February 24, 2006

Ports and such

The Boston Globe is reporting that, "Ted Bilkey, chief operating officer of Dubai Ports World, said the state-owned company was volunteering to exercise no influence for an indefinite period over the six US ports run by a British port company in order to allow the rest of the $6.8 billion acquisition to proceed without the delay urged by many members of Congress."

After some negotiations and possible modifications of this deal I believe it will go through. If proper oversight is applied, coupled with the obvious flexibility that the company itself is exhibiting in order to allay the American population's security concerns, then this economic deal will go forward. (Check the comments section of this post for a more comprehensive overview of the situation which also, is an anaylsis that I agreee with.)

At this point, clear thinking individuals on both sides of the aisle actually agree with the President that this deal should be allowed to go forward. Most of the people against this are revealing that they are against this deal for political reasons not security ones.

10 comments:

Jaz said...

Bill O'Reilly's brilliant summation of this issue which I whole heartedly agree with:

"Confused yet? Republicans like Bill Frist and Dennis Hastert say no way a company owned by the United Arab Emirates should take over administrative duties at six American ports from a British corporation. And Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer agree: No Arabs in charge of anything at U.S. ports!

Also, for the first time since the Paleolithic Age, The New York Post and The New York Times concur: No Arabs in charge of anything at U.S. ports!

But wait a minute. The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post also agree: Let the UAE do the job, and those papers are about as similar editorially as Rush Limbaugh and Al-Jazeera.

So what's going on here?

First, the United Arab Emirates is, along with Jordan and Kuwait, America's strongest Middle Eastern ally in the war on terror. The UAE allows the U.S. military to base on its soil and run combat operations into Iraq and Afghanistan. The Emirates also allows the Germans to train Iraqi police candidates on UAE land.

In addition, the UAE cooperates with the CIA and actually captured Al Qaeda big shot Abdul Raheem Al-Nashiri, who masterminded the attack on the USS Cole, and turned him over to the U.S.A. The Emirates has become a huge help in the war on terror, according to both the Pentagon and the State Department.

The downside is that the UAE is a conservative Muslim nation that does not recognize Israel, and has supported fascists like the Taliban in the past. Throughout the country, as in all Arab nations, there are jihadists who would kill Americans if they could.

But the key question in this controversy is simple: What is more dangerous for America--to spit in the eye of an Arab ally, or to allow that ally to work in some of America's ports?

I believe Osama bin Laden would love for the U.S.A. to humiliate the UAE by firing their company without cause. If Washington says to the Arab world, "Hey, it's fine for a British company to work in our ports, but you guys have to hit the road," how do you think that's going to play on Al Jazeera?

Talk about racial profiling!

So, the USA is caught between a Mosque and a hard place. What the Bush administration must do is honor the contract, but install strict oversight and accountability, as it should do on every foreign company doing business in the USA in this age of terror.

Finally, Congress should pass legislation that would, in the future, ban all foreign companies from controlling operations at U.S. ports of entry, so this kind of mess doesn't happen again. As Al Gore might say, we need to be the controlling authority.

But for now, the cold truth is that the U.S.A. will not win the war on terror without the help of nations like the United Arab Emirates. We simply cannot afford to fire that nation. If we lose these people, we'll lose the war."

Kent said...

Dude, what's this? You respond to yourself first now before anyone can get to you? Classic.

BTW, you are rapidly replacing ME as the best Unknown Conservative Blogger out there. So I kind of hate you. In a good way.

I think we should begin discussing what will happen if the Dubai deal falls through. The disaster of it, both in terms of economic fallout for the U.S., the impact it would have on foreign investment in America, as well as the impact it would have on Iraq and the greater W.O.T. hasn't been reported.

Kent said...

Please come to R.F.L. and read my 'Ice Cream Or Cookies?' post and the comments attached to it. You'll be both thrilled and amazed.

Jaz said...

Wow, that’s high praise coming from you. Thanks man. I still have a long way to go before I ever approach surpassing your blog, but I appreciate the compliment. Anyway, it’s not a competition (which is good for me because you’d be wiping the floor with me).
I consider us allies rather than competitors, although I do enjoy competition of course.

