With Dubai, Dubya roils the right-UPDATED

Here an interview with James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation linked here.

Well, I don’t know what to think anymore on this story, but after considering Buster’s thoughts on it and reading news reports and blogs, I am officially unjerking the knee and deciding that we need to hear more from the President on the issue before we call for the tar, the feathers and the rope.

The blogosphere is abuzz, and I will be linking to those on each side of the question, and some news stories.

Mansoor Ijaz is unhappy with some US reactions and supports the deal: Dubai was the first Middle East government to accept the U.S. Container Security Initiative as policy to screen all containers for security hazards before heading to America. In May 2005, Dubai signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy to prevent nuclear materials from passing through its ports. It also installed radiation-detecting equipment — evidence of a commitment to invest in technology. In October 2005, the UAE Central Bank directed banks and financial institutions in the country to tighten their internal systems and controls in their fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

These are not the actions of a terror-sponsoring state.

Dick Meyer at CBS, a fellow I respect, plays serious MYTHBUSTER:

Never have I seen a bogus story explode so fast and so far. I thought I was a connoisseur of demagoguery and cheap shots, but the Dubai Ports World saga proves me a piker. With a stunning kinship of cravenness, politicians of all flavors risk trampling each other as they rush to the cameras and microphones to condemn the handover of massive U.S. strategic assets to an Islamic, Arab terrorist-loving enemy.

The only problem — and I admit it’s only a teeny-weeny problem — is that 90 percent of that story is false.

The United Arab Emirates is not an Axis of Evil kind of place, it will not own U.S. ports, it will not control security at U.S. ports and there is nothing new about foreigners owning U.S. ports. Odds are higher that you’ll be wounded interfering with a congressman providing soundbites than by something smuggled into a port terminal leased by Dubai Ports World.

The New York Sun
says the political opposition seems to be more about waterfront unions than anything else.

None of these politicians, so far as we recall, made a peep when the government of the United Arab Emirates donated $200,000 to fund a professorship in Middle East studies at Columbia University that was filled by a virulently anti-Israel and anti-Bush professor named Rashid Khalidi… Nor, so far as we can tell, did they protest when, after the death of the president and founder of the UAE, Shaykh Zayid bin Sultan Al Nahayan, Mr. Bush issued a statement on November 4, 2004, mourning the passing of “a great friend of our country,” “a close ally,” who built the Emirates “into a prosperous, tolerant, and well-governed state.”

Nor do we recall any protest from Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Schumer or Ms. Boxer when President Clinton and Vice President Gore announced in May 1998 that America was selling 80 F-16 fighters to the UAE. Nor did these politicians protest back in December 1996, when the Clinton administration’s assistant state secretary, Robert Pelletreau, went on UAE television to announce: “On the international stage, the UAE is universally respected for its generosity and commitment to regional security and fair-dealing…”

Hmmmm…So, which is it, Hillary? Is Dubai a country that is well-run and worthy of some deals, as long as the President is a Democrat, or an unstable terrorist state that cannot be allowed to do business with us? I can’t help noticing that while Mrs. Clinton is basically saying the folks in Dubai cannot be trusted, it was only a few months ago her husband was telling students there how badly President Bush has handled everything. Huh. As Buster says, “at least Bush is consistant.” As Sensible Mom points out, Hillary is not.

The Washington Post says security is in the hands of the US and that DPW, operates ports all over the world.

NRO’s Cliff May
draws a sensible conclusion: 1) It is unwise to underestimate your enemies; it also is unwise to overestimate your allies.

2) While it can’t hurt to study this deal a little more thoroughly (which would be a face-saving measure for all concerned), it is not obvious that national security will be compromised by giving the UAE a green light.

3) Finally, we need to have security measures in place that are failsafe–no matter who is managing the ports.

I think his point #2 is ESSENTIAL right now.

The Blogs: PRO DUBAI & DUBYA
Varifrank says we ought not let our collective imaginations run wild

Jonah’s Military Guys
see the decision as stinking PR, but otherwise not a bad deal.

On Tap Blog says, Jeez, Chill Already!
Really. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. If this is what we’ve become as a result of 9/11, the terrorists really have won. A corporation was hired to do a job — manage some ports. They have the expertise and ability to do the work. (Folks who have spent their lifetimes pushing oil around the world in tankers know a thing or two about ports, after all.) Dubai (in the UAE) is one of the great up-and-coming business centers in the world. And there’s a reason why. It’s time to stop being paranoid and start acting like Americans. You’ll want to check out the conversation as it continues.

The Squiggler is, like me, unjerking the knee and explains why, rather convincingly. You should read it, and of course decide for yourself. Squiggler quotes a former Rep. Congresswoman (and ex-boss) named Helen Delich Bentley who said: P&O Ports is a stevedoring company that has competitively bid contracts with the Maryland Port Commission to perform certain duties at its public terminals in the port of Baltimore. A stevedore company is one that hires longshoremen to load and unload cargo from ships.

