In defense of Dubai (and Bush)
I waited to write about the Dubai issue until it was clear who was going to back down first. In the end, opportunistic politicians and an irrational public won along with terrorism recruiters. And while Bush lost this battle, he won a tiny bit of my respect.
Everyone is against it
For starters, let me say that just because the proverbial “everyone” seems to be against the port deal, doesn’t make that position any less vulnerable to criticism or ignorance. In fact, when it seems like “everyone” is doing it, the chances of that position being flawed is usually high. In a previous post, I made reference to a poll where the majority of soldiers in Iraq believed they were in Iraq to retaliate against Saddam Hussein for his involvement in 9/11. Now of course, this is not true but this is just one small example of how being in a majority does not make your position right.
Port management not port security
Companies like DP World are not responsible for providing security at the ports. Port security is maintained by the US Coast Guard and Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “For instance, in New Orleans, P&O is one of eight terminal operators responsible for marketing the port, signing agreements with shipping lines, hiring labor, loading ships, and moving cargo …We have our own police force, harbor patrol, customs officers, and Coast Guard,” says Chris Bonura, spokesman for the Port of New Orleans. “That won’t change no matter who is operating the terminal.” So for all the people against this deal, who prefaced their opinion by stating that this is not about “Arab” countries, please know that the US would still be responsible for security no matter which company operated the ports.
But here is a better analogy that explains how ignorant the media and politicians have twisted the truth; “It’s like I go to an apartment building that has 50 apartments, and I rent an apartment. This does not mean I took over the management of the whole building.” And if you are really concerned about national security, take Bush to task for funding “only one-fifth of what the port authorities had identified as needed to properly secure the ports.”
But UAE has helped terrorist networks
So what!!!! I don’t say that to mean that we should be doing business with the likes of Bin Laden, BUT since when did the actions of certain individuals come to reflect the beliefs of that government? And if you are willing to do that, then tell me why we haven’t invaded Saudi Arabia because we know that most of the hijackers of 9/11 were from there? And I understand that “Dubai was the distribution hub of rogue Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan’s nuclear black market. But truer still is the cooperation Dubai’s intelligence officials gave the US in helping unravel Dr. Khan’s network.” After 9/11, people had to change the way they did business with the United States. And maybe, just maybe if people knew how responsive the UAE were to these changes, then people might understand that Arabs, like most people, just want a better life for their families.
But how can we trust the UAE?
Well, if you did your homework, you would know that the UAE was the “first Middle Eastern government to accept the US 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 US 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.” Now for some people, that might not be enough but if Dubai did all of this work just to get denied due American prejudices, then what more do you want from them? There is a point where being friends hurts more than being enemies. And I blame Bush for painting this global conflict as “you are either with us or against us,” and then get surprised when the public responds to this port deal with the same ignorance.
However, I have been most disappointed with the Democrats who are trying to out-hawk the Republicans on this issue. Now anyone who reads the Superspade, knows that I am very critical of the so-called war on terror and I think we must re-examine Western business and foreign policy that fuels terrorism. And it is not just on religious grounds but I digress. The Democrats are weak on defense issues because they think that if they appear tougher than Republicans, they will gain majorities in the House and Senate. However, a proven martial arts principle informs us that the best way to defeat opponents is to find ways not to fight. Democrats would gain my respect if they showed any hint of understanding that principle.
Why I agree with Bush
Now that the deal is done, I must say I was impressed when Bush said, “I’m concerned about a broader message this issue could send to our friends and allies around the world, particularly in the Middle East.” But my major contention is that Dubai and the UAE played by rules of democracy and capitalism while also showing itself to be an ally in the war on terror. Now my guess is that most wars are fought in part to create better business conditions for those involved. So if Dubai can’t get the hook up in getting some extra business deals for helping the US, then benefits are there for helping the US? Not to mention that by most accounts, UAE is considered a moderate Arab country. Given that, what incentive do we give other moderate countries to help the US when in the end, you probably won’t be able to get the financial hook up or any boost in nuclear arsenals.
“It is hypocritical for America to want democracy in the Middle East, to champion capitalism as the best economic framework while pushing for reform, transparency, and anticorruption practices in its businesses, and then turn protectionist when a Dubai-owned company turns up on our shores having played the capitalist takeover game responsibly and transparently.”
Nothing is free in this world and the UAE scratched the US back by helping in the war on terror so now it is time for the US to scratch the UAE’s back. Unfortunately, DP World and UAE now probably feel like they have been stabbed in the back. And if you were the leader of a moderate Arab country, would you feel comfortable doing business with the US? Of course not!!!! And of course if the UAE becomes a hub for terrorists, critics will say this had nothing to do with the ports deal. But the main point is that the biggest recruiting hub for terrorists can be found in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I’m sure that the US is going to be fighting this so-called war on terror long after Bush is gone from office, but we have to understand that we are living in a world that requires strategies more akin to chess than checkers.
Stay up fam,