Dubai Deal Dead: What Next?

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Now that the hysterics have won, Thomas Knapp looks ahead.

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  1. It’s all part of breaking our addiction to oil. The effects aren’t simple like breaking a caffeine addiction.

  2. Fox News Alert: apparently there are thousands–THOUSANDS–of Arabian horses in the United States. We cannot trust our corrals and pastures to the fanatical Arabs! Someone has to put a stop to this!

  3. Ya gotta fight hysterics with hysterics.

  4. Come on, it was a nice diversionary tactic!

    While the news covered that left and right they slipped through the caving in on the NSA warrantless spying, the renewal of the New and Improved Patriot Act (now combined with the War on Cold Medicine), a few states trying to outlaw all abortions, Missouri going to vote itself a ‘Christian State’ and one of the Bush admin’s picks for the CDC’s vaccine advisory panel pondering in the New Yorker if they should even allow an HIV vaccine out if one is made since people would take up snogging whole hog.

    *sigh*

  5. I don?t think you have to be ?hysteric? to at least question whether or not we should allow a country to run our ports that the State Department considers an unsafe place for Americans to even visit.

  6. “I’m concerned about the broader message this issue could send to our friends and allies around the world, particularly in the Middle East,” President Bush just said about the collapse of plans for a Dubai-based company to take over operations at six U.S. ports. “We have got to strengthen our relationships and friendships with moderate Arab countries in the Middle East,” Bush added, while thinking silently to hisself, “I wish my friend was here to hold my hand and reassure me.”

  7. Dan T.:

    ..the State Department considers an unsafe place for Americans to even visit.

    Can you back that up?

    Also, DC is an unsafe place for Americans to even visit!

  8. Thank goodness… why we allow state-owned firms to operate in the U.S. is beyond me… Unfortunately, I think it was rightly nixed but for the wrong reasons.

  9. Dan T.,

    The State Department may consider the UAE unsafe to visit, but apparently the Defense Department doesn’t — they docked about 650 ships there last year, and more than 70,000 members of the US armed forces took liberty and/or leave there.

    Tom Knapp

  10. Dan T.:

    ..the State Department considers an unsafe place for Americans to even visit.

    Can you back that up?

    Also, DC is an unsafe place for Americans to even visit!

    Here’s the State Department’s Travel Guide:

    http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1050.html

    Americans in the United Arab Emirates should exercise a high level of security awareness. The Department of State remains concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. Americans should maintain a low profile, vary routes and times for all required travel, and treat mail and packages from unfamiliar sources with caution. In addition, U.S. citizens are urged to avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects, and to report the presence of the objects to local authorities. Vehicles should not be left unattended, if at all possible, and should be kept locked at all times.

  11. K. Toishi,

    Good point! But don’t you think the private firms should be able to legally deal with state- owned firms if they want to?

  12. Tom –

    My point here is simply that after 5 years of the government telling us that all sorts of extreme measures are necessary to prevent terrorism, all the sudden we’re considered crazy to ask if we should allow a country with terrorist ties to operate some of our ports.

  13. I found it amazing that this was the one and only issue that GWB was willing to go to the mat over.

  14. For the record, the mat still has not seen Bush go to it.

  15. Dan T.

    I can find that same warning for NATO member nation Turkey.

    http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1046.html

    And I can find a similar warning for France.

    http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1116.html

  16. Dan T.:

    That’s pretty general and in fact says:The Department of State remains concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world.

    And…

    Vehicles should not be left unattended, if at all possible, and should be kept locked at all times.

    …is certainly more pertinent advice for DC!

  17. The State Department may consider the UAE unsafe to visit, but apparently the Defense Department doesn’t — they docked about 650 ships there last year, and more than 70,000 members of the US armed forces took liberty and/or leave there.

    I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying “any port in a storm.” Where else can the Navy dock in that part of the world where we’re heavily reviled?

  18. Dan T,

    You are correct. The UAE is one of 196 countries the State department has issued similar warnings about.

  19. Oops, just to be clear, my 11:49 post was addressing Dan T., not quoting him.

    …any port in a storm– Very punny, Jennifer;)

  20. i have heard that the uk’s version of the state dept. issues far more reliable and reasonable travel advisories – a bit less alarmist than our own state dept.

    has anyone here found that to be the case or otherwise?

  21. It’s punny ’cause it’s true, Rick.

  22. I guess Congress thinks that we should nuke the entire middle east and just kill all of them. If we can’t trust any of them to do business with, then I guess we should kill them. This is a pretty sad day really. No one to my mind ever presented one shred of evidence about this company being linked to terrorism or gave one decent response to the fact that who owns the port has very little to do with security. It was just a chance for jackasses in Congress to play on people’s worst instincts and look like they are doing something to protect the country while avoiding any real responsibility or decision making. The vast majority of Congress Republican or Democrat are just simply not serious or intelligent people.

  23. If we can’t trust any of them to do business with, then I guess we should kill them

    Yes, those are the only two choices–trust you enough to do business with, or kill you. No middle ground here at all, nosiree.

  24. Good point! But don’t you think the private firms should be able to legally deal with state- owned firms if they want to?

    Yes, but at the same time, my utter distaste for such a blatantly anti-competitive firm leads me to toss principle out the door. I have no problem discriminating in the global trade arena against firms that receive state subsidies (including U.S. firm addicted to federal hand-outs) or are state-owned (especially, the latter). They have a wholly unfair advantage in the marketplace.

  25. What’s odd is how little credit our current President gets (at least in this case but many others as well) for acting on principle. Not only does he not get the credit, he’s roundly criticized for it. The election-year politics swirling around this story is truly disgusting, and it has only just begun. The Republicans’ desperation in clinging to power is only slightly less revolting than the Democrats’ open, craven cynicism in trying to regain it. I anticipate one of the most appalling election run-ups in recent memory. It won’t be pretty. In fact, it will be embarrassing to be an American.

