Archive: March 2006

Immigration Policies Around the World

Note: For much of the information in this post, I relied on a useful guide to the citizenship laws around the world, compiled by the Office of Personnel Management -- it's worth a look. As we wrap up the immigration debate, let's take a look at how other countries handle some of these issues. On citizenship by virtue of birth: Like the United States, France, India, Ireland, Mexico and New Zealand all automatically confer citizenship on anyone born within their territory, regardless of the citizenship of the child's parents. Canada has the same law, unless the parents are illegally present in the country. Belgium, China, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Switzerland, among many others, do not recognize automatic citizenship by birth -- although exceptions may be made for orphans. Somewhere between these two poles fall the policies of Australia, Austria and the United Kingdom. Citizenship is only...

By Emily Messner | March 31, 2006; 9:55 AM ET | Comments (274)

Born in the U.S.A. (Part II)

The And Rightly So blog commends an op-ed by Colorado's Rep. Tom Tancredo. Tancredo claims that once a baby is born on U.S. soil to an illegal immigrant, the baby's 'entire family gets to cut in line.' Maybe in twenty-some years they will, but not any time soon. If you've ever seen the process for applying for permanent residency and then citizenship, you'll know that it would be exceedingly difficult for a baby to sponsor anyone -- much less her entire family. We're talking about all kinds of forms, letters attesting to the applicant's legitimacy, huge amounts of necessary documentation, face-to-face interviews with immigration officials.* If the baby had her last three years of tax returns, that might make it easier. But try explaining the IRS 1040 form to an infant -- I would bet huge amounts of money (which I don't actually have) that you wouldn't get very far....

By Emily Messner | March 30, 2006; 12:25 PM ET | Comments (66)

Born in the U.S.A. (Part I)

As I was researching this broad topic for The Debate, I found a fair bit of opposition to the policy of bestowing citizenship on anyone born on U.S. soil. The automatic citizenship idea comes from a clause in the 14th amendment that reads: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. P.A. Madison writes that "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" requires that United States have complete jurisdiction over parents of baby at time of birth in order for that baby to be a citizen. If the U.S. government cannot "compel a child's parents to Jury Duty," for example, "then the U.S. does not have the total, complete jurisdiction demanded by the Fourteenth Amendment to make their child a citizen of the United States by birth. How could it possibly...

By Emily Messner | March 30, 2006; 9:55 AM ET | Comments (71)

Immigrants' Attitudes on Immigration

At the massive pro-immigrant rallies across the United States over the weekend, native-born citizens participated, as undoubtedly did some illegal immigrants. And, in spite of what the rhetoric of illegal immigrants' staunchest opponents might lead us to believe, many of the protesters were legal immigrants who don't believe illegal immigration is inherently unfair. A poll of legal immigrants* conducted over the last month found 60 percent find the tone of the current immigration debate to be alarming; more than two-thirds say anti-immigrant sentiment is on the rise. Support for a temporary worker program and allowing illegal immigrants to apply for legal status if they pay a fine and learn English clocked in at 68 percent. Four out of five of the legal immigrants surveyed also expressed the belief that illegal immigrants take jobs shunned by Americans. The PoliWatch News blog points to a different poll concluding that immigrant voters in...

By Emily Messner | March 29, 2006; 12:53 PM ET | Comments (311)

Senate Delays and Presidential Politics

Senators agreed yesterday to put off the floor debate regarding the Judiciary Committee's bill on comprehensive immigration reform. Debate is now set to begin late Wednesday or Thursday; in the meantime, senators will attempt to reach compromises behind the scenes on some of the more controversial pieces of the bill, including guest worker provisions. How big a role does presidential politics play in all this? That aspect of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's immigration legislation might have been overemphasized, especially where Frist's proposal is depicted as a competitor to the Judiciary Committee bill. If Frist did decide to treat his bill as a competitor to the one agreed upon by most members of the Judiciary Committee on Monday, he would be violating the understanding he has with them -- that his bill would be replaced (through an amendment) with the more comprehensive committee legislation when it was sent to the...