Therefore, that corporate transaction means that UAE’s Dubai Ports World will be the firm bidding competitively for contracts to handle the containers and other cargoes coming off or loading on to ships in the six ports where P&O Ports has contracts. Baltimore is one of these ports. The Maryland Port Administration will continue to “run” the port of Baltimore’s public terminals and be the spokesman for the port in general. The private terminal operators will continue to run their terminals. Hmm. That’s reassuring.

Dr. Sanity is is saying there is more here than meets the eye and that Bush’s “nuclear” language concerning this means it is bigger than we might know.

Drumwaster was one of the first out of the box in support.

AJ is gettin’ mad at the right.

The Blogs: CON DUBAI & DUBYA
Michelle Malkin is unrelenting and thorough and takes the WSJ editorial to task. She’s got lots of links. Also her Townhall column is up in which she takes aim at the hypocrisy of the Democrats.

Alexandra at All Things Beautiful says “Rescind, Mr. President! and lays out her points very well.

Ed Morrissey says the WH has not made its case for this deal which is undeniable. The WH’s communications folks are just useless all around.

James Lileks not happy. Not happy at all!

Do I expect the managers of the ports to start installing Al Qaeda operatives in key positions, so they can wave through all the containers with small nukes for national distribution? No. But such a scenario does not exact tax the imagination, which is why it’s such a stupendously bad idea.

Bernard Higgins at A Certain Slant of Light
<a href="hates this deal so much he is calling Jimmy Carter Bush's "accomplice," and that’s a lotta hate! :-) He’s also trying his hand at photoshopping.

IN THE MIDDLE:

Big Lizard, who sees good and bad in the deal proposes a compromise:This suggests a workable compromise: an American company should be chartered — American owned and American managed — that is a wholly owned but independently operated subsidiary of Dubai Ports… call it American Port Services, Inc., or somesuch name that makes clear the nationality; and then let all the actual management of the ports be handled by the American APS, not by Dubai Ports.

Rick Moran deplores the absolute tone-deaflessness of the WH and the plodding way they’ve gone about discussing this. I can’t disagree. This has been as flat-footed a sell as I’ve ever seen.

Jim Geraghty at TKS sees everyone’s point and has a take of his own:

“The controversy over this port sale have been driven by a great deal of vague, ominous and sloppy language thrown around by lawmakers, the media and bloggers. Had this discussion been marked by a precision and focus on just what was at stake, this would not have turned into the brouhaha it did. One almost wonders if the misleading language was deliberate.”

Jack Kelly says that any issue which can unite Michelle and Chuch Schumer has been greatly oversimplified.

There is a lot more out there, of course, but I just wanted to give a run-down of how the arguments are shaping up on both sides. I think there is a lot to be said for the president TALKING TO AMERICA about this, and maybe the need for folks on both sides to sit down together and hash this out before yea-ing or nae-ing this deal.

I must say this, though…I can see the president’s point. I can see the point of others. I’m concerned about the WH’s utter inability to figure out – early on – that this would (even if it was the best, most safest deal in the world) simply LOOK terrible and give the opposition enormous political pitchforks with which to make hay. Howard Kurtz pointed out that the AP moved this story on the same day “Birdshotgate” came out, and the press – natually – ignored it over a chance to burn Cheney. Perhaps the Cheney distraction also distracted the WH from being able to get in front of this story. Perhaps. But more and more it seems like there is an absolute disconnect, somewhere – that people in the WH are not being smart enough to say, “HOW IS THIS GOING TO BE RECEIVED?”

It has not been received well. And that is the WH’s fault.

Meanwhile – I wrote this a while ago about emotionalism and it might be worth considering, again.

UPDATE: California Conservative writes we weren’t wrong to question but are satisfied by the answers.

FIRST OF ALL, we should’ve smelled a rat when Chuck Schumer was sounding, uncharacteristically, tough on terrorism and in favor of racial profiling. Given his track record, along with that of most Democrats, it should’ve been a warning to proceed with caution.

SECONDLY, more details have been coming out. In fact, yesterday, we linked to a story that called for a cooling off. Good advice.

THIRD, as we started to consider the controversy with greater circumspect, last night’s episode of The Factor with Bill O’Reilly presented some excellent points, which gave some words to our growing apprehension. read the whole thing.

Also, Holy Fool has a very thoughtful round-up.

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  • JMC

    Man, that Buster’s got some solid head on his shoulders. (He IS still talking about being President someday, right?) Between his take on the deal and the Financial Times piece on the matter (that you so wisely linked to), I realized just how knee-jerk most of our reactions are. Given all that, I say maybe it’s good news that Bush says he’ll use his veto pen for the first time if Congress passes a bill to block the deal.

