Patterico's Pontifications

2/21/2006

Dafydd ab Hugh Solves the UAE/Ports Controversy

Filed under: International,Terrorism — Patterico @ 9:10 pm



Dafydd ab Hugh’s blog is always excellent, but he has outdone himself in this post about the UAE ports controversy. It’s more intelligent than anything you’ll read in tomorrow morning’s newspapers about the controversy. Dafydd explains in detail what each side is missing in their analyses. What’s more, Dafydd has a proposal for solving the controversy that makes good sense.

29 Responses to “Dafydd ab Hugh Solves the UAE/Ports Controversy”

  1. Setting aside the political aspects, I hope this is actually the win-win on substance that it seems to be.

    DRJ (3c8cd6)

  2. It is absolutely contemptible that any foreign government is providing any security to our ports in the first place. Is there any legitimate justification for this? It saves us a little money, maybe? Is that it? If that’s the only rationalization, it reveals the true priorities of the Bush administration.

    It is perfectly understandable for a country to want to provide its own citizens for its national security. What’s racist about that? Republicans sure are quick to bring up racism here, aren’t they? They look desperate. In this scenario, many republicans can’t play the race card with a straight face anyway when they favor racial profiling for Muslims.

    Psyberian (4aee78)

  3. Psyberian, as usual, your knee-jerk liberal views are based on factually challenged assumptions. Security is the job of the Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security. Ports are owned by local government. None of this is affected by the current deal.

    Xrlq (2b6e32)

  4. X, to label my view “liberal” is ignorant since republicans are not happy about this either.

    Psyberian (4aee78)

  5. Xrlq, if there are jihadi dockworkers on both ends of a shipment, any American security outfit is going to be way behind the 8-ball on detecting a dirty bomb.

    There is no legitimate justification for this. Alexandra at ATB said it well:

    Faith is a misplaced emotion in the long war on terror, and the assurance that U.S. ports will be secure when they are managed by a firm owned by a government in one of the most volatile parts of the world, is worthless.

    biwah (f5ca22)

  6. Its ok if a republican sells our ports to a foreign government with ties to bin laden.

    actus (6234ee)

  7. The only ties to bin laden from UAE is the fact that 2 of the hijackers were from there, and I’ve read that some of the money funding the 9/11 tragedy came from one or more UAE banks. To indite a country because of 2 of its citizens doesn’t make much sense to me. How would it be if other countries refused to deal with the U.S. because Timothy McVeigh was an American and blew up the Murrah building. And I wonder how much money is run through American banks that is used for terrorism purposes.

    Jackie Warner (41f17a)

  8. Jackie – I would agree that indicting a country because of the actions of a small number of its citizens doesn’t make sense, but I don’t think that’s what is happening here.

    I think it is fair to say that there is a higher likelihood of people hired by a UAE company being a security risk than people hired by a British company. That’s not an indictment – the company in question may have perfectly adequate security procedures. But because the risk is higher, we need to take a closer look at what those procedures are.

    Now, it is also the case that the company in question is not responsible for security; that’s not been obvious from either the press accounts or from the statements of politicians (both of which can rightly be criticized for confusing the issue). However, if the company were responsible for port security, I don’t think that it would be unreasonable to say that we should be concerned and cautious.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  9. A number of you mistakenly assume that UAE nationals will be running things. Far from it. It will be the same US nationals as run the ports now, the company that pays them is the only change.

    A British company holding the contracts is being bought by DPW, a company based in the UAE. If you outraged leftwingers would notice, foreigners, the Brits, are already running those ports and I suspect have done so from the Clinton administration if not before.

    It is just like when Congress took airport security away from Argent Bright and created the TSA. You have the same people stealing items from passenger’s luggage as before, only now they are Federal employees.

    PCD (401dcf)

  10. A number of you mistakenly assume that UAE nationals will be running things. Far from it.

    With saddam hussein mustaches. I agree with max sawicki: Its the BS blowback for an admin happy to use BS.

    actus (ebc508)

  11. Its the BS blowback for an admin happy to use BS.

    This insightful gem comes from someone who, in a similar spark of rhetorical brilliance, writes:

    “Its ok if a republican sells our ports to a foreign government with ties to bin laden.”

    See, we’re selling our ports.

    Not simply leasing terminals at the ports (since the law forbids selling the ports; they’re publicly-owned) and permitting a foreign country to run some of the operations at 6 ports.

