DPW: A hand poorly played by EVERYONE

The DPW deal is dead.

Now, the DPW is saying it will hand over control of the ports to a US entity. If I remember right, this was the solution Big Lizard offered a while back.

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

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • PeggyR


    I usually find myself agreeing with you. I find you to be a person of good sense. I still think you are person of good sense, but on this issue, I have to disagree with you. Comments on the Clintons excluded because we never disagree when it comes to them ;-)

    I have been against the deal fron the beginning. Not for any of the reasons that you fear, but for reasons of sheer pragmatism. My concern is for the instability of the region. I didnt think it was a good idea to trust our ports to a government smack in the middle of that kind of instability. My concern is that UAE, while our ally now, might not be tommorrow and that this could happen in the blink of an eye. While port security would still be in the hands of an America while the deal was on and while we could quickly seize back the ports in the event of some coup or other upheaval in UAE, there would still be the problem of the new government there having possession of information about our ports that we would not want an enemy to have. I realize that this is a long shot but it still concerns me. These things can and do happen.

    As for how muslims and or UAE will react, I dont think that is the message. I think that reasonable people arent going to forget what we have done for them. I dont think that the UAE is going think that one busted deal means the same as kicking them out of the US economy. They are a long way from that. They still have that investment here and noone is making any moves to change this arrangement. They are still as free to buy and invest in whatever they want and noone will raise an objection. I think they are big boys and they are just going to shrug this off and look for some other investment. Other muslims will also continue to freely do a profitable business with us. They are sensible enough to realixe that one deal will not change that either.

    Perhaps they will as sensible people ask themselves how they might feel if they were in our position. They have worried a little as well. They might think that we have a right to be a little sensitive when it comes to our ports because they would probably as protective of them as we are.

    I really dont think this will do lasting harm. Business men are by nature pragmatic. They will move on to the next thing and forget all about this.

    If and where there was excess fear or over reaction I think you are right to condemn it. But I think that the reaction of most folks did not resemble anything like the Islamophobic panic of the masses that the media and the Decepticons would have us believe. I didnt feel any panic. I just preferred a different arrangement. I think I could be happy with this compromise. But I’ll have to do some reading and thinking on it as its still new. I dont know yet if its good or bad but my hunch says its good. We’ll see how it pans out.

  • PeggyR


    Someone, I think Reynolds, said that if Haliburton gets the job, then the sucker punch will become clear.

    I wonder myself if this wasnt one of those semi-mythical genius Rovian plots.

    Everyone was wondering how the Wh could be so tin-eared. Then just after the Dems fall all over themselves in opposition to the deal and were poised to kill it by vote in Congress and burnich their image then the rug gets pulled out from under them and they look like a bunch of xenophobes with egg on their faces.

    Schumer has just been quoted as sayng that any connection between UAE and our ports is unacceptable (when for most people it isnt) The Dems are going to feel forced to get even more extremely against the deal in order to try and salvage the whole mess. That will turn off most decent folks who just wanted more assurances that the deal could be made safe.

    I dont believe in most of the genius plots that Rove has been given credit for. I realize that most of it is myth making of a mysterious and wiley figure. But if Rove is behind this, he is a genius of the highest order and one of the most savage political beasts to ever walk the earth ;-) The Democrats look like the biggest losers right now.

  • Larwyn

    Click here: The Strata-Sphere » Blog Archive » Chicken Hawks Lead The Mob-Think

    AJ STRATA has terrific post today, I left this at his site. Silly that people are leaving his readership -
    but read and think about the most important paragraph.

    Dear AJ,
    First, anyone that leaves your site because they don’t agree with
    you on one issue is not a member of club that I want to join.
    What makes “conservatives” different from the “libs” today is
    that we discuss issues and ideas. We don’t march in lockstep.
    The Left and MSM tries to play the splits up. Guess none of
    them belong to a loving family where different points of view
    are allowed.
    This paragraph is the most important:

    When fear hits a mob you end up with groups like the KKK – which was an organization and a mob think all centered around fear of others who were different. Sorry, but that is a fact of the KKK. So when you see even minor valid comparisons it is good time to do a real hard re-assessment of ones positions..

    Lou Dobbs is on CNN now celebrating “the will of the people” with
    the CNN anchor who is married to an Iranian. She knows not
    what she and CNN are doing.

    Lou Dobbs is really pleased with “A FRESH WIND BLOWING IN


    Left by Larwyn on March 9th, 2006


  • PeggyR

    Yeah, the opposition is stupid now, but when they agree with you they arent stupid??

    I dont call Lou Dobbs a stupid person. There have been many times when he was hailed as the lone voice of principle and thoughtfulness at CNN. I for one dont think that he’s suddenly gone stupid. I dont know what he thought of this deal exactly since I dont have cable but the last think that I will believe is that Lou Dobbs is a stupid person.

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  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com david foster

    There is a much larger issue of which this deal is part: the control of U.S. strategic assets by corporations/governments that may not have our best interests at heart. For example: during the Iraq war, a European company refused to ship components for the JDAM missile (according to the House Armed Services Committee)on grounds of “neutrality” and there may have been another similar incident involving another company. With the increasingly global nature of supply chains, we are increasingly vulnerable to such acts.

    It’s too often forgotten that American ports ship things *out* as well as *in* and hence are a vital component of logistical support for any future military activity. It is not irrational to be concerned about a possible “veto” being exercised on future US foreign policy by terminal operators controlling a sufficient share of US export capacity. I think this danger could probably have been reduced significanty by changes in the deal structuring, short of overall cancellation, but it’s not crazy to raise the issue.

    Unfortunately, too many of the political and media classes seem incapable of abstract thought, so will be unable to generalize from the port deal to the broader supply chain issue..until a specific and highly-visible deal comes on the horizon.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com david foster

    Also: I certainly agree with your point that this has been handled badly by just about everybody. Increasingly, policy discussions in this country resemble a really bad team on “The Apprentice”..one of the teams so consumed by their mutual spite that they are unable to even address the substantive task at hand.

    By and large, the media, and even bloggers, have done a really poor job in getting past the catchphrases and providing any serious light on the matter. I have not seen a single in-depth article about how materials and documentation flow within a terminal facility..a subject that has obvious relevance for the security issues..despite the fact that there are hundreds of people who understand these matters and would be happy to explain them.

  • Sigmund Carl and Alfred

    Superb, superb, suberb. In the end though, a few words summed it up: “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” and “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?”

    The truth is, we abandoned Muslims before- in Gulf War one. We could always say it was Saddam, WMD’s, the Arab League, etc. We could have found an excuse to assuage our immoral behavior- well known throught the Arab world.

    Killing this deal will provide us no such phony excuses and speaks clearly as to what is in the end, reflexive bigotry.

    We ought to be ashamed not only of our politicians for inciting hysteria instead of calm and rational debate, but ourselves as well.

    The dems stood against emancipation way back when. History it seems, repeats itself.

    No one but us folk in the Big House.

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  • smmtheory

    I disagree with you Anchoress on your opinion of the handling done by the White House. It’s not the President’s job to pitch for business, for one thing. Congress is supposedly the branch with the “power of the purse.” If the company had been the Hong Kong leader of the industry buying the British company, President Bush probably wouldn’t even have been told that it was an issue. He was given a lousy set of cards to play with by everybody, including yourself. Everybody and anybody who talked like it was his deal to make or break tied him to a “fiasco” NOT of his making, just like everything to do with hurricane Katrina and New Orleans was tied to the chairman of FEMA.