Monday, February 27, 2006

Dubai: Movies and Mail

Yesterday I appeared on MSNBC talking about Dubai, then went to the movies to watch "Syriana," at last -- and saw, somewhat to my surprise, the grittiest side of Dubai. It's a reflection of the emirate's confidence, I think, that it would let Hollywood make such a tough film on its soil or, as it were, sand. On the other hand, since the basic target of the film is a fictionalized Saudi Arabia and what retired CIA vet Bob Baer sees as its unholy alliance with Big Oil -- and there's not a lot of love lost between the Emiratis and the Saudis, that may account for it. Certainly Matt Damon's description of women dressed in black and walking five paces behind their men has nothing to do with the scene on the street, or the beach, in the glitziest of the Gulf's principalities.

In the meantime, the letters keep pouring into the Shadowland mailbox from Colorado to Florida, from Guatemala to New Zealand. This is a recent random sampling from several hundred received so far. Thye are unedited:

Name: Laurence Cahill
Comments: Americans might not know too much about the UAE but they do know they don't trust George W. Bush. Everything he says is just another load of crap off a hot shovel. When you consider the fact that the Bushes are profiteers that care nothing for justice, the environment, fairness to workers or economic rationality we are rightly worried. The Bush family ties to the UAE include Neil "Silverado" Bush and Bush senior through the Carlyle Group. Not to mention the questionable involvement of Treasury Secretary Snow and the new port administrator David Sanborn. We will believe this is another insider deal to benefit cronies until proven otherwise. There is absolutely no reason to trust this administration.

Name: Steven Roenfeldt
Hometown: Aurora, CO
Comments: I am astonished at how xenophobic and racist the vast majority of Americans are. I wonder if they could find the United Arab Emirates on a map? I'm positive they know nothing of Dubai. When I think of Dubai I equate it more to Las Vegas, NV than a city of US hating terrorists with AK-47s. It is sad to think the U.S. is so xenophobic and cluesless about the Middle East. Being Arab does not make one a terrorist. The United States should be ashamed for equating the two. I do not support this adminstration often, but I hope the Bush administration wins this fight and doesn't back down. We need allies in the Middle East, and we can not afford to alienate a capitalistic country that supports us.

Name: N Williams
Hometown: Alexandria, VA
Comments: So you are telling me is this is their reward? Poppy Cock!! This country is being sold out from under all Americans left and right and I am sick and tired of it and will not support it. I am a Disabled American Veteran and this country continues to cut my benefits and give carte blanche to non Americans to attain their benefits. I am sure that there are many Americans who are willing to manage our ports and would be excrllent in doing so. Since when have there come a time that we can not protect and manage "our" shores and ports. Do not give me the story about the Kuwaitees managing a New Jersey port, this, for a lack of a better word, a sellout!

Name: Richard Juday
Hometown: Longmont CO
Comments: Port operations are too sensitive to be contracted out to foreign companies of *any* national persuasion. This comment applies to all port operations, not just the ones contracted by devolvement to Dubai. There must be several US companies that can do the job, and even Halliburton would be preferable.

Name: Mike Parker
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Comments: Turning over our ports to a country that has supposedly cleaned up its' act after having ties to the 9/11 hijackers is sort of like letting your daughter date Jeffrey Dalhmer a few months after he swears he's become a vegetarian.

Name: Richard R. Justice
Hometown: homosassa fl
Comments: This is just a stupid idea that will never get passed thru until dubai sells all there airports to the u.s. govt.

Name: Peter
Hometown: Boca Raton
Comment: Mr. Dickey, Your response does not make sense. The port workers "Maine" where the terrorists came in, we have the power to hire and fire. We do not if this deal goes through. We have responsibility to create internal controls, and since we are creators of I/C, we know where they can be circumvented. This deal, we do not create the I/AC. They do. They know how to get them around. Port personal in Maine are not sympathizers of Al Qaeda. They are. Maine or the US Gov was not a facilitator to fund Al Qaeda terrorists of 9/11. They did. It is not an Arab issue. Do not confuse of spin things like the Republicans do. It is a security issue. If it was a Canadian company, it would be different. It is protecting your butt Mr. Dickey. Something that Mr. Bush has not done and made our world more dangerous.

Comment [anonymous]: We need the UAE far more than the UAE needs us. Could be that we will flush away our best and last hope for the mid east world.

Name: Jorge Dardón
Hometown: Guatemala, Guatemala
Comments: Arabophobia and proteccionists are the forces behind Dems and Reps worrying about "security" risks. If the company were French, Spanish or Canadian, they would try another trick.

Name: Jeff Larsen
Hometown: Chch NZ
Comments: It simply amazes me about this fixation that someone is going to smuggle anything into the US via a container port. P & O are (or were) a highly professional company and most of it's management only excepting top management will remain running the show until they retire or resign. The new management are not going to replace them overnight with people able to do their job. There is nothing to stop (unrecognised) criminals from entering the workforce of a major US owned terminal and doing exactly what these paranoid legislators are worried about Alqaeda doing! Is it OK for the "Mob" to own these facilities? Actually they probably already do, otherwise how could you get as much cocaine in? The reality is any vessel entering the port of a major city is already a threat. A large LNG carrier that explodes in a port area is going to do as much damage as a small nuke albeit without the immediate and residual radiation. The easiest way for anyone to smuggle anything is simply to motor into a port or marina in a large pleasure launch or small converted fishing boat flying the US flag with the "Star spangled Banner" blasting from the 8 track stereo. They would be completely above suspicion!. Any fifty foot launch can in good weather using Marisat and GPS cross any ocean in relative safety the only proviso being arranging fuel. I could probably do it myself if someone gave me the launch.... Anyway you can stay safe by hiding under the mat and not go hunting quail with Cheney.

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