    Ports, terminals, leasing, selling. All the same thing really.

    SMG

    SteveMG (4f696a)

  12. The Washington Post has a good editorial today on this subject. Apparently, the news of the deal was stale long before the politicos started in with their hysterics, it having been thoroughly reported in the financial press and cleared through the usual processes. Moreover, cancelling the deal may do more harm than good, particularly if it leads to the loss of basing rights in the UAE or even elsewhere in the Arab middle east. As is often the case, the knee-jerk responses seem to be the wrong ones.

    The Democrat-instigated outcry over this is nothing but smoke and mirrors — an effort by the disloyal opposition to present the appearance of being to the right of the president on a national security issue. Only, it’s probably not really a national security issue, and the Republicans deserting the president now will be the big losers if the Dems are successful in distorting this issue and discrediting the President’s so-far successful national security policies, which of course are the Republican party’s national security policies. No one should be portraying this as a case of the administration saying “just trust the President” — because they’re not. This is an issue on which Republicans in Congress should have been at least minimally informed. If they were, they would be able to respond with substantive arguments in opposition to the made-up bovine feces that Schumer, Hillary and others are spewing about the ports deal. Instead, they are unwittingly helping the Dems to weaken the President and the GOP in an election year — and, in this case, without justification. The Democrats can’t even be a responsible opposition party — they offer no reasonable alternatives, consistently obstruct in bad faith, seeking the failure of US policy rather than its change, and the Republicans in Congress and in a few governors’ mansions are now giving them credibility they don’t deserve.

    Washington Post 1, conservative blogosphere 0 on this one.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  13. […] Update: Courtesy of Patterico, Dafydd ab Hugh sheds more light on the sale and offers a fig leaf of modesty in solution to the political absurdity of Senator Clinton moving to the right of W on national security. […]

    Neptunus Lex » Hysteria and politics… (f67377)

  14. Go ahead and sink (piss off) the only friendly country we have in the middleast. They will do exactly what I would do if the stupid get their way. I’d send every foreigner packing from the UAE, stop all cooperation on terrorism, cut off all trade with the U.S., Insure the price of oil is doubled, and open the country to terrorist training centers. They can do it without any problems. Then all of you idiots that live in a major city can start ducking everytime you hear a jet engine overhead because it won’t be long until you’re hit again. The ports won’t mean a hill of beans when the ships can’t afford the fuel to operate.

    scrapiron (a90377)

  15. Then all of you idiots that live in a major city can start ducking everytime you hear a jet engine overhead because it won’t be long until you’re hit again.

    We don’t do that now, because bush has made us safe.

    actus (6234ee)

  16. Hugh Hewitt’s interview with Coast Guard Admiral Craig Bone is a must read. Among the other points the Admiral makes is that port security is more about international cooperation than having “our people” in charge at our ports. It seems that many of those criticizing the ports deal aren’t considering the fact that security where the cargo originates is just as important as security at the cargo’s destination.

    By the way, the BBC reported the Dubai Ports deal in November of 2005. But it wasn’t important enough then to displace the hyperventilation about Tookie Williams from the headlines, was it?

    TNugent (58efde)

  17. The plus-side, i.e. the value of cooperation with the UAE, is very compelling. It does not automatically justify the deal. It is disingenuous to say that an infiltration of DPW wouldn’t have security consequences, simply because the security “arm” of the port operations are being handled by Americans. Assignment of any responsibility for the passage of containers into the U.S. has important security implications.

    The UAE may be the most attractive partner in the M.E., but it has blemishes. The country harbors terrorists (wasn’t that our justification for another invasion in that locale?) and doesn’t acknowledge Israel.

    Conservatives seem to be up in arms because they dont want to do anything that would make the Democrats look like a useful opposition party. But it’s the Senate Republicans calling for more investigation that make the most sense here. It is worth a deeper look, and perhaps the process by which the deal was approved needs to be reviewed as well.

    biwah (f5ca22)

  18. What’s disingenuous is the untimely criticism of the Dubai Ports acquisition of P&O. If this were really a national security issue, it should have been raised 3 months ago, when it’s likelihood became common knowledge among those in the international shipping business. Or maybe a month ago when it became clear that the Dubai Ports bid was the high bid. The critics are arriving after the party’s over. That’s a big red flag that there’s no substance to the criticism.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  19. So IYO, the American public has, through its failure to pick up the issue at aan ealier time set by you, waived any right to object in the interest of its own security?

