By MARC McDONALD
If you want to know what the proposed United Arab Emirates port deal is really all about, you'd do well to pay heed to the advice once doled out to reporters investigating Watergate: Follow the money.
Because at its heart, dirty old grubby money is what this controversial deal is really all about.
The fact is, the U.S. economy has become so hollowed out and dependent on foreign capital, that overseas nations can get whatever favors they want from our money-corrupted political leaders these days.
This isn't the first time the Bush White House has shown just how deeply in debt it is to the interests of oil-rich Arab states.
Take Saudi Arabia for example. Despite the fact that all but two of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia (and that the Saudis admitted that they funded Al Qaeda), Bush has always been reluctant to press the Saudis on any issue in the "war on terror." After 9/11, the Saudis refused to cooperate with U.S. investigators. They refused to let investigators take a look at the Al Qaeda money trail (which, of course, led straight back to Saudi Arabia). They also refused to let U.S. investigators talk to relatives of the 9/11 hijackers. No wonder Bin Laden still runs free.
Why do you suppose Bush gave the Saudis such kid-glove treatment? The same reason he's now going to bat for a UAE state-owned company to take over the operation of U.S. ports: money.
Astute foreign observers and power players have long realized that our nation's corrupt political leadership won't hesitate to sell out the interests of the American people if the price is right.
Even before Bush came to power, a popular saying was known to have circulated around East Asia: "Influence in Washington is just like Indonesia these days---it's for sale."
Countries like Japan and China have long been aware that if you dangle enough money in front of an American politician, you can get him to jump through hoops on cue. Tokyo saw this as far back as the Reagan administration. It's important to remember that Reagan routinely cooperated with Tokyo on trade matters (much to the detriment of U.S. industry). And in the end, Reagan was rewarded by Tokyo: when he left office, he was able to pocket several million dollars for merely giving a couple of speeches in Tokyo.
In light of all this, it really shouldn't be surprising to learn that, back in the early 1990s, a sheik from the UAE gave $1 million to the Bush Library Foundation, which established the George Bush Presidential Library in Texas.
One might debate whether America's security is compromised by having our nation's ports run by a state-owned United Arab Emirates company. But the bottom line is, in this deal, money (as always) is trumping America's security interests. U.S. politicians like Bush are always happy to sell out the American people for cash from foreign interests.
To the likes of Bush and our other corrupt politicians, it's just business as usual.
The fact is, America is not only addicted to overseas oil these days. We're also heavily addicted to overseas capital. If it weren't for the hundreds of billions of dollars flowing into our borders from the likes of Japan and China, our Ponzi scheme economy would have collapsed like a house of cards long ago.
Between our enormous debt to Asian central banks and the corruption of our politicians with foreign money, there's little chance America will ever be able to take the urgent steps it needs to extinguish the out-of-control crises that are our soaring fiscal and trade deficits. Nor is it likely that America will be able to take the urgent action needed to prevent the impending collapse of the U.S. dollar and the U.S. economy.
Decades from now, I would suspect that the main thing historians will recall about the Bush White House is not 9/11, or even the "war on terror," but rather how a corrupt Bush fiddled like Nero while America's financial house burned down.