Friday, February 24, 2006

Strategic Exigencies

 
A couple of days ago I asked our readers to speculate on the reasons why President Bush, against the tide of his party and most of his conservative base, was digging in so hard on the UAE-ports deal. I didn’t want to argue the merits of the case — there’s plenty of room for argument — but to understand why this veto-shy President is so gung-ho to push the deal through.

Most of the commenters simply argued the pros and cons for the deal, instead of doing a serious analysis of what Mr. Bush thinks he’s up to.

But then last night, in Dymphna’s latest post on the topic, Freedom Fighter showed up in the comments and referred us to his blog, Joshua Pundit. He’s done some pretty shrewd analysis of what’s going on, and gives us an explanation and strategic overview of what’s happening.

I’ll quote here from two of his recent posts.

First, he has the same reservations as the rest of us about the way this deal was handled:

Another aspect that bothers me, frankly, is President Bush insuting my intelligence. On the one hand, the White House stated that neither President Bush nor Treasury Secretary Snow knew about this until it was a ‘done deal’. Yet President Bush, three days later is threatening to veto this and saying that a deal he supposedly knew nothing about is interfering with his ability to conduct foreign policy? I don’t expect or even demand truthfulness from the president on every occasion, but this is a bit much.

[…]

I also am extremely suspicious of the high powered lobbying that's going on, the ‘Islamophobia’ card that's being played and what I consider to be the Bush Administration dissembling on this from the beginning. Not to mention that ex-president Jimmy Carter favors this deal!

The President needs to sit down with Congress and make the necessary changes needed to reassure them that this deal is necessary and more important, completely vetted as far as our security goes. The President needs to make a case for this action.That aspect was handled poorly from the very beginning, and as I said, doesn't pass the smell test.

In the second post he asks the same basic question I did:

I think it pays to ask the question: why is President Bush so exercised about a simple comercial transaction? Especially one opposed by both the Senate and House Majority leaders in his own party? What is so important that he is threatening a veto of any legislation blocking this, when he hasn’t vetoed anything in five years?

I think I know, or at least have an idea.

You have to start with two logical premises: one,that President Bush is NOT an idiot(though certainly capable of mistakes) and two, that he is not an evil meglomaniac bent on America’s destruction, and would not DELIBERATELY do anything to harm the country’s security.

Those are the same premises that I hold. I’m not interested in arguing with those who think the President is a puppet of trans-national commercial interests, or greedy, or an evil moron. They’re entitled to their several opinions, but I won’t address them.

Even so, I’m not willing to give the administration a free pass on this issue. As Freedom Fighter says,

Well, Mr. President, I can think of a number of reasons to hold a UAE company to a different standard. For starters, there’s the little matter of Dubai and the UAE being a major funding source for al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah, the fact that some of the 9/11 hijackers used the UAE as an operational and financial base and the fact that the UAE was the main transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuke components and data sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by Pakistani scientist Dr. Aly Khan.

It’s obvious that Bush made a personal committment to someone, based on a quid-pro-quo and if you examine what he said, it’s obvious that he feels his personal word is on the line.

Yes, based on the kind of man Mr. Bush has previously revealed himself to be, his digging in his heels so hard on this issue is an indication that something about the Dubai ports deal is strategically significant.

And that’s what Joshua Pundit is looking at:

While some of you were fixating on a hunting accident, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was finalizing improved relations with India and China…

Obviously part of that was a Saudi committment to make up the oil shortfall to these countries in the event of trouble with Iran, and to lean on the other OPEC nations to go along, including the UAE.

Imagine the nightmare for us if the price of a gallon of gas went up to $8 or $10. That’s certainly what the mullahs are planning for us, if they can’t quite manage the mushroom cloud just yet. And the Chinese and Russian snakes have been slithering around Tehran, hoping to cut the kind of deals that will keep them safe in the event of oil trouble.

So we need the Saudis. As loathsome as their regime is, we need them.

The good news is that they need us, too. If the mullahs and/or Zarqawi had their way in the region, King Abdullah (and the Gulf emirs) would barely have time to load their suitcases of cash into the Lear jet and decamp for Zurich before the institution of Islamic Republics in their former countries — not to mention the return of the Twelfth Imam.

That’s the essential nature of the US-Saudi “friendship”. It’s disgusting, but so was our embrace of good ol’ Uncle Joe Stalin back in 1941.

The geography of ArmageddonBut there’s more:

A strike against Iran may be in the advanced planning stages even as I write this.

Bush may just be putting together a bloc of Arab countries aimed at ultimately isolating the Islamist/terrorist supporting or near Islamist nations in the region.