  26. Jennifer,

    The middle ground of our enlightened elites seems to be that if they don’t look like us and are Muslim, they can’t be trusted. This was racial pandering at its worst and the people who fell for it are generally the very ones who claim to be most enlightened. If it had been a German company, no one would have cared even if there were evidence that it had infiltrated by extremists.

    I am sure this whole thing will play great on Al Jezera and confirm every Muslim’s thought that the U.S. doesn’t trust them and thinks of them all as terrorists. Thank you U.S. Congress for helping the U.S’s image in the Muslim world.

  27. Bush reaps what he sows. So many months of drumming into us that we are being attacked by terrorists, and in name of that we have to condone spying, torture, curtailing of civil liberties, and all that.

    Now he wants to turn over what some people consider strategic assets to a country that screams “terrorist” to most Americans, and he is surprised as to how well they have learned their lesson?

  28. The middle ground of our enlightened elites seems to be that if they don’t look like us and are Muslim, they can’t be trusted.

    Bullshit. Look at the other threads on Hit and Run where people argued against it; the arguments have nothing to do with “they look funny” or “they worship the wrong god,” it’s more like “the company is owned by a government that was friends with Bin Laden, stonewalled during post 9-11 investigations and was also buddy-buddy with the Taliban.”

    I’ll ask you the same question I previously asked Ron Bailey: if your opinion is the correct one, then why can’t you argue against your opponents’ actual arguments, rather than strawman versions thereof?

    It’s like debating affimative action with someone whose sole argument is “You disagree with me because you’re a racist. You are a racist, which is why you disagree with me. You’d agree with me if only you weren’t such a bigot.”

  29. I’m hoping that Haliburton wins the contract to run the ports that DP World is dumping, so that I can watch the Congressional Dems’ heads explode on C-SPAN.

  30. the company is owned by a government”

    the primary reason they should not be in our market, in my opinion. i couldn’t care less how muslims view us, or us them. as a people, they should tell their government to stop owning the means of production. then, i’m happy to welcome them into our market.

  31. I’m hoping that Haliburton wins the contract to run the ports that DP World is dumping, so that I can watch the Congressional Dems’ heads explode on C-SPAN.

    LOL… boy that would be fun.

  32. I’m hoping that Haliburton wins the contract to run the ports that DP World is dumping, so that I can watch the Congressional Dems’ heads explode on C-SPAN.

    LOL… boy that would be fun.

  33. K. Toishi,

    I certainly agree that firms that are addicted to federal hand-outs or are state-owned have a wholly unfair advantage in the marketplace. But if you choose to boycot em and those firms who do biz with em to punish the behavior, you can keep your principles intact.

  34. I’m hoping that Haliburton wins the contract

    Since there are security issues involved, I’ll see what I can do about that competitive bidding nonsense. I’ve got a hunting trip coming in with some of the key players, so really this is good timing.

  35. I’ll ask you the same question I previously asked Ron Bailey: if your opinion is the correct one, then why can’t you argue against your opponents’ actual arguments, rather than strawman versions thereof?

    Let me try.

    the company is owned by a government that was friends with Bin Laden,

    That a company’s capital comes from a state has no first order effect on the operations of that company. Besides, the footprint of the company at these ports is not only small, but is completely unrelated to the issues and concerns of security.

    stonewalled during post 9-11 investigations

    That a company’s capital comes from a state has no first order effect on the operations of that company. Besides, the footprint of the company at these ports is not only small, but is completely unrelated to the issues and concerns of security.

    and was also buddy-buddy with the Taliban

    That a company’s capital comes from a state has no first order effect on the operations of that company. Besides, the footprint of the company at these ports is not only small, but is completely unrelated to the issues and concerns of security.

  36. OK, now does this mean the terrorists have won?

  37. If Halliburton ends up with the contract, the irony will be beautiful. Instead of giving the deal to a company owned by a government, we’ll give it to a company that owns a government.

  38. Yeah yeah, Halliburton isn’t even in that line of work, yada yada…

  39. That a company’s capital comes from a state has no first order effect on the operations of that company. Besides, the footprint of the company at these ports is not only small, but is completely unrelated to the issues and concerns of security.

    Sure–he who pays the piper can never call the tune.

  40. i have to say, ms jennifer, while your instinct for security is better than i thought, i have to take the other side.

    of what use is it to say that these people are associated with a government that makes different foreign policy decisions and has different foreign policy goals than our government — and therefore, we can’t have them render business services in this country? the uae is *hardly* the “enemy”.

    is that materially different than a third world country boycotting american rice and wheat because american government is an abominable force of empire in their neck of the woods?

  41. i couldn’t care less how muslims view us, or us them. as a people, they should tell their government to stop owning the means of production. then, i’m happy to welcome them into our market.

    I assume, then, that you want the Port Authority to divest itself of its interests in the Newark and New York ports. What private company will step up to take that over? And three airports too!

  42. So now what? I guess we have to pray that even though our Congress and a majority of our population seem to think everyone in the middle east are just a bunch of scummy ragheads, that they will somehow think nicely enough of us to help us fight terrorism.

    Al Qaeda just won another victory.

  43. fwiw, i would submit that many ostensibly american corporations are far more egregious in working against the goals of american public safety than any foreign government and are far less accountable for it. yet we make no stink about that — price of doing business, free market and all that.

    why is this company not simply doing business? because they’re arabs?

