Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 23, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

FEARMONGERING....William Greider writes that George Bush has used war and terror as a partisan cudgel for the past five years, and the culture of fear he's nurtured so cynically has been the cornerstone of his political success:

So why is the fearmonger-in-chief being so casual about this Dubai business? Because at some level of consciousness even George Bush knows the inflated fears are bogus. So do a lot of the politicians merrily throwing spears at him. He taught them how to play this game, invented the tactics and reorganized political competition as a demagogic dance of hysterical absurdities, endless opportunities to waste public money. Very few dare to challenge the mindset.

....It would be nice to imagine this ridiculous episode will prompt reconsideration, cool down exploitative jingoism and provoke a more rational discussion of the multiplying absurdities. I doubt it. At least it will be satisfying to see Bush toasted irrationally, since he lit the match.

On a related note, it makes me feel almost nostalgic to watch the toxic stew of cherry picking, half truths, and outright misrepresentations currently being used to demonize the UAE as a virtual arm of al-Qaeda. You know what it reminds me of? The way Bush & Co. tried to sell Saddam Hussein as Osama's best buddy in the Middle East. It's poetic watching the Bushies squirm when they're on the receiving end of this stuff.

Kevin Drum 10:59 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (113)

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If we reorganize political competition as a demagogic dance of hysterical absurdities, the terrorists will have won!

Posted by: mk on February 23, 2006 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

What comes around, goes around. Anything that rips the political testes off of this man is good for this country.

He is, by any measure, the biggest criminal ever to sit behind the desk in the oval office.

Posted by: Mike Timmons on February 23, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

I could not agree more. I am, however, deeply troubled. This episode presents the classic dilemma of the responsible liberal, a category that I think includes most politically active Democrats. We know that on substance Bush is probably right. The Dubai port deal is not a real security threat in a world where globalized capitalism rules. At its core, at least in part (a very important part), the opposition to the deal is xenophobic. Thus, supporting it runs the risks of sanctioning a potentially reprehensible precedent. At the same time, it is delightfully delicious to watch Bush twist in the wind propelled by his own prior cynical political manipulations. This may be one of those impossible liberal Democratic moments: is it more important to be correct on the merits or to be politically expedient in the hopes of advancing our chance of winning the next election? At what point do we sell our soul the devil?

Posted by: mert7878 on February 23, 2006 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think it's a security threat in the sense that we're all going to die if the deal goes through. But by that standard I think a lot of things we do are pointless. There's no good reason to hand parts of port operations to the royal families of the UAE.

Posted by: Burzootie on February 23, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

The only politician that was toasted rationally was Nixon.

Posted by: Boronx on February 23, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Please have a look at this article by Kristen Breitweiser. Enough to make the Bushies squirm a little more...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-breitweiser/coming-to-a-port-near-you_b_16218.html

I think it lays out a pretty clear and detailed connection between elements in the UAE and al Qaeda.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 23, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

It's poetic watching the Bushies squirm when they're on the receiving end of this stuff.

I couldn't agree more.

Posted by: Windhorse on February 23, 2006 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

Well, that's how we all get sucked in, isn't it? We start out with good intentions and then come to realize that without power we can't "do the good we came to do", so then the ends justify the means.

I'm not saying I know the way out, just, that's how we all get sucked in.

One approach is to stay a certain distance away from caring too much about politics. It does keep you more honest, I think. But indifference and power are pretty much mutually exclusive.

Personally, I think Democrats should be quite brutally honest about everything, as a counter-tactic. The style that e.g. nancy pelosi or even Katrina van Heuvel (sp?) speak in, that partisan, detached-from-reality, lost-in-own-spin style, you gotta get rid of that. Come to the match, but play a completely different game from the republicans. People presumably would take notice, and I think you would get rewarded by the voters for being more direct.

But, who knows.

Posted by: mk on February 23, 2006 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

Greider wrote:

"at some level of consciousness"

Like, what, the intentional level of consciousness?

I think that they know exactly what game they're playing, and I think they tell Bush why he's got to repeat the points he's got to say. Have you ever seen Luntz speak on TV, or anywhere Kev?

I think a lot of these Rove types are real WWII buffs, real Third Reich afficionados. I think they see what a propaganda campaign did there, and the symbols, the nationalism, the archetypes. I think they admire it & that they believe it was beautifully constructed. I think they look at America as a place that has potential for the same kind of principles to be applied.

A lot of people say Bush is not smart, but I don't think he's an idiot. He just doesn't care that much about knowledge or academics. He may not have tried hard in school, but he's as smart as any unscrupulous businessman who knows "the tricks of the trade," to be disingenuous with the customers and all that.

Posted by: Swan on February 23, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider: That whole column is so idiotic, I don't quite know what to say. A bunch of wire transfers to the 9/11 hijackers originated or terminated in the UAE, so the fuck what?

Posted by: Will on February 23, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck you all, I got my First Amendment Award.

Posted by: Judy Miller on February 23, 2006 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

Not all Arabs are terrorists...


But all terrorists are Arabs!


ymmv

Posted by: IOKIYAR on February 23, 2006 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

I mean, remember that anecdote about Rove's clique laughing about the controversy they stirred up about-- what was it? -- I think using footage of corpses of firefighters who died in 9/11 on a campaign commercial? And 9/11 widows were upset about it, but the Republicans who were responsible for the commercials were thrilled that they stirred up controversy & had drawn attention to themselves and 9/11, and away from discussing the economy.

You can never forget something like that. You've got to keep it in mind 6 months later when someone's putting on their pious face. If you don't, Rove & Bush's BS starts to look sincere.

I for one don't give them the benefit of the doubt at all. The fact that Bush threatened the veto over this port deal is really telling. It would just be naive to ignore a detail like that.

Posted by: Swan on February 23, 2006 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

Just as a couple of examples (since "be honest" is such a lame, meaningless suggestion by itself), I'd really like to see democrats:

- talk about how bush is playing on people's fears of terrorism.
- take bush's side in a case like this where the facts are on his side,
- combat Karl Rove's exploitation of the media's blind spots (e.g., why didn't I see anything about John McCain & south carolina in a bio-piece in the Wash Post about Rove? Why did the K Street project take so long to get seen for what it was?) by publicly and pointedly criticizing the media every time it gets the story wrong. I guess this would just be an attempt to determine the news rather than reacting to the news.

This is not as good a list as I thought I could do off the top of my head, but there still might be something here. Generally speaking, I'd just like the democrats to play a different game than the republicans. There's a risk with that, but on the upside, when the status quo is sucking, you probably get more handsomely rewarded by the voters.

Posted by: mk on February 23, 2006 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney-
How about once for every Iraqi non-combatant killed by the American military?

Posted by: HR on February 23, 2006 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider! Long time! How you been?

Posted by: Global Citizen on February 23, 2006 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

mk -

I think you're right. I can't understand why some Dems with national presence don't just constantly point out the man behind the curtain.

Instead, they do this wierd "go along to get along" thing that drives me fucking nuts.

If Pelosi did nothing more than give a speech every day that was a rewrite of a Digby post, we'd all be better off.

Posted by: craigie on February 23, 2006 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

How many times then do the President and others need to stress this is not a war on Muslims, against all Arabs, that Islam is the religion of Peace?!

That's kind of funny, in a pathetic way. It's like you actually believe what your President is saying...

