Friday, February 24, 2006

Countering the Nonsense About the Dubai Deal

It would really be tragic if the USA insulted one of our good friends and closest allies within the Muslim world by denying the UAE the right to own a ports' operation business in our country. This is mindless xenophobia, racism and anti-Muslim thinking at its worst, and we need all the friends we can get among the 1.3 billion Muslims in this world - 95% of which go about their business peacefully every day.

Guest Commentary
PortGate Speech President Bush SHOULD Give
By Jamie Allman
Feb 24, 2006

My Fellow Americans--

There has been a lot of misinformation circulating about the Dubai Ports World purchase of the Brittish company handing container operations at some American ports. The rhetoric is spinning out of control. It's not going to go away and that's my fault. I should have said something earlier to Congress at the very least so they would have accurate information to modify and fabricate for their own political gain instead of just fabricating information outright.

Here's the deal.

We're not selling our ports. We're not hirings "nasty A-rabs" to protect our ports. We're not replacing longshoremen with Middle Easterners.

Dubai Ports World took over the British corporation that handled the job of essentially writing checks to longshoremen. As you know, the British aren't that great at holding on to things outside of Britain and DP won out.

Many of you have been given the false impression that the United Arab Emirates is a terrorist harboring state that cannot be trusted. Well, that's patently false and has no basis in fact.

The United States has Middle Eastern friends and Middle Eastern enemies. The UAE is a friend.
The United Arab Emirates has allowed the United States unlimited use of its Al Dahfra air base for spy plane and other military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The United Arab Emirates is currently helping train Iraqi security forces as we continue to try to relieve the burden on American troops.

The United Arab Emirates was the first country to sign on to the Container Security Initiative. Bottom line: the Dubai port is among the largest in the world. Boatloads of containers already come from the UAE to the United States. The United Arab Emirates were the first to agree to the tough program designed to screen containers coming to our country. Even as I speak UAE port workers are loading commercial ships bound for our country. They also help load and unload U.S. Navy ships.

The United Arab Emirates is also close to Iran. Iran hates the UAE and the UAE hates Iran. We like that. We're glad we are friends with the UAE. As long as we are, the Gulf will never be taken over by our middle eastern enemies. Never.

Based on all that the UAE has given us and has invested in the war on terror, there is no logical reason to deny a UAE company the opportunity to invest in the U.S. economy and benefit from our interests.

You all know about the need to battle Islamic Fascists. Why encourage friendly countries to retreat into evil based on unfounded fears?

Some have claimed UAE ties to the 9/11 attacks. Those are false. Two of the hijackers came from the UAE but even nine months before the attacks the UAE, in cooperation with the CIA, stopped one of them for questioning because his activities raised suspicion. It was the U.S. that let him go, not the UAE.

As for money ties to 9/11 , money did go through the UAE banking system, but not with the aid of the UAE government.

It should also be noted that the hijackers developed the most critical attack tool of all right here in the U.S. They learned the fly in the U.S., not in the UAE. They used visas granted by the U.S. Government, not the UAE.

Some have claimed that the other reason to oppose the UAE company is because the UAE supported the Taliban. I've got news for you. So did the United States. In 1996 we established diplomatic relations with the Taliban. In 1997 a Taliban delegation came to Houston and took in the zoo and the NASA Space Center. They were guests of a U.S. Oil Company.

In two years I'm headed back to Crawford. My legacy will be determined by you. I have nothing to gain by leaving you with a ticking time bomb. But I won't rest well in Crawford until you know that the UAE is not your enemy today. Your enemy is a multitude of individuals who stand to gain personally and politically by lying and fabricating details of what is really going on and the reasons why.

There are those in the media who are hoping for a short term burst of celebrity by exploiting foreign paranoia and hoping you don't read. And there are those pandering bi partisan politicians who have no interest in facts or, for that matter, anything that happens beyond election year 2006. Yes, I should have briefed them, but the truth was just a phone call away. Do not let them exploit your illogical fears for their own political gain.

Again, what do I have to gain by endangering your safety? What do THEY have to gain by making you think you are endangered?

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At 7:52 AM, Anonymous Joe Alves said...

I have to believe that Senator Hillary Clinton knows all these details about this, but she prefers to shore up her Liberal base by being against this deal. What amazes me the most is that she thinks that people don't see her as a real hypocrite when it is pretty well know that her husband was paid X amount of money to give a speach in Dubai.

At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Mason said...

The problem is not with the security of the ports, our Home Sedcurity wiill not relinquish their jurisdiction. The problem is with the many misinformed, name calling idiots in this country that are tring (perhaps unknowinly) to destroy the very fabic thaat has made this country so strong. I call on all of these idiaots to GET INFORMED before you go off half-c kd!!

At 11:22 AM, Blogger Sharon said...

