I'm kind of with Kevin Drum here, as I argued back in 2004 that low-tech port security was a much bigger goddam problem than Iran's five-year-away nukes that if they use will get the entire country evaporated (and if you're on of those idiots who say "Yeah, but Iran will then give the nukes to terrorists" -- how do you think the terrorists are going to get the nuke into the States? Take your time, I'll wait for you to do the math ...) and this UAE deal is just kind of a sideshow to much bigger problems.
Basically, if the Administration's stupid enough to be outsourcing your port security because they have a nigh religious belief in privitization that over-rides any common sense, nay, their sacred responsibility to the people who actually goddam voted for them, then the UAE company is barely any worse than any other company. It's like deciding to let your child drink bleach instead of lye.
However, it's memetically powerful, and if you're the type of person who's looking for that sort of thing, useful.
I was particularly comforted by the news lede on my MSN page this morning. You see, I'd originally been very pissed off at yet another example of rampant cronyism within the Half-Assed President's Administration (via Atrios):
Washington - The Dubai firm that won Bush administration backing to run six U.S. ports has at least two ties to the White House.
One is Treasury Secretary John Snow, whose agency heads the federal panel that signed off on the $6.8 billion sale of an English company to government-owned Dubai Ports World - giving it control of Manhattan's cruise ship terminal and Newark's container port.
Snow was chairman of the CSX rail firm that sold its own international port operations to DP World for $1.15 billion in 2004, the year after Snow left for President Bush's cabinet.
The other connection is David Sanborn, who runs DP World's European and Latin American operations and was tapped by Bush last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration.
However, MSN this morning informed me with the slugline "Bush was in the dark on port deal":
WASHINGTON - President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday.
Ah, thank God. The President's not corrupt, he's incompetent.
(EDIT: Digby here makes a point I flail at in the comments to this post, and makes it quite elegantly.)
EDIT the 2nd: And then I have to turn right around and disagree with Kevin Drum. Bastich. Anyway, he indicates that jumping on this story isn't the sort of engage-the-average-Muslim attitude we enlightened liberals should be encouraging. He kind of misses the point that the UAE is a monarchy -- a particularly nasty one -- and that the massive amounts of monies from this deal will go directly into their coffers. The coffers of people who literally have lunch with Osama Bin Laden. Cut up his steak, refill his glass of chianti, that sort of pally-pal.
This deal isn't going to help the economy of a bunch of swing-voter type middle class UAE citizens who will use the money to send their kids to Western colleges. This will help enrich the already insanely rich royal family in Dubai who hang with Bad Guys. I mean, if we can't set as a standard "You know what, if you hang out with Osama, you don't get to do multi-billion dollar deals in our country", where the hell is the bar for repercussions? "Okay, you can enrich yourselves at our expense even if you hang with and support Bin Laden, but if you blow him, this deal is OFF!"
I'm not saying this deal is a bad deal because there's an Arab company involved. This is a screw-up because:
a.) The 45 day legally required investigation for such deals was completely blown through, yet another case of the Administration not really giving a shit about little things like the law of the land.
b.) This particular monarchy is a hinky bunch of bastards.
c.) Again, Digby's point.