Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

UAE and the ports

James Lileks has an immediate and, as he puts it, un-edited opinion on the UAE port debate. I suspect that his opinion reflects the vast majority of citizens and therefore Bush should end this and do it more quickly than he did the Harriet Myers debacle. The only good news on this is that it seems to be the case that the White House didn’t even know of the decision unbtil just a few days before it was released. So the politically tone-deaf decision can be easily blamed on various committees just trying to do their jobs, without thinking of the political repercussions. But Bush should not fight all the good guys in the world who support him (never mind Hillary trying to out-flank him by goinbg right). This is the good Lileks paragraph: "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. It’s one thing for an Administration to misjudge how a particular decision will be received; it’s another entirely to misjudge an issue that cuts to the core of the Administration’s core strength. That’s where you slap yourself on the forehead in the style of those lamenting the failure to request a V-8 in a timely fashion. Doesn’t matter whether it was a deal struck between the previous administrators and the UAE; that’s not how the issue will be seen. And it certainly doesn’t matter once the President gets all stern on the topic and insists he’ll veto any attempt to keep the deal from going through. At that point, millions of previously resolute supporters stand there with their mouths open, uttering a soft confused moan of disbelief."

Addition: Here is the Wall Street Journal editorial everyone has brought up. It is in favor of the deal with UAE. And Michael Ramirez draws a thousand words.

Discussions - 43 Comments

It would be nice if you would deal with the specific points made in the Wall Street Journal editorial today, which so far makes far more sense to me than any of the rest of the commentary. No one admires more than I do Lileks, No Left Turns, Hewitt, etc., However, on this I am appalled at the "tone deafness" of the supporters of the President. The UAE is a staunch ally. Some things take precedence over what feels "instinctively wrong." This is one of them. If in fact W has a good reason to not stick it to the UAE on this, I hope he will not stick it to them. Finally, the idea the president can cave to "instinctive" mass hysteria and not pay a very big and unnecessary price for it down the road is itself foolhardy, and I am fairly well shocked that such a phrase would be put forward as the basis on which he should act. I hope he demonstrates the courgage on this that we all known he has.

As my friend who grew up in Dubai put it, "there’s really no difference between the UAE and the UK administering ports." Now, I do think there is some difference between the two, his point was that 80% of the residents (including him) of the UAE are Western expatriates -- mostly Brits and Americans.

The Bush administration didn’t know about the decision until it was brought up in the media, but Bush was confident enough in the decision to defend it and to threaten a veto.

Option (1): Bush reflexively bristles against any criticism, no matter how ignorant he is of the underlying policy disputes.

Option (2): Bush knew about the decision and the administration is now backtracking and flip-flopping in an effort at damage control in the face of overwhelming political opposition.

Which is it? Is there a third option here?

Oops. Last sentence should read: Now, I do think there is some difference between the two, but his point was that 80% of the residents (including him) of the UAE are Western expatriates -- mostly Brits and Americans.

Jonathan: OK, I will read the Journal article and try to find my mind on it. Give me a day. Too darn busy.

Maybe the UAE is a good ally (although some of its princes have been KNOWN to hang out with Bin Laden), but that’s tough. It’s time for all the "moderate" people in the Arab world to figure out that terrorism is bad for business.

I realize this puts Bush in a tight place, but symbolism MATTERS in politics. He should use the uproar to explain to his UAE allies that his hands are tied, and that until more cooperation is forthcoming from the Islamic world (you know, stuff like not allowing Western embassies to be burned over cartoons), business cannot carry on as usual.

Here is the salient difference between the UAE and Great Britain, we’ve bled with them, we fough with them, we’ve suffered with them, we’ve known the hours, we’ve known the days, we’ve known the moments where we abide the veridict of battle, where we abide the engagement in strength. And not just with any enemy, but two of the most professional and tenacious enemies on the planet.