  44. happyjuggler0,

    You can thank, for one, the fine folks at the populist propaganda machine known as FOX News for helping to spread the xenophobia that has finally come around and helped to sink their Fearless Leader.

    “Them dirty ay-rabs are at it again, blowing shit up! Oh, and that white girl’s still missing! Europeans suspected. Stay tuned for The O’Reilly Factor!”

    It’s way too late in the game for most Americans who believe this stuff for Bush to suddenly point at the UAE and say, “but these are the good ones!”

  45. To be clear, K Toishi:

    The conclusion of the anti-government ownership of the means of production position suggests to me that you’d find any of the proposed Social Security privitization methods to be absolutely worse than the current structure.

  46. Off topic, but does anyone else remember, from their childhood, a monkey named Halliburton? I seem to have some recollection of a stuffed animal or something…

    Also off topic: I for one find it charming that gaius addresses us as “ms” or “mr”…

  47. i couldn’t care less how muslims view us, or us them. as a people, they should tell their government to stop owning the means of production. then, i’m happy to welcome them into our market.

    nothing like a bit of hypocrisy. fannie mae, anyone? freddie mac?

    as idealistic as this is, let’s face facts: real markets are regulatory constructs. they don’t function without governance short of a hobbesian mafia war of all against all — the true market of natural law. does that appeal to anyone?

  48. …not all of the stuff that gaius says is as charming. 🙂

  49. I assume, then, that you want the Port Authority to divest itself of its interests in the Newark and New York ports. What private company will step up to take that over? And three airports too!

    Yes, the Port Authority should be dissolved.

    The conclusion of the anti-government ownership of the means of production position suggests to me that you’d find any of the proposed Social Security privitization methods to be absolutely worse than the current structure.

    Yes, Social Security should be dissolved. (Having said that, if I HAD to choose between the current system and private accounts, I would choose the latter).

    nothing like a bit of hypocrisy. fannie mae, anyone? freddie mac?

    Yes, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be fully divested of any government ownership/involvement/control. American “firms” that operate with significant state participation should be as discriminated against as foreign firms of similar construct, preferably – as Rick Barton pointed out – by individuals or other firms.

    However, I don’t generally have a problem putting such “state-owned,” “state-supported,” or “state-whatever” firms at a competitive disadvantage vis a vis privately-owned or publicly-traded firms (unlike the current regulatory regime, which gives regulatory preference to the examples given – the Port Authority, Sallie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc.).

  50. OK, now does this mean the terrorists have won?

    As the demagogues in Congress have dragged this on and on, raising the stakes every day to score headlines and points with their constitutents, I have become more and more infuriated with the whole thing.

    If anyone ever asks you how it could be that the United States locked up 120,000 Japanese-Americans in internment camps, ask them if they remember the Dubai Ports thing a few years back.

    Yep. Same thing. The perfect storm of security, nationalism, and protectionism.

    The fact that no actual racism is required does not make it any better morally or any better for those discriminated against.

  51. I haven’t watched FOX News in ages, so I won’t speak to that, but I don’t buy the “Bush told us all to hate Arabs and Muslims, and now it’s biting him in the ass” line Adriana and others are pushing. Bush is constantly saying “Islam is peace,” and holding hands with Saudi leaders and having Karzai come visit and so forth. Half the time people criticize Bush’s relationship with Muslims and Arabs its that he is too close to them (the holding hands caper, the stories about Bin Laden’s family being let go, for example.)

    Obviously this was a screw up, the administration should have done a better job making sure this sale would fly with Congress before presenting it to the world, but I don’t think its accurate to suggest that Bush has been using lots of xenophobic propaganda or something, and that somehow that killed the deal.

  52. MikeP,

    I have tried on other threads to point out to Jennifer all of the factual problems with the argument that this deal was a security risk. It doesn’t do any good.

    I think a lot of this comes down to the intense desire on some people’s part to do anything to discredit Bush. We saw it on this thread after Katrina when otherwise near anarchist small government libertarians got on here to bash Bush for not launching a federal takeover of the State of Louisiana in time to save it from it’s incompetent governor. Now we get otherwise rational and fair people buying into the worst kind of xenophobia because to do so discredits Bush. If this deal had happened when Bill Clinton were President and the Republicans in Congress had tried this crap, people like Jennifer would have been on here calling them out, rightly I might add, for acting like racist xenophobes.

  53. K. Toishi,

    I’d like to address your refusal to let someone else deal with a government-owned enterprise. Which of these is your reasoning?

    1. Governments are such better managers than private entities that they have an unfair competitive advantage.

    2. Governments tax or otherwise regulate their citizens’ economy to cut the price offered to the consumer, and the consumer is wrong to reap the benefit by taking advantage of the deal and spending the balance elsewhere to improve his own society’s economy.

    My own thinking is that one should take advantage of idiotic government ownership or subsidy. But I understand and support the position of those who don’t want to do business with governments that massively violate the rights of their citizenry or employees.

    Of course, I have seen no evidence that DP World is anything but a fair and competent company that happens to be owned by a government.

  54. I have to agree with Jennifer that even if we can’t make a specific, concrete connection between UAE state ownership of DP World and higher risk to our ports… we’re not crazy for being cautious here.

    Quick story: my wife and I stopped at a beach for a few minutes, not wearing swimsuits, but shorts, t-shirts, etc. She decided to wade in, with her purse hanging from her shoulder, and our expensive camera inside. I offered to hold the purse, in case something happened and it got wet, but by this time she was a dozen steps out. Instead of bothering to come back, she said, “Stop worrying, nothing’s going to happen.” A minute later, she slipped on a smooth, flat stone on the bottom, and went in on her ass. Scratch one really cool digital camera.

