The DPW deal is dead.
Hmph. This is probably a smart move, but I cannot believe how poorly played every aspect of this deal has been – and I am not convinced that DPW’s move will assuage the fears and tempers of some out there.
I am also not convinced that the UAE will not divest a hefty percentage of its financial interests in the US, and that could leave us vulnerable, in terms of both economics and security.
This deal has been stupidly, sloppily handled from the start. In a post 9/11 world, Dubai SHOULD have perhaps been a trifle more sensitive to how the deal would initially been perceived, and should have maybe done some visible PR work at the first sign of American skittishness.
When the president found out about it, HE should have done a better job calling for further study and explaining to America just who the UAE are to us.
When Bill Clinton was discovered to be a force behind the deal he should have – for once in his miserable life – stopped triangulating, stopped trying to weave a political cloth that could fit the patchwork of his ambitious double fantasy of a marriage and spoken plainly. To you know, actually help his country understand something.
When Bob Dole saw the GOP running on the emotion of 9/11 and more recent Muslim madness, he should have stepped out from behind his Erectile Dysfunction royalties and talked to the people who were freaking out.
When the blogs were boiling over, the WH communications people – who are woefully bad at their jobs – should have been talking to them via conference call.
And those bloggers (like me) who did change their minds from their initial knee-jerk objections to the deal should have made it a point to be as loudly vocal in their support as they had been in their opposition.
The president should not have been defensive and – for the first time in his presidency – threatening a veto. It was too hot-headed, too arrogant. The congress should not have been so eager to shoot down a deal because “the people writing letters and emails,” to whom they never listened before, suddenly mattered in this election year. No, GOP, I’m still not impressed with any of you. Not that you’d know that, or care, but still. :-)
We won’t even get into the press’ awful performance here. First they ignored the whole story in order to pursue Dick Cheney and Birdshotgate. When they finally did turn their attention to the deal, they gave skeletal reports on which they hung the only two bits of information they found newsworthy: The deal was hurting President Bush and Hillary Clinton was “on the right side of security issues.”
Huh. Sloppy and less-than-edifying, all the way around.
Badly played, America, badly played. The solution proposed may be exactly the “face-saving” solution needed, I think the harm that has been done will be difficult to fix. We have insulted and demeaned an ally for no good reason other than our “fear.”
And in the process, we’ve exposed our weakness. We have not shown ourselves to be tough, but to be trembling. Americans who enjoy reciting lofty words about judging other on “the content of their character” have revealed the shallowness behind their recitations. People should be judged not by the color of their skin (or the nation of their birth, or the shape of their genitals or upon their creed) unless they happen to be Arabs and Muslims, in which case, none are to be trusted, none.
This is SO not what I have envisioned my country to be. We have had young men and women fighting and dying in order to free Muslim people for decades. In Afghanistan, against the USSR, in Bosnia, in Kosovo, in Afghanistan again, in Iraq…what do we say to the souls of our slain soldiers – that their deaths were a polite fiction? That we let them die for people we wouldn’t condescend to do business with? What about our Iraqi friends – the men and women we have been training to fight, to police, to lead, to govern? What are they thinking right now? That America has done all of this – liberated them from a tyrant, brought them to the first steps of a new, democratic era – not to engage them as eventual and equal players on the world-stage, but so that we may eventually spit in their faces, because they are “those people we are – in truth – so afraid of…”
Economically, this deal made sense. When your ally is heavily invested in your economy, he is not looking to destabalize that economy with terrorism. Politically this deal made sense. We need every Arab and Muslim ally we can get in a world which is intermittently set ablaze by the fires radical Islamofascism. In a war on terror which we know will last for decades, this deal made sense, because it was a signal to Arab nations that everything George W. Bush was telling them about liberty and freedom, and partnerships and markets and means were true – that America was going to lead the way in taking things to the next step in building relations with liberty/democracy/capitalist minded Arab nations.
And what did we do? We cringed and shuddered and wrung our hands, and emptied our bladders all over our allies, in fear. We forgot all about the Arab Springtime that was unfolding a year ago.
We may find that the war on terror has been set back, here. Trust is a precarious thing upon which to balance, and America has just wobbled.
If I were an Iraqi citizen who had been kissing pictures of George W. Bush and high-fiving American troops, I would be a little wary, today. I’d be wondering, “but what do you really think of me…and when will you smack me down?”
UPDATE: Lest I be accused of calling DPW opponents by coarse or vulgar names, let me repost this essay which I had slipped into a different post. I never said I didn’t understand what was behind some of this, or that I wasn’t sympathetic. Nevertheless, I think this will come back to kick America in the behind. For the first time in our history, we look feeble and afraid. Not good.
Islamophobia? Well, yeah.
It seems a lot of people, particularly conservative people, are offended by the idea that their opposition to the UAE takeover of six of our ports might be rooted in “Islamophobia.”
“It’s not Islamophobia! It’s prudence,” they say.
Well, okay, but why can’t it be Islamophobia?
After 9/11, I remember going into my local 7-11 for a cup of coffee. This store, like others, is owned by a Middle Eastern family. On 9/12/01 they conspicuously displayed a large American flag in the store, as if to say, “not us! We didn’t do it! We love America!” I remember asking them if anyone had been aggressive or accusatory toward them – which one might expect, given the great tragedy which had enveloped us.“No, no,” they responded. “Everyone has been concerned for us – that we are being treated alright. This is all terrible.”
I remember feeling so proud of my country when I heard that – proud again when our President visited a mosque, and when I read stories of American women offering to shop with “women of cover” in order to shield them from any random unkindnesses directed their way by overwhelmed Americans who might lash out. I was proud to realize, in the passing weeks, that in a nation of almost 300 million people, only a handful of regrettable incidents occured in which Middle Eastern people were targeted for revenge.