By Emily Messner | March 29, 2006; 9:10 AM ET | Comments (40)

Andy Card's Resignation (Open-ish Thread)

This morning's announcement that White House Chief of Staff Andy Card has resigned just begs for an open debate. Why did Card resign now, on this particular Tuesday morning? Like Scooter Libby found himself in the middle of the Plame affair, "Andy Card is in the midst of another scandal -- warrantless spying," notes georgia10 at Daily Kos, saying that the resignation is proof of the weakness of the Bush presidency. Card will be replaced by Josh Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and another Bush insider. Thoughts on Bolten? At the Coldheartedtruth blog, the feeling is that Bush should have gone outside his circle to find "some new blood." Is this just the beginning of a major administration reshuffle? Go to it, Debaters. (I'll try to update as I come across interesting opinion on the resignation, and by all means, please provide any good links you...

By Emily Messner | March 28, 2006; 8:26 AM ET | Comments (35)

Patriotic Assimilation (Go Patriots!)

We left off the last post discussing a paper by Donald Huddle. I found myself quite confused when Huddle claimed that Karl Zinsmeister supports open borders. I can only assume this is the same Karl Zinsmeister who wrote in 2000 of "an over-heavy saturation with poorly educated peasants from Mexico and other Third World countries" causing "unwanted poverty, crime, social dysfunction, educational mediocrity, economic drags, and ethnic division." That doesn't strike me as the outlook of someone who desires an open-border policy. Zinsmeister argues for an increase in the number of skilled immigrants possessing "desirable occupational capabilities," and a decrease in the number of immigrants let into the country simply because they're related to U.S. citizens. While pointing out that America's capacity to absorb immigrants is not unlimited, he believes that the capacity can be greatly increased through successful assimilation. Essentially, he's describing a concept dubbed "patriotic assimilation". The conservative...

By Emily Messner | March 27, 2006; 4:47 PM ET | Comments (46)

Guest Workers: Importing Poverty?

Happy Monday to you all -- especially happy, that is, because our local dream team is on its way to the Final Four! I've been holding this in for the last couple weeks, but now it's definitely time to let loose: GO MASON!!! Ahem. With that out of my system (for the moment), we'll pick up where we left off Friday afternoon, on the subject of guest workers. Econo-columnist Robert Samuelson opposes a guest worker program because "we'd be importing poverty." He notes that the number of Hispanics in poverty in the United States has increased 162 percent since 1980. Just to keep that number in perspective, though, the total Hispanic population in the United States has seen an overall increase of 177 percent since 1980, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. In Sunday's Washington Post, Tamar Jacoby agrees that a temporary worker program won't work because it lacks any...

By Emily Messner | March 27, 2006; 4:57 AM ET | Comments (175)

Immigration: Wedge Issue, Not a Wage Issue

Debater Derek hit the nail on the head on Tuesday with this comment: "Given that the Karlrovian wedge issue of the last election was gay marriage, I wonder whether it will be illegal immigration this election?" It seemed like a good possibility; after reading today's front-page story in the Post, it seems all but certain that this will indeed be the "wedge issue." As Derek notes, it could be especially dangerous to the Democrats, pitting those who want compassion and eventual integration for illegal immigrants in the United States against the unions (and many others) who fear they'll lose jobs to foreigners willing to do the job for lower pay. Indeed, Debater Arminda alluded to how little the $5.15 an hour really is -- and when workers are being paid under the table, employers can flout minimum wage laws, too. That said, Debater Mike Brooks notes that the construction-type jobs...

By Emily Messner | March 24, 2006; 4:31 PM ET | Comments (119)

Surprising Story of the Week: Kosher China

Though just about everything seems to be manufactured in China these days, few people would think they'd see a "Made in China" label on their jars of gefilte fish or their boxes of matzoh. Think again. Marketplace reports: "China is one of the fastest growing producers of certified kosher food. And that's keeping the handful of rabbis there very, very busy." A few thoughts. First, this proves what Harold Meyerson was saying in his most recent op-ed: Almost anything can be outsourced. I also find it a bit quirky that a country that refuses to sanction the practice of religion would nonetheless jump wholeheartedly into the religious dietary industry. And lastly, writing this post has me given me a wicked craving for matzoh and gefilte fish. Mmmm ... gefilte fish .... (What the heck -- how about a quick, light-hearted poll in the middle of all this seriousness? Gefilte fish:...