    But here’s the best part: she angrily defended the choice to wade out with the damn purse. (No, I did not say “I told you so,” she just came out soaked and pissed, already yelling.) Her brilliant argument went like this: “So what if you said something bad could happen. My foot slipped; you didn’t know that was going to happen!”

    Aside from making a strong case against marriage here, my point is this: sometimes the situation merits caution, even if you can’t pin down the exact scenario of what might go wrong. And yeah, you could run with that logic and make the case for never leaving your house, but this port issue is nowhere near that extreme.

    The UAE government has documented ties to terrorist groups. The UAE government has serious influence over DP World, in ways we can’t entirely know or keep track of. We just shouldn’t be giving them authority over any aspect of our ports, however unrelated to actual security it may be.

    We may not have specific reasons, but we have general ones, and if the stakes are high enough, general reasons are good enough.

  55. gaius:

    let’s face facts: real markets are regulatory constructs. they don’t function without governance…

    Certainly not government regulatory constructs. The only government regulation that is helpful to markets is a prohibition of force and fraud.

  56. I agree with Charlie. The “not a shred of evidence that x has occurred/will occur” argument just doesn’t fly when it comes to the security of our nation.

    We have to rely on incomplete information, and err on the side of caution.

    Like Charlie said, we have no way to know whether or how UAE (supporter of the Taliban, friend of Osama, finance hub for the 911 operation) can influence this state-owned company.

    It is definitely not irrational to be trepidatious in this instance.

    Especially since the minimum of security review appears not to have been done, and the ability and or willingness of the President to make the right security decisions is in serious doubt.

    No, it’s not xenophobic, racist, or crazy to reject this deal – it’s the right thing to do.

  57. What do you hope to accomplish by linking to a site that uses the term “xenophobic f*cktard”?

    I thought H&R had somewhat higher standards than that. At least it used to.

  58. Governments are such better managers than private entities that they have an unfair competitive advantage.

    That one gave me a good laugh.

    My problem with state-owned enterprises is more along the “moral hazard” line of thought. These firms are backed by the full resources of the state, not just those resources dedicated to the particular line of business.

    To stereotype, I would say government firms are less efficient than private ones. Yet, that inefficiency may be supressed because the state is willing to cross-subsidize from other state-owned enterprises or from general tax revenue. The state is able to artificially sustain a firm that may otherwise not be able to survive in a fully-compeititve market. In essence, the company has a license to fail.

    Many economists critique the FDIC using a similar argument – or any government insurance program. (I personally think the federal flood program is the best example of “moral hazard.”)

  59. Dear Mitch:

    Have you seen who was pushing against the deal? Talk-show hosts, most of them right wing, most of them addicted to baiting liberals, and praising Bush to the skies.

    Then they turned on him when he did something that made him look like a traitor in their eyes.

    The liberals? The just stood there, watching how Bush had cut their own throat and heeding the advice that when your enemy is digging himself into a hole you do not get in his way.

    The problem was not that Bush baited muslims, as that he took advantage of the climate these talk shows created, a “fortress mentality” in which We are under attack, and therefore We have to defend ourselves, and not pay attention to ethical niceties such as that you do not torture prisoners. Worse, anyone who complains about civil liberties is a traitor and a friend to terrorists.

    It is very useful to discredit your opposition, to tag it as “soft on terrorism”

    Bush forgot that a “fortress mentality” does not compute trade issues. The only responses that are allowed in such a mentality is Fight or Flight. Trade does not enter into it.

    Bush wanted to trade with someone who looked too much like the enemy. So Bush is a traitor to those same forces that up to now praised him to the skies…

    He can only blame himself, really, if nothing else for not figuring out how this would play…

  60. The state is able to artificially sustain a firm that may otherwise not be able to survive in a fully-compeititve market. In essence, the company has a license to fail.

    I fully agree with you that governments should not own or run economic entities. Nonetheless, an entity should not be disqualified from consideration simply because it is government owned.

    Especially as long as it’s someone else’s government, why disallow taking advantage of it? In particular, I’m thinking of the protectionist mischief of antidumping laws here.

  61. I just had a great idea: What if we set up an affirmative action program for foreign companies owned by terrorist-supporting countries. In the even that we have to decide between two otherwise equally-qualified entities, we take the one owned by the country tied to terrorists. That will encourage diversity, and promote the self-esteem of the terror-tied company.

    You do that enough, and we won’t have any terrorists anymore.

  62. Jennifer,

    It’s like arguing affirmative action with someone who says, “You disagree with me because you’re a racist. You are a racist, which is why you disagree with me. You’d agree with me if only you weren’t such a bigot.”

    Boy, do I know that feeling. People who are opposed to affirmative action do that to me all the time, and you still haven’t apologized for calling me a racist.

  63. I just had a great idea

    I have a better idea. Why don’t we set up a committee — call it the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States or something — and let it examine in as apolitical a way possible the issues involved in foreign ownership.

    We could put experts from all sorts of civil governance on the committee — treasury, commerce, labor, defense — and they could figure out whether the foreign ownership is a threat to any strategic or practical national interests.

    Perhaps a standard 30-day review is in order. If the committee is not unanimous in having no doubts, they could be required to perform a 45-day review to further investigate.

    Or maybe it would be better to just have Congress play demagogues before an anxious electorate. That gets faster results!

  64. “We could put experts from all sorts of civil governance on the committee — treasury, commerce, labor, defense — and they could figure out whether the foreign ownership is a threat to any strategic or practical national interests.”

    That apparently is something the Bush administration fully neglected to do.

    So I guess it represents an improvement over what we have now.

    But I’m still partial to the affirmative action program. Really the only way to get rid of terrorists is to increase their self-esteem.

    How the Muslim world views our actions is after all the sole determining factor in whether we’ll be able to eliminate the threat posed by global Islamofacism.