No country on the face of the earth get the respect that Great Britain gets from us, {and here when I refer to Great Britian, it’s ever so appropriate to include the Australians}.

No country ever had a friend and ally, as we do in our British cousins.

Get it now.

It’s all much ado about nothing:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/02/22/opinion/meyer/main1335531.shtml
via Polipundit.

Dain, The UAE is fighting with us. In Iraq and Afghanistan. They have been our best ally in the Gulf since the fall of the Shah. Interestingly they provide fine port security for the US Fleet; as well as security at Air Bases.

I understand that, but this is a symbolic problem. Americans aren’t going to tolerate Arab control over our (vulnerable) ports. Bush needs to cut his losses on this one (before he loses what’s left of his political capital). The UAE will just have to understand.

Dain, that’s a garbage argument: that "Americans" are too dumb to participate in a global econony. It did not work to keep out Honda and Toyota, cutting our noses to spite our faces is not just symbolically bad.

Personally, I could not care less if Bush loses political capital -- more importantly, returns in any endeavor come from investing capital not hoarding it.

Do the right thing.

It’s a little more than symbolism. A symbolic loss of prestige was when the Japanese acquired control over Rockerfeller Plaza. I recall seeing articles that referred to that assumption of control as an omen of inevitible decline.

The President has told us that we are going to be in this war for decades. That means the Arab company is going to be targeted for radical penetration for decades. When so many other agencies and organizations in the Arab world have not proven impervious to radical penetration, what leads us to believe that this company will stand any better chance. We’re told that employees will be vetted, but many of the 9/11 hijackers had clean records. Al Qaeda and our muslim terror enemies know the value of using clean personell.

Politically, this deal erodes the one salient strength the GOP has. Ever since the Carter years, we in the GOP have always been known as the responsible party on national security. Anything that draws that settled fact in the American political consciousness into doubt, is a disaster for us. Thus, just from a political perspective, this deal is a disaster. When seen in conjunction with the Meirs nomination, as it must, because it is so reflective of that previous blunder, we can only conclude this entire drama has been a disaster. This is the 2d time, in the last 6 months that the President’s team has led him into a grueling meat-grinder battle with his own base. And all the while, the Dems just get to stand back and enjoy.

Yea, Steve, I agree with Dan here. And the next time you hit me with that market-worshipping, globalization Libertarian crap you’ll be in for a fight. Our manufacturing labor force is down to 10%, and inequality is on the rise. And this issue has NOTHING to do with "free trade" anyway, it has to do with security. Now go read a REASON mag or surf CATO and let the adults discuss this issue in peace.

Dain,

I understand your concerns about our manufacturing base. Our manufacturing labor force is down to 10% Yes there has been a decline in our manufacturing employment for the past few years but the fact that it is 10% of our workforce is irrelevant at best. Our workforce is expanding at an extremely healthy pace but to infer that our manufacturing output is taking a blow just because manufacturing employment makes up less of the total picture in misguided. The late 40’s and 50’s are commonly viewed as strong points in American manufacturing. Well, as of late 2005 our manufacturing sector actually employed several thousand more people than the average for those 2 decades. Include this with the massive gains in productivity and you will find an inverse correlation between productivity and employment. (i.e., the decline in employment is caused by increases in productivity not a lack of competitiveness.) This is why, despite a decline in employment, a lot of our manufacturing “sub sectors” have seen outstanding output.

Anyway, to get back on track here, this is a bad idea and I am not going to waste my time dicussing it.

Dain and Dan, I suspect my conservative bona fides match pretty well with any here. Don’t read Cato, and if my 26 years under a USMC contract doesn’t qualify me as an adult, at least Congress declared me a Gentleman. If you do not understand ports are economic assets you need to get an education. If you do not understand that to win a global war you need allies you need to gain some experience.

And if you really want an adult discussion try some FACTS. DWP will operate terminals at 6 ports, not the entire ports.