By Emily Messner | March 24, 2006; 4:13 PM ET | Comments (10)

What Mexico Would Do for Guest Workers

In a meeting at the Post yesterday afternoon, Mexico's Minister for Governance, Carlos Abascal, stressed the importance of creating a viable program for guest workers. Secretario Abascal explained that in order for such a system to function as intended, Mexico would need to provide incentives for laborers to return home, including guarantees of: * medical care * pension * housing * social development programs That makes perfect sense. My only criticism would be that setting up such incentives in Mexico sounds like more of a long-term project, while the Mexican government and at least some Senators are pushing for a guest worker program to be implemented now. Secretario Abascal also advocated finding a solution to the problem of undocumented Mexican workers in the United States that would not provoke "any significant demographic adjustments" (words of translator). He noted that many illegal immigrants in the United States have been working here...

By Emily Messner | March 24, 2006; 9:21 AM ET | Comments (68)

Good Idea/Bad Idea: Drafting Non-Citizens

Male U.S. permanent residents, ages 18-26, are required to register for Selective Service. Not registering can wreck their chances of ever attaining citizenship. The thinking behind this policy is that the privilege of living in the United States comes with an obligation (for young men) to defend the country if the need arises. Residents with non-immigrant status, like those here on student visas, are exempted from the requirement. Other exemptions do exist. Some countries have agreements or treaties with the United States relieving their citizens of military service obligations, but a resident requesting not to serve based on such a treaty "can never become a U.S. citizen, and may have trouble reentering the U.S. if he leaves." This seems a little harsh -- assuming the no-citizenship penalty isn't specified in the bilateral agreement -- and the Supreme Court has said as much. Illegal immigrants are required to register for Selective...

By Emily Messner | March 23, 2006; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (112)

Tree Huggers, Tax Cheaters and Landmine Lovers

Lots of thoughtful discussion on the last post -- many well-reasoned arguments for and against constructing a border wall. I love it! For the record, I also love tree huggers, and Debater murracito makes an excellent tree-hugging point that had not occurred to me: the environmental consequences of building such an enormous wall could be devastating. Among other possible problems, just think of the construction runoff that would end up in the Rio Grande. Even if you don't give a patoot about the environment, remember that the river is also used for recreation. Would a wall severely limit those activities, or cut them off entirely? A quick question for Debater Will, who asserts that "57% [of Mexicans] felt they had the right to enter the United States without United States permission." Could you share your source on that, por favor? We get this analogy from Debater DC Dude, explaining why...

By Emily Messner | March 22, 2006; 4:51 PM ET | Comments (101)

Should We Build a Wall at the Border?

When Pat Buchanan proposed erecting a wall along the border with Mexico during his 1996 presidential run, condemnation of the idea came from far and wide. But today -- perhaps due in part to the immigration surge in 1999 and 2000 -- debate rages over a whether to build some sort of imposing physical barrier along the entire 2,000-mile southern border. Columnist Robert Samuelson says we should go ahead and put up a wall. He isn't happy about advocating this, he says, but he sees no other way to stem the flow of illegal immigrants crossing the border to find work in the United States. Writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Professor Jan C. Ting agrees. A border fence that "can't be walked around" would prevent those illegal border crossings, and would save money in the long run by reversing the trend toward ever-increasing personnel and technology to patrol the border....

By Emily Messner | March 22, 2006; 11:11 AM ET | Comments (149)

The Facts: Immigration Info and Stats

The Migration Information Source serves as a good starting point for immigration research, providing statistics in abundance on everything from historical trends to stats on asylum seekers to detailed data on the foreign-born population in the United States. MIS is a project of the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-ideological think tank devoted to studying migration trends around the world. From there, you'll find links to all sorts of interesting items, like this report on the erroneous predictions that NAFTA would reduce illegal immigration. MIS has done quite a bit of research into Mexico-U.S. migration, which tends to be one of the biggest issues in immigration debates in the United States these days. One of the links leads to a paper stressing the importance of bilateral immigration reform (as opposed to the United States trying to stem the flow of illegal immigrants all by itself.) It's also worth visiting the...

