

It had long been observed that when you get cows together in a large group, their intelligence actually seems to be diminished, and when cattle stampede we generally give them the benefit of the doubt. We just didn't realize that we'd have to be giving our lawmakers the same benefit of the doubt, and for exactly the same reasons.

So "Elsie," and "Bossy," and Mrs. O'Leary's cow, move over. Make way for the people we've elected to national office. The fact that they were unable or unwilling to examine the facts in this case but instead chose to demagogue a deal that all of America's security experts had signed off on will add one more level of difficulty to the enormous task facing our President and our country, the task of restoring something resembling rationality and order to a world under threat from madmen.

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