Otherwise, you sound as embarrasing to this conservative as Jack Kelly discusses.

Follow the links and learn something. By the way, threating someone who uses their real name while you hide behind a psudonym is not very credible.

Yea, sure, I’ve heard all that pseudo-economic evolution crap. The problem is, we aren’t talking about buggy whips...these products (which are being manufactured in China and other places...and sold by WalMart) are useful TODAY, and we should keep some of these jobs in the U.S. I suggest you take a serious look at how the bottom 60% of our population has fared since the early 1970s. Moreover, what will we do when more and more of the white-collar employment base is also "out-sourced?"

I believe the word is "pseudonym." If you are posting under your real name then, well, you haven’t learned better yet.

As for being grown up, I’ve known lots of older people who weren’t entirely grown up. And if you can reduce this question down to dollars and cents, then you really ought to read CATO. They love people like you.

Finally, as for allies, the UAE is currently in our column, but they have been known to hang out with shadowy types:

It was an isolated area, where damage would be minimal, and the intelligence reportedly provided detailed descriptions of the camps. But according to CIA officials, policymakers worried that a strike might kill a prince or other officials from the UAE, who were also lodged at the camp. Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism official in both the Clinton and Bush administrations, reportedly talked with UAE officials, who denied anyone from their government was there. But evidence later confirmed that they were.

Here’s the source. Maybe you trust these people, but I certainly don’t...and I sure as hell don’t want them handling cargo in American ports.

The problem is, we aren’t talking about buggy whips...these products (which are being manufactured in China and other places...and sold by WalMart) are useful TODAY, and we should keep some of these jobs in the U.S.

I will say this again Dain. We employ more people in manufacturing now then we did in our "Hay Day." Yes there are jobs lost to outsourcing. There always will be. However, most of these losses in manufacturing are due to productivity. Once again this is why output in most of the "sub sectors" is at all time highs.

BTW, 3.5 million American jobs were outsourced last year but a little over 4 million were insourced. Remember a honda plant in Ohio is insourcing for America but outsourcing for Japan.

Yea, and the Honda plant in Ohio exists because Ronald Reagan believed in fair trade, not "free trade." Study the history of how those plants got here. The transfere pricing in nonetheless pretty severe.

And since when do we gauge the importance of an economic sector by raw employment numbers? Wages have been creeping or stagnant (and please, don’t bore me with "benefits" stuff...I know these arguments quite well).

The bottom line is that there’s no reason for us to import all this stuff if Americans are hurting for decent jobs and decent wages. I vote for fewer needless goods and higher wages for the stuff we really do need (and make right here). The notion that the current "global" system is inevitable or even beneficial is wishful thinking, and our history suggests that economic nationalism is a far wiser course.

As for "outsourcing," how many jobs have we LOST in the last 40 years? Do you even know?

Well Dain, we’ve at least narrowed you’re complaint to "But they’re Arabs".

The FACT remains that the sale changes nothing with regards to security of ports in the US. From my [Counterterrorism Blog link above:

First of all, after this sale, DP World won’t suddenly become our only recourse for port security. There is in fact a layered set of security checks that operates independent of DP World. These checks include the following:

A 24-hour Manifest Rule that requires sea carriers to provide U.S. Customs with detailed descriptions of the contents of containers bound for the U.S. a full 24 hours before the container is loaded onto a vessel. This allows U.S. Customs officers to assess risks and scan the containers in overseas ports before they enter the U.S.

The Coast Guard remains responsible for port security regardless of who manages the ports, while Customs and Border Protection maintains responsibility for container and cargo security.

As containers enter the U.S., officers on the ground screen the containers using imaging and radiation detection technology.

Dain, we operate a capitalist economy, hopefully with a judeao-christian ethos. Our entire system depends on a blance of rule of law tempered by having to do the necessary to survive in an ugly world that does not really recognize "law." But to spite a strong ally for "protectionist" reasons is just goofy. If the reasons are fear of other, then your argument is just sad xenophobia.

