The entire political establishment of both parties is in an uproar today about the decision of the Bush Administration to allow an Arab company based in Dubai to manage six major American ports. It’s amazing how xenophobic and totally ignorant the Chuck Schumer’s and Bob Menendez’s of the world really are. Or perhaps they are just race baiting, which is even worse. The message Schumer and his ilk send is that it is okay if a company is run by Europeans for them to engage in business here in the USA, but if a company is run by Arabs they must be kept out of the US at all costs. After all, all Arabs are Terrorists and no Europeans are sympathetic towards terror or hostile towards the USA, if you believe the simplistic rhetoric of Schumer and his allies. (Peter King who is the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee of the House is the member of Congress who was most closely tied to the terrorist IRA and Gerry Adams, and he is lecturing us about safety? The Irish who blow up Train stations in London aren't terrorists but the Arabs who manage ports across the world without incident are.....)
Members of Congress are fond of saying that the Arab world needs to change and that U.S, must lead the way. Many of the same Congressmen claim the United States is color blind and also a merit based free market society. Well, here is the chance for Congress to prove its words aren’t hollow and mean something. Do our leaders really want the Arab world to change, or do they just want to use the fear of Terrorism and Arabs to demagogue to their constituents?
For those who don’t know (and judging by today’s reaction most American’s don’t have a clue about Dubai) no spot on the globe currently ruled by Arabs is more Western or liberal in its values and implementation of Islam than Dubai. (Dubai is ruled by Arabs but a majority of its population is from the Indian Subcontinent). Dubai, completely unlike its neighbor Saudi Arabia has developed a diverse economy, based largely on western tourism and foreign investment, and less dependent on Oil, which the Emir of Dubai realizes is a non-renewable resource. Dubai, much like Las Vegas and Atlantic City has become a haven for Gamblers with more Casinos than any other city on the Asian continent. Clearly, Dubai is far from the type of place of where the extreme Islam that Saudi Arabia and Iran advocates exists in mass. In fact, Dubai and the United Arab Emirates are in the words of Senator Joe Lieberman (far from my favorite person, but someone who does actually know something about the region), “a strong partner and ally in the Middle East.” Lieberman was the only member of Congress I’ve seen the past two days who actually knew anything about Dubai, and he endorsed the deal. Dubai which is the crown jewel of the United Arab Emirates is one of the few places in the Arab world where Americans can visit and engage in Western type activities without scrutiny.
Dubai is the model for how an Arab ruled state can interact with the west. If we are truly serious about changing the Arab world and the attitude on the street, we should embrace the progressive government and companies from Dubai and the different vision the pan-American vision they represent for the Arab world. The United States must lead in helping change the Arab world, and unlike the Iraq War debacle, embracing the vision that Dubai represents can make a big difference. No Dubai, isn’t perfect but it’s a lot better than the Saudis, and working with them on security sends a message to the Arab street that the United States isn’t problem- it’s your leaders in the more extreme Arab states. George W. Bush has it right: we need to embrace the moderate Arab states, like the UAE if we are going to be successful in truly fighting worldwide terror. Either we are serious about changing the Middle East and implementing America’s vision and interests abroad or we are not. George W. Bush much to my surprise gets it, but the vast majority of Congress and the American public just don't.
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- I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.