Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

More port deal

While it’s very clear that no one anticipated the brouhaha, it’s not clear that it has staying power. Some, er, leaders continue to pour gasoline on the fire, while others would rather pour oil on troubled waters. The New York street is divided, though national public opinion is firmly (though I believe temporarily) against the deal.

My favorite line comes from Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., who is inclined to support the deal: "For those that bother to learn the facts, the comfort level has increased."

This isn’t to say that there aren’t still troubling facts, but they seem to have little to do with Dubai or Dubai Ports World.

Indeed, Robert Kaplan, second to none in his support for U.S. security, has very high regard for Dubai.

Update: This longish NYT article about port security indictates that things are better than I expected, but still worse than they need to be.

Discussions - 28 Comments

For what it is worth I think if we don’t openly support Arab businesses, let alone if we rally against them, the promise of "liberal democracy" or improving economic opportunity or whatever you will have it be that we are doing over there...it rings hollow. Dubai ports world...just another company...like KBR it probably employs a bunch of ex-military. It probably even has current contracts with the U.S. government.

The American people (at least, "the masses") have a notoriously short memory for such things, so this may die down. Nonetheless, Bush has once again offended his base, and WE don’t forget such things.

According to which principle is it the primary business of the United States, when one foreign company buys another foreign company?

We need to welcome the Arab world to the ownership society. The enemy isn’t Dubai Ports World, the enemy is radical Islam.

Yea, John, introducing Iran, Iraq and the Saudis to the "ownership" society (via oil and foreign investment) sure has lessened our problems in that part of the world. Are all of you Ashland folks of this mindless Libertarian bent?

If this deal goes through I highly doubt that it will do anything to promote an "ownership society." One of the big problems with the Gulf states is that "ownership" doesn’t extend much beyond the caste of the emirs and their associates, and Dubai Ports World is another example of that.

That said, I still haven’t heard any criticism of the deal that rises above the level of "But they’re ARABS!" I expect this from some on the Right, but how do liberals, who scream bloody murder over anything that resembles racial profiling, justify their criticism? Anything to take a shot at the administration, huh?

There seems to be a certain fixation among some of us, that it is INCUMBENT upon us to repeatedly demonstrate good will towards Arabs, and Arab states.

Have any of you thought that THAT might be one of the main causes of the problems that we are having with them. If you were an Arab government, wouldn’t recent history convince you that the usual position of American diplomacy is one of endlessly grovelling, endlessly begging for assistance with the mideast "peace process?"

Have any of you thought that it might not be unwise to adopt an attitude of wariness towards governments whose assistance has been overhyped of late. It recalls to mind Patton’s description of the Frech resistance, which he described to reporters as "overbilled."

but how do liberals, who scream bloody murder over anything that resembles racial profiling, justify their criticism? Anything to take a shot at the administration, huh?


That is a tough one, and a very justified criticism.


I for one, see the deal as weakening security because they ARE arabs. That doesn’t make them bad people, just normal people. Americans have bombed, shot, starved and killed roughly 600K iraqis in the course of the last 10 - 15 years. Directly killed at least 30K in the last 3 years.


Handing over your ports to anyone who might have some sympathy for those killed is clearly a bad idea. The position that security is exactly the same after this deal as before is "C’mon! Pull the other one" class ludicrous.


This is a clear cut case where an unpalatable decision should be taken because it prevents potential deaths, without causing any actual deaths.


Consider that 9/11 unleashed a war machine on Iraq, and set back global civil and human rights decades. Can you imagine what an atomic bomb or massive gas transport explosion in New York would unleash? I shudder to think.


Besides, after all the time,money and effort spent turning americans into terrified xenophobes, I mean, what did you expect?!!

Brian, I have seldom read a worse batch of utter nonsense. Deposing Saddam Hussein set back human rights? We’ve killed 600K Iraqis? I love the way you think. Saddam and the UN had NOTHING to do with the failures of the sanctions regime...somehow it was the U.S.’s fault. We bring democracy to a part of the world that has never known it, and somehow we set back political and civil rights.

Man, you’ve got worms for brains.

Brian, I have seldom read a worse batch of utter nonsense. Deposing Saddam Hussein set back human rights? We’ve killed 600K Iraqis?