By Emily Messner | March 21, 2006; 4:43 PM ET | Comments (47)

A Note About The Debate

As a couple Debaters pointed out, my earlier post was dull. News flash: I know. Those who have been participating in The Debate for a while now understand that early in the week (Monday or Tuesday), I spend a day on the facts -- just the facts, nothing but the facts. Yes, I agree that facts can be pretty dry, but the reason I do these Facts posts is so we can have an informed debate on the subject at hand. Sure, I could just throw my personal opinions at you all week, but that wouldn't produce a productive discussion; it would only lead to polarization and flame wars....

By Emily Messner | March 21, 2006; 4:41 PM ET | Comments (16)

The Facts: Congress on Immigration

Immigration bills have been something of a hot item in the Senate lately: * S.2394 on border security * S.2326 on immigration reform, mostly regarding employment * S.2365 on sharing immigration information * S.2377 and S.2368, calling for "the construction along the southern international land border between the United States and Mexico, starting at the Pacific Ocean and extending eastward to the Gulf of Mexico, of at least 2 layers of reinforced fencing," among other border security and enforcement measures All but one of these bills (S.2368) was referred to the Judiciary Committee. The Senate also sent to that committee the House-approved bill (H.R.4437) aimed at toughening immigration laws and strengthening border security. Fortunately, the Senate Judiciary Committee makes it easy to figure out what measures they're considering. The committee is working off a document called the Chairman's Mark. Click here to download the PDF of the Chairman's Mark (497K),...

By Emily Messner | March 21, 2006; 10:48 AM ET | Comments (88)

The Paranoid Fringe of the Immigration Debate

In the debate over immigration, perfectly reasonable arguments can be made in support of many different points of view. Even still, unreasonable arguments abound, generally championed by fringe groups consisting of those who are either racist, paranoid or both. So let's get the wacky fringe out of the way before we go any further. We can have a good laugh (or cry) about the fact that people really believe this stuff, and then we'll stick to arguments of merit for the rest of the week, rather than digressing into the absurd. The variety of absurdity to which I refer can be found at certain Web sites frequented by those worried about "anti-White legislation" and fretting that there won't be "enough strong white people with spines left to win a CWII." (That's "Civil War II" -- which apparently will be the result of immigration -- for those not familiar with the...

By Emily Messner | March 20, 2006; 1:51 PM ET | Comments (108)

This Week's Debate: Immigration

As the Senate Judiciary Committee heads toward a vote on immigration reform a week from today, The Debate turns its attention toward this divisive issue. We will debate the clash between America's fondest ideals of immigration -- "give me your tired, your poor," etc. -- and the country's informal, but perhaps more ingrained, tradition of xenophobia. Up for discussion: the Border Patrol vs. the border crossers; the wisdom of guest worker programs vs. amnesty; concerns over terrorism and drug trafficking; and the disparity between federal immigration laws and federal enforcement of those laws. The failure of enforcement spawned groups like the Minutemen, originally dedicated to assisting the U.S. Border Patrol (which adamantly insists the help isn't needed.) The Minutemen movement has spread across the country, fighting a guerrilla war against illegal immigration. In Herndon, Virginia, the Minutemen spend their mornings trying to intimidate day laborers. For a balanced and intimate...

By Emily Messner | March 20, 2006; 7:21 AM ET | Comments (57)

Asterisks in the Record Books?

Major League Baseball used to be Debater Alex Ham's favorite sport, but that feeling has faded over the past few years of steroid scandals. "It's disgusting and an insult to greats like Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, and Roger Maris," Ham writes, arguing that offenders' records should be wiped off the books. Perhaps that's too drastic. Maybe they should be marked with an asterisk to indicate that the means used to break those records weren't necessarily legit, as advocated by Debater gord. I'd like to support that idea, but if Jose Canseco is correct in his statement that steroids were readily accepted in the 1980s and early '90s in baseball, how will we ever know which records need asterisks? Which game-winning home runs were made possible by performance-enhancing drugs? Which decisive World Series runs were batted in by steroid-pumped players? Is there any way to fairly differentiate the rule breakers from...

