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Dubai Port Deal Scuttled
Posted by: Dale Franks on Thursday, March 09, 2006

The port deal with Dubai Ports World has been dropped, according to CNN:
United Arab Emirates-owned DP World said Thursday it would transfer its operations of American ports to a "U.S. entity" after congressional leaders reportedly told President Bush that the firm's takeover deal was essentially dead on Capitol Hill.

"Because of the strong relationship between the United Arab Emirates and the United States and to preserve that relationship ... DP World will transfer fully the U.S. operations of P&O Operations North America to a United States entity," Edward H. Bilkey, DP World's chief operating officer, said in a statement.

The announcement did not specify which U.S. company would be involved.
Once again, this is a political defeat for the Bush Administration. But, it's clear that the deal for DPW to take over operations in US ports was a non-starter as far as Congress was concerned. Even the threat of a presidential veto failed to deter Congress—on both sides of the Capitol—from registering their overwhelming opposition to the deal. DPW's decision to back off was really the only option open to them.

It's no secret here that I've been more skeptical of the DPW deal than McQ or Jon have been. So, I won't forego the opportunity for a little gloating. I mean, I like the guys, but I love to win. So, note to Jon and McQ: Screw you guys! Screw you! I win! I win! You guys are losers! Losers! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Hmmm. This kind of attitude may explain why I have so few friends.

Anyway...this was, politically, a non-starter in an election year. What the Bush Administration should've done was to get Congress on board from the very beginning. At every step, Congress should've been given the opportunity to give their input on the deal, and to have any security concerns to be addressed. By not doing so, the Bush Administration locked themselves into a losing position right from the start. The result was a poltical showdown that the Bush Adminsitration was never really in a position to win, and ended up being another Harriet Miers deal.

At the end of the day, the United States has a government where Congress is supreme. Since this is so, the president should never, ever pick a fight with Congress unless it knows it can win.

For instance, when it came to shutting down the government over budget squabbles, Bill Clinton—who was, whether you liked him or not, a masterful politician—knew that he couild always frame the issue in a way that made him look better than Newt Gingrich. But with an issue like this, there's no way to win unless you have Congress on your side. Congress can always frame the issue as "Arab terrorists controlling US Ports". If the administration can't provide a simpler, less threatening narrative, then the political battle's lost.

That's Politics 101. Apparently, they didn't cover that in Harvard's MBA course.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Many are missing a few points on the sunken DPW deal.

The CFIUS committee and the Administration was precluded by law from consulting with Congress until they had completed their review. Furthermore, as to tone-deafness, Dubai and Saudi owned companies have been operating both marine and airPORT terminals in the US for many years. As an indirect investor in P&O, I’ve been aware of this story since early November. I consider myself politically sensitive but, as I knew the majority of terminal operations were in the hands of foreign operators including Ayrabs, I had no clue of the coming firestorm. Obviously the entire Administration, at the Asst Secretary level, didn’t either. For gods’ sake, we’ve been selling the UAE F-16s for over 9 years. We’re supposed to be worried about a flocking stevedoring company with absentee falconeers as coupon-clippers?

This whole fiasco has little to do with national security. It did have an awful lot to do with the hubristic howling and cackling of Chicken Little’s cousins the chickenhawks and the cowardly collectivist clutch. Both flocks were running in circles in fear of falconeering camel jockeys. They still are.

A truly sad day for America and our attempt to defeat totalitarianism and construct a peaceful pluralistic planet. I believe this will be marked as a significant and possibly catastrophic setback in The Long War, Ver. 2.0. Only time will truly tell but I believe our chicken-herder-in-chief and his team had this one right.

Both chicken flocks flocked this one up.
Written By: RiverRat
URL: http://
"! I win! I win! You guys are losers! Losers! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

Just what, exactly, did you win? And why, exactly, is it important?
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
This whole fiasco has little to do with national security.


I’m not normally a conspiracist, but it seems sort of obvious that since Day 1 of Bush’s presidency there has been a relentless effort to hit the Administration on every conceivable side. I wouldn’t go so far to ascribe Rovephobic-inspired machinations and intrigue. It’s been much more clumsy and short sighted, as in every few weeks "let’s see if this charge will stick." Accuracy and fairness is not a concern.

So I believe this is yet another fabricated "scandal" to hurt Bush’s popularity. Nothing more. Something normally mundane and remarkable, as RiverRat illustrates, has been twisted and demagogued. And sadly, it’s proven to be fiendishly successful.

It’s been painful to see so many in the blogosphere whom I normally view as clear-thinking fall for this one.
Written By: equitus
No, Dale, everyone f*cking loses here. This is a pretty spectacular own-goal that fits perfectly into this old joke:
"IN AMERICA, WE have a two-party system," a Republican congressional staffer is supposed to have told a visiting group of Russian legislators some years ago.

"There is the stupid party. And there is the evil party. I am proud to be a member of the stupid party."

He added: "Periodically, the two parties get together and do something that is both stupid and evil. This is called — bipartisanship."
There was not a single national security reason to put the skids to this deal which held up to a moment’s scrutiny, and the cost of it is that congress has now sent a massive slap in the face to the Arab world: it doesn’t matter what you do, it matters what you are. Bra-frickin’-vo, that sure is something to feel smug about.

(Why yes, I am very angry about this, why do you ask?)
Written By: Matt McIntosh
"! I win! I win! You guys are losers! Losers! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

But we were still right.
Written By: McQ
Ironically, I believe our national security is worse now for the controversy and insults this has all caused. But dont worry, there is plenty of blame to go around.
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
"At every step, Congress should’ve been given the opportunity to give their input on the deal, and to have any security concerns to be addressed. By not doing so, the Bush Administration locked themselves into a losing position right from the start."
So apparently it’s just too much to expect Congress members to think and analyze dispassionately like responsible adults without having all the mechanisms of political cover and grandstanding in place.

Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Matt MacIntosh wrote:
"No, Dale, everyone f*cking loses here"
Chris wrote:
"Ironically, I believe our national security is worse now for the controversy and insults this has all caused."

And it looks like he’s right.

Timactual wrote:
"Just what, exactly, did you win? And why, exactly, is it important?"
And that’s a great question for us to hear Dale (market failure) Franks answer.

Your post amounts to whooping and hollering,
"WAHOO!!! I shot myself in the foot!"

What does this idiocy you’ve endorsed improve?

Yours, TDP, ml, sml & pfpp
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
At least Hillary is also a big loser in this....nobody in America believes her bullspit "I didn’t know Bill was helping the UAE on the deal" line. If you can’t win, at least you can have some solace in spite.

Of course, I’m now breathless with anticipation of the wave of actions that are sure to come against foreign (especially Chinese) controlling operations in our other ports...
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I can’t say whether the end result would have changed, but I still believe it would have been a field day anyway if they had brought Congress into the loop.

<intercom>Senator Rockefeller, NYT on the green phone</intercom>

Therefore I think it is a bit naive to say that all would have been right with the world if the Prez and the ’Gress would pals.
Written By: anomdebus
URL: http://

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