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  • About that Dubai Port Deal

       February 23, 2006

    Democrats and Republicans alike are in a tizzy over the proposed sale of shipping operations of six US ports to Dubai. I'm in a tizzy over the reaction to this proposed sale. I'm amazed that people who piss and moan over the injustice of "racially profiling" young, male, Arab non-citizens at US airports are suddenly willing to racially profile an entire country. Politicians and the press have turned this deal into nothing more than another joke at the President's expense.

    Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not entirely comfortable with the notion of selling port operations to any country, but I'm not any more concerned with Dubai taking charge than I would be with Great Britain or Poland, for example.

    The political spin on this story is that it's just more evidence that Bush is an idiot. Unfortunately for the spinners, all they're doing is exposing themselves as idiots who know absolutely nothing about Dubai. I think most Americans think Dubai is just another Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. They couldn't be more wrong. Dubai gets only 6% of its revenue from oil. The country has made a concentrated effort to move from an oil-based economy to a trade and tourism-based economy (check out the Palm Islands or The World Archipelago).

    While Dubai is a Muslim country, it's a pretty secular Muslim country. You can find a seven star hotel, incredible shopping, Hindu shrines and even Catholic churches inside its borders. Dubai has been a trading center for centuries, so it's no surprise that the country would excel in shipping operations. It's what they do. Dubai isn't led by some fat pasha, but rather by the dynamic and visionary Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. Sheik Mohammed, it's worth noting, donated $5 million immediately, and later, the winnings of his horses in the Breeders Cup races in NYC a couple of months after 9/11, and he publically denounced the attacks. Sheik Mohammed's second wife, Princess Haya of Jordan, is interesting in her own right. Rather than being just some harem hottie, she's an Olympian equestrian. Dubai's leadership isn't sitting pretty in their oil money and letting the rest of the country fester resentment. They are trying to build something better and more sustainable for their nation. Dubai is type of Muslim nation we should be building relationships with instead of throwing a potential partner away.

    Dubai isn't a western nation and it isn't perfect, but to act like it's Iran or something is completely ridiculous and is just another example of the way both parties and the press and bloggers ignore simple facts and shun deeper analysis when there are political points to be won.


    Posted by at February 23, 2006 09:56 AM

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    Comments

    #  February 23rd, 2006 10:23 AM      jagorham
    I'm not sure if the "Bush-is-an-idiot" thing applies here, but the "Bush-won't-communicate" problem really glares here.

    At best, the ongoing "we [the Executive branch] know what's best, so we don't need to consult with outsiders" approach is condescending. At worst, it smacks of imperialism.
     
     
    #  February 23rd, 2006 10:33 AM      kris
    who exactly should they be consulting with? do you think anyone in Congress has some special knowledge of port operations? or perhaps we should hold a nationwide referendum to decide on the deal. I know, companies could compete for the deal on a reality show. It'll be The Apprentice meets American Idol.  
     
    #  February 23rd, 2006 10:50 AM      JohnTant
    I don't know that it's a consulting issue the Administration has per se. I see it more as a lack of communication in general.

    I think Bush should have come out first and said something like "we know this is a sensitive thing considering the War on Terror, but we are OK with this deal for the following reasons..." Instead there was a, let's face it, rather startling story that some middle eastern country was going to run one of our ports. This led itself quickly to quite a bit of misreporting on the subject, including bits about the UAE being responsible for port security (they won't be). The way this story looks, even if reported straight, is odd enough that more rationale from the Administration would have been nice.

    That said, there are a few things to be concerned about in this deal (like why can't an American company run the port? Oh, because the only US company that can do so is Halliburton...never mind), like Michelle Malkin's recent point that the issue is whether or not a UAE company should have access to the inner workings of our port security plans. And that's a reasonable point.

    But let's look at the flip side. Is the UAE really going to sink many millions of dollars into this deal so as to smuggle things into the US? If so, then I kindly suggest that the people advancing that theory should go take a few days in Arizona.  
     
