Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Ports Scare

I first heard of this UAE ports deal last week on FOX’s morning news. There, having trudged through a record snow fall, was Senator Chuck Schumer outlining the outsourcing deal. I must admit to being a bit dumbfounded at the time by the whole thing. For one thing, I couldn’t believe the insanity of outsourcing port operations to a bunch of Arabs, and secondly I was even more stunned that I seemed to be in agreement with Schumer!

If I’ve learned one thing in the year since I’ve been blogging here, I’ve learned that writing based on first reactions is a dangerous and often irresponsible thing to do. Sure it’s cool to have something up on my site before anybody else does, so immediate action is somewhat satisfying, but once it’s there it’s there for good. Like the proverbial bullet that can’t be called back, a hasty reaction published to the web can end up embarrassing the writer, and that embarrassment can easily overcome the momentary elation one gets from being first.

It’s much better to be thoughtful.

With over a week’s worth of reflection now in the bag it is safe to say my position on the ports issue has evolved. To get the easy stuff out of the way I will stipulate that yet again the Bush administration mishandled a dicey PR situation. How it could have possibly escaped this administration that its political opponents would use this issue to demonstrate their bone fides on the WOT is simply beyond me.

I will also point out quickly that now that the administration has its bearings back in place on the PR issue, there is the very real possibility that this could be yet another loss of credibility for the Democrats on the issue of national security. Party big shots such as Hillary, the aforementioned Chucky and others have made a big deal about how this deal hurts our national security, yet as the facts become clear it is fairly obvious that nothing could be further from the truth. What initially looked bad is upon thoughtful reflection, not necessarily bad at all.

So at best Hil and company look to be playing politics with national security and foreign policy, and at worst, the gang that won’t allow us to profile at airports, seems to be promoting the profiling of an entire country! The problem with Democrats is that they truly believe the entire populace is basically stupid enough to believe whatever comes out of their mouths. Sadly for them, this is only the case with the truest of believers. The rest of us, having caught on somewhere around 1978, no longer look at agreement with Democrats as an agreeable finding of common ground across the political divide so much as we view it as an indicator that we need to look for the rest of the story.

And the rest of the story is somewhat compelling. We know that to win the WOT we need to kill the enemy and recruit the hearts and minds of those decent enough to want to be our allies in a civilized world. This deal represents an opportunity to do just that.

Some facts:

  • We use the UAE to service our military in the middle east already.
  • The UAE runs ports that load, seal and ship cargo headed for the U.S. today.
  • The UAE has been a fairly reliable supporter in the WOT.
  • We already sell the UAE our most advanced fighters.
  • The UAE has supported us in Iraq and has trained Iraqi troops as part of that support.
  • This is a business deal that does not include any authority over security of the ports
  • In some cases the UAE will only be responsible for some terminals in larger ports, not the whole port.

Knowledge of these facts clarifies the issue and makes it a much more reasonable transaction. The key point here is that in this deal we conduct proper due diligence and remain consistent to American principles of free minds and free markets. The UAE deal from my point of view seems to accomplish this goal. In doing so, it also helpa our country continue to build bridges to a moderate, albeit imperfect, Arab culture and to one that is as much of an ally as we’re likely to have at this point in the struggle.

Democrats have been eloquent on our need to build these bridges to moderate Arab countries. Their position, which is long on words, is short on ideas; an indication that they’re in the argument from a political and not a national interest point of view.

Lets do this deal, monitor the results and spend our time working together to win the war.

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