Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Ports deal collapse: A lesson for the world

By Aussiegirl

Well, it turns out that George Bush isn't the only one to give nicknames to various people he meets -- the Arabs call him Abu Abdullah -- isn't that sweet? Doesn't the Abu part mean "father"?

Just one more thought. The fact that the administration trotted out General Abizaid and had him make openly political statements in support of this deal while criticizing opponents as racist, is simply an outrage to our tradition of keeping a strict line of demarcation between politics and the military, and presents the first instance in our history that I can recall in which a political party and the President coopted the military to openly campaign for a political deal. This is simply unacceptable in a democracy such as ours in which the military has always played a strictly non-partisan and non-political role. To openly enlist the top General - AND a Muslim to boot to shill for this ports deal is beneath even the depradations of the Clintons, and only shows the peculiar desperation of this administration to have this deal go through.

USATODAY.com - Ports deal collapse: A lesson for the world:

"DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- On the first day of the firestorm involving Dubai's purchase of a global port management company, I phoned my friend Rashid al-Oraimi, opinion editor at Al Ittihad, a government-owned newspaper of the United Arab Emirates, to discuss the fierce reaction in the USA. No problem, Rashid said. The deal would go through 'because Abu Abdullah OK'd it.'

Who is Abu Abdullah? I asked.

'George Bush, of course,' my friend answered, laughing, explaining that Abu Abdullah is the nickname given Bush in the inner circles of the Persian Gulf region.
Funny indeed, but as it turned out it's the wrong answer in this case.

President Bush's OK - whether by his hand or by people who work for him matters not - wasn't enough to seal the deal for Dubai Ports World's acquisition of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

DP World found itself facing a wave of opposition from members of Congress, the longshoremen's union, and nearly seven out of every 10 Americans, according to various polls. The objections were based on Dubai's dubious status as a free port, a money-laundering haven and a magnet for huge Iranian investments, trade and influence. Therefore, Dubai was seen as a potential threat to the security of the United States in the war on terror. With more dirty laundry in line for exposure, Dubai threw in the towel last week and said it would offer the American part of its purchase for sale to a yet-to-be-determined American buyer."

[...]Flush with oil money and revenue and accustomed to getting anything it wants without any internal or external objections, the Emirate of Dubai, one of seven making up the UAE federation, was left speechless.

The UAE reacted typically as an oligarchy, ordering from the top that much of the news media simply repeat the official belief that it was a done deal.

On the American side, the offer smelled of influence-peddling as it had been hatched in near secrecy and rushed quickly through a dubious vetting process. It all added a sinister overtone, leading many to push the panic button.
The lesson here, for those Arabs who hope to continue to spread their humongous oil revenue around the globe in the next few years, is that you cannot do business in a global economy under banana republic rules.

The USA is not a perfect democracy, but it functions as one often enough with a system of checks and balances that kicks in as it did with DP World. In such circumstances, it is not enough for the top man on either side of a deal to say yes. Many other parties have to say it, too, especially when it involves national security at ports or airports.

[...]When issues of national security are involved, goodwill cannot be purchased through dubious emissaries. It must be won.

From President Bush's side, errors were equally glaring, more proof that his administration seriously lacks skills of communications. To pass a $6.8 billion deal such as this with a whiff of ambiguity and backroom smoke-filled salons is to invite trouble.

The bottom line: Making a deal with just Abu Abdullah is simply not enough.

2 Comments:

At 10:46 AM, Anonymous scribe said...

Abdullah means servant of Allah.

This seems a fairly common name in Islamic history. It might be interesting to find out whether this nickname refers to some Islamic historical figure how the Arabs make the analogy to Bush with that figure.

I have my questions too about the ports deal, but I also think that there was a lot of hysteria over it. After all, the UAE provides us with an air base and fly-over rights. That's not a small thing for them to give us. It gives us real swatting power in the Mideast that's still somewhat economical. Otherwise, we'd have to send the more expensive aircraft carriers over there to conduct our operations. That means we'd have to pull additional carriers away from the Pacific Command, where they play a more vital role, and redirect them to Centcom which is really not the main battlefield in American strategy, despite all the turmoil there now.

 
At 9:58 AM, Blogger TJ Willms said...

The left is constantly screeching that we went into Iraq alone without allies, well the UAE were one of our real friends in that region and who do the Democrats choose to stab in the back? They supported us when damn few in that area and none (save the UK) in the cesspool of Europe would.This entire episode was nothing but hyperbole by the Dems so they could claim they were "strong" on National security while in fact they were doing tremendous damage.

How many other nations will "embrace" U.S. friendship after witnessing the treatment of the UAE at the hands of our political leadership?

 

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