    As President Bush has said all along.

  65. I saw two substantive problems with the DP deal, in addition to the corrupt, buddy-buddy process problems:

    First, it is a company owned by a foreign government. The board of directors of that company is the government of the UAE. There would be a flagrant conflict of interest if a company that works for Country A is hired to work for Country B. What if there was a management decision that the United States wanted to go one way, and the UAE wanted to go another? The people operating American ports (operating, btw, not docking at. You can shove the “anti-free trade” strawman up yer keister) should be beholden to the United States. Would you hire a lawyer to defend you who is also the in-house counsel of the company suing you?

    Second, even if the UAE isn’t a particularly bad government, I don’t think that’s the right bar to clear for this job. This isn’t about whose ships are allowed to dock or who is allowed to sell wheat – it’s about who will take over an operation that is extremely important for our security. For a job with that level of security significance, there should be the highest level of reliability, not the minimum level associated with who should be allowed to trade with us.

    (Those of you who breezily assert that port operations have nothing to do with security, that only Customs and the Coast Guard have any security tasks have obviously never seen a port. The guys swiping their cards in the morning don’t work for the Coast Guard. The guys who decides who gets a card don’t work for the Coast Guard.)

    Oh, yeah, and, um, shriek shriek wail wail, I sure does hate me some brown people! This last sentence is for Ron Bailey, John, and Jesse Walker, as I’m sure it is the only one they will acknowledge seeing.

  66. People who are opposed to affirmative action do that to me all the time, and you still haven’t apologized for calling me a racist.

    I don’t want to rehash that argument again, but I advise you not to hold your breath. For things like college admissions you want people to be viewed first as members of their race and only secondly as individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses. I call that racism; you can call it racial equality if it makes you feel better.

    That being said, I know that my opposition to the UAE deal had absolutely nothing to do with their complexion or religion, and I know the same holds true for your objections to it, despite the Al Sharpton impersonations John’s been doing on this thread.

    If this deal had happened when Bill Clinton were President and the Republicans in Congress had tried this crap, people like Jennifer would have been on here calling them out, rightly I might add, for acting like racist xenophobes.

    And if John’s not acting like Sharpton, he spends all his time discussing what he thinks the alternate-universe Jennifer says.

    John, seriously: this argument is as stupid as me saying “You only support this deal because you like Bush, and if Clinton were in office you’d oppose it.” I haven’t resorted to Bush-bashing or ‘Bushbot’ accusations when defending my side of this argument, so perhaps you should avoid Bush-bashing and ‘Clintonbot’ accusations on your own side.

  67. joe,
    You’re absolutely not helping to increase the self-esteem of Muslims. You’re going to have to grab Prince Bandar’s freshly-oiled and lightly powdered ass cheeks and give him a big butt smoochy! Now, you unabashed racist!

    Fucking do it for the fucking children.

  68. The people operating American ports should be beholden to the United States.

    Why? Why ports and not, say, chemical factories, oil companies, or Motel 6’s? How was P&O beholden to the US, given that it was a UK company? How, for that matter, is any privately owned company in the US beholden to the US?

    If the US wants to regulate an industry or enterprise, they can. Why is that not enough beholdenness?

    And, by the way, the US Army knows how to operate ports. At a word from the president in these War on Terror times, the US Army can completely eliminate threatening owners and their minions. Why the pre hoc bill of attainder?

  69. Regarding the “State Department cautions about the UAE” topic:

    As was pointed out, that’s an extremely broad warning and, being one who has traveled there on multiple occasions and seeing that very warning repeatedly, I know that it really only applies to the UAE insofar as it’s in the same REGION with other, more significantly risky countries.

    Basically, it’s guilt by association. Via security representatives I’ve been in briefings with and through talking to others who have been there, everyone says they never or very rarely feared for their safety, and when they have, it was no different than the “walking in a dark alley in the city” sort of way. But most importantly via my own experience, I felt safer in Abu Dhabi at just about all times than most nights in downtown . It’s really quite remarkable.

    Now, I don’t suppose I’ll get Jennifer to answer my question from several threads ago, lest I find myself accused, once again, by joe of being a race-baiting, neo-con puppet.

  70. joe said: “The board of directors of that company is the government of the UAE”

    The Chief Operating Officer of DP World, edward bilkey, is an american citizen, and served in the US Navy. The general counsel, george dalton, is american as well. Their CEO, mohammed sharaf, has a masters degree from the university of arizona.

    Does any of this matter? Should it?

  71. Sounds like we’re beating the horse (Arabian, no doubt) that has left the gate already, boarded a cargo vessel, disembarked on the East Coast of the United States (uninspected by any security), and is currently plotting to take out the oppressors at the Kentucky Derby as we speak.

  72. Now, I don’t suppose I’ll get Jennifer to answer my question from several threads ago

    I hope you are not offended if I say that I don’t remember your question, or you either. What was it?

  73. You know, it is actually pretty amusing that a staunch libertarian like myself is finding himself defending governments and government ownership like this.

    Perhaps it is because my thinking does not accord any special standing to governments over voluntary enterprises. Governments deserve no more privileges and no more respect than other institutions. But neither do they deserve less. No government has a legitimate claim to its compulsive and prohibitive powers. But it’s hard to find fault in a company solely because its stock is held by a government.

    Just like any other person or entity, governments are guilty of those things they do that violate the rights of others. Owning a company is _not_ an illegitimate act. Oppressing one’s populace is. I see no reason the latter should automatically accrue to judgments of the former.

    One of the two governments involved owns what seems to be a legitimate company. The other government’s law-making body is about to overwhelmingly vote to prohibit that company from engaging in an entirely voluntary association.