Uh yes to all of the above. This is news? Dearie me, you are even more deluded than I thought.


Civil rights have been significantly eroded at home and abroad. Are you not aware that your own government is holding some 500 people, without trial or charge in Gitmo? When was the last time the US did THAT? Aren’t some EU governments complicit in arranging rendition, basically the kidnap of people, without trial, charge or any kind of judiciary oversight? If thats not erosion of civil rights globally what is?


The US is the worlds hyperpower, it pushed for the sanctions regime that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children and pushed for the the invasion that killed 10’s of thousands more. This is all on the record, didn’t Madeline whatshername say she thought it was worth it? So yes you and your fellow american taxpayers are to blame. For tens of thousands of deaths, and perhaps hundreds of thousands. If I can think it, rest assured everyone in the arab world thinks it. Best hang on to those ports.


But hey, relax, it’s no where near as bad as Vietnam. That was 2 million plus, excluding Cambodia.


As for bringing "democracy". Other than a rump of the american public, made up of people like yourself, no one believes that tripe.


Maybe in 20 years, something approaching democracy will emerge. However, we will never know if this war helped or hindered that development. In the meantime, we do have an good idea of the body count, and nobody (except the 35% of the american public that still support Bush) believes anymore that it was worth it.


The US, has as usual, brought nothing but death, destruction and devastation, ala Vietnam.


Yankee GO HOME.

Interesting that you would use the French term "hyperpower" to describe us. I think it’s important to remember that we got that was because 1) the Euros kept dragging us into their wars, and 2) the biggest threat to human rights ever known to man, the Stalinist state, had to be opposed. Would you like to defend "leaders" such as Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, or say, Saddam Hussein. How do they stack up against your warped yardstick of "social justice?" Without America the world would be a far more evil and oppressive place (case in point, do you think you could say the things you do in Saddam’s Iraq?).

Gitmo is small potatoes, fella. No one cares (except weepy weak sisters like yourself), and the reason we don’t care is that those people don’t respect our rights and conventions, so why should we respect theirs? Gitmo coddles them, by historical standards. Zarqawi and Saddam would just torture and then kill them...they’re lucky we AREN’T like them.

As for Vietnam, you are deluded...really. Ever heard of the boat people? Ever read about the killing fields of Cambodia? Today Vietnam is a sh..hole, a communist sh..hole, and that’s because we lost that war. Compare the fates of people in Vietnam with those in Thailand, Malaysia, and even the Philippines. There’s a reason why the migration streams are always AWAY from communist countries and toward "evil" America and her allies.

You need something a lot stronger than coffee, Mooron.

There seems to be a certain fixation among some of us, that it is INCUMBENT upon us to repeatedly demonstrate good will towards Arabs, and Arab states.

Has anyone claimed that the primary reason for the agreement was to curry favor with the Middle East? If that were the case I’d be the first to denounce it, but as I understand it, DPW came through with the best offer. To reject it simply on the basis of the ethnicity of DPW’s owners would, however, be a slap in the face. In other words, it is NOT incumbent upon us "to demonstrate good will toward Arabs," but it IS incumbent upon us not to demonstrate bad faith towards them either.

Dain it’s 2006. Not 1946. WWII, where the US contribution was indispensable, occurred 60 years ago.


For the US it’s been nothing but downhill from there. Eisenhower tried to warn you guys, but nobody was listening. Now you have a monster and it insists on being fed regularly, generally with foreign human flesh, and a dash of american "long pig". Your very own Moloch. Congrats.


While we can agree that Gitmo, extraordinary rendition and the like are "small potatoes" when stacked up against Stalin and Co., thats hardly the point is it? The principle is the thing, and the slippery slope.


As for Vietnam, maybe it’s a communist "hole", but I’m guessing killing 2 million people didn’t help economic growth.


How do you manage to keep from going insane? On the one hand gung ho and keen as mustard for war, and on the other trying to defend the indefensible, it’s a wonder your head doesn’t explode:-)


I bet you love Jesus too? Doncah? Ask yourself this question, who would Jesus bomb/shoot/invade/cut taxes for?

To reject it simply on the basis of the ethnicity of DPW’s owners would, however, be a slap in the face. In other words, it is NOT incumbent upon us "to demonstrate good will toward Arabs," but it IS incumbent upon us not to demonstrate bad faith towards them either.


