My article on the Dubai controversy which has been published in The American Conservative is now available online:
March 27, 2006 Issue
Copyright © 2006 The American Conservative
Six Ports and a Storm
The Dubai debacle shows Americans looking inward.
By Leon HadarIt’s not every news cycle that the columnists for the anti-interventionist Antiwar.com and for the internationalist op-ed page of the New York Times find themselves echoing the same line-of-the-day spun by the media masters of George W. Bush’s White House. Those lawmakers who have criticized the Bush administration’s decision to allow a company owned by the government of Dubai —which is part of the United Arab Emirates—to purchase a British company, Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation—which now has the contract to operate six major U.S. ports—were “Kicking Arabs in Their Teeth,” screamed the headline of a column by the Times’ in-house neoconservative David Brooks, a staunch supporter of the war in Iraq. Meanwhile, Justin Raimondo, the long-time libertarian editor of Antiwar.com and a persistent opponent of the military adventure in Mesopotamia, accused those opposed to the deal with the Arab-owned company, Dubai Ports World, of “hating Arabs.”
Is “Dubai a hotbed of radical Islamist agitation?” asked Raimondo, who sounding like the “freedom is on the march in the Middle East” neocons noted that “Dubai is the one city in the Middle East that is the most like America in that it is a symbol—the symbol—of the Arab world’s entry into modernity.” Brooks, transforming himself into a born-again Arabist, denied that the Arab city of Dubai was “a bastion of Taliban radicalism,” describing it as “a modernizing, globalizing place.”
It would be an exaggeration to describe this brief political romance between libertarians and neocons as a sign of a major realignment in American politics. That Sen. Hillary Clinton—who would probably go ballistic if the government targeted Arab-Americans for security checks at airports (“racial profiling”)—would rally against permitting an Arab-owned company to run American port terminals because it’s, well, Arab (“national profiling”?) smacks of pure political opportunism. Indeed, there is little doubt that the Democrats are exploiting the controversy to “get to the right of George Bush,” as suggested by Charles Krauthammer, who in the name of national security would permit the U.S. government to listen your phone conversations and torture suspected terrorists but who backs the Dubai deal that could potentially endanger U.S. security by making it easier for terrorists from the Middle East to infiltrate American ports.
What is more intriguing has been the anti-Bush rebellion over the port issue by Republicans on Capitol Hill and around the country.More