Friday, March 10, 2006

FrenchFreedom Farce

RIA is non-plussed over the collapse of the Dubai-Port fiasco. Can't say that I blame her that much. As Ron says, we look like boobs, "furthering our bumptious, ignoramus image in the world." (As an aside, what have we done recently that doesn't further that image?)

Icepick asks
How bad is it that Bush is the only major politico demonstrating any kind of intelligence whatsoever?
He too handled it poorly. I submit that the instaVeto threat was ill-considered, and did as much to scuttle the deal as anything else as it put anyone who may have felt, upon consideration, that they had overreacted in a position where they would be seen as a toady, and let's be honest, they're skirting the bounds of that perception anyway. (Cue Pooh banging head on table)

Also, just because there was a good deal of xenophobia involved in the initial outcry, that doesn't mean that there aren't good reasons to be skeptical as to the prudence of the deal. For example:

  • Secretary Snow's apparent conflict-of-interest.
  • The dismissal of any security-related concerns as to port administration. I've mentioned earlier, those working on the docks themselves have a good deal of influence as to what can come in, which is a bigger concern then the security of the terminals themselves.
  • Relatedly, the apparent lack of any real review of these concerns. The committee in charge of handling the intial review seems to be largely a rubber-stamp.
  • Foreign governmental ownership of key pieces of infrastructure.
  • The simple fact that the UAE is not as strong a partner as is the U.K. No one is. And there are aspects specific to the UAE that might give one pause. Like the Emirate part. Like the fact they we are very unpopular amongst the population over there. Of whom presumably some do or will work for DPW.
Note 'reasons to be skpetical', not neccesarily reasons to oppose. But, as I mentioned above, the same run-it-up-the-gut, My way or the highway, ready-fire-aim play was called. The realities being what they were (in large part due to the administration's at least implicit arab-baiting lo these 5 years), that was counterproductive, and killed any chance of an examination.

Of course, those 'good reasons' are likely to get lost again, and we aren't likely to hear more about actual port security in the near future. On to the next farce, I suppose.


Icepick said...

Okay, now you're actively contributing to the idiocy.

I've mentioned earlier, those working on the docks themselves have a good deal of influence as to what can come in, which is a bigger concern then the security of the terminals themselves.

Were the new owners going to import thousands of Arabs to take over the actual jobs in the American ports? No. Why? Because most of these ports are fairly heavily unionized with American unions! Do you really think that THOSE guys are going to start looking the other way when someone tries to import a nuclear warhead?

Icepick said...

Plus, given that every time Bush has opened his mouth since 9/11/2001 he has been shoving the "Islam is a religion of peace" meme down our throats, I'd like to know more about his implicit Arab-baiting. That's especially rich coming from someone in the reality-based community that is insisting that there is no way that these Arabs will ever be able to achieve democracy and we shouldn't waste one single dollar trying to achieve such a stupid thing as Arab democracy anyway.

Christ, Pooh, if you are the realist you say you are, you should be supporting this deal because the Emirates may be a bunch of bastards, but they're OUR bastards, and they run the most import port in the region. And now we've gone and pissed all over them, just so Senator Schumer can get in some good sound bites. Hell, even your boy President Clinton tried to help this deal along. r is he just a shill for the VRWC now?

Pooh said...

Dude, I'm saying it's a legitmate concern that should have been fully investigated. On the surface, your point is a good one, but I don't know enough to say one way or the other, and I would like to have better assurances than a rubber-stamp committee that someone in charge does.

As to implicit Arab-baiting? How about the Saddam 9/11 'connection'. He's been telling us to be afraid, be very afraid for 5 years, and now people are responding in a fearful manner. Go figure.

And for the last time my "Realism" does not equal Kissinger's "Realpolitk", but if you want to keep burning down that particular effigy of my viewpoint, go ahead.

Finally, my overall point was that nobody has handled themselves especially well in this mess.

At the same time, from my perspective some good has come from the puncturing of what I perceive as the hollow "security uber-alles" rhetoric of those in charge. Yes I'm holding my nose at the same time I'm making that observation, but there it is. It's a messy world sometimes.

redredwine said...

On the 'arab baiting' issue I have to completely agree with Pooh.

This admin is finding out first hand that it's difficult to move from the catch-phrase+meme realm (terror terror, fear fear)to nuanced complexity, in real time.

Most folks, unless they're wonks, don't feel the need to go beyond the black/white, good/evil, fight em here Or fight em there platitudes that they've been spoon fed for so long. Most completely missed the 'Islam is a peaceful religion' talk point because it's too difficult to rationalize with the good/evil pov. That's the reason for the visceral reaction, prompting the phone calls to congress in record numbers, that ultimately killed the deal.

You reap what you sow.

Icepick said...

As to implicit Arab-baiting? How about the Saddam 9/11 'connection'.

Right. Mentioning that one Arab dictator is a bad guy is the same as calling for a pogrom. That's weak. How about all of the President's rhetoric that Arabs can in fact achieve stable democratic government?

As for the realism vs. realpolitik argument, you have yet to define your realism. You haven't made one p[ositive policy proposal that I recall. But you don't believe in realpolitk, because that means doing bad things to people, and you don't believe in idealism, because people everywhere suck and they don't want democracy anyway. So exactly how ARE we supposed to deal with the world?

reader_iam said...

"Can't say that I blame her that much.

"That much"? For what? For the life of me, I can't figure out what this means. (You should be registering this comment as "amused" because I find it rare for me to find myself this uncomprehending.)

As I've said elsewhere, you know that I don't think this was handled well from the get-go, but that doesn't justify the grandstanding on the part of Congress etc.

And RRW, I have to respectfully disagree with you (and by extension, you, too, Pooh) about Arab baiting as a tactic of this Administration, per se. To put it bluntly, I think that's nonsense, when looking at the overall picture and context.

And I absolutely also disagree with the idea that people have missed the "Islam is a religion of peace" statements by the president. They have not missed it (they're not deaf and stupid, you know). I think many people REJECT that notion, but that's an entirely different thing.

reader_iam said...

Honest question, Pooh and RRW: Have you done some reading of the Koran ( or Qu'ran, depending on your preference)?

Pooh said...

RIA, sorry, was mostly a statement of amusement. I'm usually the one who throws up his hands (or bangs his head on the table) at the stupidity and bad faith involved.

Pick, you're telling me there was no deliberate attempt to conflate Saddam and bin Laden prior to the invasion? You're telling me that doesn't carry a whiff of "all look same to me"? Torture, largely unpunished, of arabs doesn't imply disdain? "Last throes" "dead enders" forced propoganda, etc, etc is how you treat people you respect?

Yes, lip service has been given to "religion of peace" (which really, all major religions are by their own terms. Not that people pay any attention to the inconvenient parts of their onw religion), but show me, don't tell me. And starting with "stuff happens" we haven't exactly shown a lot of care. Always asking "we gave you democracy, what the hell is wrong with you?" isn't exactly respectful.

As for policy perscrpitions, what to do now? Who knows. It's a mess. But the first rule of future involvements is "do it right" have a plan. A plan involves a 'worst-case scenario'. A plan involves having all the information, which I don't. Yes that's a huge dodge.