This has nothing to do with being misinformed or being an idiot. It is common sense that having anyone other than the U.S in charge of any point of entry is not wise. Since this happened we have found out many other countries are operating our ports as well, ie China. Boatloads of illegal Chinese enter on the CA coast everyday. Are the Chinese watching those ports? They have much to gain by allowing their illegals in. We have a real problem with illegal immigrants sneaking in to our country to the point where certain states are destabilizing, border states like CA, AZ,TX,FL. Shall we have the Mexicans in charge of the Mexican border, too?
Bush has repeatedly told us we are at war with terrorists. It is unwise to have any country in charge of any point of entry, especially a Muslim country. I smell a rat on this deal. George Bush is the worst President we have ever had. He has no capacity for long term planning.

At 3:37 PM, Blogger RussWilcox said...

February 28, 2006
Bush, Speaking Up Against Bigotry
By Richard Cohen

There are times when George Bush sorely disappoints. Just when you might expect him to issue a malapropian explanation, pander to his base or simply not have a clue about what he is talking about, he does something so right, so honest and, yes, so commendable, that -- as Arthur Miller put it in ``Death of a Salesman'' -- ``attention must be paid.'' Pay attention to how he has refused to indulge anti-Arab sentiment over the Dubai ports deal.

Would that anyone could say the same about many of the deal's critics. Whatever their concerns may be, whatever their fears might be, they would not have had them, expressed them or have seen them in print had the middle name of the United Arab Emirates been something else. After all, no one goes nuts over Germany, the country where some of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists lived and attended school.

To overlook the xenophobic element in this controversy is to overlook the obvious. It is what propelled the squabble and what sustains it. Bush put his finger on it right away. ``What I find interesting is that it's OK for a British company to manage some ports, but not OK for a company from a country that is a valuable ally in the war on terror,'' he said last week. ``The UAE has been a valuable partner in fighting the war on terror.'' It is a long way from a terrorist haven.

Somewhere in the White House, a political operative -- maybe the storied Karl Rove -- must have slapped his head in consternation as Bush made that remark. The politic thing for a president with a dismal approval rating (about 40 percent) would have been to join with the critics, get ahead of the anti-Arab wave and announce that he, too, was concerned about the deal which was the fault, now that he thought about it, of pointy-headed bureaucrats, Democrats and the occasional atheist. Instead, the White House stuck to its guns, ordering a symbolic retreat -- more study -- but continuing to back the deal.

That Bush has done this should come as no surprise. As a bigot he leaves a lot to be desired. He has refused to pander to anti-immigration forces and shortly after 9/11, if you will remember, he visited Washington's Islamic Center. He reassured American Muslims and the worldwide Islamic community that neither America nor its government were waging war on an entire people.

``The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam,'' Bush said back then -- and he has since repeated this message over and over again. That very year -- November of 2001 -- Bush invited 52 Muslim diplomats to a traditional Iftar dinner, breaking the daily Ramadan fast, and he has occasionally cited purported racism as the reason some people doubt the Muslim world will, as Bush so fervently wishes, make progress toward Democracy. They think people whose skin is ``a different color than white'' are incapable of self-government, he has said.

We are in an odd era of symbolic news events. Just recently, the Dick Cheney shooting mishap was treated as if it were, by itself, of cosmic political importance. Some pundits even called on the vice president to resign while others merely saw everything the Bush administration had gotten wrong -- an almost inexhaustible list -- as distilled in a single bad shot and the resultant pout. Now, it is the port controversy.

But if the Cheney story was about everything else -- including, of course, the taciturn and slippery Cheney himself -- then this port controversy is really about security anxiety (stoked somewhat by the Bush administration) and a long-standing dislike of things and people Arab. The deal itself may not be perfect, but it is a long way from a Page One story.

America has many friends in the Arab world. You can go to Saudi Arabia, for instance, and talk ``American" at a dinner party -- banter about the Redskins or California real estate prices or, of course, politics. The region is home to many people who have gone to school in the United States and admire it greatly. They are not the majority, by any means, but they are important and influential -- and they are being slowly alienated by knee-jerk insults and brainless policies that reflect panic and prejudice. The true security cost of the Dubai deal has already been inflicted.

Maybe because Bush is a Bush -- son of a president who got to know many Arabs -- or maybe because he just naturally recoils from prejudice, his initial stance on this controversy has been refreshingly admirable. Whatever the case, the president has done the right thing. Attention must be paid.

© 2006, Washington Post Writers Group

At 9:44 AM, Blogger Al Rodbell said...

Ah, so liberals are guilty of enflaming rhetoric. So true. But Republicans have always ignored them before. Why is this issue differrent. If you want to understand why this issue won't go away check out my essay.
(Dubai Port)


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