Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Scoring cheap points off a friendly nation

Grandstanding politcos of both the Democratic and Republican stripes have decided that letting a UAE based concern run port operations is tantamount to franchising Homeland security to terrorists. Sorry folks, time to throw the Bull$h&t flag on this one.
The UAE happens to be as friendly country as we will see in the Arab world (besides Kuwait). We received valuable help in Afghanistan from the UAE Special Forces troops stationed at Bagram. We were supplied with bottled water, food and dairy products from UAE based firms. We had other critical items contracted for with UAE based contractors. So the UAE is good enough to have troops serve along side our troops. They are good enough to help supply our troops, they let us use bases in their country to support both Iraq and Afghanistan.

But it is easier to strut and posture (and frankly, come off like a knee-jerk bigot) and show you are "concerned" for Homeland Security (while scoring cheap grace with the media too). This puzzles me and angers me at the same time. I may have more to follow tomorrow - this is an off the cuff rant, one of first impression, so to speak.

That is all (for now).

UPDATE: OK everyone - I hope it has managed to sink in that security for our ports is a function of the USCG, DHS and the US Customs Service - NOT any contractor who runs part of the terminals of the ports in question. #%$& I am still steaming about this.

UPDATE II: Lileks rebuts my position (mostly on form, but a bit on substance too).

UPDATE III: If you want to void this deal, explain in the comments how you would explain this - both to a UAE Soldier who just rotates back from Afghanistan and to a UAE business leader.

UPDATE IV: See the comment from "Citizen Deux" - I had to call in an expert (Navy) to get the situation laid out proper.

17 Comments:

Anonymous Saoirse said...

Not to read ignorant. Don't we have companies that can do that job? That is my thought. Why outsource?

Dems want to nail bush for opening his eyes in the morning. It would be helpfull to the american people if they could get past there bias and choose there battles more wisely. What is really important? Instead of screaming every time he takes a breath.

Yet, I can't help but think, "Isn't this setting us up for some type of catastrophe?" I don't think its prejudice too wonder. We have trouble keeping americans in line.

As well, that bitten once, twice shy thing. I think some are really concerned. I honestly don't think this country is ready. If something else were too happen. They {the politicians} don't want people to know that. They haven't been doing there jobs.

We have a hard enough time with airports. {How many babies can be put on a watch list?}
The borders. The borders, jeepers!! Americans fighting americans.

Either Katrina showed us how unprepared we are or how inhumane towards our own.
It is difficult when these things arise because they are smeared with so many different angles.

When I first heard this on the news, I was a bit shocked. Yet I didn't realise it is the norm. Some other country running our port operations.

Thanks though, for sharing this part. It is good that people are willing to work together. I think that is one of the positive aspects of this endeaver.

7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the predictable initial reaction of 'what they hell are they thinking' and then found out more details. While my gut still says no, more info is needed by everybody. What we're likely to get is more emotion than facts, so I'll be scouting the blogs for the real story.

Retread

7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John,
That was my reaction as well and the more I think about it the more pissed I get. The reaction of the congressman who want to void the contract simply because it involves a UAE company is racist. It's not patriotic. I have always thought of the UAE as an ally in the GWOT. So is Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The fact is that these countries do contain radical muslim fundamentalists, which is a shame. But I don't think the answer is to besmerch and isolate the whole country. Punish our arabian friends because we have arabian enemies. It is a childish, shallow, unreasoned reaction that will only lead to more problems between us and the arab world, if it is followed through and expanded upon. What next? If the fundamentalists meet at Moques, will Shumer ban and dismantle all Mosques in New York City? Wouldn't it also be like saying we are not going to award any contracts in Iraq or Afghanistan to local Iraqi companies or Afghani companies because those countries contain Taleban remanants or insurgents. Would such a policy help, or hurt our stabilization efforts?

I believe that the truth of this whole "controversy" is that the left views as means way to strike POTUS and hurt him where he is strongest (national security). The Republicans who have played along are just riding the knee-jerk, fear-mongering wave. It is embarrassing that this is our national leadership at work. These guys should be smarter than you and me on issues like this.

On port security issues as a whole, if we need to tighten up security, then by all means we should.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Saoirse said...

I usually breathe deeply and count.

Okay, after some more coffee. Its not there responsibility for security. That is a different thing altogether. Thanks for the clarification.

But wouldn't their being a part of it make it easier too circumvent the security?

The UAE may be a friendly country, but even americans have issues with us.

I bow though to the knowledgable one. You have more experience with them.

What do you think is something the politicians should be treating first, rather then this issue? What should we all be learning about and discussing? Do you think they may be putting this in the forefront too take the light from some other issue.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Simon Peter said...

Good points Major.

I still question why there is no 'merkin company that can handle such a port operation? KBR perhaps?

And while UAE may or may not be "bad guys", in a war, should we not be hyper-careful?

11:26 AM  
Blogger Major John said...

Nobody cared when P&O was British owned...

I could just hear the howls if we said "fine, let Halliburton or Bechtel run it". Oof.

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Saoirse said...