    #  February 23rd, 2006 11:51 AM      james
    i think that many of them are exposing themselves as racists, not idiots. (though there is likely quite a bit of overlap between the two sets.) for instance, i saw "rational-thinking" hero bill maher on tv saying "im sorry - arabs can't run ports. too bad if it's racist. they're arabs." others were making similar points - saying "here we are concerned about security and bush outsources this to a middle eastern country!"

    i agree with kris and john, and think that an american company should be running these ports. it's a government contract, after all, and i think that govt has a duty to give preference to US based companies. i had no idea that the previous company running the ports is UK based. but if not an american company, why not one based in dubai?

    i happened to catch a lot of the coverage on the day the hailstorm first erupted, because i was waiting to see something else on CNN that ended up being mostly bumped so that the CNN anchors could instead express their outrage over bush's alleged stupidity.

    it seemed that the early reaction was all anti-arab. later, after president bush asked the media "why is it ok for a UK based company to run the ports but not one from another country?" the unmasked racists started saying "no, no, no, it's not that it's a muslim based country, it's that the company is state run. yeah, right. no one knew that until later in the day. these people changed their tune but were still playing the same song, namely "arabs can't run ports."

    now, after a few days to consult with their advisors and spin gurus, the same people are citing "lack of communication" as the reason that they're concerned.

    they may well be concerned about a "lack of communication," but for many of these people, that isn't their primary concern. their primary concern, unmasked on the very first day by the excessive media coverage of their initial reaction was "arabs can't run ports."

    i wonder what these same people think when they see blacks running prisons, or koreans running the kennel club.

    make no mistake, these are the same people that rounded up japanese looking americans during WWII and put them in prison, just for looking too much like the enemy. these people lurk on both sides of the political aisle, and there are huge numbers of them.

    groups like the ACLU should be out applauding the president. where are they now?  
     
    #  February 23rd, 2006 11:59 AM      kris
    I agree with James, a lot of the reaction is completely racist.  
     
    #  February 23rd, 2006 6:52 PM      Daddy
    I'll out myself as being one of those racists.

    I don't care about being liked, or even about being respected. I care about my safety.

    I don't like ANY piece of America being subjected to ANY foreign interests, period. I think we should help our own people before we start doing favors for the rest of the world, especially when the rest of world is too ugly and ignorant to appreciate it (AHEM. Indonesia...).

    Dubai is interesting, and I considered going there for the annual Desert Rock Festival (because my favorite band, Saxon, is playing). Then I remembered...oh yeah. Muslim country. F-off.

    Mock internment all you want; I'm just sorry it isn't being done today. Anybody who came here from a Muslim country--better yet, any MUSLIMS. Out. Out out out. You people are the enemy. Sorry. Call me all the names you want--as long as you do it long distance. You're not gonna use our freedoms against us.

    If the UAE needs the ports that badly--and they don't--let 'em form an American corporation, run by Americans, with only American employees.

    America is for Americans; let Arab Muslims have Goatf*ckistan.  
     
    #  February 24th, 2006 12:20 AM      Squibbly
    Whoa now Daddy... "Mock internment all you want; I'm just sorry it isn't being done today. Anybody who came here from a Muslim country--better yet, any MUSLIMS. Out. Out out out. You people are the enemy. Sorry. Call me all the names you want--as long as you do it long distance. You're not gonna use our freedoms against us." Thats a bit extreme, and against everything that American stands for. What ever happened to:
    "Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

    Now I know that that is a bit idealistic, but internment is surely NOT even a reasonable response. My best friend growing up was half Iranian. Her Iranian grandparents were some of the best Americans I've ever met- hard working, active civically. And you are saying that people like that who work hard and love America should be locked up? Come now. Thats being a little too paranoid. And where do you draw the line? My grandfather was interned during WW2. He was born and raised in America; it was the only country he knew. He can't even speak Japanese! Yet he was locked up by someone using your logic. Just lock up everyone who looks a little different? I am not sure exactly what the solution is, but I'm positive that internment is only a bad solution.  
     
    #  February 24th, 2006 1:14 AM      Daddy
    I know I sound unreasonable. However, we are not dealing with a reasonable enemy.

    That quote on the statue of liberty does not apply to jihadists, or their sympathizers. They are not yearning to breathe free; they are actively trying to stop me from breathing at all.

    Just lock up everyone who looks a little different? Nice try, mbrlr. ;) No, seriously, I can't tell a Muslim by the sight of 'em. To properly phrase that: Just THROW OUT anybody who PRACTICES THAT RELIGION. Plenty of room in Mexico and Canada....and think of all those cheap meds you can get!!

