…my problem all along with this issue has been precisely that, yet again, the Bush Administration failed to properly do its homework. In this case, yet again, they failed to follow the law and complete the legal requirements necessary. Whatever xenophobia issues may be involved from the likes of Malkin and LGF and all the former Administration water carriers now…well, they’ve been carefully cultivated by the Administration itself over the last five years. But its not a fire I wish to stoke, nor one that I think Democrats need to even come close to stoking.
Besides, between Chertoff’s “this whole process is secret, and I will not talk about it with Americans who ask questions” performance on Blitzer’s show last Sunday to the Bush veto threat (something he has yet to follow-through on…ever…in his tenure in the WH) to today’s “the President was clueless about this deal until the media started asking around” statement from McClellan — well, it’s just one big mess, isn’t it?
For me, it’s all about them cutting corners and failing to do their work. Again. And I would hope that we would all find that to be sickening, given the implications of all those previous times they’ve failed to do the homework and how that’s turned out. (Have you read Juan Cole today — that’s a good example all by itself.)
And Julia sez:
I’m kind of confused at how the frothing racist response on the right has obscured the fact that we’re being asked to treat a government which has for decades diverted its people from paying attention to some fairly nasty piratical oligarchic racist politics by privileging a strain of fundamentalist religion which demonizes other countries and religions and distracts the little people from how they’re being screwed as honest brokers.
I’m equally confused as to how we’re supposed to take their word for it that we can trust the UAE.
I don’t think that I disagree with any of the points raised here. This is indeed yet another example of the cronyism and incompetence that pervades the Bush presidency. I wouldn’t say that the Bush administration’s policy process is rotten to the core, because this requires the assumption that it has a policy process. I don’t trust the Bush administration on national security, and like Matt I particularly don’t trust them on port security. To repeat what I implied in the previous post, I continue to cling to the unfashionable belief that the President is actually required to obey the law, which in this case he didn’t. The UAE is a very, very bad authoritarian regime. And finally, there are therefore any number of arguments about this deal that do not require making xenophobic claims. And I certainly agree that Juan Cole is must-reading today! All these points are correct.
None of these arguments, however, to my mind fully address the narrow but still important question about whether there’s any reason to be particularly concerned by the fact that Dubai Ports World will operate some points. We already have ports being operated by extremely bad authoritarian regimes, and I don’t think anybody has suggested that these ports are particularly insecure. More importantly, all of the critiques of the Bush administration, in this narrow context, prove too much. I don’t trust the port security policies of the Bush administration, full stop. I wouldn’t trust them if they were operating the ports as well as being responsible for security, I wouldn’t trust them if they gave the contract to any private company, I wouldn’t trust them if they gave the contract to any other state- owned company. But this doesn’t explain why DPW getting the operating contract, in particular, is problematic. I’m definitely open-minded; maybe it is particularly bad. I’m certainly up for hearings and more transparency (and the deal is dead in any case.) But I haven’t really seen an argument directly on point so far.
One final point: one might argue that, however unpleasant the jingoism that has driven the issue, it performs the valuable service of drawing attention to Bush’s terrible record on port security. This may be true, and I hope it is. But I worry that there may be a perception that once the UAE company doesn’t get the contract that the issue will fade away, that to much of the public the issue will be about the A-rabs operating the port and not about the ineptitude of the Bush administration. This makes is all the more important, I think, to carefully distinguish between the decision-making process, which was indefensible, and the result, which is considerably more complex, and still doesn’t strike me as obviously bad.
…to reiterate, the decision-making process was highly deficient.