There is a possibility that this deal will not go forward which, I’m sure you agree, would be an international relations disaster. A local Chinese immigrant merchant that I have frequent dealings with by the name of John, who I always have a friendly debate with on politics during a transaction, just slapped 100 bucks on the counter in a bet that the deal would not go forward. I inquired as to what his conditions would be, because (I thought to myself) by the time that this deal does possibly go forward it might not look much like the current proposal. I did hesitate to put the money down immediately, and then we asked the next customer in line if he thought the deal would go through. The guy was apparently well informed enough to concur with me that the deal will eventually go forward, which gave John pause. Whatever the case, at this point I’m much more confident that the deal should go through than I am that it will go through. Let’s hope that during the next month or so that “cooler heads will prevail”.

Thanks for the support on MJ’s blog. Did you see MJ’s condescending one sentence response, if you can call it that, to us on his blog under the “lazy politics” post? Calling it a weak response is too complimentary. The best word to describe his response is: pathetic, and I’ve lost some respect for him. In my post, “The New Year, The New Media” on this blog I end with the words, “ I thoroughly enjoy the discourse and debate. That is of course, I enjoy it when lefties choose to debate, persuade and convince rather than to insult, shout down, or silence.” In this case MJ is employing the latter tactic. A rather convenient way of not addressing a single point of mine. MJ doesn’t want to be lumped in with what I refer to as “lefties” I’m sure. But I find this utter aversion of his to being labeled or categorized a rather convenient way of never being pinned down and having a real stance on a given issue. Just look at how “Jeremy” refers to me. He says, ”Encouraged by your zero black members of the Senate and House.” Then he says, “You're the same group that just trashed those who knew Corretta Scott King…” And later, “…you've made careers out of putting up road blocks in front of issues for which she fought.” Apparently “Jeremy” believes that I have made my career out of putting up roadblocks in front of civil rights advancement, and that I am personally responsible for all of the actions of Republicans. Whatever. This guy is doing exactly what MJ seems to find fault with me over. (And yes, I understand that this frothing at the mouth "Jeremy" does not speak for MJ). Here’s the difference between MJ and I: I don’t mind, nearly as much as MJ, being lumped into whatever group someone who is questioning my opinions feels like lumping me into. For the sake of discussion, I don’t mind addressing the substance of what is being said.

MJ should re-title his blog as: “Cop Out City”, and he is blatantly wrong on this ports issue.

Jaz said...

This is the web page to which I refer: (http://politicalnotio.blogspot.com/2006/02/lazy-politics.html)

Chris said...

Nice little summation of your views towards me. But you forget that you don't speak for me either.

I'm amazed by how you believe that you alone should be able to dictate all political debates or discussions. I'm not aware that you get to decide what is or isn't news, or what is or isn't worthy of debate.

You're right, I don't support Jeremy's response to you one bit. That's why I stopped the commenting on those posts. And, actually, I gave you the last word without giving Jeremy a chance to respond. And I did so because I thought you had every right to respond like you did towards him.

My reasons for stoppig the commenting were because that conversation was between you and Jeremy and something you two can take up on your own blogs, not mine.

On the ports issue, in your most recent post you seem to being trying a cop out of all cop outs. If I'm blatantly wrong, then why in the world are you now trying to find a "pretext that we need to back out of this deal."

I really don't care if you have respect for me or not. I'm not here to impress anyone, and your righteous attitude that you so insist is solely yours is probably better as far away from politics as you appear to be. The difference between you and I is not so much of the lumping of groups but the mere fact that I get paid to talk politics and develop issues and you do not.

You don't have to agree with a single thing I write, and I might actually prefer it that way, but be reasonable enough to realize that disagreement does not place someone in the polar opposites of the lazy liberal/conservative labels that you pride yourself with being able to depict.

I'm not trying to be harsh here, but I'm certainly not the push-over you think I am.

In all fairness, I think you should rename your blog "I Think I'm God."

Jaz said...

Hey MJ, glad to see you’re conversing again.

Thanks for the advice. Do I owe you any money or are you giving me your analysis pro bono? How humanitarian of you. I’ve gone back and edited the “Complication” post to clarify some ideas that perhaps I was unclear about. For example, I threw in the sentence (which I imagined was obvious), “There is a difference, of course, between being in favor of allowing this deal to go forward at this point in time, and being in favor of the deal itself.” And I removed the word “pretext” because it actually was not what I meant. All of these tenuous security concerns such as “The UAE banks were used to fund 9-11” and “The UAE recognizes the Taliban” to me, are part of a pretext to cover the sort of knee jerk response that, “Oh, they’re a country of Arabs, then they must be in league with the terrorists.” On the other hand, if there is a binding and unavoidable reason (such as violating current US law) that the deal should go through then logic suggests that it should not go forward. Also, I’m inclined to agree with those that actually have current dealings with The UAE and have studied our relationship to a level beyond the knee jerk analysis of “Arabs = Bad”. Despite his wife’s demagoguery, Former President Clinton has actually come out in favor of allowing the deal to go forward because he perhaps has intimate knowledge of the mutually beneficial relationship that America and the UAE share as opposed to the partisan members of congress who raced to judgment for political reasons.