This bloc appears to consist of Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iraq, Bahrein and Qatar. Notice that with the exception of Iraq, all of them are Arab autocracies, and all surround Iran, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority. Another point to note is that except for Iraq, all of them are predominantly Sunni.

Egypt, which Bush has pretty much cut off from any US aid, is no longer a player. Egypt will be an Islamist state as soon as the elderly Mubarek dies.

In spite of all the lip service about ‘Arab democracy’ Bush and Condi Rice appear to be playing the conservative, Sunni autocracies against the more radical states in the region, especially Iran and Syria.

Now, the price for this cooperation could very well be a hands off attitude towards the Saudi export of jihad to America via Saudi funded mosques, madrassahs and university chairs, US help with bringing Saudi Arabia into the world’s commercial mainstream (Bush sponsored the Saudi’s entry into the WTO) and just maybe, increased entry of Arab companies into the USA, including government contracts.

Do I agree with that? Not at all, on the face of it. But I think it’s necessary to see where the pieces on the board go.

I think Joshua Pundit may be onto something here. Take a look at the map and consider the players in the game.

Iran is overtly bellicose, and the regime appears to be fundamentally irrational, acting out a Shiite millenarian fantasy. Since they may be using or exporting nuclear weapons at any moment, our President is stuck with a deadly and imminent threat that he has to deal with.

He can’t leave it for Hillary to figure out in January of 2009; it has to be dealt with now. By whatever means necessary.

It’s no coincidence that Iran-funded mobs are torching European embassies over cartoons right now. It’s no surprise that civil strife is erupting in Iraq over the destruction of a Shiite mosque.

But wait a minute – the Iranians are Shiites, too! How could that be their doing?

There’s ample evidence that Iran is funding, encouraging, and directing Sunni Islamist terror groups throughout the Middle East and Europe, and not just the Shiite ones like Hezbollah. All of this serves the same purpose: to create mayhem, bloodshed, and chaos in order to usher in the End of Days and prepare for the return of the Twelfth Imam.

How determined are we stop these madmen?


Question for our expert readers: I know we have basing rights in Uzbekistan. Do we have assets in Turkmenistan? I haven’t done the research, so put in a comment if you have any information.

13 comments:

Shellback said...

This is quite plausible. Recall how after 9/11 Bush stated we were in this for the long haul and would have to fight these guys with ingenuity, creativity, and deception.

Although I am a fan of Bush's, I won't drink Kool-Aid for him. And as this issue about the ports is not something that I, personally, can control or effect, it becomes a matter of me understanding that Bush is holding cards that he can't show, and acting in our national interests. In fact, that is really the whole point here. People forget that the man in the White House is privy to information that would make most of them blanche, and must weigh issues inconceivably removed from their spheres of experience. The President must think on a complex, global - not parochial - scale.

Responses to this unfolding tale have a sort of echo of that story of that East Coast personality (I don't recall her claim to fame) that exclaimed in shock, after Nixon's landslide victory in 1968: "How can this be, when no one I know voted for the man?"

Indeed, we live in small spheres and see things narrowly. Thankfully, and hopefully, we elect individuals who can see broadly, and act accordingly.

Baron Bodissey said...

Shellback -- the liberal in question was, I believe, the late movie critic Pauline Kael.

Jesse Clark said...

Concerning Turkmenistan, there was rumored base deal, but nothing concrete.

I'm not really sure that it matters though. We've got better military access to Iran than we've had for any country in the past. Iraq and Turkey (Incirlik AFB) on the West, the Persian Gulf and Diego Garcia to South, and Afghanistan on the East.

We pretty much have them surrounded.

Shellback said...

Definitely off-topic, but how do I get the computer to post my "image" in the upper right corner?

Cubed © said...

Joshua and Baron,

Thank you very much for alerting us to this analysis of what MIGHT be going on; it's much more encouraging than the thought that the president is some sort of globalist determined to destroy our sovereignty.

I confess, given his abject refusal to deal with border security, when the port thing came up, my first thought was that 41's "New World Order" fantasy was a hereditary defect; the notion that this deal may actually be part of a plan to protect us all from experiencing the effects of the anticipated return of the Mahdi is quite comforting.

Damn, I wish he could clue us in, just a teensy bit! I know he has to hold cards like this very close to his chest, but if it's truly a plan where we find making a deal frought with so much potential for danger, is to our short-range benefit, then so be it, but I think his P.R. strategy is suboptimal.

