Ohh man, where to begin on this one? Hmm, let's start with some Key Quotes first: President Bush: They — in working with our folks, they've agreed to make sure that their coordination with our security folks is good and solid. I really don't understand why it's OK for a British company to operate our ports but not a company from the Middle East, when our experts are convinced that port security is not an issue; that having worked with this company, they're convinced that these — they'll work with those who are in charge of the U.S. government's responsibility for securing the ports, they'll work hand in glove. I want to remind people that when we first put out the Container Security Initiative, the CSI, which was a new way to secure our ports, UAE was one of the first countries to sign up.
In other words, we're receiving goods from ports out of the UAE, as well as where this company operates. And so I, after careful review of our government, I believe the government ought to go forward. And I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British (sic) company. I'm trying to conduct foreign policy now by saying to people of the world, we'll treat you fairly. And after careful scrutiny, we believe this deal is a legitimate deal that will not jeopardize the security of the country, and at the same time, send that signal that we're willing to treat people fairly.Michelle Malkin: First, the deal will outsource port operations not just to any "foreign-based company"--but to a state-owned entity based in a known transit point for al Qaeda operatives and a key transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya. Second, of course, there's no such thing as a perfect defense. Should we never subject any Mideast companies or individuals to heightened scrutiny because it would offer "no security guarantees?" [...] The issue is not whether day-to-day, on-the-ground conditions at the ports would change. They presumably wouldn't. The issues are whether we should grant the demonstrably unreliable UAE access to sensitive information and management plans about our key U.S ports, which are plenty insecure enough without adding new risks, and whether the decision process was thorough and free from conflicts of interest. Wall Street Journal: Critics also forget, or conveniently ignore, that the UAE government has been among the most helpful Arab countries in the war on terror. It was one of the first countries to join the U.S. container security initiative, which seeks to inspect cargo in foreign ports. The UAE has assisted in training security forces in Iraq, and at home it has worked hard to stem terrorist financing and WMD proliferation. UAE leaders are as much an al Qaeda target as Tony Blair. As for the Democrats, we suppose this is a two-fer: They have a rare opportunity to get to the right of the GOP on national security, and they can play to their union, anti-foreign investment base as well. At a news conference in front of New York harbor, Senator Chuck Schumer said allowing the Arab company to manage ports "is a homeland security accident waiting to happen." Hillary Clinton is also along for this political ride.
So the same Democrats who lecture that the war on terror is really a battle for "hearts and minds" now apparently favor bald discrimination against even friendly Arabs investing in the U.S.? Guantanamo must be closed because it's terrible PR, wiretapping al Qaeda in the U.S. is illegal, and the U.S. needs to withdraw from Iraq, but these Democratic superhawks simply will not allow Arabs to be put in charge of American longshoremen. That's all sure to play well on al Jazeera.
Moreover, while the UAE has become a war on terror partner, its history is checkered — to say the least. Critics claim that the UAE recognized the Taliban, and al Qaeda used it in 9/11 preparations. Dubai, a Middle Eastern banking “Mecca,” has long been the crossroads of money laundering and terrorist financing. In addition, the UAE has ties to Iran, and Pakistan’s Dr. Strangelove, A. Q. Khan, used the Emirates as a shipping hub for his nuke network.Lileks: It’s remarkably tone deaf. It’s possible that the Administration did some quiet polling, and asked the question “How much Arab control over American ports are you comfortable with,” and misinterpreted stunned silence as assent. It’s possible the Administration believed that this would be seen as outreach, an act of faith to solidify a Key Ally, and didn’t think there’d be much hubbub – but if that’s the case, it’s the best example of the Bubble Theory I’ve heard, and I’ve not heard much convincing evidence. Until now. The average American’s reaction to handing port control over to the UAE is instinctively negative, and for good reason. There are two basic reactions: We can’t do this ourselves? and We should trust them, why? [...] But the specifics don’t matter; arguments about the specific nature of the Dubai Ports World organization’s global reach and responsible track records don’t matter. Because it feels immediately, instinctively wrong to nearly every American, and that isn’t something that can be argued away with charts or glossy brochures. It just doesn’t sit well. Period. RWNH: So what’s the problem? The problem is in the atmospherics of this deal.
The problem is with the tone deaf bureaucrats of CFIUS who okayed this deal in the first place. They may have gotten some DoD flunky to vote for it in Committee but not bothering to brief the Secretary of Defense or the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff about it only contributes to the notion that they are not taking port security very seriously.
