Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I haven't seen this anywhere.

For those uncomfortable that the United Arab Emirates is taking over major port security: the UAE has had increasingly close ties to American defense companies and the U.S. government for a couple of years now.

The UAE successfully forced Lockheed Martin and the US government to stump up a $2 billion performance bond to guarantee F-16 deliveries and extracted a no-questions-asked $160 million advance cash offset to seal the deal, on top of the standard 60 percent offset arrangement. To save the 2.5 percent fee levied by the US Department of Defence on Foreign Military Sales (FMS) deals, the UAE was allowed to make a direct commercial purchase of the aircraft. Finally, the UAE received the object codes required to update their aircraft mission computers with new types of threat without US assistance, allowing the UAE Air Force and Air Defences (UAEAFAD) to keep track of Israeli aircraft. This represents a new kind of relationship between the US and any Arab nation.
More recently, the UAE made a major and unprecedented investment in the US defence electronics industry, becoming the core partner in systems that will provide the backbone of the USA.F. of tomorrow. The F-16 deal included a $2.5 billion advance payment to assist in the development of a new internal avionics suite and $500 million towards the development of the Northrop Grumman APG-68 Agile Beam Radar. If USAF or export sales are made, the UAE will receive royalties. The U.A.E has also signalled its interest in becoming involved in the field of advanced next generation jet trainers and light combat aircraft.

Not that anyone should be getting hysterical. This is just information I haven't seen publicized much. I think it's interesting, at least, that the port decision follows a pattern of closer relations between the UAE government and ours and didn't just come out of the blue. And it's rare I have specific information to share rather than a whine.

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  • At 3:08 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…


    When I watch the pundits on Fox hyperventilate about "the UAE taking over our ports," I can't help but think they had never heard of Dubai before last week. Dubai is very distinct from every other Emirate and every other state in the Middle East. (there's someone on Left Behinds who knows a lot more about it than I do, but I'll have a go).

    Check out this Guardian article about the long-term plan of the leaders of Dubai, which is to capitalize on its location and hundreds of years of being a vital trading port to become the indispensable business connection between China, India, and Europe (and, I guess, the U.S., which is why a NY port is important).

    As the Guardian wrote,

    Is Dubai, in fact, the fulcrum of the future global trading and financial system? Is it, in embryo, what London was to the 19th century and Manhattan to the 20th? Not the modern centre of the Arab world but, more than that, the Arab centre of the modern world.

    It's not a pan-Arabist radical Islamist plot, as the Foxies would have everyone believe. Brokeback Mountain is showing in the movie theaters in Dubai right now, and its nightlife is robust enough to warrant its own Time Out Dubai. My impression is that the leaders of Dubai are motivated by the ambitions of businessmen, not of religious fanatics.

    And as you pointed out, Dubai's interests in the U.S. have been longstanding. A Dubai-based company bought the landmark Helmsley Building some time ago, for instance. Dubai and New York are inextricably linked. Dubai's modernization and growth are the natural, self-determined model of what the Bushies pretend to encourage in the Middle East.

  • At 11:14 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Actually, I was wrong about Bush. He's being ideologically consistent, which in some way is admirable, I guess.

    With this and the Mexican guest workers thing he has proven his willingness to buck right-wing ideological expectations. He's all about big-business, whatever it takes. Freedom's only as good as the next free trade agreement.

  • At 11:21 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Which means that he will occasionally back policies I agree with, although almost always for the wrong reasons.

    When watching the news tonight I was amused by the lust in the Dems' eyes as they finally smelled blood. On the News Hour, the new Jersey Senator, Menendez, actually said "Bush is thinking in a pre-September 11th way in a post-September 11th world." That is bold, Menendez, that is bold. Using their meaningless, crowd-pleasing bullshit against them? Why the hell not.

    If the Dems can actually pull off that framing device, it'll be the first time they've succeeded on security issues. They've been waiting for Bush's pro-business values to conflict with what would appear to be national security interests. Even though they must know it's total bullshit, they're getting excited about this because they finally found their shiv.

  • At 12:01 AM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    I am of two minds about this. On the one hand, of course I am glad to have a spotlight on Bush's appalling disregard of port security and habitual secrecy in all things. On the other, this is only becoming an issue at this particular moment because of not very veiled racism, and it doesn't make me all that pleased to see Democrats exploiting that dynamic.

  • At 12:06 AM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    And the Mexican guest workers program merely legalizes a permanent, second-class, noncitizen labor force with short enough visas to make unionization very difficult. And like any green card system, I think you only get to stay as long as you're employed, which means the employer still holds the hammer. It creates a legal means for meatpacking plants and agribusiness to keep exploiting cheap labor, while not helping immigrant workers nearly as much as truly liberalized borders.

  • At 12:21 AM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Just to expand a little, because it's not just Democrats, it's a whole lot of liberal bloggers, and I probably shouldn't just call people race-baiters without explanation: The excuse I keep reading for why this is different than the London company now doing this security work is that Dubai Port World is a state-owned company. Well that's crap. We have nothing to fear from the UAE as a state antagonist, and there's no way in hell they'd try to choke off our ports. And other than that, how does being state-owned in any way differ from any other UAE-based company? No, clearly the fear is that some Arab terrorist will infiltrate our port security because the company is based in an Arab nation.

    I'm not that comfortable with having any multinational corporation handling anything relating to our vital security either. I didn't know a London-based firm was handling this before, of course. Who did? It's not scary. I suppose that now that I'm thinking about it, port security probably ought to be nationalized, just like airport security. When the Democrats propose that, I'll start believing they're not just playing race games.

  • At 10:35 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Well, according to the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury who was on the News Hour last night, port security is nationalized. Port security four years ago, yesterday, and next year will all be exactly the same, handled by the same individuals: agents of the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard. Foreign companies can manage the operation of the ports, but they can't own them or handle the security. And in fact most U.S. ports are managed by foreign companies. But it's always our own USA-born-and-bred security forces who are cursorily, inadequately inspecting the cargo.

    I wouldn't normally feel qualified to say that except that I've heard stories from a certain friend of mine in the Coast Guard Reserves who does cargo inspection in Staten Island.

    That's another uncharacteristically bold thing about the Democratic indignation: not only are they explicitly coopting racist Republican talking points, but the whole thing is based on misleading exagerrations. You can argue that the management of the ports can indirectly affect certain security concerns, such as what type of cargo is accepted from whom, but the nuts and bolts security operations will not change whatsoever no matter who owns them.

  • At 10:41 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Oh and I don't agree with the Mexican guest worker program. I agree that it's a union-busting, race-to-the-bottom tactic.

    I was citing it as another example of Bush flouting conservative ideology for the sake of his true ideology: corporatism.

    It's at the moments that Bush stands up to his populist right wing base that you can see what his true interests are.


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