Posted by: craigie on February 23, 2006 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

It's poetic watching the Bushies squirm when they're on the receiving end of this stuff.

Word.

Posted by: Randy Paul on February 23, 2006 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

To bad they got a war out of it, and all we get is a chance to cancel a lousy port deal.

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on February 23, 2006 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

Pick this cherry Mr. Drum:

The Central Intelligence Agency did not target Al Qaeda chief Osama bin laden once as he had the royal family of the United Arab Emirates with him in Afghanistan, the agency's director, George Tenet, told the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States on Thursday.

Had the CIA targeted bin Laden, half the royal family would have been wiped out as well, he said.

http://in.rediff.com/news/2004/mar/25osama.htm via atrios

Posted by: Mr. Geodesic on February 23, 2006 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

Look, liberals, we were attacked by AQ and Saddam on 9/11/01. The President took them out. It's been tough times since then, but the USA has prevailed.

Now, GWB wants this port-thingy to go through and doesn't need a lot of liberal meddling from your types. Hasn't he earned enough pc (= political capital) for us to trust him? I know I do!

On a separate note, go Santorum/Keyes '08!

Posted by: HappyConservative on February 23, 2006 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

Hoist by their own retard.

Posted by: craigie on February 23, 2006 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

Poetic, Drum? How so? Care to sing a few lines for us?

Posted by: cecce on February 24, 2006 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

We have to give 'HappyConservative' a 3. This schtick is getting old, can you at least throw in a triple-axel somewhere in there to liven things up?

Posted by: The Al Judging Team on February 24, 2006 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK
How many times then do the President and others need to stress this is not a war on Muslims, against all Arabs, that Islam is the religion of Peace?! Posted by: Cheney
It clearly isn't a war against the Anti-American groups like bin Laden, the Saudi Wasabi but against those like Iraq that have never attacked the US. Islam is a religion of peace, but Bush represents a politics of hate, crony capitalism, and corruption.
It's like you actually believe what your President is saying... Posted by: craigie
He has to believe: it's his religion. Posted by: Mike on February 24, 2006 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

Quoted from Tom Tommorrow from the Nov. 18, 2001 edition of the Los Angeles Times:

For years, Persian Gulf state elites hunted rare birds of prey, houbara bustards, in the bleak hills surrounding Kandahar. In the late 1990s, according to former U.S. and Afghan officials, a number of prominent Persian Gulf state officials and businessmen flew into Kandahar on state and private jets for secret hunting expeditions.

For days at a time, the hunters would roam the hills, releasing falcons trained to catch the bustards. Some satisfied hunters heaped donations on their Taliban hosts, officials saidand on Al Qaeda leaders who occasionally joined them.

Among the reported visitors were high-ranking UAE and Saudi government ministers. According to U.S. and former Afghan civil air officials, the hunters included Prince Turki al Faisal, son of the late Saudi King Faisal. He headed that nations intelligence service until late August, maintaining close ties with Bin Laden and the Taliban. Another visitor, officials said, was Sheik Mohammed ibn Rashid al Maktum, the Dubai crown prince and Emirates defense minister.

Persian Gulf state officials cast doubt on the reports. People go hunting in Pakistan. They dont go to Afghanistan, said Adel al-Jubeir, foreign policy advisor to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. Similarly, the UAEs Alsadoosi said he did not recall any Afghan hunting trips made by Sheik Mohammed.

Also, from CBS News:

In a letter to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees earlier this year, Scheuer [a senior intelligence analyst at the CIA] says his agents provided the U.S. government with about ten opportunities to capture bin Laden before Sept. 11, and that all of them were rejected.

One of the last proposals, which he described to the 9/11 Commission in a closed-door session, involved a cruise missile attack against a remote hunting camp in the Afghan desert, where bin Laden was believed to be socializing with members of the royal family from the United Arab Emirates.

Scheuer wanted to level the entire camp. "The world is lousy with Arab princes," says Scheuer. "And if we could have got Osama bin Laden, and saved at some point down the road 3,000 American lives, a few less Arab princes would have been OK in my book."

"You couldn't have done this without killing an Arab prince," asks Kroft.

"Probably not. Sister Virginia used to say, 'You'll be known by the company you keep.' That if those princes were out there eating goat with Osama bin Laden, then maybe they were there for nefarious reasons. But nonetheless, they would have been the price of battle."

And that doesn't bother him? "Not a lick," says Scheuer.

You know, maybe these guys from the UAE are a little more than just some friendly neighborhood Arabs who are being persecuted for their ethnicity?

Maybe?

Posted by: frankly0 on February 24, 2006 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

craigie, there's not a dem around who wouldn't do better by reciting a digby column a day, but as i was musing today in another context, the typical political blog commenter (as opposed to the typical blog propaganda spewer) is probably better informed and more thoughtful about the issues than the typical senator or representative. After all, they are spending enormous amounts of time fundraising, providing constituent service, showing up on the floor for votes, etc. We just get to sit around in front of our computers and read....

for a real sense of the cognitive dissonance this is causing, we've got Rush - Rush! - claiming that opposition to this deal is racist. Rush!

meanwhile, on a more serious note, i read today (behind the pay wall) in the times something i hadn't realized: that although we "control" port security, that only means that we "approve" the security plans. It's the port operator who carries them out.

Which is a horse of another color.

Posted by: howard on February 24, 2006 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

The UAE has offered to accept a delay in the deal, at least the U.S. portion of it.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 24, 2006 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

"You know what it reminds me of? The way Bush & Co. tried to sell Saddam Hussein as Osama's best buddy in the Middle East."

Kevin, you are so far off track its pathetic. You're missing the elephant in your fantasy room: the UAE royality actually is known to have hung out with Bin Laden. No such connection between Hussein and Al Qaeda is known to have existed in the real world...only in Bushworld.

Posted by: pluege on February 24, 2006 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

It clearly isn't a war against the Anti-American groups like bin Laden, the Saudi Wasabi but against those like Iraq that have never attacked the US.
Mike

Arabian horseradish: heckuva spice, Brownie.

Posted by: adios on February 24, 2006 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

As I wrote on another thread, Bush has spent the past five years saying "trust me: be very afraid." He's deliberately been stoking peoples' fears in order to prey on their resulting insecurity.

Now, however, he's flip-flopping and saying "trust me: there's no reason to be afraid." However, what he's failed to count on is that fear is perhaps the most potent emotion there is, that when fear starts flowing it overpowers all rational thought. So when Bush now asks for trust there's none to give, because all Americans can think of is their fear. You can unleash fear -- but you can't control it.

Posted by: Stefan on February 24, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

Let me monger some more fears.

From an AP article:

The Sept. 11 commission's report released last year also raised concerns UAE officials were directly associating with bin Laden as recently as 1999.

The report states U.S. intelligence believed that bin Laden was visiting an area in the Afghan desert in February 1999 near a hunting camp used by UAE officials, and that the U.S. military planned a missile strike.

Intelligence from local tribal sources indicated "bin Laden regularly went from his adjacent camp to the larger camp where he visited the Emiratis," the report said.

"National technical intelligence confirmed the location and description of the larger camp and showed the nearby presence of an official aircraft of the United Arab Emirates. But the location of bin Laden's quarters could not be pinned down so precisely," the report said.

The missile attack was never launched, and bin Laden moved on, the report said.