    Until someone presents a justifiable argument that DP World actually poses any threat whatsoever, it’s pretty clear who is in the wrong here.

  74. Mike P,

    Ports are a special case. By their very nature, with the large-scale movement of people and freight making international trips, they are both highly security-dependent, and open to infiltration by security risks.

    In addition, unlike operating a chemical plant or Motel 6, the operation of a port is a public – as in government – activity, to be performed first and foremost in the public interest.

    “If the US wants to regulate an industry or enterprise, they can. Why is that not enough beholdenness?” If the Bar Association wants to pass a regulation that says a lawyer who is taking money from both sides in a case has to be all fair and stuff, why isn’t that enough beholdenness? Answer: because there’s still a structural problem of serving two masters.

    “Why the pre hoc bill of attainder?” Gee, I don’t know. Why don’t the military, intelligence, and law enforcement branches wait until a crisis to act, too? Oh, wait, I know – because that would be brain-freezingly stupid.

  75. Jennifer,

    Certainly not offended. I’m not very memorable. The thread pretty quickly dropped off the front page after the weekend turned over, and there wasn’t a lot of discussion over the weekend in general.

    So exactly what about their form of government is such a deal-breaker for you? Barry’s description of the political attitudes of the UAE square with my experience. The government itself is certainly NOT dictatorial and it is certainly NOT democratic, though Skeikh Khalifa and co. have taken some pretty serious steps in that direction just in the last couple of months. It’s something between the two extremes.

    And I have yet to hear a serious address of the complete LACK of clamor over China taking over operations at some of our ports when it was happening.

    Also, it looks like I was the last post before some pornbot posted a bunch of links. Maybe I AM memorable.

  76. JP,

    Do you, by chance, know the difference between a Board of Directors and a COO?

    Or, do you know the difference between someone who is of a certain nationality, and someone who is an official in a certain nation’s government?

    Let’s look at it another way: if the Board of Directors consisted of, say, several Republican Guard generals from Tikrit, but the COO was a Navy Veteran from Muncie, would you entrust a high-priority security task to that company? But but but…THAT guy isn’t a security risk! Just his bosses!

  77. “Until someone presents a justifiable argument that DP World actually poses any threat whatsoever…”

    I think the CIA should adopt this standard when reviewing job applications. This guy with the Communist parents, history of travelling abroad, and odd gaps in his resume…can anyone prove he poses a threat? Anyone ever see him meeting with agents of foreign government?

    No? Then let’s get a desk ready at Langley.

  78. “Why the pre hoc bill of attainder?” Gee, I don’t know. Why don’t the military, intelligence, and law enforcement branches wait until a crisis to act, too? Oh, wait, I know – because that would be brain-freezingly stupid.

    Let’s stay on topic. Stop introducing justifications for the rightness of the invasion of Iraq or unwarranted NSA wiretaps.

  79. I think the CIA should adopt this standard when reviewing job applications.

    joe, there is a difference between having reason not to enter into a voluntary association and prohibiting someone else from entering into a voluntary association.

    The CIA can make its own rules on hiring. But would you have the CIA forbid you from hiring the guy with the communist parents at your Motel 6?

  80. Boy, that Joe sure hates brown people, doesn’t he?

    (I can’t recall making this accusation before, but since he seems eager to hear it I’m happy to comply.)

  81. joe–

    my mistake. the guys I mentioned are not on the board of directors. so anyways, your answers to my questions are “no” and “no”, then?

    I do want to point out as well that the argument that DP World would be running a “high priority security task” has been pretty thoroughly debunked.

  82. my mistake. the guys I mentioned are not on the board of directors. so anyways, your answers to my questions are “no” and “no”, then?

    Who … does … Number … Two … work … for???

  83. I’m just jumping in at the end here, but I’ll go out on a limb and assume that if the company had been owned by Arabs who weren’t government officials or members of royal families, and if the company had a strong track record of running ports safely, Jennifer and joe would have had no objections.

    Am I right?

  84. JP,

    “I do want to point out as well that the argument that DP World would be running a “high priority security task” has been pretty thoroughly debunked.”‘

    No, not really. The talking point “port operators have nothing to do with security” has been spread around the internet pretty intensively, but that’s not the same thing at all. Not according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, anyway, who wrote a letter to Lindsay Graham, explaining that the port operator was responsible for hiring private security, setting up the system of checking applicants’ backgrounds, and clearing employees when they show up for work.

    thoreau,

    I’ve been thinking about there. Were an Arab-owned firm that was not controlled by the government, and was big enough to do a job like this, to exist, and were the company to pass muster on a security review, I’d have no problem with them getting this contract to enter into a contract to provide these services to the US government. A private company would only have one master – its client, the United States of America.

    It’s the fact that DP is controlled by a foreign government that’s the catch – they are answerable to a foreign power, and would by necessity have split loyalties in a way that any private corporation, from wherever, would not.

  85. It’s the fact that DP is controlled by a foreign government that’s the catch – they are answerable to a foreign power, and would by necessity have split loyalties in a way that any private corporation, from wherever, would not.

    Don’t all businesses have different loyalties? Sotckholders? Major investors? Big clients? Small clients? Business clients? Residential clients?

    I don’t see how a government owned business should be stopped outright, even though I agree that some reservations to this deal might be warranted.

    In the end though – I think we should’ve gone through with it as it seems a coercive step to stop a private transaction that seems to have little connection to any actual security concerns.

  86. Don’t all businesses have different loyalties? Sotckholders? Major investors? Big clients? Small clients? Business clients? Residential clients?

    Yes, but the customer should be king. That’s a bit of a problem when Mohammed bin Rashid is the Sheikh.

