The dangers of a pre-911 mentality in a post-911 world
Most the fears and concerns expressed on the UAE port acquisition from P&O are based on UAE's pre 911 behavior. One that I will readily agree was despicable and worthy of scrutiny.
However this is a nation that continually idolizes the underdog who makes it to the big dog on the porch status. The junkie who kicks the habit, and makes something of their lives. The politician who grew up in poverty and ended up being powerhouses in the US government - thus proving that it is individual incentive and not money that reveals opportunity.
So why does the nation and our Congress choose to ignore the nothing less than startling turnaround of the UAE as a counter terrorism partner?
The heart of the fury over the ports deal is the foundation of distrust by American Congress and Americans alike. It was expressed most adeptly by Chuck Schumer when he suggested that DP World may be qualified for the ports operations, but that it was a matter of trust... could we trust the UAE?
As was revealed in the CFIUS briefing to the Sen Armed Services Committee yesterday, the UAE's increasing cooperation in the WOT is a benchmark of actions and attitudes that we want from more Middle East countries. And taking such steps to align themselves with a country that AQ considers the enemy should be rewarded... not maligned based on past historic performance.
Condi had a visit with the UAE heads of state on her area tour. The result was a joint communique on issues ranging the gambit from the upcoming free trade agreement to the increased cooperation in the WOT.
H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai and General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces yesterday met US. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at Qasr Al Bahr Palace in Abu Dhabi.
Rice's visit to the country is part of her tour in the region. Present at the meeting were also Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Mohammed Hussein Al Sha'ali, US Ambassador to the UAE Michelle J. Sison and members of the American accompanying delegation.
At the end of the meeting, the following joint communiqué was issued: The United Arab Emirates and the United States of America renewed their commitment to full cooperation on a wide range of bilateral issues.
In addition to the regional issues mentioned in the joint statement of the GCC ministers, the discussions included the on-going Free Trade Agreement negotiations where the two countries reiterated their desire to achieve a comprehensive agreement.
The FTA would further enhance the current U.S.-UAE trade relationship, boost direct foreign investment and create job opportunities for citizens of both countries.
The UAE is the third largest trading partner of the United States in the Middle East.
Third largest trading partner... another fact to pocket in the quest for truths on the port operations acquisition.
In another article from the UAE's official news site...
The Foreign Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) last night a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The meeting was attended by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister and Chairman of the current session of the GCC Ministerial Council, Dr. Nazar Obaid Madani, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Dr. Sheikh Mohammed Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the State of Kuwait, Ahmad bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in the State of Qatar, and Abdul Rahman bin Hamad Al Attiyah, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The following joint statement was issued at the end of the meeting: Their Excellencies the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the member states of the Arab Gulf Co-operation Council, GCC, and the Secretary of State of the United States of America met together in the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi on Thursday 23rd February 2006 during the current tour of the region by the Secretary of State.
The two sides reviewed the existing relations of friendship and co-operation between the GCC member countries and the United States and expressed their satisfaction at the level which these relations have reached in various fields.
The two sides reaffirmed their constant position with regards to the denunciation of terrorism in all its forms and their support for every regional and international effort to combat it.
The two sides expressed their common interest in the achievement of stability and prosperity in the Middle East, believing that this serves the interests of both sides and reinforces international peace and stability.
The two sides discussed the situation in Iraq and emphasised the necessity for the formation of a broad-based and inclusive Iraqi Government, believing this to be a necessary requisite to guarantee the territorial unity of Iraq and its stability and sovereignty. The ministers condemned the attack on the holy places in Iraq. The ministers called on all sides to respect the sacred places of Iraq.
The two sides discussed the situation in Lebanon and affirmed their interest in supporting the political security and economic stability of the Lebanese people and in safeguarding the unity, independence and cohesion of Lebanon. For that to be achieved, the two sides stressed their belief in the necessity of all concerned parties to be committed to the terms of United Nations Security Council resolutions No.1559, No.1636 as well as resolution No. 1644 regarding the international committee of investigation, and to full co-operation with this committee.
As regards the situation in the broader Middle East, the GCC Foreign Ministers and the US Secretary of State affirmed the necessity for serious and effective action to be taken on the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, recognising that this depends on the implementation of international resolutions, especially with regards to the 'road map.' In this regard, the participants in the meeting noted with satisfaction the speech of the Chairman of the Palestine Authority to the opening session of the Palestinian Legislative Council on Saturday 18th February 2006 and the fact that it contained a confirmation of the commitment to the peace process and all of its requirements.
They called on all parties concerned to take steps without delay on the implementation of the 'road map', leading to a two-state solution and the establishment of a democratic, peaceful and viable Palestinian state.
The two sides discussed the nuclear proliferation in the area and stressed their fears and serious concerns with regards to the dangers of this proliferation in the region, reaffirming the necessity of keeping the Gulf area free from weapons of mass destruction. At the end of their meeting, the two sides confirmed that they share strategic common interests in the maintaining of stable energy markets and of world economic growth. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)
I post these in full since the site doesn't provide individual links, and you may have to scroll down quite a ways to find the pertinent news tidbit.
By now you're saying... "and your point *is*??".
Simply this. There's been alot of bru-ha-ha and optimistic phrases like "winning hearts and minds" bandied about since our first action in Afghanistan. And never once have I bought into this notion of absurdity.
Middle East meets West results in a cultural divide on morality, religion... even our very perceptions of freedom... that will never be bridged. And you know? It doesn't have to in order to have a peaceful co-existance.
The dangers of a pre 911 mentality in a post 911 world is that we ask for too much - we ask to be "loved" instead of despised or hated. We ask they become more like us, like the same things, have the same attitudes before we open our ports and economy to those who were our enemies not long before.
I suggest that is too high a demand. We need not be loved. What a business and economic alliance will NOT do is magically transform the Islam perception of our western culture, dissipating their disdain.
However, what a business relationship with the UAE - a post 911 ally and 3rd largest trading partner in the Mid East - WILL do is give us a bond. A mutual vested interest in making sure the American economy is thriving and prosperous. Our prosperity, which affects the world's, is their prosperity. In short, the west and our very existance is of more value alive and thriving than dead and under assault.
In that tenuous and fragile bond lies the possibility of peace and aid in the WOT. We should not ask for any more right now. Only the chance to co-exist and work together where it is mutually beneficial. (This does *not* mean we give up national security ...)
Then we can hope for a closer bridge between our cultures in the future by allowing our generations the opportunity to develop that relationship further - better education, communication and shared interests (even if they are only financial at the start) to slowly erode the generations of hate inbred between us.