A month later, top White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke "called a UAE official to express his concerns about possible associations between Emirati officials and bin Laden," the report said.

CIA officials hope to continue staking out the Afghan camp in hopes bin Laden would return and a possible strike could be launched.

But "imagery confirmed that less than a week after Clarke's phone call, the camp was hurriedly dismantled and the site was deserted," the report said.

CIA officials were "irate" and "thought the dismantling of the camp erased a possible site for targeting bin Laden, the report said.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 24, 2006 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

Didn't quote the part of the article questioning globbaloney did you?

Posted by: la on February 24, 2006 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

Another crock of shit from Kevin Drum.

If only half the U.A.E. royal family visited bin Laden in Afghanistan, then it is a only a "half-truth" that the royal family supports terrorism. Go it.

I can't believe that Drum is moronic enough to compare the non-existant Saddam/bin Laden links to the very real U.A.E./Al Qaeda/money laundering/nuke trafficking/Lebanon bombing links. Oh, wait. Yes, I can.

Posted by: space on February 24, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

Outsourcing port management and security to a foreign country, any foreign country, is not a good idea. Some of you have been reading too much Tom Friedman, perhaps, if you think otherwise.

And the UAE is one of only three countries that had diplomatic relations with the Taliban. While the country is generally about as far from Taliban-like as you can get, there are a number of officials of the UAE who have troubling connections with jihadists. One need not be a bigot to recognize that.

Besides, this is one that we can explain to the red states. Kevin, I'm afraid that we can count on you to run away from any winning issue that has any emotional content.

Posted by: Joe Buck on February 24, 2006 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

I can't believe that Drum is moronic enough to compare the non-existant Saddam/bin Laden links to the very real U.A.E./Al Qaeda/money laundering/nuke trafficking/Lebanon bombing links. Oh, wait.

Having staked out the "moderate", "reasonable" position on the significance of the ports issue, Kevin of course can't actually entertain contrary evidence anymore.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 24, 2006 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

btw, tbrosz points us to what is actually going to happen: there will be a delay, during which an "investigation" will be conducted, at the end of which, frist, hastert, and delay will announce that their concerns have been assuaged.

which is why the dems should keep pounding on the underlying issue: the bush administration has failed to improve port security.

Posted by: howard on February 24, 2006 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

Im with you, mk. People dont appreciate the power that telling the truth has. John McCain has gotten a reputation for speaking truth (although sometimes undeserved) and the media loves him for iteven overlooks his obvious lapses because they want badly to believe there is such a thing as a truthful politician. Now the liars in his party have been exposed and he is suddenly the favorite for the next nomination.

I say people know hype, half-truths, spinning, avoidance and sidestepping when they see it and they are sick to death of the barrage of it they get every day in every kind of media. The only Democrat who doesnt parse is Obama, so he is my man. If I have to go through another campaign in which our candidate possesses as long a list of things he/she wont say as will, I will bolt the party.

On the other hand, a McCain-Obama match would be a complete reversal of the Bush years. What a refreshing development that would be.


Posted by: James of DC on February 24, 2006 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK
The UAE has offered to accept a delay in the deal, at least the U.S. portion of it. Posted by: tbrosz
In an amazing coincidence, so is Karl Rove.

Bush willing to delay ports deal, aide says
By William Douglas
Knight Ridder Newspapers
WASHINGTON - Apparently bowing to congressional pressure, a top White House aide said Thursday that President Bush would accept a delay in the deal for a United Arab Emirates-owned company to manage terminals at six major U.S. ports in order to give skeptical lawmakers more time to study it.
Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove's comments in a radio interview signaled Bush's new willingness to soothe angry Republican and Democratic lawmakers who oppose the deal because they feel it would jeopardize national security, something the Bush administration stoutly denies.
Bush had vowed Tuesday to veto any congressional measure that would stop the deal, which is set to close on March 2, next Thursday.
But on Thursday, when asked if Bush would now accept "a slight delay", Rove replied "yes."

Great schemers think alike.

Posted by: Mike on February 24, 2006 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

Having staked out the "moderate", "reasonable" position on the significance of the ports issue, Kevin of course can't actually entertain contrary evidence anymore.

Truer words were never spoken (or typed).

The truth is that the U.A.E. deal may not significantly compromise national security. But if it doesn't, it is because the U.A.E. management doesn't have the power to undermine port security, not because the leaders of U.A.E. can be trusted.

Incidentally, my issue with the U.A.E. royal family is not that they are Arabs or Muslims, but rather that they simply appear to be amoral capitalists, who have little interest in policing their own ports, much less ours. I would have no more faith in appointing Neil Bush to run port security.

Posted by: space on February 24, 2006 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

The real key to the Dubai deal is its symbolism. No one feels that this step makes us safer. The real issue are two questions: first, is globalization, in general, making us safer or less secure? That's a complex question that give answers in both directions but it is an important question nevertheless, particularlly in the hands of President Bush. Which leads us to the second question: is President Bush making us safer or less secure? If we look at Iraq, special rendition, Abu Ghraib, fear-mongering, low international credibility, incompetence, the absence of an energy policy, the deficits, a lack of transparency and accountability, and a thousand more issues, it's simply not difficult to argue that Bush is making us less secure. The security at our ports should be tighter, not less so, even if even our doubts are more about the symbolism.

I would also argue that our position in the world and our economy are at more risk today than five years ago thanks to the Bush Administration and the gang that can't shoot straight.

Posted by: Craig on February 24, 2006 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

I dunno, I just can't get worked up over this. Call me a political pussycat, but I'm with Kevin here. This is SOP in the way ports are run, and the idea that jihadis would have infiltrated port administration when they could be doing it in Dubai itself with our Navy is kinds of, well, ludicrous.

The *real* issue is that we inspect 4% of our damned shipping containers and have no radiation detectors as Port Newark.

The Times today says that what's probably going to happen is that DPW, to grease the deal, is going to become a silent partner and remain totally out of day-to-day operations.

And please, enough with the hunting trip. It's like saying that Mafiosi live in America, therefore ...

We need to be true to our internationlist principles here -- even if global capitalism sucks and our trade deficit (the real culprit) is an epic nightmare. Resisting jingoism is the right thing to do here. Increasing port safety in a meaninful way would be even better.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

I also think Stefan's point about opening Pandora's Box and letting out fear.

Bush is doubtless reaping the whirlwind on that one ...

Oh and Kevin -- where's a new thread on Iraq? The country is literally on the brink of civil war, the Sunnis have walked out of government negotiations, Jaafiri is blaming Zalmay for cozying up with the Sunnis which in his eyes helped spark the dome-bombing, the Sunnis are aghast at the American military for sitting on their hands during two days' worth of revenge killings ...

You need to keep that on the front burner, guy. This may well be the tipping point in to pure chaos that all of us antiwarriors feared from the very beginning.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

I also think that Stefan's point about opening up Pandora's Box and letting out fear is *extremely well taken*, I should have said.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

Resisting jingoism is the right thing to do here.

How is it jingoism to say Bush is a hypocrite and a liar? That the GOP only governs through fear, intimidation, cronyism and ineptitude? That they are less interested in "safety" than they are in rewarding their connected pals? That "the war on terror" is a war on reason, an excuse to do anything they deem useful to themselves?

These are the issues. When the Right starts shouting "racism!", you know they haven't got anything else to say.

