Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The United Arab Emirates Port Deal

The sharks are aroused.

Every now and then the Bush White House makes decisions that make its occupants seem politically tone-deaf. The nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court was one of those decisions. Even though I supported the Miers nomination, I am still wondering what the president was thinking on that one. At the same time, I still marvel at the ferocious reaction of so many conservatives to the Miers nomination. All reserve, all class, all civility went out the window.

Now we are seeing a repeat of that story in a different context. The White House is insisting on the proposed sale of the contract for port operations in several major U.S. cities to a firm owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates.

Conservatives have gone bonkers. (Laura Ingraham, for example, is already in her fully strident, grating, ridiculing mode that makes me want to switch my radio to NPR-- and it takes a lot to push me that far.)

Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are trying to use this deal to get to Bush's right on terrorism.

Bush says he'll veto any legislation that would stop the deal.

The battle lines are formed.

Again, I wonder: What's going on here? Why is this deal so important? Intuitively, it looks like terrible politics and questionable policy. Hugh Hewitt comments persuasively here. People like me, Bush supporters who also understand the concerns raised by other conservatives, are left in the same position we were in during the Harriet Miers fiasco: having to trust the White House. There must be something going on here that makes the president want to support this deal, even though it looks very questionable and has been rolled out with very little political preparation. The White House actually seems surprised by the negative reaction. (This is depressingly familiar.)

Most hard-right conservatives, however, do not trust this White House, and have no reservations about going after Bush with relentless fury. It will be interesting to see if the talk show circuit and NRO's Corner pursue Bush as viciously as they did during the Miers controversy. NRO is already in full attack mode. The blood is in the water; the sharks are aroused.

Stay tuned! If I were a betting man, I'd put all my money on this deal being killed. Just what the Bush Administration needs-- another embarrassing climb-down from a politically mishandled decision.

UPDATE: Big Lizards has the first even-handed analysis of this kerfluffle that I have seen in the conservative blogosphere. It's very much worth a read.

UPDATE 2: The always-colorful, always incisive George Berryman III at Alamo Nation has thoughts worth reading. They'll bring a smile to your face, too.


Blogger Harold C. Hutchison said...

The absolute ignorance of the UAE's relative openness as a society where religious tolerance is the rule, not the exception( and its status as a major non-NATO ally seem to be irrelevant.

This is a clear case of laying down a verdict, facts be damned. 

Posted by Harold C. Hutchison

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 7:26:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Just as you wonder what is going on politically to make this deal so important, I am wondering what has happened to our countries understanding of the importance of national security and protecting vital strategic interest. Teddy Roosevelt would never have allowed politics to override the security and national interest. 

Posted by Mark

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 7:42:00 AM  
Blogger The Hedgehog said...

Mark: My only real disagreement with you is that we just don't know enough yet to say that politics have been allowed to "override the security and national interest." I hope that critics on the right will hold their fire for at least a few days, but I doubt that'll happen. 

Posted by The Hedgehog

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 7:47:00 AM  
Blogger Harold C. Hutchison said...

It's a matter of rewarding a friend. Only one thing changes with the purchase of P&O by DP World: Profits go to Dubai, not England.

The UAE has been a very liberal, open, and religiously tolerant society (moreso than some Christians  in this country). One would think that this is something that conservatives would want to reward...

I guess I was mistaken. 

Posted by Harold C. Hutchison

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 7:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only reason that this topic is being made an issue among the American public  is because the word Arab is in the title of the country.

I would almost place money on the fact that at least 90% of Americans know anything of the Emirate culture, the progress of the city Dubai itself, and how in the future, the placement, structure, and functions of the city Dubai are going to affect this country. If anyone would like to put it in a futuristic sense, the profits from the ports would go towards a better future for this world.

Dubai is an ever expanding city that continually grows with the world in mind as it does. Can American claim this kind of development? 

Posted by Anonymous

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 3:23:00 PM  
Blogger Laer said...

I'm a rosy-future guy. I even see positives in the Askariya mosque bombing , for cryin' out loud. But I see nothing positive in this transaction.

Annonymous points to UAE as a model Arab state, and chides us for not liking the deal because the "A" in UAE stands for "Arab." That's true. America is not yet willing to forget what Arabs did to us. Politically, this deal is parallel to selling Japan operating rights to our ports in 1945. We shouldn't have to apologize for feeling that now is not the time to be Pollyannas about Arabs.

I'm all for good relations with the UAE -- but not this deal. Let's start with things that have no security relevance, see how it goes, then move along. But not our ports, not now. 

Posted by Laer

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 6:56:00 PM  
Blogger DeAnn Nash said...

I am horrified by this secret deal to sell six major U.S. ports to the United Arab Emirates. Has President Bush and our government forgotten that two of the 9/11 hijackers were from that very Arab nation?
Wisdom and common sense seem to have gone out the window regarding this business transaction. I have been supportive of the War on Terror, and the entire time my son was deployed to Iraq, my only thoughts and prayers were that the war would soon end...and that my son, and all of the other young men and women serving in our military could return home soon.

President Bush, I've e-mailed the White House, my U.S. Representative Rodney Alexander and U.S. Senator David Vitter, about this deplorable business deal. Please reconsider your decision to veto, and LISTEN to the people of America! 

Posted by DeAnn

Thursday, February 23, 2006 7:58:00 AM  

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