More well-soured data from Strategypage.

And none of you market-worshippers have anything to say about my post in #17? How many times have we heard that something is "failsafe," only to have it blow up in our faces?

And all this garbage about being such a good ally...puleeze. Two of the 9/11 hijackers were from the UAE! The UAE was one of only 3 countries to officially recognize the Taliban! And they have been funneling money to terrorists for years (Hamas, in particular, but who knows the real extent of it). At best, what we have in the UAE is a country that is playing both sides of the fence...pretty typical for a tiny monarchial country dependent on 1) Western trade, and 2) Islamic good will.

And as for being a "capitalist" economy, how many countries run a laissez-faire system? None. I’m all for a free market WITHIN THE U.S. Foreigners should do business here at our pleasure.

Dain, arguing by name calling is pretty poor form. Each of the three sites I’ve linked addresses your fear. From Strategy page: "First, a look at the United Arab Emirates is in order. This is a country that has been a long-standing ally of the United States since 1971. The UAE was part of the coalition to liberate Kuwait in 1991, and also has supported the United States in the war on terror (including, among other things, providing access to a deep-water berth that can accommodate aircraft carriers, use of a training facility for air-to-air training facility, airfields, and logistics support). It is a country that has proven largely inhospitable to al-Qaeda (instead, the focus is on business), sent forces to Afghanistan to protect the construction of a hospital that they donated and built, and also has sent humanitarian assistance to Iraq while also providing a location for training Iraqi police. In 2002, the UAE also captured a major al-Qaeda figure, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who was involved in the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, and handed him over to the United States despite threats from the terrorist organization. After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the UAE donated $100 million for the relief efforts. Both Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and General Peter Pace have described the relationship the United States has with United Arab Emirates as "very close" and "superb". It would be interesting to know what sort of information Michelle Malkin has that would override the judgment of Rumsfeld and Pace. Her characterization of the United Arab Emirates as "demonstrably unreliable" is not just factually challenged, it is slap in the face to the strongest ally the United States has in the Persian Gulf."

Dain, is your real name Lou Dobbs? or Pat Buchannan?

And as for being a "capitalist" economy, how many countries run a laissez-faire system? None. I’m all for a free market WITHIN THE U.S. Foreigners should do business here at our pleasure.

Google Smoot-Hawley.

Geez, even Milton Friedman says that Smoot-Hawley had zilch to do with the great depression. That’s old-style liberal boilerplate to indict Hoover and the old GOP. Trade was only about 4% of GNP in those days, and yet a few tariffs destroyed the domestic economy? Come on, only a simp would believe that. Join the 21st century, OK?

And everything you (and your sites) have said about the UAE is consistent with a country playing both sides against the middle. I notice you have nothing to say about UAE princes handing out with Bin Laden, or the UAE citizenship of 9/11 hijackers, or the money they funnel to HAMAS and other groups.

If they really do believe in our cause then a business deal won’t turn them against us. If it does, then they weren’t good allies to begin with and we’re better off knowing that now rather than later.

Jumping to conclusions again, Dain. How about addressing arguments that are actually made.

"Foreigners should do business here at our pleasure", and you ask me to join the 21st century. Heh. What is the percentage of GNP now related to Trade?

Lets talk real consequences: "The Smoot-Hawley Tariff was more a consequence of the onset of the Great Depression than an initial cause. But while the tariff might not have caused the Depression, it certainly did not make it any better. It provoked a storm of foreign retaliatory measures and came to stand as a symbol of the ‘beggar-thy-neighbor’ policies (policies designed to improve one’s own lot at the expense of that of others) of the 1930s. Such policies contributed to a drastic decline in international trade. For example, U.S. imports from Europe declined from a 1929 high of $1,334 million to just $390 million in 1932, while U.S. exports to Europe fell from $2,341 million in 1929 to $784 million in 1932. Overall, world trade declined by some 66% between 1929 and 1934. More generally, Smoot-Hawley did nothing to foster trust and cooperation among nations in either the political or economic realm during a perilous era in international relations." State Department.