By Emily Messner | March 17, 2006; 4:50 PM ET | Comments (23)

Why Is Congress on Steroids?

Several Debaters have made comments like this one, saying the issue of performance-enhancing drugs in sports doesn't matter, it's not relevant, and there are more important things to discuss. But surely if The Debate has more important things to discuss, the same can be said of Congress. So why did they jump into this issue so forcefully -- especially when there are laws against illegal drug use and distribution already on the books? In introducing the Integrity in Professional Sports Act, Sen. Bunning made his case for Congressional involvement, arguing that Congress needs "to restore some integrity to the games that tens of millions of Americans enjoy so much." Oh really? That sounds an awful lot like the rationale cited when the House decided last December that they needed to intervene to "protect Christmas." Is it really the place of Congress -- in charge of a budget so large that...

By Emily Messner | March 17, 2006; 12:34 PM ET | Comments (13)

National Security Strategy Puts Iran on Notice

Yes, the 2006 National Security Strategy released yesterday looks a lot like the 2002 strategy.* The commitment to the fundamental doctrine outlined in 2002 -- preemption -- remains a key component, it still aims to promote freedom and democracy, and both versions even reference September 11, 2001 the same number of times (seven). The 2006 revision does include a new tenth chapter, titled "Engage the Opportunities and Confront the Challenges of Globalization," and a two-paragraph conclusion. The other nine chapters of the 2006 report have identical titles to those in the 2002 report. Perhaps the identical chapter names are intended to show that this administration is "staying the course," following the same strategy it outlined four years ago. One could also see it as betraying a certain laziness and indicating that their thinking hasn't evolved much over time, in spite of the many lessons that should have been learned over...

By Emily Messner | March 17, 2006; 11:14 AM ET | Comments (67)

Censure: Dodging Dems and a Giddy GOP

Dear Debaters, Here's little meat for those of you who find the steroids issue uninteresting: Sen. Russ Feingold's resolution to censure the president for misleading the American people over the domestic surveillance program -- political gimmick or principled stance? From the very little we do know of the program, the "whereas" clauses in Feingold's resolution (describing the relevant laws and Bush's statements) are accurate. Nonetheless, Republicans -- and the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board -- can barely contain their glee at what they see as an overeager Feingold showing the Democrats' hand before the November elections. Dana Milbank describes flustered Democrats "fleeing" their weekly caucus lunch "out a back door as if escaping a fire." So why'd he do it? Why now? Obviously, it's not because his Democratic party colleagues were banging down his door to introduce a censure resolution -- ThinkProgress's running tally of S. Res. 398's supporters...

By Emily Messner | March 16, 2006; 1:54 AM ET | Comments (212)

What About the Fans?

Hardcore baseball fans seem to be pretty well split on this issue. Roman Modrowski, blogging at the Chicago Sun-Times, contends most fans don't care whether a player used performance-enhancing drugs. Debater Alex Ham, however, most definitely does care. He says Major League Baseball used to be his favorite sport, but that feeling has faded over the past few years of steroid scandals: "It's disgusting and an insult to greats like Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, and Roger Maris." Dave Adelman makes the good point that there are plenty of factors besides steroids that have contributed to better performance by players over the years, including smaller ballparks, the "juiced" ball and year-round athletic conditioning. These factors have made for more spectacular hits, and arguably, happier fans. (Most of us have been to games that are still 0-0 in the eighth -- and not because of impressive defensive plays. As a lifelong Orioles...

By Emily Messner | March 15, 2006; 2:25 PM ET | Comments (18)

Enhancing the Team, or Just the Individual?

The earliest news item I can find that includes the term "performance-enhancing drugs" is a New York Times article from Oct. 27, 1982, the headline of which poses an interesting question: "Is Sportsmanship on the Decline?" Let's evaluate. Sportsmanship means fairness. PEDs provide athletes with an unfair advantage over their competition -- and their teammates. Widespread use of PEDs with minimal repercussions encourages the abuse and tacitly pressures non-users to turn to steroids just to keep up. (Some have argued that's all the more reason to open sports up to steroid use. I'm not convinced.) Sportsmanship means taking losses graciously. By not playing fair, PED-using athletes prove that they aren't good losers. Otherwise, why take such a win-at-any-cost approach? Sportsmanship means being a team player. Unnaturally beefing up (allegedly, that is) might be helpful to the team as a whole, but Barry Bonds's and Mark McGwire's home run records and...