    Freedom of religion? Yeah, I know. Except....this religion has declared war on us. Think the framers saw this one coming?

    Finally, I know I sound like a real hard-ass, but--

    Her Iranian grandparents were some of the best Americans I've ever met

    Well--that's YOUR opinion. I don't know these people. I don't know where their sympathies truly lie.

    And you are saying that people like that who work hard and love America should be locked up?

    No, people who hate America should be SHIPPED OUT. (They can always try to sneak under the fence later if they REALLLY wanna be here). ;) Currently, every enemy in the War on Terror has been an Arab Muslim. Why should we make exceptions and give such a determined enemy an opportunity (to recruit, make connections, etc)? Again, I don't mind being called a racist--but I AM gonna be in one piece when I hear it.

    Islam sucks. (that's my way of saying goodbye!).
     
     
    #  February 24th, 2006 8:05 AM      BVBigBro
    I really fail to see what the big deal is over this one.  
     
    #  February 24th, 2006 11:01 AM      panama
    While Rice made statements to reporters dismissing concerns by Congress members the UAE government could be a threat to U.S. national security, a probe of the secretary's recent border deal found it has allowed terrorists to cross between Egypt and Gaza unimpeded -- with some militants possibly meeting Sinai-based jihadists. It also discovered regulations, some allegedly devised by Rice herself, have made it difficult for Israel to identify major breaches in border security.

    Departing for a trip to the UAE capital Abu Dhabi yesterday, Rice hailed the controversial pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to an Arab company owned by the United Arab Emirates.

    Meanwhile, Israeli security officials say a deal Rice brokered in November regarding control of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza is now a growing threat to the Jewish state's security.

    "If the border is not secure, the Palestinians would be in a position to create a terror entity in Gaza neighboring Israel, poised and ready to start a war," said an Israeli security official. "Indeed, that seems to be the case."

    In November, Rice extended a trip to Jerusalem to push through the Rafah crossing deal, which restricts Israel to monitor the area by camera, calls for a European presence at the border station, and gives the Palestinians some veto power on vehicles and persons entering Gaza.

    The American pressure was reportedly crucial in Israel agreeing to the border regulations.

    Critics fear an increased risk of terrorist attacks on American soil, pointing out money for the Sept. 11 attacks was wired through the UAE's banking system, according to U.S. officials. Two of the Sept. 11 hijackers were UAE citizens. Also, the UAE was one of only three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which harbored Osama bin Laden.

    It is time to conclude Rice's Rafah deal is an abject failure," said an official close to the deal.

    Hm,,mmm....... yeah this success story has my confidence up!,,,,,,,NOT
     
     
    #  February 24th, 2006 11:26 AM      marcus
    Dubai is interesting, and I considered going there for the annual Desert Rock Festival (because my favorite band, Saxon, is playing). Then I remembered...oh yeah. Muslim country. F-off.

    too bad Daddy. You missed the world's best ribs in Billy Blues a barbecue joint in one of Dubai's hotels.

    Countless USN sailors can tell you how great Pancho Villas in the Astoria Hotel of Dubai is.

    Why aren't you p'ing & moaning about P&O? The firm that currently runs the ports?

    As far as Panama's points go. None of those items you point out (with the recognition of the Taliban excepted) were government facilitated. The 9/11-19 lived in the USA, oh my god, can we trust the USA? Security procedures woudl be safer with the DPW than they would be with New York Times.

    One last point. The moderate Arab government is clearly being put into a position of damned if you do, damned if you don't. So what incentive do they have to cooperate with the WOT?  
     
    #  February 24th, 2006 12:01 PM      panama
    This is to Marcus.........maybe you can explain to us all who the "MODERATE ARAB GOVERNMENT " is ?
    I think the thing you and many might overlook ....is THEIR Religion and Government .... are one & the same.
    Its not alot different then the Cartoon wars going on .....IF you don't stand for something ,, you will fall for anything....

    Don't even talk to me about your time in Dubai.. I have spent 9 years in Saudi and know the ideology well...

    nice try , though!  
     
