Thursday, February 23, 2006

Any Storm in a Port

Everything you think you know about the Dubai/port deal is probably wrong. The facts as presented come out as:
  • We are giving control of our ports to Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirate.
  • Two of the 9-11 hijackers were from Dubai
  • Some al Qaida money may have been funneled through Dubai banks.
The conclusion is that once the Arabs take over the ports they will help smuggle in terrorists. This conclusion was reached by both Little Green Footballs and the DailyKos (which immediately concluded that Bush must have sold out).

Both Congressional Republicans and Democrats have jumped on this, objecting. Bush replied by threatening a veto. This is an important threat coming from a president who has never used the veto.

So what is going on? Ann Colter makes this observation:
The idea that the Democrats have any meaningful interest in America's national security is a joke, so I'm perfectly willing to believe there's more to this port story.
There's a lot more to it. First, Dubai is not taking over the ports. The company that manages the ports is being sold by their British owners to Dubai Ports World which is partly owned by the Bank of Dubai which in turn is run by the government of Dubai which is considered an ally in the Global War of Terror.

The security in the ports will continue to be provided by the US Coast Guard and the ports will be managed according to strict guidelines. It's hard to see quite where the problem is. Michelle Malkin worries that sensitive security arrangements will be made available to the UAE but considering how many levels separate the UAE from the people actually running the ports (the same one running them now) and al Qaida's intention to overthrow the UAE these objections seem overstated.

That hasn't stopped some xenophobic conservatives from worrying but this is mainly a shoot-from-the-hip reaction. Check the link at the top of this post for the details.

But what is the Democrat's angle?

They already announced that their strategy this Fall will be to insist that they can protect us better than President Bush does. It has even been suggested that they run on the fact that no 9-11s happened on their watch (Although 2-3 years worth of planning did take place plus the first attack on the World Trade Center).

The Dubai issue is perfect for the Democrats. The truth doesn't matter. All that matters is that they make a fuss now. Regardless of what happens, they will come back in November and say that they tried to protect the US from terrorists.

So what will happen if the deal falls through? Bush has spent a lot of effort since 9-11 insisting that we are not at war with the Arab world. If the US government says that we do not trust any Arab countries there will be repercussions. Will any of them work with us again? Do Democrats even care if they mess up foreign relations?

Worse, Dubai might even send Michael Jackson back to the US.

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