You say:

“I'm amazed by how you believe that you alone should be able to dictate all political debates or discussions. I'm not aware that you get to decide what is or isn't news, or what is or isn't worthy of debate.”

I don’t get this statement at all. Did you not read the compliment I paid to Kent about his blog? He covers a wide variety of topics. If I’m a fan of RightFromLeft, how is that I “believe that [I] alone should be able to dictate all political debates and discussion.” Honestly, I just don’t follow where you get that impression. Are you suggesting that I am in some way am attempting to silence those who cover topics I don’t see as relevant? If anything, I’m for increasing the amount of discussion and variety of topics covered and I believe that I retain the right to more interested in some topics over others.

While we’re on the subject of cryptic comments that you have made, here’s another one. “…your righteous attitude that you so insist is solely yours….” Does this mean: I have a righteous attitude that I believe is exclusively mine? Does this mean that I believe I alone am allowed to have a righteous attitude? Not that I follow what you mean here but last time I checked, there are lots of commentators, pundits and bloggers who have a righteous attitude. Charles Krauthammer has a righteous attitude I suppose. If he does have a “righteous attitude” then it is because guess why…he is right. If being correct and having a righteous attitude go hand in hand then I accept your description of me. Whatever the case, I just don’t understand this comment of yours, which is why I’m forced to theorize as to what you possibly meant.

On the positive side I accept your reasoning as to why the comments were stopped. (But I personally would never pull the plug on almost any discussion) And your last comment is funny…good one.

Chris said...

You've gone back and edited? That is probably the biggest cop-out of cop-outs, taking place of your previous cop-out, known to mankind. You go back and edit out words that you totally realize were cop-outs to make it appear that you never said them at all? Very nice. It’s almost comical.

As far as your comments of:

"All of these tenuous security concerns such as “The UAE banks were used to fund 9-11” and “The UAE recognizes the Taliban” to me, are part of a pretext to cover the sort of knee jerk response that, “Oh, they’re a country of Arabs, then they must be in league with the terrorists.” On the other hand, if there is a binding and unavoidable reason (such as violating current US law) that the deal should go through then logic suggests that it should not go forward."

Well, first of all I hope you aren't quoting me as saying, “Oh, they’re a country of Arabs, then they must be in league with the terrorists," because I never came close to saying that. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt on that one. But you do say that if there is a current US law that makes the dealings illegal then the decision not to go forward with the ports deal is a genuine pretext. You must not realize that there is already US law, besides the boycott law, that forbids the American government and businesses from dealings with terrorist supporting states or those believed to be working in conjunction with terrorism. As far back as May of 2002 the CIA concluded that al Qaeda had probably already infiltrated the UAE government and held considerable sway; making the cautious review of the UAE port deal not only necessary but vital, and probably illegal in this post 9/11 world.

Also, while on the topic of US law, any business dealing with foreign direct investment that could affect the national security of the US must be examined by a 45-day review from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, Section 837(a) of the National Defense Authorization Act. The review never happened, thus making the deal illegal according to US law.

From the very beginning the UAE ports deal is considered illegal if we are talking about law per se. But if security concerns, or even tenuous security concerns like you mention, are not enough to pose risks to the nation as a whole, then I would be really interested in hearing the security concerns, tenuous or not, that calls for the preemptive invasion of Iraq-- a country that our own government concluded had absolutely nothing to do with the terrorists attacks of 9/11. If caution about the security of our ports for a country with known ties to bin Laden and 9/11 is considered knee-jerk, then what in the world is the invasion of Iraq? It’s certainly not logistics and long-term planning.

“Are you suggesting that I am in some way am attempting to silence those who cover topics I don’t see as relevant?” Yep, that’s exactly what I’m alluding to. I’m glad I was so clear.

