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Wednesday, March 1, 2006

More On Dealing With The Devil

Michelle Malkin takes on the conservatives who are blatantly resorting to a tactic they quickly decry when it's used by the left. In this case, playing race card against those who think it's a bad idea to let an Arab nation run any of our port facilities.
The UAE is our "friend," we are told, and to question that assertion, we are scolded, is to engage in reckless prejudice and life-threatening insult. Yes, well, some friends are more equal than others. To instinctively trust a longtime, stalwart Western democracy more than an Arab newcomer with a mixed record on combating terror, international crime, and Islamic extremism is not "Islamophobia." It's self-preservationist in a time of war.

We are at war, aren't we?

... Yes, there are countless homegrown terrorists across England, where Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., the maritime company purchased by state-owned Dubai Ports World, operates. So what? So, now, a peaceful Western democracy that is infiltrated against its will by al Qaeda is on the same plane as an Arab federation whose ruling emiratis ran interference for Osama bin Laden before Sept. 11, which continued to be a logistical hub for al Qaeda for years after, which refuses to recognize the existence of Israel, bans our textbooks as "racist" because they point out Syria's state sponsorship of terrorism, and is boycotting Denmark over the Mohammed Cartoons? Now, all the proselytizers who tell us to collect the dots and connect the dots want us to throw them all away lest we give offense?
Yes, we are at war. Not with a "race" but with an ideology. The United Arab Emirates has a long, long, long way to go (and a much higher standard to meet) before they can be called our ally in the same way as Britain, Denmark, or hell even France.

Let me just add, I'm not thrilled with the People's Republic of China running some of our ports facilities either. All in all, I think it's best to keep that job in-house.

U P D A T E : Michelle included links to these other columns (here and here) on the issue, but I wanted to included them here as well since they're spot on.
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BigLeeH 3/01/2006 12:24:00 PM  

Greeting, oh queer one, from a (straight) fellow conservative and occasional libertarian.

I find myself on the other side of this issue from you, Malkin, Boortz and a number of people with whom I usually agree. I am for the Dubai ports deal, for a number of reasons that seem compelling to me. I also find myself agreeing with ex-president Jimmy Carter -- something that very seldom happens and I hate it when it does. (Jimmy and Me).

The right answer to the port security problem is to improve our port security -- not to make sure that the ports are run by our 'friends' who we hope will enforce it, even though it is not their responsibility. While I admit that having an Arab-owned company does entail some additional security risks it will also clarify -- in the minds of congress and the American people -- exactly where the responsibility for port security lies. I am willing to grant that it may be slightly more likely that someone working for Dubai Ports will wish to harm the US than would his British counterpart but he will also be slightly less likely to succeed because the Coast Guard and US Customs will be more careful in their interactions. So, as I see it port security is approximately a wash on the Dubai ports deal.

Which leads us to the geopolitical role of the deal which, I think is huge. When President Bush said "If you are not with us you are against us" he did not add "and even if you are with us you are not really with us." Bush was calling on the countries in the mideast to decide and I have seen no conclusive evidence that the UAE, and particularly Dubai, haven't decided to be "with us." Most people don't know much about Dubai (I know I didn't). Citizen Smash at the Indepundit give his impression in Don't Dump on Dubai.

Our strategy in the mideast is a carrot-and-the-stick strategy: work with us and get the carrot; piss us of and get whacked. This is a time honored method for dealing with jack-asses and is much less effective if there is no carrot forthcoming when the work is performed on the basis that the jack-ass is still a jack-ass. Dubai has done us a lot of favors lately and is in a position to do us a lot more in the near future. They have earned a degree of rather-nervous, well verified trust from the US.

As to how this could be made a bit more palatable, Dafydd ab Hugh has suggested the formation of an American subsidiary of Dubai Ports where the selection of execs and management could involve a US security check hurdle. Dafydd thinks that Krauthammer has stolen his idea but it strikes me as obvious enough to have occurred to him independently.

I like your blog. Keep up the good work.


Kevin 3/01/2006 01:45:00 PM  

Hey Lee,

I understand your position. I agree UAE has been moderately helpful, but giving them access to operate terminals in our ports is a pretty damn big carrot for a very small rabbit. We already know the ports are insecure - why take on "additional security risks" when it's even "slightly more likely that someone working for Dubai Ports will wish to harm the US than would his British counterpart?"

ThatGayConservative 3/02/2006 07:04:00 AM  

You are aware that DPW has an American COO, has Americans, Brits, Austrailians, Indians etc. running the company?

Also, if DPW doesn't get it, it goes to Singapore.
It doesn't seem like Americans are investing in our ports. Rather, they divested themselves in order to seek out more lucreative deals. Maybe The Donald, who's investing in UAE could do it?

Kevin 3/02/2006 08:51:00 AM  

I'm completely aware that DPW has an American COO, but the buck stops in Dubai and when the Emir says hop his state owned company will hop. I also know that DPW isn't taking control of security, and I know they won't be running the entire ports but only certain terminals at each. I still don't like it.

It's a bad idea to give an uproven ally this opportunity. Quite frankly I'd feel more comfortable with Singapore in control since it's a mostly non-Muslim, secular autocracy.

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