Professor Cooney and the Ports

***Written just before the recent decision by DPI regarding ports.

The anti-administration bias on most college and university campuses is evidenced in a column in the Danville Advocate-Messenger, Danville, Ky., by Centre College professor Brian Cooney. Cooney begins his screed with this profound statement: “The political storm over the Bush administration's contract with Dubai Ports International to manage six large American ports is a striking example of poetic justice.” The contract does not call for DPI to manage anything other than the operations at the ports, poetic justice notwithstanding. DPI will not be responsible for security. According to a Homeland Security official speaking recently on C-Span, every incoming container is scanned and the small percent of questionable ones are unloaded for searching. On average, this takes about five hours. James Zogby of the Christian Science Monitor wrote recently, “Regardless of what company owns the management of some of our ports, the security issues remain in the hands of the Department of Homeland Security.” Eighty percent of west coast ports are operated by foreign companies now, as are 50 percent of east-coast ports.

Cooney continues, “Bush has spent years whipping up a national mood of dread and anger against a vaguely defined enemy whose name is ‘terror.’” It would be hard to imagine a more simplistic or misguided statement than this. If Clinton had been whipping up such dread and anger during the 90s, there might not have been a 9/11 (a terrorist episode, for Cooney’s benefit), which happened just eight months into Bush’s presidency. Since then, no one has had to whip up any dread or anger, since just a fair amount of walking-around-sense is all one needs to identify “terror,” which is anything but vague. One wonders about the number of students who keep a straight face in Cooney’s classes and then snicker behind his back if he comes up with this stuff in class. One wonders what Cooney would have labeled 9/11 – perhaps a bit of justifiable suicide/homicide against evil Americans?

Cooney continues, “Having effectively terrorized the American people with the threat of Islamic terrorism, the Bush administration still saw no problem with turning over the management of major U.S. ports to a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates.” Obviously, Cooney can recognize terrorism that is not vague…it’s put out there by Bush who threatens to use Islamic terrorism, i.e., beheadings, suicide/homicide bombings, roadside bombs, or maybe choosing up sides with the Californians and throwing Avian-flu chicken beaks. Cooney doesn’t bother to explain that this was a business deal, not something that was under the purview of Congress, but under the purview of appropriate government agencies, such investigation having gone on for months. The management of the ports had simply been purchased from a British company that had been operating the ports. It was a business deal, and it was announced as early as last October in the Wall Street Journal. It’s big news now because this is an election year…so, what was on the back-burner last October (totally unrecognized by Congress?) has now been relegated to the front burner.

Cooney continues, “Also, the president has said that he already knows there is no security risk ("People don't need to worry"). This is a president who knows what he believes and sticks with it.” The president made it clear after 9/11 that there would be a long war against the terrorists. He knows that and sticks with it. What Cooney doesn’t mention is the fact that there have been no further attacks on American soil for these 4.5 years since 9/11. This didn’t just happen, and it’s almost unbelievable, but the fact is that the government has been active in ferreting out would-be plots and those who hatch them on their way to the 72 virgins Mohammed promised about 1500 years ago.

More Cooney: “After all, early reports of this deal emerged while the White House was preoccupied with damage control over the vice president shooting a hunting companion in the face.” This comes after Cooney has just explained that the administration didn’t handle the port thing very well. Mentioning the accidental shooting is what might be expected of Screamin’ Howard Dean or Hillary Clinton or a Chuck Schumer foaming at the mouth or any other airhead, but not of the distinguished Stodgill Professor of Philosophy at Centre College, on the scene for some 25 or so years. Damage control? What damage control? There was an accidental shooting. Happens every day. The beltway and other mainstream media got upset because some small-time newspaper (in their eyes) in Texas got the scoop, so they made the shooting into an international event threatening the very stability of the U.S. government…and everyone with enough sense to get in out of the rain has been laughing at the media ever since. But Cooney got sucked in…laughable.

More Cooney: “As many commentators have pointed out, the most serious problem with our port security is not the Dubai contract.” Well…how about that? Should one think that Cooney set out to make an argument and then completely destroy it himself? Maybe this is the way that philosophers do their job. Strange. He goes on to cite massive under-funding of security functions…the usual demand of the liberal – throw more money and people at the problem, but doesn’t mention that things have been quiet here since September 2001, using the massive amounts of money already thrown at the problem, much of it wasted.

