Day By Day

Friday, March 10, 2006

Backlash on Dubai

The deep sixing of the Dubai port deal is starting to have repercussions in the Muslim world. Witness this editorial from the Arab News:

Yesterday's vote in a US House of Representatives committee blocking a Dubai company from running six major US ports was not about stopping foreign companies from running US ports. It was a specifically anti-Arab move. US politicians did not have a problem when British-owned P&O operated the ports. But now that an Arab company, Dubai Ports World, is buying out P&O, it is a different matter. It is glaringly, provocatively anti-Arab.

What is illogical about Congress’ attitude is that Dubai is one of America’s closest friends in the Middle East. Indeed, it is arguably the most pro-Western, pro-American of anywhere in the entire Arab world. American lawmakers even spurned the Dubai company’s promises that a separate all-American subsidiary would run the US operation. Clearly they do not trust any Arab, no matter who they are and where they are from, even if they are the most faithful of allies. The US clearly has different classes of friends. First-class, second-class or maybe even third, fourth and fifth class, who cannot be fully trusted.

Which one Arabs fit we do not quite know, but we know we are in the untrusted section. Congress clearly regards Arabs as untrustworthy — there to fight terrorism, keep the oil flowing, buy American goods and services and generally jump to Washington’s beck and call. Congress in no way regards Arabs as partners and equals. It is neocolonialism and there has to be an Arab response.

The implications of the move are extensive. The fact that the Bush administration is opposed to Congress’ craven pandering to anti-Arab public prejudice is no comfort. It is evident from the scale of Wednesday’s vote that this blatantly racist bill will be endorsed by the whole House of Representatives and sail through the Senate. It would be very surprising if President Bush can veto it. The most obvious response has to be in kind. If the US does not trust an Arab company to run something like a port, should we trust American companies to do similar things here? Can we? If the Americans mistrust us as they do, in whose interests will their companies be operating?

Read the whole thing here.

There will be repercussions, make no mistake about it. American business interests will suffer, diplomatic efforts throughout the Islamic world will have been dealt a major setback, and the charges of racism made by Islamist radicals against Western society will have been confirmed. Yesterday's action by the House of Representatives was perhaps the most disgusting and disturbing taken by this sorry excuse for a Congress. The generosity of spirit shown by our President stands in stark contrast to the sheer mean-spiritedness of the current leaders of both parties in the legislature. These are nasty times, and for the first time in a long while I am ashamed of my country.

The Anchoress has a superb post on the subject here. She pretty much sums up my feelings on this whole mess, except that she is a bit more charitable than am I. Read it! That's an order! This in particular struck me:

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.


I don't usually care for David Ignatius' commentary. He often sounds like a voice from the distant past, longing avidly for the moral certainties of the 1970's, but on the Dubai deal he's spot on. He writes:

President Bush tried to do the right thing on the Dubai ports deal, but he got rolled by a runaway Congress. The collapse of the deal was a measure of Bush's political weakness -- but even more, of America's traumatized post-Sept. 11 politics. The ironic fact is that the UAE is precisely the kind of Arab ally the United States needs most now. But that clearly didn't matter to an election-year Congress, which responded to the Dubai deal with a frenzy of Muslim-bashing disguised as concern about terrorism. And we wonder why the rest of the world doesn't like us.

Read it here.

The Maryland Conservatarian notes that Ignatius is a bit selective in where he allocates blame for the fiasco. Specifically, he notes that the mainstream media, which systematically mis-represented the specifics of the situation doesn't appear in Ignatius' account. He writes:
Those “craven” Congress members were merely reflections of their constituencies who themselves were just reacting to what was being reported by the various factions of the media.

And, unfortunately, to a large extent what was being reported was wrong. The ports weren’t being sold; the UAE-based company wasn’t going to run the ports; port security responsibility wasn’t changing hands; none of that was true but we all heard some version of them in the aftermath of the deal’s announcement.
He's right.

Read his commentary here.

Gateway Pundit presents and links to lots of commentary, including President Bush's remarks on the Dubai mess [here].


Here's Daniel Drezner's snarky rant on the subject. He hates it even more than I do.

And Cassandra is incandescent with disgust at Congress [here].

And even the doughty Sister Toldjah has been knocked off her stride by the sheer fecklessness of the whole thing. [here]


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