Posted by: craigie on February 24, 2006 at 1:22 AM | PERMALINK

To those who say that it is irresponsible of liberals to bring politics into this, I must misquote their darling : "It will be irresponsible not to be irresponsible".

Posted by: lib on February 24, 2006 at 1:24 AM | PERMALINK

Now I get it, present no threat to the US, get invaded. Harbor and finance terrrorists, get a juicy contract to manage America's vulnerable ports. Sweet!

Posted by: Shiva on February 24, 2006 at 1:29 AM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, critics of the administration who complain that we haven't focused enough on winning "hearts and minds" are actually undermining our efforts to do just that, by protesting this deal.

From David Brooks (who is behind the dreaded NYT subscriber block).

This Dubai port deal has unleashed a kind of collective mania we haven't seen in decades. First seized by the radio hatemonger Michael Savage, it's been embraced by reactionaries of left and right, exploited by Empire State panderers, and enabled by a bipartisan horde of politicians who don't have the guts to stand in front of a xenophobic tsunami.

But let's be clear: the opposition to the acquisition by Dubai Ports World is completely bogus.

In short, there is no evidence this deal will do any harm. But it is certain that the xenophobic hysteria will come back to harm the U.S.

The oil-rich nations of the Middle East have plenty of places to invest their money and don't need to do favors for nations that kick them in the teeth. Moreover, this is a region in the midst of traumatic democratic change. The strongest argument the fundamentalists have is that they are engaged in a holy war against the racist West, which imposes one set of harsh rules on Arabs and another set of rules on everybody else. Now comes a group of politicians to prove them gloriously right.

God must love Hamas and Moktada al-Sadr. He has given them the America First brigades of Capitol Hill. God must love the folks at Al Jazeera. They won't have to work to stoke resentments this week. All the garbage they need will be spewing forth from press conferences and photo ops on C-Span and CNN.

Look, I think this deal should be investigated. But blocking it will send a horrible message to the Middle East. I don't think the criticism of the deal is based on any kind of islamophobia or xenophobia. But I do think that people in the Middle East will view it that way.

Posted by: Jeff on February 24, 2006 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

Jeff:


The horrible message has already been sent to the middle east. They have seen the bombs and the mid-night raids and the torture.

The message that wil be sent by blocking of the deal will have no measurable affect on their opinion of USA.

Posted by: lib on February 24, 2006 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

craigie:

Well, you needn't get defensive, bro. You should know me by now; I'm not a Jay-troll trying to ju-jitsu political correctness to score some cheap yuck points over "leftist hypocrisy."

I mean that there's no there there to the resistance to this deal. What's it based on -- that some emirs were at a bustard hunt with OBL? How about all the New Yawkers who adore John Gotti -- okay, okay, hardly a fully reasonable analogy -- but this kind of case-making troubles me.

After 9/11 Dubai cleaned up its banking practices and clamped down on its own security, as it realized it was also in jeopardy from al Qaeda, whose agenda is to overthrow corrupt oil shiekhdoms in the name of pure Islam. And considering that Dubai is home to a rather large deployment of American warships, the government conspiracy angle is hard to see here. They aren't even going to be involved in the day-to-day administration of the port itself; they're just leaseholders.

So I ask ... what is it? The symbolism of a national company from a country that gave us two 9/11 perps owning our port facilities?

If somebody could sketch out a credible risk scenario (the Coast Guard, the Port Authorities and the DHS are still in charge of security), I'll be happy to listen to it and shudder right alongside you.

I just haven't heard one yet.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

just a thought--

what happens if hillary's bill goes through and we boot all foriegn port operators?

who unloads and loads all those big metal boxes?

i know--we could use em to build a wall, a big one, on the mexican border, yeh--

Posted by: charlie w on February 24, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

If somebody could sketch out a credible risk scenario (the Coast Guard, the Port Authorities and the DHS are still in charge of security), I'll be happy to listen to it and shudder right alongside you.

The Coast Guard and the Porth Authority are only "in charge" of security in the sense that they set the applicable standard and require the port companies to apply those standards. The day to day operations, i.e. hiring security guards, patrolling the perimeter, background checks, etc., is done by the companies themselves, not by the federal and state authorities.

Posted by: Stefan on February 24, 2006 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

craigie:

Although, I'll hasten to add -- it *is* a sinful delight to watch Bush hosted by his own IED with the anti-Arab fearmongering that he unleashed to such a powerful political effect after 9/11.

"Well ... they attacked us."

Hehehe. Asshole. Now you're going to have to make good on a veto threat for the right reasons that will undermine your credibility with the yahoos of your base (and some demagogues of the left) for all the *wrong* reasons.

Poetic justice, to be sure.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

As I understand it, none of the workers are going to change hands. It's not like DPW is going to throw over the Longshoreman's Union and import UAE nationals to do the labor.

Also, from what I understand, DPW has proposed (at least to NJ, who is suing over renegotiation of the lease without prior consultation) becoming a silent partner, leaving all day-to-day operations to others.

That was in the NYT this morning.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

As I understand it, none of the workers are going to change hands.

According to the story, DP World has no obligation to retain U.S. workers:

The U.S. government also asked DP World to operate American seaports with existing U.S. managers "to the extent possible."

Other really bad parts of this deal:

However, the deal does not require DP World to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil, where they would be available for scrutiny in American court cases.

The administration did require DP World to designate an executive to handle requests from the U.S. government, but it did not specify a citizenship of that individual. Several of the company's top executives are Americans while others are Arab, Dutch and Indian.

"The administration did not require Dubai Ports to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil where they would be subject to court orders. It did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate U.S. government requests," Clinton said. "If 9/11 was a failure of imagination and Katrina was a failure of initiative, this process is a failure of judgment. In the post-9/11 world, port security is too important an issue to be treated so cavalierly."


Posted by: Windhorse on February 24, 2006 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

Windhorse:

Yeah, well, Hil also supported a flag-burning amendment. I don't know what the nationality of an executive has to do with accomodating government requests.

This all just smells like blood in the water over a kind of jingoistic reflex the Republicans illegitimately unleashed to begin with ...

By all means investigate the deal, impose a delay, make DPW make concessions and require key port personnel vetted by US agencies if possible.

But bottom line is, foreign companies own our shipping facilities already. Hillary's bill to require US ownership of all port owners strikes me as impractical, unfair and playing to the very kind of jingoism the left should be critiquing.

It's JFK "Reporting For Duty" all over again ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 2:26 AM | PERMALINK

As I understand it, none of the workers are going to change hands. It's not like DPW is going to throw over the Longshoreman's Union and import UAE nationals to do the labor.

Why not? If it's cheaper for them to do so there's nothing to stop them.

Besides, you don't need to replace the entire workforce to pose a security threat. You only need to replace one or two key people.

Posted by: Stefan on February 24, 2006 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

Windhorse:

Also, that article said they'll retain American managers "to the extent possible." It said nothing about port workers.

And if DPW is pushed into becoming a silent partner as it offered to do in NJ, I have no problem with that at all. That may well turn out to be the solution.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 2:32 AM | PERMALINK

You know one reason I think the US should refuse to allow these amoral little creeps who run the UAE to run our port operations?

Because, to paraphrase someone from the other side, every once in a while the US needs to take some crappy little ruling class that cavorts with our enemies and throw it up against the wall and beat the shit out of it. And if we do it by yanking it out from its corporate camoflauge and humiliating it in front of the world, instead of starting a stupid war and killing people, so much the better.