We had finally gotten the over the war in the 1700s? The Brits are our allies.

Echo; isn't there some american based company that can handle this?

But, well, if we need to be politically correct, then the UAE would be it. I am sorry Major John, but the people you knew may not be the same people involved in this endeaver.

This must mean the threat, terror alerts etc. Those crying for the Patriot Act too be reborn are wrong. The threat is not as severe as it was or is now made to be? Or, don't worry about outside companies coming in we need to be able to tap peoples phones here?

Or none of it has anything to do with the other......

12:56 PM  
Blogger Simon Peter said...

Nothing wrong with British owned! :-)

1:21 PM  
Blogger Rob B. said...

I love the whole "why don't we have an American company run it, we don't need to outsource, we're looking out for US interest" argument that the congressional reps are offering. I'm sure that they issue that opinion after watching thier Sony TVs, making notes on thier Norwegian phone and driving to work in thier German car. But so long as we don't outsource it's ok. Everyone seems to have forgotten it is pretty hard to do with a port. Last time I checked, it's hard to move a port overseas so that you can have cheaper workers. And the new workers will still be working under US laws and regulation because the port is still here.

Isolationism didn't work well before, why try to start up with it now?

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Saoirse said...

Quote Lileks;
"It’s possible that the Administration did some quiet polling, and asked the question “How much Arab control over American ports are you comfortable with,” and misinterpreted stunned silence as assent."
I think that happens often!! LOL!!

Okay Major John, we are also working with Korea overseas. I know they are helping in rebuilding. Does that mean we give them a break on Nuclear Arms? Or let them take this position.

III- I don't think I would have to explain, it is tenuous. What financial gain would they the soldiers have, or how should this affect working together. It shouldn't.

Common sense. Rarely used in political circles.
Would they really want to be put in that position. One thing goes wrong, and it would be WW. One small thing. Would the insurgents purposefully use it, too create that situation. I think yes.

We have to think about what is best for both sides. Perhaps?

2:06 PM  
Blogger Major John said...

So we let an American owned firm (lets just say they are owned by members of CAIR) do it - that make everyone happy? My point is just saying "they are..y'know - Arabs..." and leaving the insinuation nanging out there that ANY Arab owned firm will be a security risk doesn't cut it. Show me why THESE people are a problem, then I'll say off with 'em.
Telling them to shove off becuase they are Arab/Muslim/Middle Eastern is a propaganda coup for our enemies - they keep saying we are intolerant bigots who hate Arabs/Islam - and we have Hillary and Frist making their damned point for them! Ack!

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Saoirse said...

If america didn't care about Muslim, arab, middle east. We wouldn't do what we do. We wouldn't be in iraq. Or Afghanistan. Billions of dollars wouldn't be sent over there. Not to mention humanitarian aide before the war.

I mean how much do we have to do to prove this?

Our Armed forces are over there, so that we don't have to deal with it over here. Isn't that the propoganda for the war?

So why make it easier for the terrorists to use any avenue available to get at us. Not to mention possibly ruin ties we already have with the Arabs. If something does happen, that could be it. Not that all muslims are terrorists. Yet, there is that tie.

Too tenuous. Thank You!!

2:36 PM  
Blogger RTO Trainer said...

Lileks is wrong, based on the same sloppy set of assumptions that all the rest who are wringing their hands are relying on.

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So we should say to the UAE, it's good of you to repair our naval vessels, share crucial intelligence, and allow us to base our military on your sands, but sorry, keep your Muslim hands off our port operations?

Every once in a while, I feel embarrassed to be an American.

12:26 AM  
Blogger sonicfrog said...

I had some thoughts on this on my blog. I'm not sure if this deal is good or not (been busy with school and haven't had time to get facts), but I have argued over and over again that the Bush administration has perhaps the WORST public relations and salesmanship skills of any administration in my 40 year, 11 month lifetime. How could they possibly think this would not generate public concern.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Citizen Deux said...

Port OPS and Port security are two vastly different things. One involves the rapid and expeditious turning of seagoing vessels, who live and die on their cycle time, the other revolves around keeping out anything that is undesirable, whihc includes human non-human elements.

Even the WaPo noted that many port operations companies are not based in the US, heck, most merhcant shipping is not based in the US!

The issue at hand is a typical case of fear mongering. Hyped into dog-audible levels by an uneducated and ravenous media.

What is far more interesting is the number of foreign companies operating seemingly critical US operations. A UK firm actually administers Indianapolis Airport and most US firms entrust their financial operations to a German software firm, SAP.

Let me add, port security can be achieved very quickly. There are special Navy and Coast Guard units (called ironically Naval Coastal Warfare and CG Port Security Units). Within a matter of hours (yes hours) they can deply to a port, establish land and seaward security and effectively control the flow of shipping. That's port control and security! Nationally, this is controlled from the USCG National Vessel Movement Center

To paraphrase Shakespeare, this is all sound and fury, in the end signifying nothing.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Major John said...

Ha! I knew you'd come through for me Citizen Deux. I will make yet another update.

9:14 PM  

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