Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Not Getting It On Ports

"Arabs See Phobia Behind US Uproar Over Ports Deal" says the Reuters headline, but given the deaths caused by a few cartoons, who can blame anyone for this attitude? The Wall Street Journal ($$$) thinks Bush may be outmaneuvered here:
President Bush vehemently defended the transaction, summoning reporters accompanying him on Air Force One to insist it posed no security threat and to say that if legislation cleared Congress to block the deal, "I'll deal with it, with a veto." Mr. Bush, who hasn't vetoed any legislation during his presidency, said the U.S. would be sending "mixed signals" by acting when a British company faced no such objections, and he challenged lawmakers to "step up and explain why a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard."
See above, and 9/11, also, duh. Anyone expecting this to pass quietly was kidding themselves.
Back at the White House later, he added, "If there was any chance that this transaction would jeopardize the security of the United States, it would not go forward. But I also want to repeat something again, and that is: This is a company that has played by the rules, that has been cooperative with the United States, a country that's an ally in the war on terror, and it would send a terrible signal to friends and allies not to let this transaction go through."
Really? That's pretty amazing considering the party line from the Bushites now reads that the President didn't know about the deal ($$$, again) until after it had been approved! The Journal's opinion page calls the sudden opposition a "rare" marriage of left and right against him, with the New York Times coming out squarely against the deal as part of a wider pattern of choosing business interests over security, while the Washington Post declared the whole affair a "humbug":
None of the U.S. politicians huffing and puffing seem to be aware that this deal was long in the making, that it had been reported on extensively in the financial press, and that it went through normal security clearance procedures, including approval from a foreign investment committee that contains officials from the departments of Treasury, Commerce, State and Homeland Security, among other agencies. Even more disturbing is the apparent difficulty of members of Congress in distinguishing among Arab countries. We'd like to remind them, as they've apparently forgotten, that the United Arab Emirates is a U.S. ally that has cooperated extensively with U.S. security operations in the war on terrorism, that supplied troops to the U.S.-led coalition during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and that sends humanitarian aid to Iraq. U.S. troops move freely in and out of Dubai on their way to Iraq now.
Indeed, the Emirates' track record in the history of terrorism needs to be duly recorded, and while I haven't looked into this, it may indeed be a tempest in a teapot. On the other hand, the lunatic portion of the Muslim world, which is a sizeable percentage, and possibly a majority, hasn't exactly behaved itself well lately, either. In the final analysis, the taint of Islam and its all-too-easily-roused homicidal tendencies will poison deals like this one. As Roblimo said in the link above,
Muslims all over the world really ought to stop the "My way or die" crap. And those who say, "It's in the Koran. Violence against all unbelievers -- especially against Jews -- is a core part of my faith," had better watch out, because if that's your attitude you really are at war with the rest of the world.