The disclosure that the Clintons are playing both sides of the Dubai ports deal should expose much criticism of the deal for what it is: hypocritical partisanship.
The Financial Times of London March 1 reported: “Bill Clinton, former U.S. president, advised top officials from Dubai two weeks ago on how to address growing U.S. concerns over the acquisition of five U.S. container terminals by DP World. It came even as his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, was leading efforts to derail the deal…Mr. Clinton’s contact with Dubai on the issue underscores the relationship he has developed with the United Arab Emirates since leaving office. In 2002, he was paid $300,000 to address a summit in Dubai.”
Robert Novak on TownHall.com March 2 reported: “While Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was ripping President Bush's handling of American ports management, Bill Clinton was pushing for one of his favorite White House aides to be hired to defend the deal. The former president proposed to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) his onetime press secretary, Joe Lockhart, as Washington spokesman for the UAE-owned company, Dubai Ports World.
“The Lockhart deal was never consummated. But the spectacle of the two Clintons going in opposite directions on the UAE port-management question exposed a Democratic fault line. Widespread public reaction against outsourcing control of the ports was seen by Sen. Clinton and other prominent Democrats as a chance to outflank the Republicans on homeland security in this year's elections. Behind the scenes, however, Democrats aligned with the Clinton family were lobbying for the UAE.”
The UAE is hardly a perfect country. Dubai banks held accounts used to fund some of the 9/11 attackers. Two of the 19 hijackers came from the UAE. In February 1999, President Clinton used the presence of some UAE princes in Osama bin-Laden’s hunting party as an excuse not to fire cruise missiles. Some UAE leaders made post-9/11 comments that excused or justified the attacks or drew some kind of demented moral equivalence between al-Qaeda and Israel.
The UAE is no democracy, but it is a trade-oriented society rightly seen as the “Hong-Kong of the Gulf”. About 60 percent of the UAE’s 3.4 million residents are non-native. The UAE is currently host to more U.S. Navy ships than any foreign port. It is a banking, tourism, and shipping center for the entire region. In surveys, a plurality of Iraqis indicate the UAE is the country they would most like to emulate. Among Islamic countries the UAE is one of the most progressive. If we choose to wall ourselves off from a country such as this, then what are we doing in Iraq or Afghanistan? The entire strategy of forcing the development of democracy is at question and the questions are being asked by the usual isolationist forces on both left and right joined by hordes of political opportunists.
The left-wing Democrats leaping to the fore on this issue are showing an uncharacteristic interest in the War on Terror. Many of them also defend the “rights” of al-Qaeda terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. The “mainstream” media printed details compromising America’s secret al-Qaeda detention centers—which some believe was leaked by Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-WV—as a news screen to draw attention away from Iraq’s successful October 15 elections. The New York Times chose to divulge details of the administration’s spying on al-Qaeda phone calls the day after Iraq’s even more successful December 15 elections. In late February, Hawaii Democrat Neil Abercrombie became the only member of Congress to vote for millions in U.S. funding of the Hamas terrorist government in Palestine.
Any contact with Muslim states involves the chance that a terrorist infiltrator may slip through. But terrorists have attacked America without the UAE leasing any port unloading facilities. They are also capable of attacking without the use of foreign nationals, as the cases of Iyman Faris, Jose Padilla, and others show. Any possible threat enhanced by the Dubai Ports deal is already present through many other avenues.
One example would be New York’s JFK airport, which receives flights from no less than ten Muslim-owned airlines—including twice daily non-stops from the UAE on Emirates airline. While the UAE-leased seaport terminals will be staffed by the same American employees who now work there, these Muslim-owned airlines are piloted by Muslims into the skies over New York, Washington, Los Angele,s and other American cities every day. The home-country security for these flights is the responsibility of Muslim security officers and screeners. Any of these flights could simply veer off course and take out a skyscraper in a matter of seconds. Any of them could carry a nuclear weapon into our skies and detonate it over a city. Why are no politicians discussing this threat? Should we shut them down? Even if we did, would that really end the threat?
Every day oil tankers with their volatile cargo arrive in U.S. ports. In the Middle East, these are loaded often by Muslim workers at Muslim-owned ports. Many of the ship’s crewmen are Muslims. It would be a simple matter to include a nuclear device or other weapon on board. Should we cut off these shipments?
Homeland Security can make the terrorist’s job more difficult, but it cannot win the War on Terror. To win, the spread of freedom, democracy, and trade must outpace and block the spread of nuclear weapons technology. That can happen through a combination of anti-nuclear proliferation action—including military action—and pro-democracy actions, political, economic and diplomatic—including military actions such as Iraq and Afghanistan. If nuclear weapons are obtained by despotic terrorist regimes such as Iran, the result can be measured in thousands, if not millions, dead in Israel, Europe, or America. This race between freedom and nuclear technology was set in motion with Pakistan’s 1994 acquisition of nuclear weapons which quickly led to the sale of Pakistani nuclear technology to Libya, North Korea, and Iran.
We can slow the spread of nuclear weapons technology and we can hasten the spread of democracy, but it is physically impossible to wall ourselves off from the threat of nuclear terrorism. The only way to defeat that threat is by action—political, diplomatic, economic and military—in the Islamic world. Action which will either physically destroy a nuclear threat or action which will result in the creation of societies no longer interested in waging terrorist war against the free world. The combination of these two methods is our only chance for victory. Walling ourselves off does not protect us; it guarantees our defeat.
No strategy is without risk. President Bush’s strategy emphasizing development of broad military, political, diplomatic and economic relations with Muslim societies as full or partial allies in the war on terror has paid off in terms of thousands of terrorists captured or killed. The risk of abandoning this strategy is far greater than the risks associated with continuing it.
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