Because, you know, maybe the rest of the crappy little ruling classes out there will start to sit up and pay real careful attention.

You hear what I'm saying, all you royal fucking Prince Saudis?

Posted by: frankly0 on February 24, 2006 at 2:35 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

Sure -- but what would be the motives?

Hard to believe any shipping middle managers are sympathetic to Wahabi fanaticism ...

It just doesn't fit the profile of the kinds of genuine terrorists we've encountered. Some like Mohammed Atta had advanced degrees -- but none of them have been transnational corporate types.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 2:35 AM | PERMALINK

Hillary's bill to require US ownership of all port owners strikes me as impractical, unfair and playing to the very kind of jingoism the left should be critiquing.

Unfair? Sorry, but to that I say fuck fair. Playing fair against these gangsters has gotten us where we are today. When you're in a life and death fight and you have your opponent down on the ground you don't help him up, you kick his ribs in.

Posted by: Stefan on February 24, 2006 at 2:35 AM | PERMALINK

frankly:

I'm sympathetic to the sentiments behind that -- but it would backfire on the Arab street and look like Muslim-bashing.

Never underestimate the power of the Ummah.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

I don't endorse that as a matter of moral principle.

If we become like our most hated enemy then we have lost.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

but it would backfire on the Arab street and look like Muslim-bashing.

You know, I have just the slightest feeling that the Iraq war did a MUCH better job of that.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 24, 2006 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

Okay guys, here's how I draw the line:

Multinational corporate capitalism is antithetical in every way possible to global jihad.

This is why al Qaeda tries to blow up Saudi princes.

The UAE is probably a better bulwark against these mongos than we are -- because they know the species better than we do.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 2:41 AM | PERMALINK

Hard to believe any shipping middle managers are sympathetic to Wahabi fanaticism ...It just doesn't fit the profile of the kinds of genuine terrorists we've encountered. Some like Mohammed Atta had advanced degrees -- but none of them have been transnational corporate types.

First, someone doesn't have to be turned solely by their beliefs. They could be vulnerable to orders by one of the emirs, or through pressure or blackmail or bribery or threats to their family. There's a multitude of approaches.

Second, there have indeed been some transnational corporate types, as you put it, who have been implicated in terrorist activities. The typical terrorist is not poor and down-trodden, he's the product of a secular upbringing in a middle class home, has often lived abroad and has some familiarity with Western culture. Several of the Al Qaeda lieutenants were engineers, for example -- think port and shipping companies don't employ engineers?

Posted by: Stefan on February 24, 2006 at 2:41 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sympathetic to the sentiments behind that -- but it would backfire on the Arab street and look like Muslim-bashing.

How do you think invading Iraq and torturing and raping innocent Muslim men, women and children looks to the Arabs? Is it really the case that the one outrage that they won't stand is a business contract not being awarded to a family of millionaire emirs?

Posted by: Stefan on February 24, 2006 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

Of course. And I'd agree with you about the general profile of the most dangerous kind of al Qaeda types. However, there's a vetting process and a security check. I guess it just boggles the mind that a transnational corporation like DPW would have a sideline in jihad that would allow that kind of infiltration.

If anything, it might be more sensitive than we are in ways to sniff it out.

Just what my gut is telling me ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 2:46 AM | PERMALINK

The UAE is probably a better bulwark against these mongos than we are -- because they know the species better than we do.

So let them be a bulwark -- in the Persian Gulf. But just not on the Newark docks. I'd rather we took care of that ourselves, thanks.

Posted by: Stefan on February 24, 2006 at 2:46 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

I was reacting more to frankly's hyperbolic stamp-the-rich-emirs-in-the-dirt approach -- whatever that would entail.

Bottom line is that if they don't get it, Singapore will. The US just doesn't *have* companies that do that work.

And I don't believe that a trasnational shipping company has any interest in allowing crypto-jihadis to work for them -- and probably knows very good methods to screen for them.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 2:50 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

We *will* do the work -- even if some of the management changes hands. Nobody's talking about throwing the Longshoremen off the job.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

George Bush has used war and terror as a partisan cudgel for the past five years

Sometimes Democrats write and speak as though Bush made up the whole terrorist threat. If the Democrats could rally behind the idea that defeating the terrorists is the most important goal, then they might be able to take advantage of Bush's mistakes; but at every important juncture half of them act as though.

Consider this foolish language: Bush & Co. tried to sell Saddam Hussein as Osama's best buddy in the Middle East. Bush never asserted anything like that; his administration asserted that they had a mutually supportive relationship (I previously likened it to the light fibers of a fungus infection.)

the reason that some people think Democrats can't be trusted on security measures is that, after mocking Bush this way or that way, the Democrats actually believe that the terrorists are no higher than 11th in the list of important problems.

"Poetic justice" isn't what is going to elect a Democratic president. That will take a sincere dedication to defending the US. All this mockery isn't worth "a pitcher of warm spit".

Posted by: republicrat on February 24, 2006 at 3:29 AM | PERMALINK

mert7878 put it this way: This may be one of those impossible liberal Democratic moments: is it more important to be correct on the merits or to be politically expedient in the hopes of advancing our chance of winning the next election?

Well said.

The dilemma applies as well to Democratic policy in Iraq: if the US prevails and achieves a less than tragic end in Iraq, then it looks like
Democratic chances in the next election will be reduced. Hence, the Democrats can not commit themselves to winning, even if they think it's what is best.

I expect the Democrats to nominate for president another candidate like Kerry who believes that the US (not just Bush) is fundamentally responsible for more international problems than our enemies. There are lots of problems with the Republicans and the Bush administration, but the Democrats are not the solution to any of them.

Posted by: republicrat on February 24, 2006 at 3:37 AM | PERMALINK

republicrat:

Define "terrorist threat."

You know -- in a way that doesn't collapse into hyperbolic, adjective-loaded language and vague assertions ...

Do that and perhaps we can talk :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 3:39 AM | PERMALINK

republicrat:

The Democrats have made a realistic assessment of what's actually transpiring in Iraq.

Have you?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 24, 2006 at 3:41 AM | PERMALINK
Stefan:

Of course. And I'd agree with you about the general profile of the most dangerous kind of al Qaeda types. However, there's a vetting process and a security check. I guess it just boggles the mind that a transnational corporation like DPW would have a sideline in jihad that would allow that kind of infiltration.

If anything, it might be more sensitive than we are in ways to sniff it out.

Just what my gut is telling me ...

Bob

Of course, transnational corporations always put use value above exchange value and profit. Enron, for example, would never fake their numbers, it would just make them look bad. Private security contractors will do a fine job for our military, THEY'd never damage their bottom line by showing up at My Lai, let's outsource all military operations to them. Combine a royal family that goes hunting with bin Laden with the ethics of transnational corporations, and you'd have to be a fool, a paranoid, a hysteric, a racist to suggest that there was any security problem. Pure nativist jingoism, like when you mistrust, say, Monsanto. This is a big corporation. They know what they're doing.

Posted by: q on February 24, 2006 at 7:24 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus christ, where do you come up with this shit.

Posted by: aaron on February 24, 2006 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

Bob,

We *will* do the work -- even if some of the management changes hands. Nobody's talking about throwing the Longshoremen off the job.

I think it would be a stretch to believe that these people wouldn't do whatever they could to break the union.