    #  February 24th, 2006 1:36 PM      Squibbly
    "No, people who hate America should be SHIPPED OUT. (They can always try to sneak under the fence later if they REALLLY wanna be here)."

    Hey I'm totally with you here. I wouldn't mind starting with some of the ultra-liberal environmentalists from my home state of Washington. The problem is how do you really know who is an America hater? I guess what you are proposing, "Just THROW OUT anybody who PRACTICES THAT RELIGION" is A solution. I just don't see it as a very realistic solution to happen here. And personally, I don't really like it.

    As for the original issue of port security. I really wish that we would just hire an American firm, but since that apparently isn't feasible, I would rather the contract go to our staunchest allies in the UK.  
     
    #  February 24th, 2006 1:37 PM      Squibbly
    "Nice try, mbrlr. ;)"

    Sorry... don't get it.  
     
    #  February 24th, 2006 2:11 PM      BVBigBro
    My understanding of the deal is that we are hiring nobody. The Dubai company is simply buying the company that currently manages the ports.  
     
    #  February 24th, 2006 9:49 PM      Daddy
    "Nice try, mbrlr. ;)"

    That was a reference to someone on the site who twists what we say so he can off on his own rants.  
     
    #  February 24th, 2006 10:05 PM      Daddy
    No, I don't think what I've posted is a realistic solution. I didn't mean for it to be taken as a serious proposal. I wanted to state my feelings, and I've done that.

    RE: You missed the world's best ribs in Billy Blues a barbecue joint in one of Dubai's hotels.

    Hey, are those HUMAN ribs recovered from victims of that mornning's hotel bombings?

    Sorry. Couldn't resist.

    Islam sucks!  
     
    #  February 25th, 2006 4:45 AM      panama
    Dubai isn't a western nation and it isn't perfect, but to act like it's Iran or something is completely ridiculous.

    I am not acting when I think that the reality of this Port Deal , has alot of things about it that have only come to LIGHT after the FACT.
    That does bother alot of us obviously.

    The Bottom line for my thinking is simple... why should Americans care what Dubai or any other part of the Middle-east is thinking about us , when in Reality they SURE don't take our thoughts into consideration?
    IF that was the case on a broad spectrum why is it .....any American who wants to visit the Middle-east such a Saudi , would not be allowed , unless you had a damn good reason to ...such as business ect./( NOT that many would want to visit there )
    Isn't that a clue we aren't welcome there ? How many Americans or Israelis are offended by the fact the Middle-East is Predjudice in its views towards us ? Why would our own security issues not be the first thing we concern ourselves with , rather then worry about who we might offend?
    I believe in Freedom of speech regardless and Americans should not succumb to pressure of trying to build a bridge to a country and ideology that expects us to be the only builders/ where security issues to our country are concerned .... That should be the MAJOR focus , regardless ! If it goes thru or it doesn't ....as long as it has been looked at thoroughly ( by OUR own Country with full access to the info.),,, and not this rush job and secret and lack of being informed until its already been signed stuff we are reading about in the news.
    I think it makes good sense... and to rush just leaves us vulnerable to get the clearest info. on what should be the right thing to do .  
     
    #  February 26th, 2006 1:20 AM      Squibbly
    "No, I don't think what I've posted is a realistic solution. I didn't mean for it to be taken as a serious proposal. I wanted to state my feelings, and I've done that."

    Excellent. And I've expressed my opinion and feelings. Ain't America great?!

    "That was a reference to someone on the site who twists what we say so he can off on his own rants."

    Thank you Daddy... now I am all up to speed.  
     
    #  March 10th, 2006 10:17 PM      marcus
    Panama,

    You know nothing about Dubai. Yeah, you lived in Saudi. Saudi and Dubai are are very different. Every person I have known who has spent time in both places confirms that.

    Seems to me all the beer and ham I bought in the UAE makes it just like Saudi. You drank too much sidiqqi.  
     
    #  March 13th, 2006 2:56 AM      c
    The Saxon fan among you will no doubt be sad, but not surprised, that tolerant Dubai has just banned his fav group!
    (I think the song Crusader did the damage)
    :)
    C
     
     
    #  March 13th, 2006 10:14 AM      BVBigBro
    Perhaps denim and leather could bring us all together.  
     

     

     


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