The problem is with the incompetence (or arrogance) of the supposedly vaunted White House political operation in treating this deal like a routine transaction when the involvement of a Middle Eastern country whose toleration and support for the Wahhabi brand of Islam was sure to cause trouble on the Hill. Then there’s also the minor matter involving the UAE being a banking Mecca for terrorism. I find it more than a little ironic that monies we’re pouring into the banking system of that country could be used to plan and carry out attacks against our own country.
The problem was in not recognizing that the deal would give your ravenous and out of control enemies on the left and in the press a great big T-Bone steak of an issue to chew on in the immediate aftermath of the Cheney debacle. These are people who were gnawing on your leg while bodies were still floating in the floodwaters of New Orleans. Just what in God’s name were they thinking?
The problem is that given the lukewarm response of our government to the cartoon jihad, the President’s strongest and most vocal supporters would see this deal as one more nod, one more cave-in to Muslim sensibilities rather than the good business deal it almost certainly is. Taking the base for granted in anything is bad politics. In this case, it demonstrates an ineptness that would be troubling if we weren’t getting used to it by now.
Finally, the problem is President Bush. One of the major reasons we went to war in Iraq and have sacrificed so much was based on the idea – a good one – that after 9/11 we couldn’t take the chance that Saddam would make common cause with al Qaeda and supply them with weapons of mass destruction. It wasn’t important how likely that possibility was at the time. The point was that we just couldn’t take the chance.
And now here we are 3 years later and we are taking what I believe is a similar chance that a company owned by a state that has refused to recognize Israel, that acted as a waystation for al Qaeda in the lead-up to 9/11, and despite protestations to the contrary, is run like a Medieval fiefdom with trafficking in white slavery, illegal arms, and drugs some of its more unseemly activities. It is “stable” only as long as Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum – “Sheik Mo” as he is called by his subjects – can keep the lid on the resentments of the hundreds of thousands of foreign workers who live in virtual slavery and who do the scut work that the natives and western contractors don’t feel like doing.Read all that? you are a champ. Now let's decipher all of this crap, shall we? The way I see it, logically there should be no reason why an arab company- especially one that is a MNC- can't bid and win the right to operate US ports. To deny them the right to in the bid, based on the fact that they are arab alone, is, as you know, wrong. It may not feel right, but, technically, that was never a problem in business. It didn't feel right when Halliburton took those no bid contracts in Iraq either, but, you know, they are one of the few qualified companies to do their kind of work and chances are it would've been them winning the bid, if not on the very short list of contenders. But then again, Halliburton is a US company, so little to fear there for reactionaries. However... There is legitimate concern when a foriegn government is the one handeling your ports, arab or not. It just goes a little on the bad side when that foreign goverment is an arabic Islamic one, in a time where the US is fighting this war right next door. That, my friends , I agree, doesn't feel right. I am the first to admit and defend how moderate the UAE is and how they haven't been involved in terrorism or funding it in any way as far as I am concerned and can see. However, imagine the uproar if it was a company owned by the US government the one in charge of the UAE ports. Accusations of imperialism and zionistic conspiracies would spring eternal. It's sad, but it's expected and while I disapprove of it, I understand it. Anyway... It seems to me, personally, that the actual problem with US ports is the fact that only 3% of all Cargo containers get checked. This means that Anyone who wants to smuggle anything in has a 97% success rate. That's scary! That's the thing you should al be up in arms about. Shit, if there are too many ships in your opinion, then at least go for 30% getting checked. Least you can do, you know? So , basically, I wouldn't approve of this deal personally just because it's a company that is foreign-government owned, but denying it on the basis of "but they are sandmonkeys" just isn't good enough. I think this will lead to a review of the deal and people will do their due dilligance and work and will come out and say either YAY or Nay. I also think that the senators and the congressmen are exploiting the issue for the 06 elections. That we are seeing what will even be a republican strategy for the 06 elections: attack Bush. Show you are independent from the republican establishment. Yes. That's the ticket. But again, it's sad that none of the senators or congresmen are bringing this issue up in terms of sovreignty, and are doing the whole "Bush is caving in to the arabs" routine. I personally think its admireable of Bush to take the stand that he is taking, and that it should show the arabs in the US why they can't trust the democrats to be on their side of anything. That they claim to be "on the arabs side" for the conveinece of it all, and that the fact that US muslims have always historically voted for the republican party was always the soundest decision they could make. Anywhoo... I guess we will have to wait and see how this one plays out, huh?