Do you really think there's a single ounce of decency in these people? They didn't tell Bush or Chertoff about the deal before they agreed to it.

Nobody who negotiates something like this spends any time worrying about what might happen to a few thousand union workers.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 24, 2006 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

I've been nostalgic as well, but what I recall is some 'reasonable' liberals swallowing the Bush case for invading Iraq. That episode convinced me that people like Josh Marshall, Matt Yglesias and even Mr. Drum were just as easily manipulated as many national reporters, especially on international issues.

Everyone grants that port security is a major problem, Democrats have been addressing it, substantively, since before 9/11. The Coast Guard and Customs departments do not 'do security' because they do not and never will have the resources to secure every shipment to the United States. They serve as an audit of the security provided by terminal operators like DPW. The Guard and Customs spot check containers and audit the paperwork provided by the terminal operator. This is why the terminal operator must provide reliable security and be transparent in its operations. DPW does not have a reputation for reliable security, as a state owned company it is less likely to be transparent, and it appears to have received unusual concessions from the US in this deal that allow it to be even less transparent in its operations.

But no, according to Mr. Drum the complaints from politicians who actually have to deal with port security like Mayor Bloomberg of NY, Governor Ehrlich of MD, and Mayor O'Malley of Baltimore are just opportunistic nativists, hysterical and worst of all partisan!

I suspect that if Democrats just kept quiet about this and let Republicans make the substantive case then Mr. Drum would be much more open to the problems with this deal. But for those interested in an informed discussion of the problems listen to the Dianne Rehm show from yesterday, O'Malley makes a good, reasonable case.

Posted by: tib on February 24, 2006 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone is missing the point on this. The Bush administration has a theme, and it's this "The only crimes of Nixon and Iran-Contra wer that they got caught, and acted guilty - we won't"

The big lesson from Iran-contra was that it was possible to create an NGO that could forward policy aims, and throw off a mountain of cash as a byproduct. Scratch the surface of any of this and you'll find the NGO.

Need a puppet to lead it - Quayle (nope), Bush - check
Need an ongoing war - Afghanistan (nope),Iraq - check
Need a drug supply - Afghanistan - check check check
Need a bagman - Abramoff (check)
Need a distribution system to go beyond Europe - UAE (pending)

Bush backeddeal because it's an essential part of NGO, then did a big about face because he/it became radioactive. Same with the ports deal.

Posted by: Blitzen on February 24, 2006 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, think of it as a married couple breaking up over something small but is really just a symbol for larger issues.

After 9/11, Bush carefully protected the rich and powerful who were culpable, all the while using the 9/11 club to beat domestic opponents, and then he sends their kids off to die in a war with people who didn't have anything to do with 9/11.

A huge percentage of the people that are aware of this, still find themselves unable to talk about it. The response and the immediate cause are out of proportion, but the underlying reasons are more than enough justification.

Posted by: Boronx on February 24, 2006 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

Xenophobia aside there seems to be a number of other reasons to distrust this deal.

1. Bush claims to be out of the loop but was willing to threaten to veto any attempt to block this deal going through.

2. Rumsfield was supposed to chair the committee reviewing the sell but claims he, too was out of the loop. And I think a third person on the committee also claimed to be out of the loop. Who's making these decisions if the decision-makers aren't?

3. The deal includes non-bindng language about UAE becoming more helpful in certain investigations. Why wasn't the language more binding?

4. Why was UAE exempted from following standard procesdures followed by other foreign-owned business? Things like beibng required to keep copies of all business records on American soil?

5. Why wasn't Congress informed of the sale in advance? Simple courtesy would call for it? ASo does the principle of not blindsiding members of your own team.

6. Is it really xenophobic to suggest that middle eastern countries are sorely confllicted between good muslims and good businessmen?

Posted by: beb on February 24, 2006 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

We have to give 'HappyConservative' a 3. This schtick is getting old, can you at least throw in a triple-axel somewhere in there to liven things up?
Posted by: The Al Judging Team

Rolling on floor...

Style points deducted for anyone tarring legitimate concerns over the propriety of this deal or its ecomonic or geo-political implications as 'xenophobic'.

Enough of that crap already.

Yes, much of the Bush base may well be 'xenophobic' or 'racist' or whatever (I like 'beknighted and ignorant' - that's just me.) but like most name calling, it just means you can't support your position otherwise.

It's almost as bad as the idiots who can't have a discussion about lunch without dragging the 'unborn' into it.

Posted by: CFShep on February 24, 2006 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

howard, craigie:

craigie, there's not a dem around who wouldn't do better by reciting a digby column a day, but as i was musing today in another context, the typical political blog commenter (as opposed to the typical blog propaganda spewer) is probably better informed and more thoughtful about the issues than the typical senator or representative.

Yes, and also less likely to profit by guarding the status quo. Feeling more cynical than usual this morning, but I'd point out that with the current rules favoring incumbency and the incredible level of voter apathy, the risk of getting unelected by an angry base (us!) is now considerably smaller than the risk of getting cut off from assorted financial lollipops and cookies via a real systemic shakeup.

In other words, the current regime favors the concentration of wealth and influence among its cronies, sure, but the Dems in Congress still do far better than they should by protecting business as usual. If we actually starting unseating some hidebound, spineless icons of collaboration and replacing them with people with a little more passion and a basic familiarity with how their constituencies live, maybe we'd find out what being an opposition party means. Maybe. But I'm well aware that the chances of that happening are nil, short of another Great Depression to wake up the electorate.

I won't go third party; I'm still too pragmatic for that (and the existing ones aren't offering much I want to buy). But there are days when I really want to tell the Democratic party to fuck right off until it figures out why we came up with a two-party system to begin with.

Posted by: shortstop on February 24, 2006 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: The UAE has offered to accept a delay in the deal, at least the U.S. portion of it.

Proving once again that no one is as dense as George W. Bush.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 24, 2006 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

demonize the UAE as a virtual arm of al-Qaeda

Mr. Drum. You really need to throw your resume into Karl Rove's office. Your ability create a strawman out of the opposing views to your stumbling acceptance of GOP talking points is really quite something. Because yes, of course, that is indeed what people who oppose this deal think. We all think that UAE are part of al-Qaeda.

Karl would be proud.

Posted by: Guy on February 24, 2006 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Lazy Bullshit Indeed

Posted by: Guy on February 24, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

rmck1 wrote:
"As I understand it, none of the workers are going to change hands. It's not like DPW is going to throw over the Longshoreman's Union and import UAE nationals to do the labor."

You (and Kevin) have apparently never actually worked in a shipping port or been invovled in cargo operations in a port facility.

Longshoremen generally handle the cargo movement between the ship and the whatever transportation that brings or removes it from the port.

Security guards are generally not longshoremen. Administrative personnel in the operations office who view manifests and identiify containers for storage areas or load/unload sequence based on contents and operations managers (and most supervisors) are not longshoremen. While the longshoreman may be the most patriotic folks working in the ports, they are by no means the only one working there. As other posters have already noted, port management companies are fairly free to hire/fire management and admin personnel over the long term.

Consider that many of those non-Longhoreman jobs are low-paying and so far at least, do not require much in the way of security background checks. It is not hard to imagine security guards being paid or coerced to overlook inappropriate access to storage areas, or incorrect documents. It is also not hard to imagine a clerk misdirecting a container into a storage area inappropriate for that container's contents and security requirements.