  87. T –

    I semi-understand the security concerns, even though they wouldn’t be directly in charge as such. I see a more overriding concern of hugely expanded government down this road.

    What besides this could one deem in our “national interest”? TV stations? After all, announcements about terrorist attacks could help minmize panic. Telephone? Medical supplies?

    I would prefer the loading and unloading of commerical containers to be left in private hands and let the government run the security portion. As should most here.

    I mean if most here believes (and I think rightfully so) that the term terrorist will become redefined in the future to include other things like drug dealers.

    Why from this would we conclude operations in our “national interests” won’t change to a point where the government can mandate who can/can’t invest in almost any private entity they choose to define as vital to our “national interests”?

    After all – it’s all for the same war.

  88. It is a nice scenario that thoreau offers, about an Arab company that is not owned by government officials nor members of the royal family. Does such an animal exist? I am afraid that it doesn’t.

    As for “national interest” and how it is defined, well, that is teh beauty of being in a war, even one against something as fuzzy as terrorism. **Anything** can be defined *national interest* and if you complain, you get called a traitor.

    As I said, Bush took advantage of this to silence his critics. Unfortunately, he miscalculated on how the port issue would play to th bandstand.

    You cannot feed raw meat to the sharks, and then go swimming after you cut yourself shaving…

  89. You cannot feed raw meat to the sharks, and then go swimming after you cut yourself shaving…

    Somehow this is supposed to absolve the sharks of any wrongdoing?

  90. Fer #$%^’s sake, DP World is NOT owned by the UAE Government.

    The UAE Government has no say whatsoever in DP World’s operations.

    The UAE Government is not “friendly” to terrorists, and there is not a single shred of evidence that the UAE Government had any knowledge of 9/11, did not take part in the planning, and did not finance it in any way whatsoever.

    The UAE does not have a “spotty record” on terrorism. In a world where absolutely no state has clean hands, their’s are less dirty than the vast majority.

    That the 9/11 planners used banks, airports, hotels and coffee shops is not the damning indictement of the UAE Government you would all like to pretend, given that the 9/11 plotters also used banks, airports, coffee-shops, hotels, flight training services and DMV’s in “friendly” countries like Germany and (gasp) the USA.

    You can claim all you want that your reasons for opposing this deal have nothing to do with ragheadphobia, and that they are “reasonable”. Unfortunately, that is not true: to be considered “reasonable” something has to be supported by “reason”. The bleatings here are about as reasonable as “I don’t want that black guy moving into my neighborhood, because he might rape my daughter.”

  91. MikeP:

    Sharks are sharks. Their behavior can be predicted and you being more intelligent than them can avoid being their next meal.

    If, after you feed them and they congregate in a feeding frenzy you decide to pull a Steve Irwin and go swimming with them, you earn a Darwin award.

    (I keep watching for the time when a croc finally eats Steve Irwin….)

  92. Sharks are sharks. Their behavior can be predicted and you being more intelligent than them can avoid being their next meal.

    I hardly care about Bush being eaten by sharks.

    I do care about demagogues in Congress stumbling over each other to take greatest advantage of the nationalist and protectionist anxieties of their constituents.

  93. I should make two things clear:

    1) I actually don’t have a strong opinion about the port issue. I was merely trying to point out that Jennifer and joe were concerned about a government running this company. You’d think that such concerns would play better on a libertarian forum.

    2) If we have been misinformed, and the company was not in fact owned by the government of Dubai or the government of the UAE (those are two distinct entities, just as the government of California is distinct from the government of the United States), then I’m sure that Jennifer and joe will withdraw their objections in light of new information. I don’t know if other objectors would follow suit, but I think Jennifer and joe would.

    Of course, all of that is irrelevant now.

  94. MikeP:

    Sharks are a metaphor – I just pointed out that Bush behavior ressembled that of a Steve Irwin wannabe, and that it was not surprising that it turned out badly.

    And why put the blame on Congressmen? This was driven by the media, and the Congress reacted. And what media kept screaming bloody murder? Erstwhile Bush supporters, who found that their idol was a traitor to their cause.

    You cannot have both globalization and a fortress mentality. One has to go. Unfortunatel Bush wanted *both* international trade and the Patriot Act, with the right to spy on harmless librarians. But if you are going to ask the American People to sacrifice some hard won freedom in order to win the war, they want someone else to suffer.

    Trade and war make uneasy partners… Trade is determined by getting the best price from whoever it is, while war makes an “Enemies list” of people we will not have business with, no matter how attractive the price.

  95. And why put the blame on Congressmen? This was driven by the media, and the Congress reacted.

    I ask little of Congress. I expect even less. And I hope mostly for complete inaction. But the absolute minimum decorum of the elected lawmakers of a supposedly advanced society such as our own should demand that they not take advantage of nationalist hysteria without a reasoned argument.

    Frankly, every media outlet I personally have observed has been extremely forthright in observing that there is no rational basis for denying this deal. No, I don’t watch Lou Dobbs.

    Rather than be accepted as a reasonable senator with a reasoned position, I think that Schumer should be called out as an unabashed nationalist on the cover of every paper in the land, and he should be forced to defend himself against such claims. The media seem to have no problem discussing how members of Congress are taking advantage of the weakness of the president and trying to take away the high ground on national security. They do seem to have a problem pointing out that what one does to gain political points should have limits, and that playing to xenophobia in the populace is way past those limits.

    I do wonder… If Bill Clinton were in the White House, and his adminstration allowed this deal — which it would! — what would the mainstream press say about whichever Republican Senate demagogue led the attack against it?

  96. You don’t get it, do you? It was not the Democratic demagogue who did it, but the Republicans who turned against their own President. Without them, that Democrat would have stood alone, preaching in the desert.