Hmmmm ... convincing tack. So you John, think that National Security is completely uncompromised by having this Arab company running american ports? I find that hard (but not impossible) to buy. Reasons detailed above.


Why do you think it is completely safe?

All that rant, and you didn’t say a damned thing. Just emotional bilge unsupported (and unsupportable) by evidence or logic. Why am I not surprised?

And FYI, far more people died AFTER we left Vietnam than while the fight was on. Why? Well, because of people like you who think that inequalities and "a better world" justify massive slaughter. Congrats right back at you.

Why do you think it is completely safe?

Nobody said anything about it being "completely safe." There is no option that can come anywhere near to claiming this--including having a British company, or an American company running the terminals. I am hardly an expert in the realm of port security, but plenty of experts have vetted this deal and proclaimed it sound. None of the deal’s critics have offered sound evidence that DWP has a history of lax management or weak security; only that the mere fact of the owners’ ethnicity is sufficient to disqualify them.

If there is a single semi-persuasive argument against this deal, it is a strictly political one--that if goes through, and a terrorist attack takes place at one of the DWP-administered locations, there will be a hellstorm of fury directed at the administration (actually, for the Democrats this would be an excellent reason not to oppose it). Virtually no one will stop to consider that there is nothing we can do to guarantee our security from attack. But isn’t politics about leadership--about informing public opinion rather than pandering to it? Isn’t that what we conservatives used to say when Clinton was in office?

Dain, reread the posts, you lost the argument.


Now you’re just boring me.

If there is a single semi-persuasive argument against this deal, it is a strictly political one--that if goes through, and a terrorist attack takes place at one of the DWP-administered locations, there will be a hellstorm of fury directed at the administration (actually, for the Democrats this would be an excellent reason not to oppose it).


Eeeeekkk!! I hope that not even the most schemeing democrat or republican would be that machavellian.


Having read a bit more on the subject, it does look like a storm in a teacup, apparently it’s just a few terminals, not the entire port.


Kind of ironic really, Bush is being hoisted on his own petard. He’s whipped up the xenophobia to such a degree that the even he has become (temporarily at least) the enemy. Some of the right wing blogs are foaming about this issue. Interesting.

It is incumbent upon us to demonstrate good faith towards the right arabs and eternal vigilance and hostility toward the wrong ones. Dubai Ports World is not Hammas.

By "ownership society" I do not mean a strong middle class that has a stake in the country (althought ultimately bringing liberal democracy to Iraq will be incomplete until this occurs). Promotion of international business interests is a good thing...we want more countries to be invested in the United States. The "ownership society" in a broad context of foreign affairs will ensure that we do not go to war. I am not sure how much research or proof has been given for the proposition that liberal democracies do not fight each other, but to a large extent I am willing to bet that the stronger link would be found in the effects of globalization.

I don’t mean to say anything deep: simply that we are safer when interests coincide. When nations like the UAE, (albeit via the few wealthy emirs) are invested in the United States, they are more likely to look unkindly towards destruction of the property they own. In fact due to the spot light on the middle east, and middle easterners, these are more apt to take security measures above and beyond what would be taken by the Brits. Because even wrongly, it would be easier to blame an UAE company for terrorism than a British one.

In other words, no one has yet shown that Dubai Ports World is not a for profit company that acts selfishly. These guys will be more vigilant than the british, they will also be more attuned to the various dangers that could come from the region in which they have the most expertise, honed from handling it at its source.

I’m glad you clarified what you were saying, John, but I would remind you that the UAE isn’t a democracy. Moreover, I think the "democratic peace" hypothesis has recently been challenged.

If we could tell the "good" Muslims from the "bad" Muslims in a definitive way I would wholeheartedly agree with you. But as Vietnam taught us, telling friend from foe is extremely difficult when a folk have cross-cutting allegiances (as the UAE clearly does). And I would remind you that radical Muslims have infiltrated a great many legitimate concerns...Dubai Ports World would be no exception, and I suspect infiltrators would find it easier that "cracking" a European or American company. Indeed, I would argue that only an American company should run American ports.