Americans are much more “tolerant” than many will admit, and we’re compassionate, too. I was not surprised to hear that others had inquired as to how the fellows at the 7-11 were being treated. That sort of respect, concern and sensitivity toward others was precisely what I have always expected from my compatriots.
But perhaps America is growing weary of offering up respect, concern and sensitivity when their offerings seem not simply unrequited, but unappreciated as well.
While the World Trade Center fell and the Pentagon burned, the West Bank danced. As America has risked her young men and women in efforts to save Muslims in Kosovo and Bosnia, to liberate them in Afghanistan and Iraq, she has had to watch a seemingly endless video loop of screaming Muslims packing the streets, blades exposed, carrying signs denouncing, America, the Great Satan. It seems like the same mobs have gathered to denounce Jimmy Carter, then Ronald Reagan, then George H. W. Bush, then Bill Clinton, then George W. Bush. Despite all of our “tolerance,” America has seen her flags trampled; despite all the split blood of her young, she have seen her presidents burned in effigy. Despite all of her service to liberty, she has seen scimitars raised at her, in gleeful abandon.
It is undoubtedly true that in a world of 1.2 billion Muslims, the ones who get the camera time and the headlines are the Islamofascist extremists, that the great majority of Muslims are not wild-eyed, ululating deatheaters, but ordinary people who just want to get on with the business of living and raising families. I believe that, and I think most Americans believe it, too.
The problem is, we don’t get to see those Muslims. We don’t know where they are! I see two guys at the 7-11, and they certainly seem like decent enough chaps, but in truth over the past four years they’ve become quieter and twitchier and less forthcoming, and we with our cups of Hawaiian Kona Blend have stopped inquiring as to their well-being. We’ve become quieter and twitchier, too. Everyone is wary and watchful on both sides of the counter, and distrust seems easier, lately.
Am I Islamophobic? I hate to think I might be. I try my best to love everyone, as my Lord has said I must. But a phobia is not – contrary to what the politically correct would tell you – a “hate.” Phobia is fear Am I afraid of Islam?
Well, yeah, I may very well be. It is not “hate” but plain common sense that tells me to feel threatened when I know that at any given moment, somewhere in the world, 100,000 men, women and children are gathering and holding signs urging the beheading of anyone who does not show sufficient “respect” to their prophet. I’m a very respectful person but I feel threatened when “respect” seems to mean nothing less than submission and obsequious kowtowing, which I am not willing to offer.
I tend to think the UAE managing a few of our ports is not a bad idea. The enlightened American in me understands that the UAE is an ally, that it has been helpful to our troops and to our government in the war on terror. I know that President Clinton thinks very highly of the UAE, as does President Bush and our Secretary of State, and I assume they know a little bit more about the UAE than I do. I do not for a moment believe that President Bush has suddenly abandoned his promise to defend the nation. I also think that allowing an ally to invest financially in our country gives them a stake – an interest – in seeing that America is not economically crippled by terrorist attacks. I support the deal.
I can understand why others don’t, though. And I accept that they may have valid concerns that are separate and apart from mere “Islamophobia.”
But I have difficulty believing their vehement denials that “phobia” could play even a minor role in their position, because I understand just how afraid and skittish I am feeling about these countries, and the members of their faith who seem like they’d as soon kill me as look at me. And I support the deal.
I am an American, though, and I will not surrender to that fear any more than I will “surrender” to that faith. I am an American, and I will believe in my God, and laugh when I will, and love where I will, and say what I wish – and I will defend everyone else’s right to do the same, as long as they don’t believe their rights include making me shut up. Because I am an American, I want to see my country create successful working partnerships with Arab and Islamic nations; such a move seems the next logical step in the war on terror. And dammit, I do not want to be held hostage to my fear. I do not want to fear. My cousin was in the Pentagon when it was hit. I lost firefighter friends in the WTC. I DO understand the fear, but I do not want to live in it, and I won’t. I support the deal.
We need to start seeing some “moderate” Muslims come out and speak up in defense of the America that has been doing its damndest, particularly in the last few years, to help formerly tyrannized Islamic people find their liberty, to bring Islamic countries into the marketplace of ideas and inclusionary economics, without forcing our culture or morals upon them. If we could see these sorts of Muslims, if some of them would come out of hiding and speak up, that would make the UAE deal much easier to support.
But I support it, anyway, because I am an American, and to block a deal that makes a lot of sense to me, simply to ease my fears, seems wrong to me – wrong and ugly. It’s someone I don’t want to be. It’s a country I don’t want America to be.
To trust and to encourage and to take a chance – those are scary propositions in these times. But they are quinessentially American in character. Americans are a courageous people, and courage is about acknowledging danger but carefully – carefully – going forward.
Junkyard Blog teases that Halliburton will be the “US Entity” that takes over the ports. I don’t think it’s really a tease, though. Makes too much sense.
Glenn Reynolds is also thinking about Halliburton and wonders who will feel sucker-punched or rope-a-doped, in the future. Mr. Schumer, izzat you I hear cryin’?
Ed Morrisseycalls it a smart move for everyone
Michelle Malkin is very happy and has a good round-up and Rich Moran hopes the UAE doesn’t take it too personally.
Ed Driscoll reminds us that Joe Lieberman supported the deal which will make his life that much harder as he runs for re-election.
AJ Strata is pretty mad
Jack Kelly is happy that at least the Democrats are whimpering
Jeff Goldstein agrees that thing was handled poorly from the start and finds it odd to have to hope that the UAE can look think of this as a timing problem and not a xenophobic one
Paul thinks it’s never good when Hillary can look strong on an issue
Dubya Roils the Right
Buster chimes in
Some phobia warranted