“Does this mean: I have a righteous attitude that I believe is exclusively mine?” Right, again.

Don’t worry about any payments my man; your editing of your remarks is payment enough. I think I’m really starting to laugh here…

Jaz said...

MJ Round 3:

I thought that you’d like that I edited a post of mine. That’s why I admitted it even though I didn’t have to. Here’s the thing. I did not edit for content but rather, for clarification. The editing amounted to adding a sentence, “There is a difference, of course, between being in favor of allowing this deal to go forward at this point in time, and being in favor of the deal itself.”, and changing the word “pretext” to a phrase that leaves no room for intentional misinterpretation. The first edit, the sentence, is a distinction that of course you managed not to address and the word "pretext" has several definitions and so I re worded the sentiment without changing its substance.

Thesaurus.com gives synonyms to pretext for its first definition as: appearance, bluff, cleanup, cloak, color, coloring, “copout”, cover, cover story, cover-up, device, excuse, face, feint, fig leaf, fish story, fish tale, front, guise, mask, masquerade, plea, ploy, pretense, reason, red herring, right, routine, ruse, semblance, show, simulation, stall, stratagem, subterfuge, veil.

Now, whether you believe me or not, my usage of the word related more to the second definition of pretext which has the synonyms of: account, affirmation, airtight case, allegation, answer, assertion, assurance, avowal, case, cop-out, cover, cover story, cover up, declaration, excuse, explanation, fish story, justification, plea, profession, proof, reason, reply, retort, song-and-dance, stall, statement, vindication.

Since the first definition is more common and it was possibly what you took it to mean I changed the wording in order to put a finer point on what I meant; not to back track, rescind, or “cop out” as you say. (You do later use the phrase “genuine pretext” which suggests that you are aware of more than one usage of the word but in case there is any further confusion I hope a have just provided ample clarification.)

The bottom line on this is that anyone can see that perhaps this ports deal is not the best circumstance for us to be involved with in a post 9-11 world. If there is a painless way for us to get out of going ahead with this then perhaps it should be pursued. A “pretext” if you will, using the second definition of course. Not a farce, but a defensible and legitimate reason. However, my beef with the left (and some republicans), which may or may not include you, is that racing to what appears to an anti-Arab response is not the best course of action because of the message it sends to any potential future Arab allies of ours.


I’m glad that you finally understand that I may not be necessarily be including you in whatever group I may be bashing, challenging, or taking to task. If I say something like, “some left leaning individuals are racing to judgment for political reasons” that either includes you or it does not. However, generally a comment like that does not raise the ire of someone unless it strikes close to home. Whatever the case, this whole conversation of ours was based on your interpretation that I’m always including you in any questioning of left leaning positions that I have been exposed to. I understand that that I was writing on your blog, but I was using it as a forum for general discussion rather than an attack platform from which to personally challenge your beliefs. This explains why you were so angry. As you have pointed out, I don’t know much about you, so for me to assume what your position is on issues I have yet to hear you address would be understandably annoying. Again, if a “grouping” comment of mine includes you it does, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. On your blog I imagine that I am addressing more people than just you and perhaps I was hoping you would mount a defense vis a vis what I was saying, “for the sake of argument”, or in this case blog commentary.

Which brings me to where we may agree, because I write to be challenged, to perfect my ideas. I envision blogging as an exchange of ideas. If I present a position and a logical counter argument is presented then perhaps my position will change, or at least be tempered with additional wisdom. I am, not at all, locked in to a position that I receive from any one conservative pundit. However, I am inclined to agree to with conservative principles and so I may present a conservative argument, which I am familiar with and that seems to have merit, to a non-conservative audience in the hopes that after being challenged I can go back to the drawing board and refine my overall argument. Of course If I am swayed to the point of changing positions entirely, I will do so. But I gotta tell you, it rarely, if ever, happens. Many times I find that left leaning arguments lack the intellectual firepower that those on the right posses. I consider myself a conservative because, during my relatively brief sojourn into politics, those on the right just seem to present more logical, calm, and well reasoned arguments than those on the left typically do. I’ve been told that since I make less than X dollars a year that I should be by default, a Democrat. Here in Massachusetts especially, people can’t believe that I’m not a John Kerry voter for example. Not to sound sanctimonious, but I actually believe, especially after 9-11, that there are more important factors at play than my own personal lot in life. You would be surprised at how many people I encounter who base their political persuasions on what is expedient for them. Perhaps I’m foolish, but I’m inclined to go along with the side which seems to have a more logical approach to things, which I f I haven’t said enough times just now, is conservatism.