There is simply NO way a deal of this magnitude with a place like the Emirates - or any Muslim country - could remain a secret, and there's NO way that the "secret deal" could come out without this kind of response from a public that, understandebly, feels cuckolded.

We were able to handle Stalin et al. after having gone to bed with him, and if this is, in fact, being done to protect our national interests in the short run (I can't imagine a permanent warm fuzzy relationship with Islam), then I suppose that we can deal with any future threats from Islam too.

I will keep my bloodshot eyes wide open. Certainly there is a difference between the ordinary Muslims and the apocolyptics, but they all learn from the same book. I cannot trust them in the long run.

Baron Bodissey said...

Shellback --

You need to put a photo or image on your blogger profile. Log into the blogger dashboard, choose the "edit user profile" option, and scroll down until you see "photo URL". If you don't already have an image to use, you'll have to upload one to Blogger or some other image hosting service.

Put in the URL, then save your profile. That's all it takes.

My advice: use an image that's already small. Some look peculiar when they're resized down.

Freedom Fighter said...

Thank you one and all for the kind words.

And thanks to the Baron..I'm glad he found my analysis of interest.

As I've said several times, Bush is either three steps ahead of the game and exploiting the Muslim world's natural divisions,or he is simply putting together a Sunni, autocratic bloc to surround Iran and Syria and playing the hand he has as good as he can.

I would like to think it's the former, but I'm also very conscious of the wholesale Saudi export of jihad to America that has been unchallenged by the President, and both the president and his families' long term relationships with the Sabahs in Kuwait, the Saudi royals and the Emirate sheiks.

It certainly does look to me as if he has turned his back(to some extent) on `Arab democracy' and is concentrating on creating the friendly bloc I speak of. That is a wise decision. in my view if that's in fact where Bush is going.

Time will tell.

Meanwhile, we have nothing to lose by turning down the ports deal.The Emirates are not likely to push us out of facilities they lease to us at a handsome profit and they need us there as a guarantor of their security.

And Iran is the main game in town anyway.

Either Bush is going to be able to justify this to Congress or at worst, we err on the side of caution.

Evanston said...

From "Day One" Bush has used the tried-and-true method of smart executives: be nice but firm in public, and have your Vice President/Chief of Staff/Executive Officer/Whatever be your "hatchet man." Hence Bush's reluctance to threaten or use vetoes, instead preferring behind-the-scenes rewards/punishment. As such, this veto threat is meant for foreign consumption. In the meantime, he's hoping it gets buried or forgotten along with all the other BushChimpHitler nonsense. I think he's miscalculated this time. And I say this while agreeing with his position (that having a UAE company run port ops will not endanger national security). The best move the Administration and company have made is the 6 month's delay to allow more inquiry. It'll make Bush's position seem more reasonable, even if Congress and public opinion still run counter in the end. It'll be up to the lobbyists to turn things around. As it stands, the onus is on Congress to gin up a special bill to overrule the existing approval. Betcha it gets stuck in committee. You're all correct in pointing to the strategic implications. We have common interests in both commercial and political realms with the Arab regimes and need to prioritize. Isolating Iran is our policy and Bush is acting toward that end. That said, I would be shocked if we actually attack Iran. I figure the Israelis will do it in 2007. By then a cooperative government will be running Iraq and we'll be drawing down. Just look at the trend, it's always your friend.

jaydee59 said...

Can anyone say Abu Musa? Hint: Iran has a gigantic military build-up on this island, located north of Dubai. The Iranian's believe this island to be their strategic point of control for the Straight of Hormuz, allowing them to block all traffic in and out. The only country the US could possibly launch an effective offensive against Abu Musa would be UAE. GW is not a fool, nor are our military strategists.

Jauhara said...

Reading this has been both enlightening and somewhat reassuring. the level of thoughtfulness is refreshing to the talkradio blather that currently assaults my ears. I hate the overly emotional aspects to this story. Reading this was actually like playing a game of RISK....

Tin Foil Hat Guy said...

Joshua Pundit isnt the only blogger with the possible theory of a strategic deal in the making. Check out tinfoilhatguy.blogspot.com I talk about the same basic premise.

Papa Bear said...

re: Iran and Sunni terrorists:

I would not be surprised if they turned out to be a major bankroller.

Remember, it is not in Iran's theocracy's interest to allow a non-theocratic, successful democratic republic right next door to them. Just as it is not in Saudi Arabia's princes best interest.

The ruling classes of most of the Arab world do not care what happens to their people. The rulers care about what happens to the rulers

friendlysaviour said...

Thankyou gates for this very informative article and aso the many thouhgtful comments.
This is the only way to read the news these days!
Murky waters indeed.