By Emily Messner | March 15, 2006; 9:49 AM ET | Comments (12)

The Facts: Performance - Enhancing Drugs

I admit, before researching this topic, I figured "performance-enhancing drugs" was just a pretty name for steroids. In fact, steroids are only one form of PEDs* -- others, depending on the sport, can include valium, creatine, and various hormones and stimulants. ESPN provides a detailed look at several different categories of drugs that could be used by athletes in its eight-part series "Drugs and Sports." There's a not-too-technical overview of how PEDs work at HowStuffWorks, and for solid information on the unsavory side effects of PEDs, check out this fact sheet from the Mayo Clinic. Of course, many PEDs are perfectly legal, which is why organizations like the World Anti-Doping Agency define quite precisely what substances are prohibited and, for those not entirely off limits, what amounts are permissible. See WADA's 2006 list of prohibited substances for the specifics. Valium, for instance, could reasonably be prescribed to help a nervous...

By Emily Messner | March 14, 2006; 10:06 AM ET | Comments (22)

This Week's Debate: Performance - Enhancing Drugs

The buzz about performance-enhancing drugs is back in anticipation of the March 27 release of Game of Shadows, a book detailing alleged steroid use by baseball superstar Barry Bonds. The issue is of such great concern that Congress held hearings about it last year, and given the allegations in this book, might take up the issue again soon. Some of the testimony given to members of Congress last March was less than encouraging. Jose Canseco testified that steroids were perfectly acceptable in baseball throughout the 1980s and early '90s. Mark McGwire repeatedly refused to talk about "the past," saying "my lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family and myself." Rafael Palmeiro denied having ever used steroids, only to test positive six weeks later -- leading Congress to investigate his testimony. Palmeiro served a short suspension for the offense in August. This...

By Emily Messner | March 13, 2006; 10:04 AM ET | Comments (37)

How Will We Know if It's Civil War?

After a week of debating, the question remains unanswered: How will we know when the line has been crossed between "sectarian violence" and "civil war"? I hoped the Pentagon could shed some light on the subject for us. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Iraq "is not in civil war at the present time, by most experts' calculations," the Post reported. Experts who follow the traditional definition of civil war, however, disagree. It is therefore reasonable to ask how the U.S. military judges what constitutes a civil war. Number of casualties? Duration of the conflict? Lt. Col. Barry Venable took my phone call, and answered that "greatly increased levels of violence" would be one indicator of civil war. But a big jump in sectarian violence has already happened, sparked by the bombing of the Askariya mosque last month. Venable responded that such an assessment was arguable. Yet Gen. John Abizaid...

By Emily Messner | March 10, 2006; 3:41 PM ET | Comments (146)

The Costs of War

In the comments of the last post, Debater Larry posted this link to a running counter of Iraq war spending. At the moment, it displays a number that is more than $246 billion and rising rapidly. The site also provides links that put the amount into perspective using comparisons; for example, that amount of money could provide every child in the world basic immunizations for 82 years. (An explanation of how they calculated the comparisons can be found here.) Another Debater followed Larry's link and responded, "Wow! Is this true??" One of the missions of this blog is to provide links to the hard facts behind the claims, always in the interest of fostering informed debate. So, here goes: Based on Congressional appropriations figures, the counter appears to be pretty accurate. As of June 2005, DOD had racked up about $160 billion in obligations for the Iraq war (see page...

By Emily Messner | March 9, 2006; 10:44 AM ET | Comments (114)

Iraqi Bloggers Blame Their Leaders

A survey of Iraqi bloggers reveals considerable frustration with their elected leaders. Mohammed of Iraq the Model shares the thought-provoking dialogue he had with his father after a morning of intense mortar fire left its mark on a nearby house. Mohammed asks his dad whether the violence in Iraq will escalate. Dad responds, "Most likely yes, we are a state still run by sentiments rather than reason which means it's a brittle state and any sentimental overreaction can turn the tide in either direction." Over at Hammorabi, the blame for this instability falls squarely on the shoulders of the politicians who support terrorism "directly or indirectly," by delaying the formation of a permanent government. Treasure of Baghdad states that those running Iraq today are the same bunch who led the uprising against the Baathists in 1991 -- an uprising that failed, he writes, because the "Badrists" started killing indiscriminately. The...