Think it can't happen? A few years ago several pallets of material waiting to be loaded aboard a ship disappeared from the cargo holding area on the pier - on a US military installation and virtually next to the large US warship that was doing the onloading. The material showed up for sale in the black market in Tijuana a few days later. Contract security guards had been "convinced" to look the other way. That instance was just one of several that occured in a few-month period.

I am not saying that such problems would be more likely with an operating company based in Dubai. I am saying that that given that such things can occur, should any foreign company control port operations in American ports, at least until we can implement an effective end-to-end cargo security program?

Posted by: Paul E. Tickle on February 24, 2006 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

If being an ally is sufficient justification to turn over control, in whole or in part, of a transfer point for WMDs, the means of producing WMDs, or terrorists themselves, to a company from a country that is also a state sponsor of terrorism, then it should also be okay to:

Turn over WMD inspection duties to the French;

Turn over border control duties to the Columbians (as Biden, I believe, suggested); and

Turn over Secret Service duties to the Germans.

-----------------------------

The UAE supports the Taliban.

The US declared the Taliban a state sponsor of terrorism by harboring, and possibling aiding and abetting before the fact, the terrorist planners of 9/11.

The UAE adheres to our enemies.

The UAE supports our enemies.

The UAE is a state sponsor of a outlawed regime that supported and protected the terrorist organization Al Queda.

Money and manpower funneled through the UAE for 9/11.

The UAE is being held to lower standards than other port managers.

The deal was concocted in secret.

What is it about this you don't get, Kevin?

Is it only a security threat if we directly turn over port management to Al Queda itself?

The employees of the UAE port management company will have the opportunity to hide weapons and terrorists from port inspectors; they will have the opportunity to aid and assist terrorists smuggle very bad things not only into the US, but into countries allied with the US or hosting US facilities.

I fail to see how this is a nominal port security concern or why the facts of UAE's political support of a terrorist regime, the Taliban, and thus indirectly the greatest terrorist threat, Al Queda, is a trifle.

Do you really think that conservatives would think it a trifle if this had been done by Clinton?

They would be apoplectic.

Your dismissing and minimizing the UAE's official support for, at minimum, a terrorist-supporting regime, the Taliban, is distressing.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 24, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Kevin. You were really right on about what a great idea the War on Iraq was, too. Why should you have any credibility on what a great idea it is to have the UAR manage our ports? Jingoism my fat ass!

Posted by: James on February 24, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Really? You're drawing a moral equivalence between these two things. It's not even worth debate. It's funny, though not in a ha-ha way, preening fence-sitters like yourself always chide the "partisans" on the left for their moral relativism, and then you come up with a despicable comparison like this.

My guess is that if you're son or daughter were killed or maimed because of one of the "cherry pickings" you're comparing, you'd see the difference pretty clearly.

What a moral coward.

Posted by: ny2 on February 24, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Look, just because the oligarchs of the UAE are OBL's houseguests is no reason to get all bent out of shape, because they would never, never play both ends against the middle.

So I think we should all just trust the President. [Rimshot. Thank you, Britney!]

And the fact that the ports are in in Blue, Democratic, gay-lovin', abortion-providing cities that ought to be cleansed with the fire from heaven has absolutely nothing to do with this.

Or with leaving our port cities open to nuclear attack by not inspecting shipping containers, and spending billions more security dollars on airlines than on the ports....

Personally, I think any needle that pops Bush's bubble is good. And it only takes one, so if this is the one, have at it, say I.

Posted by: lambert strether on February 24, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

ooops

>>raps own knuckles.

"beknighted" err.... 'benighted' overtaken by darkness, intellectual or moral - also ignorant.

So I was also redundant.

I apologize.

Posted by: CFShep on February 24, 2006 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

"If we become like our most hated enemy then we have lost.

Bob"

You are about three years too late.

And why cut Bush slack on anything? It's not like he'd return the favor.

Posted by: brewmn on February 24, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Waahllll, I'm jes' a country boy. I'm not one of those intellectual-types like them neocons, but I know what I don't like. I don't like being accused of fear-mongering or isolationism. And I don't like the idear of terrorist-consorting state-owned companies managing my ports.

Please explain why you think they should, Kevin.

Posted by: James on February 24, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Worst offender i've seen in the xenophobia drum-banging sweepstakes: Lou Dobbs. I don't watch him regularly so can't say when he jumped the shark, but geez - his whole show, ostensibly about business news & the markets, is a cavalcade of foreigner-bashing, fear mongering, and outright Know Nothingism. Who is this guy's audience? Why on earth does CNN keep him around?

Posted by: TW on February 24, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Right on James. Kevin still hasn't given a good explanation re: his views on this issue. He's still using (or at least implying) the Friedman/Ignatius 'you're all racists if you are truely concerned about this' gambit. I'll have to agree with Steve Gillard- Kevin is willfulling playing dumb. I'm pretty disappointed in his unwillingness to address the real questions about this deal.

Posted by: Doug on February 24, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

TW,

Could you be any less specific?

Posted by: alex on February 24, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Were you bullied as a child? Are you just afraid of benefitting from something you haven't worked very hard for?

Siding with Bush on this is political suicide for Democrats. Challenging him on it is all gravy.

Aren't you supposed to be the Political Animal?

And there are perfectly legitimate reasons for being suspicious about this deal. Ask yourself this: If the company from Singapore that was the other major bidder for P&O had won the bid instead, and if we knew that the CEO of that company was on record in the 1990s saying good things about the Taliban and had visited with OBL in Afghanistan -- wouldn't you want a full out investigation, at a minimum, of that deal? What if we also knew that ports operated by that company from Singapore had served as transit points for AQ Khan's nuclear shipments? And what if we also knew that the company's management was chock full of the President's cronies who appeared to get the deal through with minimal scrutiny?

Stop being a stubborn jackass on this issue, Kevin. It's perfectly rational to object to this deal being approved at this point, and not doing so is outrageously stupid for Democrats for political reasons.

It's not profiling, we're not racists, and there's no reason to defer to Bush's judgment.

Grow a set.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/2006/February%20Dailies/Dubai%20Ports.htm

Posted by: Sean on February 24, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: it makes me feel almost nostalgic to watch the toxic stew of cherry picking, half truths, and outright misrepresentations currently being used to demonize the UAE as a virtual arm of al-Qaeda. You know what it reminds me of? The way Bush & Co. tried to sell Saddam Hussein as Osama's best buddy in the Middle East.

Small difference: nobody is suggesting that we invade the UAE. Or even break off trade or diplomatic relations, or prohibit travel by their people in our country, or even put up posters that say "UAE citizens are ucky people".

We simply don't want a company owned by the UAE gov't to be running our ports. Pretty reasonable. If the tables were turned and the UAE said that it didn't want an American company (let alone one owned by the US gov't) running their ports, I'd think it was perfectly reasonable.

The usual fantasies of lawyers and MBAs that, because it's only a holding company, they'll have no real influence, are as unconvincing as other legal and business fantasies.

As to the silly notion that we should be "internationalist" and let foreign gov't owned companies run our ports, I'll cite an old New England saying: good fences make good neighbors.