All I’m saying is follow the rules in place, not make them up as you go because you’re scared of Arabs.

Two of the 9/11 hijackers were from the UAE!

"Jihad Johnny" Walker (American citizen) fought for the Taliban. Jose Padilla (another American citizen) has been implicated in 9/11. Does that mean we shouldn’t trust a U.S. company to handle security at the ports either?

arguing by name calling is pretty poor form.

But, alas, standard operating procedure for Dain.

Dain,

It is worthless trying to agrue with you. All I am going to say is look at the front page of the Wall Street from yesterday. Wages are up 1.5% above inflation. Seems pretty healthy to me.

Oh and please spare me the DNC fair trade, free trade talking points. Oh, and Dain......... Trade only makes up 7% of our GDP today. (which makes us one of the least trade dependent countries in the world as a percentage of our GDP.) You are free to look up the information from the economist but I am going to assume that you don’t have a subscription.

Clancy #18: I will say this again Dain. We employ more people in manufacturing now then we did in our "Hay Day." Yes there are jobs lost to outsourcing. There always will be. However, most of these losses in manufacturing are due to productivity. Once again this is why output in most of the "sub sectors" is at all time highs.

WRONG. Indeed, we have fewer absolute numbers of workers in manufacturing that at any time since the mid-1950s...and this at a time when the workforce has more than doubled. You’d better check your facts next time.

Clancy (above): Oh and please spare me the DNC fair trade, free trade talking points. Oh, and Dain......... Trade only makes up 7% of our GDP today. (which makes us one of the least trade dependent countries in the world as a percentage of our GDP.)

Wrong again, I suspect. That MIGHT be the trade deficit/GDP...but I think the correct number is around 20+% of GDP for imports+exports. We are much more trade dependent that we used to be. I’m not sure where you are digging this stuff up, but you are being mislead.

Smoot-Hawley -- you’ve got causation all scrambled there, Steve (or maybe the libertarians in the State Dept. have it scrambled). Of course trade volumes collapsed in the wake of the GREAT DEPRESSION. It didn’t start because of a trade war, and lifting most of those tariffs in 1934 didn’t end it. FDR is mostly responsible for prolonging the GD. Indeed, one of the few nations that actually ever tried "free trade" was Great Britain in the late 1800s...and they lost their position as an industrial leader. Great, what an endorsement.

John, and didn’t know you disliked me. Well, OK, now that I know where I stand...I’ll be a helluva lot more critical of your crazy posts from now on. The gloves are off, I take it?

I didn’t say a thing about liking you or not liking you. How can I? I don’t even know you--all I see are words in a box. I certainly don’t like how you reflexively call people names when they don’t agree with you.

But I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that in person you’re a perfectly reasonable, personable fellow. You certainly wouldn’t be the first decent person to behave obnoxiously when you think that your identity is a secret. It’s cathartic, I suppose--you can take out your day-to-day frustrations on people whom you think you are unlikely to have to deal with face to face.

Actually, I think I’m a reasonable person on the ’Net, given how often people try my patience. For instance, you have called me a name-calling, but if you’ll look through this thread all I said was "grow up" and stop being a "market-worshipper." Pretty mild stuff, particularly when you consider that good ol’ Steve essentially accused me of bigotry in #20. I don’t care if they are purple, but I do care that they have strong ties to the radical Islamic world (and that’s a fact, Jack).

I think what happens is that I don’t pull punches, my facts are straight, and people don’t like it. Tough.

Dain, you have no facts, you bought into Dan’s argument that the Brit’s are ok cause they fought with us, but the UAE is not, which I of course debunked. So you shifted to, but the UAE is tied to terrorists. More bunk.

