Dubai & Consequences
Now that American politicians and the media have managed to drag Dubai through the mud, they're coming to the realization that they may have also done some lasting damage to our country's relationship with one of our few Arab allies. Nice job! As Bill Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, said:
he doesn't think opponents of the deal on Capitol Hill gave much thought to the possibility that blocking the deal could boomerang and end up hurting U.S. companies. "It's the law of unintended consequences," he says.
The biggest loser in the short-term, according to Reinsch, is the Bush administration, which has been trying to create a Middle East free trade zone modeled on NAFTA that would extend trade privileges with the United States to countries from North Africa all the way to Iraq by 2013.
Our wonderful representatives in Congress have screwed numerous businesses (and the middle class folks who are employed by them) in their zeal to gain some quick political points in time for the mid-term elections.
But Congress isn't the only bad guy here. I have rarely been as disgusted with the reporting of a story as much as I have been with how the Dubai Ports deal has been presented in the media. Did any reporter investigate why DP World wanted this deal? Or what their work has been like in the rest of the world? Of course not. The assumption was simply that these "scary Arabs" wanted to infiltrate American ports and blow them up or something. I never read any talk about what DP World could actually bring to port security. At least not until I read this after the deal was killed:
A top Gulf businessman in the transport business, and with links to the US, portrayed the outcome of the controversy as a huge missed opportunity. He said the DP World deal would have given US Customs and Port Authorities unparallelled insight and resources around the world.
“If US customs wanted to make an intervention on a suspected container they would have been able to do so as part of a seamless supply-chain service in the country of their choice. This is already happening today. However, the tie-up would only have cemented this relationship further and dramatically contributed to strengthening security,” he said.
Morever, why haven't I seen a slew of profile pieces about Dubai and its leaders? If this is such an important story, then shouldn't we know more about the country we're dealing with? Americans have a negative opinion of Dubai because they don't know anything about it. Would that change if they:
- Remembered that the UAE gave $100 million to Hurricane Katrina victims last year
- That Dubai's leader, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, personally gave nearly $10 million to 9/11 victims in the weeks following the attack.
- That the US military already uses ports in Dubai for its warships and was firmly behind the port deal
- That Dubai's Emirates Airlines flies into JFK twice-daily non-stop from Dubai. Think about what that means for a second:
The home-country security for these flights is the responsibility of Muslim security officers and screeners. Any of these flights could simply veer off course and take out a skyscraper in a matter of seconds. Any of them could carry a nuclear weapon into our skies and detonate it over a city. Why are no politicians propounding on this threat? Should we shut them down? Even if we did, would that really end the threat?
A great (and rather lonely) article in the Hawaii Reporter really sums it up nicely:
The UAE is no democracy, but it is a trade-oriented society rightly seen as the “Hong-Kong of the Gulf.” About 60 percent of the UAE’s 3.4 million residents are non-native. The UAE is currently host to more US Navy ships than any foreign port. It is a banking, tourism, and shipping center for the entire region. In surveys, a plurality of Iraqis indicate the UAE is the country they would most like to emulate.
Among Islamic countries the UAE is one of the most progressive. If we choose to wall ourselves off from a country such as this, then what are we doing in Iraq or Afghanistan? The entire strategy of forcing the development of democracy is at question and the questions are being asked by the usual isolationist forces on both left and right joined by hordes of political opportunists.
We can bring about mutual respect with the Islamic world based on the spread of democracy, trade, cultural and diplomatic exchanges -- and military action as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Failing that, the options only get uglier: fight a nuclear war, or surrender to gangs of nuclear armed head chopping baby killers. A U.S.-Soviet style detent is not even a temporary option with nuclear terrorists.
No strategy is without risk. President Bush’s strategy emphasizing development of broad military, political, diplomatic and economic relations with Muslim societies as full or partial allies in the war on terror has paid off in terms of thousands of terrorists captured or killed. The risk of abandoning this strategy is far greater than the risks associated with continuing it.
The only reason I know anything about Dubai is because of the Maktoum family's involvement in horse racing. Sheik Mohammed is arguably the world's top owner and breeder of thoroughbred horses. By following his racing enterprise, you can actually learn a lot about Dubai's ruler. One thing you quickly learn is his immense pride in his country. The Maktoum family has built Dubai from an oil-fed city into the great trading, financial and tourism center of the Middle East. It's an amazing accomplishment.