Posted by: alex on February 24, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

You're right, Sean. The "political animal" doesn't seem to know that this is mainly a story about Bush and his own party, about Bush being a lame duck, having taken his own party on the hill for granted for five years, and about how, when a president does that, he can't get them to eat a lot of shit for him when he screws up. The Dems on the hill (read Levin's speech from yesterday) are using much more mitigating language than the republicans. The liberal blogs are treating it in a much more nuanced way than the conservative blogs. But the "political animal" ignores that, willfully, or not, because if he acknowledged all this, instead of building the straw man that he does, he couldn't so preeningly make it about himself.

Thanks, "political animal," but the real democrats are handling the issue quite nicely. You want to make a shameful moral equivalence comparison and lecture somebody, talk to the Repubicans. We don't need you to be the conscience of the party.

Posted by: ny2 on February 24, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Craigie: "Hoist by their own retard."

So good I had to repeat it. Thanks, craigie, I'm going to use that!

Posted by: Cal Gal on February 24, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Had the CIA targeted bin Laden, half the royal family would have been wiped out as well, he said."
Posted by: Mr. Geodesic on February 23, 2006 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK


You're either with us or against us.

If Osama bin Laden is the enemy then maybe the 'royal family' shouldn't have been within a mile of him.

Now, OTOH, if they were there to convince him to stop his militancy, then that would be a bit different. But, why were there so many with him? Does it take more than a couple of diplomatic types to negotiate a deal?

Posted by: MarkH on February 24, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Bush: Trust me. You should be very afraid...of me.

Posted by: MarkH on February 24, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Kevin Lieberman, the UAE princes ARE connected to Al Qaeda. Sorry, that's a fact...or I suppose THE Prez of DPW just happened to be passing through Afghanistan and just happened to walk into the same compound as OBL and just happened to be so close to OBL and his buds that the CIA had to fear that a cruise missile strike to take out OBL would also take out the ROYAL FAMILY OF UAE (one of which is the prez of DPW)? All those coincidences.

The Lieberman act is as untenable for you as it is for Lieberman.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on February 24, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

It is amusing to watch so many of you repeatedly display your ignorance.

Every last one of these alleged misdeeds on behalf of the Emirates happened before 9/11. Remember, back in the day when the US (both Clinton and W administrations) was shoveling money to the Taliban.

What is important is what has happened since 9/11. And since that date, the US could not have asked for a stronger and more responsive ally.

Did you know that the president of the UAE pressured the Taliban to turn over bin Laden to the US after 9/11? Did you know that he tried to broker a deal to have Saddam leave Iraq and move into exile in the UAE? That's a deal that would have saved a couple thousand American lives, tens of thousands of Iraqi ones and many billions of US tax dollars. And he basically had the deal signed when it was scotched by GWB, who really really wanted a war, it seems.

About the money transfers: just last week I wired a few thousand dollars from the UAE to a friend in the US. Now, if she decides to blow up a football stadium, is the UAE government somehow complicit just because the President didn't personally vet the transaction?

By the way, uysing the phrase "The UAE Royal Family" is about as meaningful as "the American governor" or "the president of the american university". There are seven states in the UAE, and each one has a Royal Family. So were the rogue hunting party from the al Sharqi family of Fujairah, or from the al Qasimi family of Ras al Khaimah, or the al Mu'alla family of Umm al Qawain, or one of th other Royal families?

All of your hyperbolic bloviating merely confirms how utterly misinformed you guys are. Have any of you ever been outside the boundaries of your own country?

BTW, love the rants about the "international capitalist class". Kinda lets me know what patch of "intellectual" ground you have staked out.

Posted by: bart889 on February 24, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't we learn from the Republicans?

Put good sense and fine arguments aside and go for blood:

9/11 TAUGHT US THAT AMERICAN PORTS SHOULD BE OWNED AND OPERATED BY AMERICANS

Jingoistic, yes
Anti-globalist, yes
A political winner that will keep on giving, YES, YES, YES

What is wrong with Bushco that it hasn't MADE SURE PORTS ARE OWNED AND OPERATED BY AMERICANS?

But ports were managed by foreigners before 9/11? A feeble argument, THAT WAS BEFORE 9/11.

This is a small issue with big political payoff. Kind of like partial birth abortions and flag-burning amendments.

Sorry for all the caps, but screw good government. It is high time to start winning elections. Play this one right and the Republicans will beat a humiliating retreat while the Democrats look like the guys who keep us safe.

Posted by: tomtom on February 24, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

What this deal exposes very plainly is the tension between the right's general anti-gov, anti anything that infringes on busines doing whatever the hell it wants side and their desire for security side.

The main reason to oppose the UAE aren't that they are terrorist sympathizing jihadists, becasue of course they aren't. What they are is cold blooded businessmen who want as few regulations as possible. Dubai is a right-wingers wet dream, a trade free for all with no pesky government rules and regulations getting in the way.

They won't be handling port security, but that isn't the issue. It also isn't the issue that they may (witting or unwittingly) place a bunch of Al-Queada operatives on the docks in Baltimore. The issue is they won't keep records about who or what is shipping who or what where. Digby had a great find about the hunt for the guy who killed the president of Lebanon. Guess where the trail goes cold? Dubai, of course. It isn't that the rulers there wanted to help the Syrians, it is that the rulers there simply don't want anything to interfere with the free flow of commerce.

Which makes the part of the deal that doens't require them to keep paperwork in the US especially troubling.

Posted by: Eric on February 24, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

With all of the hyperbole about how racist, xenophobic, and hypocritical it might be to oppose this deal, not one person has explained

Why do you think this is a good idea?


Posted by: James on February 24, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

James:

Two businesses agreed to trade assets for cash, presumably because the transaction was in the best interests of both parties. That makes it a "good idea".

Objecting to this private transaction because one of the parties is Arab is racist and xenophobic.

The port owners (US cities, by the way) agreed to lease space to a company. They made contracts with the company, not its owners. Presumably, it was in the best interests of the cities that own the ports to lease space on the docks to private companies, since that generates revenue for the cities. The cities in question always had the option of operating stevedoring services themselves, but for some strange reason, every port city in the country decided that it was better to have private companies perform those services. Why is that?

Also, every person who actually knows anything about the ports business seems to think this is no big deal. Or at least, it wasn't until voter-friendly raghead-phobia was invoked by Schumer, et al.

Posted by: bartman on February 25, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK
Objecting to this private transaction because one of the parties is Arab is racist and xenophobic. Posted by: bartman
Strange, I though Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, and thousands of other anti-Arab American racists were all Republican.

The DP World is asking Bush to uphold American law
AP, and clearly the White House, are viewing the fact that the UAE owned company is "asking" for a review to be a positive step for Bush. A gift? We're talking national security here, folks. The Bush team is trying to be clever here, but they make their guy look emasculated:
The White House got a gift in the ports security debate, a chance for the president to sidestep a battle with members of his own party and to tone down bipartisan criticism of the deal.
The offer by Dubai-owned DP World to submit to a broader review of security issues in its deal to take over major operations at six [21] U.S. ports also could salvage a business deal critically important to its economic future.
This episode should once and for all put an end to the idea that Bush is a leader who can deal with keeping his country safe. He ignored the warnings that Al Qaeda was going to attack in the U.S. He has completely screwed up in Iraq. The response to Katrina was a catastrophic disaster. Now, Bush is letting a foreign country "save" him from a major political scandal because his administration put economic concerns before national security.

http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/02/uae-has-asked-their-friend-george-bush.html

Posted by: Mike on February 26, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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