You’ve repeated a press article repeating George Tenet’s misstatements, and a Richard Clark quote - both making excuses for past inaction on the war on terror, and specifically ignored the current reality and long term friendly ties with the UAE that I provided. So Clinton’s excuse, "I did not bomb Osama because he had Arabs from rich families with him" is credible to you?

Other than being from Arabia, what evidence of ties between UAE, Dubai, DPW and the "radical Islamic World" do you have?

The incident where the CIA was about to launch an attack of Bin Laden’s hunting camp (but was stopped by the presence of the prince from the UAE) is confirmed...they even have areal photos of the plane! I can point to print and television media that confirm the story...what do you have?

As far as other ties to HAMAS and other groups, look it up. I won’t do your homework for you.

Which Emirate was the "Prince" from? (Hint, not Dubai.) Sorry Dain, all my links addressed that pre-9/11 problem - and it was the US’s weakness, not UAE perfidity that prevented the CIA from acting.

Bottom line, if you make the accusation, its incumbent on you to provide evidence, not on me to prove a negative.

What does that mean? Don’t blither at me. Clinton pulled the plug on the operation because UAE was "an ally." And it doesn’t matter which of the seven emirates the prince came from...these people are deeply involved in each other’s business. If you don’t realize that then you need to study up on Arab society before you spout off.

Go to the link at 22 above: "Third, several claims have been made regarding connections to 9/11, specifically the fact that two of the hijackers were from the UAE. First, none of the critics have any proof that either the government of the UAE or Dubai Ports World was involved in the attack. By the standard of these critics, the United Kingdom would be held responsible for Richard Reid, or Germany would be responsible for the Hamburg cell that planned the attack. Second, the United Arab Emirates have stepped up efforts to make money laundering less easy after Dubai was used as a financial conduit for the attacks (again, there is no proof that the UAE or DPW were active participants in the laundering). It should also be noted that at least two Americans have worked with al-Qaeda (Johnny Walker Lindh and Jose Padilla) as well." More allegations, still no facts Dain. Tin-foil hat stuff.

We aren’t talking about some loaner like Richard Reid...we are talking about a prince in an official UAE jet. As for "proof," I’ve heard ex-CIA operatives discuss this incident on major documentaries for reputable channels such as Discovery and the History Channel. Moreover, I’ve read it in a number of reputable media outlets. What do you have, Mr. TinFoil Hat? Zilch...just blithering and bogus analogies.

We are talking about facts here, not "unconfirmed" reports. This is just one of MANY sources that confirm the story.

Still living pre-9/11, Dain. Facts, the UAE achieved what the Clinton Admin could not, get a Al Q ringleader: "Interestingly, one of these arrests, of Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri, directly enhanced maritime security. Al-Nashiri was one of the men charged in the 2000 USS Cole attack, and as Richard Miniter notes in his book Shadow War, he was so vital to bin Laden’s attacks at sea that Arab intelligence officers jokingly referred to him as the "al-Qaeda admiral." From the link at 16 and 20 above, also mentioned at the link at 22 and 24.

I’m sorry, but you speak like a fool. The Arab world isn’t compartmentalized by 9/11. It suits their needs to help us today, but they are not a monolithic nation, and these people have cross-cutting affiliations...I’m done with you. You apparently know nothing about Arabs, Islam, or that region of the world.

Back to your favorite debate tactic, I see. Let me link to another ongoing discussion, with a great conclusion: "If Americans can’t learn the difference between Dubai and Damascus, we don’t stand a snowball’s chance in the desert of defeating Islamic terrorism."

My debate tactics reflect my opponents. I’ve given you solid reasons to be leery of UAE companies, and all I get is a bunch of PC nonsense about anti-Arabism, ad nauseaum. Clean isn’t the same as safe, my man...and stop referring me loser blogs that aren’t verifiable anyway. It’s irritating.

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