Now on the substance of what you have said here; I think we are actually making progress towards some sort of mutual understanding (scary I know, because conflict is always more compelling than agreement). I remain consistent with my latest position that if there is clearly a US law that prohibits the deal then to me it seems to be a no brainer as to whether or not the deal should go through. If there is, as you say, a genuine pretext to extricate ourselves from this situation then I agree (although it pains me to do so) with your position that we should advocate the discontinuance of this particular contract. And I am genuinely perplexed as to why we don’t use this as a reasonable explanation as to why the deal should not proceed. Could it be that there is no direct evidence linking the UAE to terrorism sufficient to amount to a violation of US law? I appreciate the qualifying word in your statement “…probably illegal in this post 9/11 world.” You seem to acknowledge that there is hardly conclusive evidence that demonstrably shows that the UAE is currently complicit with the actions of Al Queada.

And since I find it annoying when points of mine are intentionally overlooked I refer you to my post on this blog entitled, “Stop the Nonsense” where I attempt to explain, in detail, the justification for the war in Iraq.

And finally, I wonder if you could present any evidence that I attempt to silence those who cover topics I don’t see as relevant. If that is true then I apologize in advance because I am not a fan of what I have called, “insulting, shouting down, or silencing” and remember, you’re the one who ended discussion on your blog effectively silencing anything anyone else (even Jeremy) had to say.

Chris said...

Jaz, sorry for the long delay. It was my weekend to watch college basketball and drink beer, and not think about politics for a while.

Whatever your explanation for “editing” your post goes without mentioning that you did not decide to edit until after I pointed out your double standard on the issue. Your post had been up for 5-6 days giving you ample time to clarify your remarks before I ever decided to respond to your both political and personal criticism of me on a previous post’s comment section. I’m sure I could keep hitting on this, but I’m not.

Trust me, however you label me does not strike close to home or ire me. I just find it irrelevant that my political compass, or anyone’s, should matter enough to decide how conversations/discussions should pan-out. I think it is safe to say, for future reference, that I am to the left of you. But even with that, after reading your sixth paragraph, I do better understand your rationale for your comments. For me, I think it speaks volumes of people who comment on my blog and will in their first or second sentence of writing use the term “liberal” at least once (and you did). And the same is true for those who will use the term “neocon” habitually. It’s lazy, inaccurate and leads the debate in a circle.

I think I have mentioned before, but will again, that if you consider yourself a conservative/Republican/neo-conservative, or whatever floats your boat, that is all fine and dandy with me. I don’t get caught up in that stuff. I’m not going to question your intellect, or your party’s intellect. Or even the coherent ability of the right to make any sort of argument, intellectually or logically, which seems to be where you base your affiliation; that is totally up to your own perceptions. In other words, that’s for you to decide, not me. It’s like in sports. I can’t for the life of me see why anyone would be a Chicago Cubs fan. I despise the Cubs and they totally suck. But they have millions of fans and those people will be at every game and watch religiously. It’s pointless to figure them out, and it’s just better to talk baseball in general and not the team they root for.

On to the points at hand…

I think there are many reasons to be cautious about the UAE ports deal. US law being one of them. I use the word “probably” because I think that is something for a judge to decide and not two bloggers without law degrees. In the case of terrorism, I don’t think in this post-9/11 world there needs to be “conclusive” or “sufficient” evidence directly linking a state to that of a terrorist threat; or at least if we use Iraq-- the Bush Doctrine-- as our model for a post-9/11 necessity of American interventionism then certainly there doesn’t need to be substantial evidence at all, circumstantial will suffice. And in accordance with the Bush Doctrine, Dubai doesn’t need to be anywhere near our ports.

As for your last paragraph of me providing evidence: I’m not sure I’m going to go back and search through my comments section, but I can remember a couple times where you kept insisting that I move on to different topics because the Cheney shooting story was not a issue at all and should be dropped. I presume I’m referring to that as being your supposed ability to decide what is or isn’t an issue.

I don’t mean to personally attack you on anything. It’s just not my style. And I apologize for being so forward. But I will talk issues if that is what you like, and to me issues should be about an agreement for the betterment of people not about disagreement because of where one might belong politically, or what team a person might cheer for.