What American politicians and media members have done is dismiss that accomplishment and defined Dubai soley in terms of the race and religion of its people. We just told the Maktoums that the only thing that really matters about them is that they're Arab and Muslim.
I really wouldn't blame the UAE if they got out of a whole bunch of business deals with American companies in the next few weeks after the way they were treated. And, I'm so rooting for one of the Maktoum's horses to win the Kentucky Derby this year. Go Discreet Cat!
Posted by at March 11, 2006 09:08 AM
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|# March 11th, 2006 9:36 AM marcus|
|Charles Krauthammer says there will be real consequences but they will be subtle.
I think the most obvious one is the option for 20 Boeing 777s may not be exercised (and this assumes the deal for the 42 continues as agreed to) and in the future Emirates Air will probably only use Boeing as a means to keep Airbus honest.
What reward is there for cooperation?
|# March 11th, 2006 9:41 AM kris|
|The one thing I would say to Dubai is that they do need to have a higher profile in the US. Sheik Mohammed comes off as a quite likeable and dynamic person, or alternatively, his young wife, Princess Haya is already a UN goodwill ambassador. I think they need to give the country a face.
The Maktoum family has had an extremely low profile during this whole thing. If that was because their still in mourning for Sheik Maktoum, that's understandable, but otherwise I think someone needs to get out there and basically do PR for Dubai in the US.
They're an interesting family. Sheik Mohammed has a daughter who is an international kick boxing champion. Who in the world would expect that??
|# March 11th, 2006 6:58 PM BVBigBro|
|Bush needs to take the heat for this one. His refusal to go to bat from the start is the reason this deal failed. |
|# March 19th, 2006 1:04 PM internets|
|Bush did not even know about this deal ( link ). It's just another example of him not having what it takes to do the difficult job of running this country.
|# March 19th, 2006 1:39 PM james|
|so then despite not having "what it takes to run the country," the country has run just fine for 5+ years. yeah, your assertion makes perfect sense.
do you think that steve ballmer knows the details of every single deal that microsoft makes? this may surprise you, but something as mundane a choosing which company to give one of 10,000+ contracts to isnt something that the president personally does. that's why the executive branch has thousands of employees.
but logic like that doesnt matter to people like you - one day, chrissy, a secretary in room 4 of the new executive office building might mistakenly bring salmonella-tainted meat to work in her lunch. she'll get sick, it'll make other people sick, and pinheads like you will be there saying "this just shows that bush is unqualified to run the country! he should have known what she was bringing to lunch each day!"
you dont like the president. boo hoo. that doesnt mean that he's not qualified to run the country. get over it.
|# March 19th, 2006 3:28 PM internets|
|"has run just fine for 5+ years"? Okay, the national debt is knocking on 9T$, with no end to deficits in sight. The supposed quick war in Iraq which we were told would pay for itself is of course a big reason for those same deficits. Do you think that was well managed? Or was that another smelly fish episode?
Those are (just some) of the reasons I say he's not up to job.
|# March 19th, 2006 3:46 PM james|
|1) the president never said the war would be quick or fast. in fact, he said the opposite. quit making things up.
2) the national debt has been growing since 1940. were all of those presidents also "not up to the job?"
bush and this congress like to spend money. you disagree with that. so do a lot of people. but that doesn't make any of them "unqualified."
if you want to sound like less of a loon, you should say things like "i disagree with what that person is doing," rather than "that person did not do what i would have done, therefore he is unqualified."
and really, look at you - you pick an inflammatory name like "internets," then you come in here and start trolling, not even talking on topic. do you expect to be taken seriously? the topic, in case you missed it, is the Dubai ports deal, not the president's qualifications.
your wife must love talking to you-
her: "honey, i chose to wear the red dress tonight."
you: "you did? how typical! this is just another example of how you are not qualified to handle clothing! the plain clear and obvious choice was the black dress! this is all because of your mother! ive been telling you for years that your mother breast fed you too long, and look, im right! see! im right! you are unqualified to make decisions!"
|# March 21st, 2006 11:19 AM marcus|
|The Administration bungled the DPW deal bigtime.
The people that vetted the deal should have realized the deal would have been very controversial. They should have kicked it up to cabinet level and up to the Presidential levels not necessarily for approval (which was already done) but for preparation on handling the PR of it all. The President's veto threat really did not sit well with many and probably pushed more than a few over to opposition.