  • JMC

    Man, that Buster’s got some solid head on his shoulders. (He IS still talking about being President someday, right?) Between his take on the deal and the Financial Times piece on the matter (that you so wisely linked to), I realized just how knee-jerk most of our reactions are. Given all that, I say maybe it’s good news that Bush says he’ll use his veto pen for the first time if Congress passes a bill to block the deal.

  • gcotharn

    I never thought I’d be saying this, but I support the deal. Our overall WOT strategy is for Islamic moderates to defeat Islamic fundamentalists. Therefore, American integration with Islamic moderates is crucial to the long-term goal of defeating Islamic fundamentalists.
    `
    This is like Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken:
    We’ve got to take a chance, and step forward down some paths of cooperation. We cannot know the results of our choice in advance, and therefore choosing is scary.
    `
    It looks to me, really, as if partnering with the UAE is win/win. If things go good, we have integrated further with moderate Muslims. If, God forbid, things go bad, the Muslim world will further understand the Draconian steps we would take in response. This is a cold-blooded way to assess our options – but it is also a strategically sound way to assess.
    `
    We have a moral duty to protect Americans near our ports; AND we have a moral duty to achieve our larger objective of defeating Islamic fundamentalists. Its a complex decision – filled with shadings and nuances. We cannot know the outcome in advance. Even if we cancel the UAE contract, that decision will have long term ripple effects.
    `
    I say: go forward. The UAE has been a good partner to this point. I believe the potential rewards outweigh the potential risks.
    `
    Addendum: Chuck Schumer is fast becoming my least favorite Senator. There is no issue of national interest which he is unwilling to demagogue for political gain. He is detestable.

  • gcotharn

    I never thought I’d be saying this, but I support the deal. Our overall WOT strategy is for Islamic moderates to defeat Islamic fundamentalists. Therefore, American integration with Islamic moderates is crucial to the long-term goal of defeating Islamic fundamentalists.
    `
    This is like Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken:
    We’ve got to take a chance, and step forward down some paths of cooperation. We cannot know the results of our choice in advance, and therefore choosing is scary.
    `
    It looks to me, really, as if partnering with the UAE is win/win. If things go good, we have integrated further with moderate Muslims. If, God forbid, things go bad, the Muslim world will further understand the Draconian steps we would take in response. This is a cold-blooded way to assess our options – but it is also a strategically sound way to assess.
    `
    We have a moral duty to protect Americans near our ports; AND we have a moral duty to achieve our larger objective of defeating Islamic fundamentalists. Its a complex decision – filled with shadings and nuances. We cannot know the outcome in advance. Even if we cancel the UAE contract, that decision will have long term ripple effects.
    `
    I say: go forward. The UAE has been a good partner to this point. I believe the potential rewards outweigh the potential risks.
    `
    Addendum: Chuck Schumer is fast becoming my least favorite Senator. There is no issue of national interest which he is unwilling to demagogue for political gain. He is detestable.

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  • newton

    Guys, port ops have been conducted by foreign companies for a very long time – say, 60 years…

    Port security is mainly conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs, which are now under the Dept. of Homeland Security. Don’t y’all think the DHS – or the Justice Dept. or the Pentagon, for that matter – would have said something to the effect of “No Way!” if anybody there smelled a mosque-sized rat?

    Seriously! If they had had just one raised hair or one chill on the spine, before the deal was given a go, wouldn’t we have heard about it then?

  • newton

    Guys, port ops have been conducted by foreign companies for a very long time – say, 60 years…

    Port security is mainly conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs, which are now under the Dept. of Homeland Security. Don’t y’all think the DHS – or the Justice Dept. or the Pentagon, for that matter – would have said something to the effect of “No Way!” if anybody there smelled a mosque-sized rat?

    Seriously! If they had had just one raised hair or one chill on the spine, before the deal was given a go, wouldn’t we have heard about it then?

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  • http://www.marchhareshouse.blogspot.com March Hare

    I’ve been in the steamship business a LONG time. I remember that Helen Delich Bentley was the ONLY member of Congress who had a good understanding of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and the needs of U.S. shipping companies. Her approval carries much more weight than Hill’s, Bab’s, or Chuck’s because she has demonstrated that she knows whereof she speaks.

  • http://www.marchhareshouse.blogspot.com March Hare

    I’ve been in the steamship business a LONG time. I remember that Helen Delich Bentley was the ONLY member of Congress who had a good understanding of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and the needs of U.S. shipping companies. Her approval carries much more weight than Hill’s, Bab’s, or Chuck’s because she has demonstrated that she knows whereof she speaks.


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