By Emily Messner | March 8, 2006; 6:16 AM ET | Comments (93)

This Week's Debate: A Civil War in Iraq?

As sectarian violence continues -- with three mosques attacked over the weekend -- The Debate turns once again to the situation in Iraq. Following the Feb. 22 bombing in Samarra of the Askariya mosque, which is of particular significance to Shiite Muslims, violence between Sunnis and Shiites spiked, prompting cliché-filled speculation that the country is "spiraling into civil war." The Baghdad Burning blog offers readers a portrait of the beginnings of the crisis. Within a week, the violence had claimed the lives of more than 1,300 Iraqis. Just two days after the Samarra attack, the New York Times (subscription required for articles more than a week old) reported in the second sentence of a page one story that the "threat of full-scale civil war loomed over the country." Two days after that, in the Sunday Times's Week in Review section, Steven R. Weisman was already imagining what a civil war...

By Emily Messner | March 6, 2006; 6:47 AM ET | Comments (160)

Alienating Our Arab Allies

"The nativist opposition to the port deal ... [throws] a wrench into the workings of globalisation while declaring that people's background matters more than anything else," writes Gideon Rose in a subscription-only piece in the Financial Times. As we've discussed here quite a bit in recent days, plenty of other foreign-owned and foreign government-owned companies operate in the United States, in industries considered intertwined with our national security -- aviation, cargo transport and even defense. Up until a couple weeks ago, objections to these arrangements were few and far between. The furor of animosity to foreign ownership arose only when a Middle Eastern company tried to get in the game, and that glaring contradiction worsens America's image in the rest of the world. An FT news story supports that conclusion, reporting that "among top Arab businessmen, many of whom are U.S.-educated, there is a strong sense that the backlash...

By Emily Messner | March 3, 2006; 4:57 PM ET | Comments (161)

* Ever Visited Dubai, Senator?

Kristof's statement led me to wonder just how many of the Dubai Ports World deal's vocal opponents have actually visited Dubai .......

By Emily Messner | March 3, 2006; 4:56 PM ET | Comments (22)

Finding Facts Amid the Ports Controversy

With something like 90 percent of the world's goods transported by sea, the shipping business wields immense power. It can bring longstanding foes together -- as in this joint venture between China's Communist Party-controlled COSCO and Taiwan's Evergreen Marine. Conversely, conflicts over shipping could potentially tear newfound friendships apart. The divide between the United States and the emirate of Dubai grows wider by the day; perhaps a bit of truthsquad-ing might help reduce the rift. Former Congresswoman Helen Bentley of Baltimore, who was a champion of port security before it was cool, tried to set the record straight on the Dubai deal in a letter to the Baltimore Sun. She pointed out that the Maryland Ports Administration will continue to "run" the port of Baltimore. If the controversial Dubai Ports World deal goes forward, the firm will only operate one of Baltimore's port terminals, and part of another, while bidding...

By Emily Messner | March 2, 2006; 9:50 AM ET | Comments (155)

Is Foreign Government Ownership Necessarily Bad?

"The ferocity of United States legislators' opposition to a United Arab Emirates company gaining control of a number of key American ports is getting out of control," editorializes Singapore's Straits Times. The editorial asks what might have happened had Singapore's PSA, Dubai Ports World's major competitor for British port operator P&O, won the bidding war. PSA is the world's third-largest port operator, a division of Temasek Holdings. "Temasek is a state agency," the Straits Times notes. "Singapore yields to no one in the fight against terror. Would being located in a region where terror is active be a certifiable handicap or an endorsement for preparedness?" An excellent question. Going by the logic of many DPW opponents, it was fine for P&O to operate terminals in U.S. ports because it's British, and there aren't as many terrorists in Britain, so it's not a threat to national security. (We've already mentioned the...

By Emily Messner | March 1, 2006; 5:55 AM ET | Comments (131)

 

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