    And the people who I heard decrying the deal, none of them could be called a Democrat or a Liberal. No, they used to be Bush supporters.

    I think that it is news when people turn on the one who they used to worship. At least now we are more civilized and they will not tear Bush into pieces to fertilize the fields as they used to do long ago…

  97. None of them are Democrats? NONE?

    Not even Chuckie?

  98. I do get it. I named Schumer because he is the poster child of the effort. But I would pile all 500 guilty Congressweasels on the front page of the newspaper if I had the typeface to do it.

    I realize that this is bipartisan demagoguery. That doesn’t make it any better. That makes it way, way worse.

  99. My point, MikeP, is that Bush got skewered because he wanted it both ways. He wanted both “national security” with the ability to run roughshod over rights, and he wanted open international trade.

    But you cannot have both. Sooner or later they will come in collision course.

    They just did.

    As they said, the irresistible force met the inmovable object and there was a Hell of a crash…

    Complaining about the people involved does not change things, nor helps you prevent such clashes in the future.

  100. Six Sigma,

    In theory, a company’s loyalty to its shareholders and investors won’t cause a conflict with its duty towards it clients. In fact, since serving the client well is how it profits (and therefore serves its investors), the two are actually the same. I don’t actually believe this is as airtight as the uber-capitalists would have you believe, but that’s the theory.

    And, btw, this is not a “private transaction.” This is the government of the United States contracting out services.

  101. But I will give you credic, SixSigma: no one else has even attempted, in all the threads about this issue, to even respond to the “conflict of interest” argument when I’ve raised it.

    Most of the time, I’ve gotten bartman-esque accusations of hating ragheads.

  102. Still wondering when the neo-con puppet scold will come out…

  103. Dubya is like me in a way: some of his best friends are Muslim.
    Unlike me, Dubya wants to “crusade” for Jesus. 911 turned the water on Dubya’s brain into wine.
    Waki Paki would say Dubya is schizzo.

  104. “Most of the time, I’ve gotten bartman-esque accusations of hating ragheads.”

    How very convienient for you, joe. So your opposition has nothing to do with giving Dubya a hard time AKA “getting to the right of Republicans on National Secutity” and all that bullshit ?
    That was a rhetorical question – don’t bother to answer.

  105. Joe –

    Thank you.

    And, btw, this is not a “private transaction.” This is the government of the United States contracting out services.

    I would say it is a private contract. If I say I can clean a government set of offices for $1000/month for 5 years – and the contract is transferable – I would say transferring it to someone for some lump sum is a private transaction.

    Put another way – if someone buys Nextel, it’s a private transaction between Nextel & whomever purchases the company – even though they have many contracts with thousands of people – the transaction itself is still private regardless of who is paying the company for services.

    And I think that is the apporpriate analogy here – P&O was selling the North American port opertaions division to DPW – not just the contract for operating the 6 ports in America.

    Good call on the competing interests thought – most stakeholders in any company do want one thing, the survival of the company. I still say that some of those interests are competing though – especially in large companies between different martkets and different sizes of customers, but certainly could see where a government owned company would have unique pressures.

    The problem with this logice though – we still seem to end up in a place where certain national interests are at the control of the government as any foriegn entaglement poses a risk; whereby all entanglements should be avoided and not just ones concerning Dubai.

    I’m simply unwilling to see that as a good thing overall. I honestly didn’t see a good outcome either way.

    As thoreau said – It’s all pretty moot now. 🙂

  106. Six Sigma,

    Let’s say they dirty offices are in Langley. Wouldn’t you agree that there would appropriately be some non-economic, political, “public” considerations included in the choice of who should be hired to clean those offices? This is what I mean when I draw a distinction between public and private – it is public, in the sense that the decision has to take into account broader issues of the public good that simply would not enter into a private transaction.

    SM,

    Brilliant, coordinated strategies by the Democrats to get to the right of a Republic president and improve the Democrats’ reputation on national security matters don’t generally include enlisting the conservative half of the Republican Congressional delegation to lead the charge.

    Then again, maybe they do. It’s not as though we have a large sample size to draw on here.

  107. And why put the blame on Congressmen? This was driven by the media, and the Congress reacted. And what media kept screaming bloody murder? Erstwhile Bush supporters, who found that their idol was a traitor to their cause.

    I just caught a show called “Forbes on Fox” and watched 8 minutes of recklessly ping-ponged soundbites among 6 commentators. For the record, all 6 commentators agreed on essentially every point of discussion. Among those points:

    1. The collapse of the deal is a terrible blow to the War on Terror — the theme of the 8 minutes.

    2. Members of Congress outright lied about the Dubai Ports World deal. Whenever one lie was shown to be false, they’d simply move to the next one. One commentator said the Congress members responsible should all be impeached.

    3. The words “protectionism”, “economic nationalism”, and, yes, “racism” were all used to describe Congress’s behavior.

    4. The whole debacle is embarassing for the nation and bodes poorly for future investment. The least strong statement was that deals like this are not that common, so the actual effect won’t be too large.

    And preceding that show I caught a few minutes of Neil Cavuto on Fox. He and his guests were similarly upset and embarassed for what the falling through says about protectionist sentiments in Congress and US relations with the world.

    I have still not seen any media behave as irresponsibly as Congress has. Could someone point me to a media outlet important enough to sway voters that is as vociferously against this deal as Congress is?

    Of course, even the most biased of news media still needs to ground itself in truth somewhere. Congress has no such requirements.

  108. Looks like my question will remain unanswered, as the weekend once again saves Jennifer the trouble.

    Gulf News has a treasure trove of coverage today (Monday).

    http://www.gulfnews.com/home/index.html

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