Predictable Cooney: “He allowed bin Laden to escape, and he quickly withdrew personnel and resources in preparation for the invasion of Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.” Cooney may call living in a cave with the water dripping on his prayer rug, and climbing up and down mountains as some sort of escape, but he will get an argument from anyone who’s ever lived that way. Nor has it made the butcher happy that his top dogs have been ferreted out and clapped in irons or shot, making him practically a non-player in the current Islamic game of “Bloodbath, Anyone?” Too, new revelations have been extant lately about the connections of Saddam and Iraq with Al Queda.

Finally, the actual reason for Cooney’s column, in his words: “The combination of massive tax cuts for the rich and hundreds of billions of dollars spent on Iraq has left us without the resources to secure our homeland against another terrorist catastrophe.” The obvious fact that the nation still stands indicates that it has the resources to secure the homeland. This will not change. The liberal reaction to every problem is to raise taxes, especially on the wealthy, however defined. Economists know better than to resort to this approach, but philosophers living in the abstract are not expected to understand. Cooney is for incentive-killing socialism…reduce all people to the lowest common denominator. This is not the American way.

Cooney at his most outlandish: “Bush's ‘war on terror’ has been mostly rhetoric - an excuse for invading Iraq and an election slogan to distract us from the damage he is causing at home and abroad.” Travel to Afghanistan and ask anyone whether rhetoric or war on terror carried the day there. Travel to Iraq to see whether rhetoric or war is being waged there. Rhetoric was the watchword of the 90s. War (action) is Bush’s watchword. Sadly, Cooney deludes himself into thinking this world is Camelot. It isn’t. Nations don’t play by the rules, notwithstanding anything connected with the UN, a paper tiger. With many nations, there are no rules.

This material has appeared here before, but it’s worth repeating – for Professor Cooney, of course: “This country is intricately involved in military affairs with the UAE. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Peter Pace has characterized the military relationship as “superb,” explaining that this country uses UAE ports and airfields for logistical support and for the training of U.S. Air Force pilots, according to As expected, the DOD doesn’t discuss the details of anything…it can’t because some bureaucrat or, more likely, a member of Congress like Senator “Leaky” Leahy or Senator Rockefeller would spread it to the New York Times or the Washington Post so fast that Al Jazeera would pick it up before the morning dailies in this country. Both “spy planes” and unmanned surveillance aircraft have been based in UAE, as well as the huge KC-10 refueling planes that are so critical in keeping fighter-bombers in the air for extended periods. Jebel Ali, the largest manmade harbor in the world, has become a favorite port of Navy ships in the Gulf, and is the most frequented port outside of the United States. This port has become a familiar stop for carrier battle groups while deployed to the Arabian Gulf.

The Strait of Hormuz, separating UAE from Iran, at its narrowest is 21 miles wide, having two 1-mile-wide channels for marine traffic separated by a 2-mile-wide buffer zone, and is the only sea passage to the open ocean for large areas of the petroleum-exporting Persian Gulf states. This fact alone makes UAE one of the most strategic areas of the world, ergo, the fact that it is patently friendly to the United States cannot be overestimated. The only other friendly state in the Middle East is Kuwait, which exists only because Bush 41 kicked Saddam out in 1991. Indeed, those in power in every state on the Arabian Peninsula, including Saudi Arabia and UAE, are in power only because of the Gulf War; otherwise, Saddam and his 400,000-man army would have swept the entire peninsula practically without opposition, since the states thereon could not have even barely withstood the onslaught of the fourth-largest army in the world at that time.

The UAE, almost exactly the size of South Carolina, understands all too well what it means to have the United States as a friend. Just 32,000 square miles in size and with a population of only some 2.5 million, it is one-third the size of England and North Ireland, which have a population of 60.5 million. Or, just 21 miles from UAE is Iran, 20 times larger than UAE with a population of over 68 million. These facts practically dictate that UAE be the closest friend possible to this country, especially with the treacherous bin Laden Wahabism driving the Saudi government and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an absolute idiot, calling the shots in Iran and expecting to have a nuclear device soon, which he has proclaimed his concrete determination to use against Israel. Only a fool would believe that he would stop there.”

As common sense overtakes the fanatical emphasis on the November elections, perhaps the Congresspersons will learn enough to allow them to make correct decisions regarding DPI, regardless of which way they jump. Only then will the people have been served.