    I noticed the story was floating about two weeks ago. I have no idea why it blew up when it did. Nor do I think the timing is of central importance. Interesting fodder for discussion, if you have any theories…

    biwah (f5ca22)

  20. If, by “untimely”, you mean last-minute, you’re certainly right, but I’m not sure what’s so wrong about that. Objection after the deal went through, now that might be a problem.

    But, e.g., whether I file a motion two months in advance or at 4:45 on the deadline date, I’m still on the right side of that deadline.

    Althoug, if I actually filed anything that far in advance, I suspect my head might explode. It will probably remain a mystery.

    biwah (f5ca22)

  21. Gimme a break. Timing is absolutely of central importance, because lying about the security ramifications after the deal was done gave the Dems the opportunity to portray themselves as more concerned about security than a Republican president (common sense and the Dems consistent weakness on national security should be enough to dispel that ridiculous notion). That opportunity wouldn’t have existed had they raised their concerns timely, because concerns raised timely would have been addressed within the orderly process of the review and approval of the transaction, rather than in hysterical rantings of both the mainstream press and the blogosphere (both right and left).

    The ports deal doesn’t have anything to do with security, unless the deal is killed by the xenophobic hysteria that the Dems intended to incite by their irresponsible, untimely reaction to a deal that had already been cleared. Killing an acquisition by a reputable and responsible international firm would signal a US withdrawal from the sort of cooperation that is essential to providing security for international commerce. That in itself would be a threat to our security, even if UAE doesn’t react by telling us to find other locations for the bases we now maintain in their country.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  22. Bad analogy, biwah. This isn’t like filing a pleading. Business decisions involve committing resources, forgoing some opportunities in favor of others. Security concerns over a transaction such as this one are timely if raised right after a firm makes its bid, which occurred 3 months ago, but not after other firms competing for the opportunity to by P&O have withdrawn from the process and not after the seller has relied on the high bidder actually going through with the deal. At this point, the only legitimate security objection would be one that couldn’t have been raised previously because facts weren’t known. But the facts were known when Dubai Ports made its bid (it’s not as if their affiliation with UAE is a secret).

    TNugent (6128b4)

  23. Timing is absolutely of central importance, because lying about the security ramifications after the deal was done gave the Dems the opportunity to portray themselves as more concerned about security than a Republican president.

    So how do you explain the Republican “hysteria”? Why would they so willingly play into the Democratic conspiracy you have exposed?

    And that’s after accounting for Bill Frist’s penchant for always doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, politically.

    biwah (f5ca22)

  24. I didn’t see #21 before posting.

    But if you go with the business transaction model (since that’s what this is), how do you account for the failure to conduct due diligence, which has apparently been allotted far less time than necessary, given the scope of the deal? That’s according to financial-world experts and, separately, the statutory time requirement for examining such transactions. I don’t have the links to either handy, but I’ll swear to it, and maybe even dig them up if you want.

    And I’d reiterate my yes/no question:

    the American public has, through its failure to pick up the issue at aan ealier time set by you, waived any right to object in the interest of its own security?

    biwah (f5ca22)

  25. It’s not as if Dubai Ports World is an unkown, it having acquired CSX’s international ports business in January 2005 (it runs ports all over the world from which containers are shipped to the US). It’s not a coincidence that UAE was among the first nations to join the US in an international program for shipping container security. Leaving aside the fact that port security doesn’t have anything to do with the firm that runs a port’s commercial operations, the criticism of this deal will prove utterly baseless. Hopefully, it won’t have derailed the deal, because sending the message that xenophobia dictates how we deal with legitimate businesses abroad would harm our national security.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  26. Clicked submit too early. Doh! There was due diligence for the transaction. It was done by the same multi-agency committee that routinely handles such due diligence. It’s not as if the committee was dealing with an unknown company (see #25). That fact that none of the politicos now objecting bothered to pay attention in the fall when the news of Dubai Ports interest in P&O was being reported just means that they weren’t doing what the public pays them to do. No surprise there.

    TNugent (6128b4)

  27. common sense and the Dems consistent weakness on national security should be enough to dispel that ridiculous notion)

    It sucks when hte facts are biased against the right.

    actus (6234ee)

  28. Listening to Liberals talk about national security this week, is almost as much fun as it was last week listening to them pretend to know something about quail hunting.

    Black Jack (d8da01)


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