"Indeed, I would argue that only an American company should run American ports." Water under the bridge:

"As reported in USAToday, 80 percent of the terminals in the Port of Los Angeles are run by foreign firms. And the U.S. Department of Transportation says the United Kingdom, Denmark, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, China and Taiwan have interests in U.S. port terminals. The blogger Sweetness and Light observed that the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia, which is partially owned by the government of Saudi Arabia as well as Saudi individuals and establishments, operates berths in the ports of Baltimore, Newport News, Houston, New Orleans, Savannah, Wilmington, N.C., Port Newark, New Jersey, and Brooklyn, New York. (The link has an inadvertently haunting photo, BTW.) The argument from Democrats now that “foreigners” shouldn’t be operating U.S. ports is either protectionism, xenophobia, or both. And it is at least a decade late."

Dain, both the paleo-cons and the left need to stop fighting Vietnam (that is, the part of that war we lost).

Question, are these guys being "libertarian kids": "Clearly, this is a hot-button issue, and there are plenty of reasons for concern in the UAE’s past behavior, particularly before 9/11. Of course, we’re hearing from guys like Ret. Gen. Tommy Franks and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace that UAE is “a friend” and “very, very solid partners” in the war on terror. And Sen. John Warner observed that the U.S. military has docked more than 500 ships in the past year in the UAE and uses their airfields to perform support missions for both Afghanistan and Iraq. But some folks still feel as if they can’t trust the UAE, and/or they want a fuller review. Fair enough. I don’t begrudge someone for having concerns about this deal." As Geheraty concludes (link above): "The Democratic Party would humiliate, alienate, and punish our allies while sending financial aid to terrorists and sucking up to our enemies. Do not buy into the line that they are pushing."

So, the fact that we’ve sold our ports to foreigners is supposed to comfort me? Please. And a business deal shouldn’t humiliate anyone, but if it does then so be it. I wonder how they’d feel if one of our companies was running their principal port?

Dain, you should be happy that our ports are home to so many tenants, rather that repeating lies. We did not sell off ports. "This is false. Dubai Ports World will not be running these ports. How many times does this have to be said: They will only be managing the loading and unloading of shipping containers. And they will only be doing this at a few terminals at each port. DP World has a relationship to each port authority similar to that of a tenant and landlord. Tenants conduct their business in the space set out by the landlord, and have to abide by any and all rules. DP World will not be running these ports, just like I don’t run my apartment building."

I realize that...I was speaking broadly. Now...would those be the containers that contain the dirty bombs, suitcase nukes, Al Qaeda death commandos, and sundry?

"So, the fact that we’ve sold our ports to foreigners is supposed to comfort me? Please. And a business deal shouldn’t humiliate anyone, but if it does then so be it. I wonder how they’d feel if one of our companies was running their principal port? "

Two responses to Dain: One, I agree, and I wonder why more people on the right aren’t wondering why the U.S. cannot manage 100% of all of its ports! The same people who are yelling "Buy American" should be demanding that we run, own, and manage our own ports, and I would join them, whether we took those ports back from the UAE, or the UK.

Second, I wonder how many of "them" feel about our Military bases on their soil.

Perhaps it would surprise you, Fung, but I wonder about military bases as well. I don’t know who roped us into being global cop, but I for one am not enthusiastic about that role (since we don’t gain much by it and earn a lot of resentment in the process). For instance, I think Iraq and Afghanistan were within the orbit of American interests, and so I support those efforts. On the other hand, Somalia and Bosnia...what a waste of our resources! And as for Europe, a few bases among our cousins (England) and a few in Poland (which I think they want), and we’re set. Same for Asia...a base in Japan (if they want it...if not, let’s leave), a base in Taiwan, and a few in Australia (by invitation, in all cases).

And, if NO country wants our bases, then I’m all for packing ’em up and heading home.

And you don’t even want to know what I think about globalization.

Dain- I won’t ask about globalization. I’ll just cherish this fleeting moment (our second in a couple of weeks!) of rapprochement.

Next, we’ll be swapping cigarettes and singing Christmas carols across the ground between picket lines.

That’s great, guys! You know, that globalization stuff only benefits the rich neocons in New York. Let’s bring the boys home, forget all about that foreign trade stuff, and stop sending our money down foreign ratholes in an effort to bring milk to the Hottentots. Then, once we’ve locked up the international bankers, we’ll get the real America back!

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