Sunday, March 12, 2006

So foul and fair a day I have not seen

Building the world’s tallest building is a sign of confidence and optimism. Throughout the 20th century, the United States kept building the biggest skyscrapers in the world. Stalin planned one that would have been the biggest, on the site of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, but he never got around to building it. In the last decade, the push to build the world’s tallest building shifted to the happening east coast of Asia: Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Shanghai. I saw the site for the next one after Shanghai in June last year. It’s in Dubai. They are building big stuff because they have big dreams. They are confident about their future in a globalised economy. They are not going to shut themselves off in some islamic autarchy.


That was the vote in the United States senate to stop a company owned by the government of Dubai from operating ports in the United States. That means that 98% of the United States Senate are more clueless than Dubya about how to engage with moderate Muslims. This is either really really scary, if you think that Dubya is a principled and intelligent statesman, or almost unbelievably terrifyingly apocalyptically scary, if you still think he is a knuckle-dragging redneck.


Marco said...

The big (irrational?) nightmares of the US senate are more telling than the big dreams of Dubai.

Dave said...

Hmm. On the one hand, I think reliquishing state control of ports (and therefore the front line of border security, because bugger airports, if you want to smuggle a dirty nuke or weapons-grade anthrax anywhere, you'll send it in a shipping container)is pretty daft to start with, especially if you're an insular, paranoid, essentially xenophobic super-power.

(I had a point to add here than a Dubai-owned company has a vested interest in exercising sufficient security precautions to avoid any hint of association with radical groups, but it's based on nothing but speculation, so ignore it)

My guess is that the Senate opposition was partly because the company in question is owned by Goldarn A-Rabs, but also partly because of Bush's approach over it. I find it striking that this seems to be thbe issue he is prepared to go to war against the Senate over.

Also, yes. It's stupid of them. Except inasmuch as the Senate's stance appears to be well supported by the electorate, and Bush's is not (or is seen as contradictory and possibly a bit suspect, which confuses people and is probably an ironic consequence of four years of constant scaremongering about terrorists).

Dr. Clam said...

Hmmm, the state control of ports was relinquished some time ago, as these were/are operated by P&O- and I understand there are ports on the West Coast operated by a company owned by the People's Republic of China.
Your last point also illustrates the difference between the definitions of 'stupid' used by us and them in the context of democratic governance:
Us: Likely to wreck the economy, cause severe irreparable environmental damage, make us lose all our friends, and/or result in the violent deaths of many of our fellow citizens.
Them: Likely to lose us votes.

Dave said...

Yeah, I didn't want to expand on my theory too much because I was pretty sure I didn't have any of the relevant facts (as opposed to my usual arguing standpoint, of merely lacking *most* of the relevant facts).

And I think you put the heart of my complaint quite succinctly.