Dubai And Unintended Consequences

Stephen Green notes some very bad potential fallout from the Dubai ports deal:

The UAE’s small move is a warning shot across our bow. In the worst-case scenerio, OPEC could move to the euro. The result? A dollar worth perhaps half of what it is today, along with an inflationary surge like we haven’t seen since Jimmy Carter was President. The Oil States would suffer, too, but not nearly as much as we would.

Of course, that decision would be very bad over the long term unless one believes that Europe will suddenly surpass the US economy – which won’t happen when the Eurozone’s growing at a much slower rate than the US. However, if the OPEC nations wanted to really screw over the US in the short term, a sudden switch to the Euro would cause financial chaos.

That’s why Bush has been playing nice with the Saudis despite the fact that they’re hardly friends of democracy. Partially because the enemy of our enemy is our friend – and al-Qaeda has absolutely no love for the House of Saud. But it’s also because if we start burning bridges with OPEC, we not only screw ourselves over, but also Japan, Europe, and everyone else who isn’t sitting on craploads of crude.

The Bush Administration horribly screwed up the political aspect of the Dubai Ports World deal, but the policy was nowhere near as bad as the more hysterical arguments of its critics. Now that we’ve managed to royally piss off the UAE government, we can expect that getting cooperation from them on stopping the flow of terrorist financing as well as a major potential economic fallout.

Nobody comes out smelling like roses after this. The Democrats and the breakaway Republicans look like they cynically played to crude anti-Arab sentiment. The Bush Administration looks once again like the gang who couldn’t shoot straight and ended up walking around with their pants around their ankles trying to defend a policy issue they’d already lost. The UAE’s actions only further cements the idea that they’re hardly a US ally.

The Bush Administration should have managed this whole issue better than they did. They should have had a war room which A) should have known of the deal, B) should have forseen the political consequences of it, and C) should have started making sure that Capitol Hill was informed and ready to fight on the issue.

For all the talk about how the White House keeps everyone in rigid ideological lockstep, the evidence would seem to indicate the contrary – the White House’s political operations have failed time and time again.

As Green wryly notes:

It’s nice to know that sometimes, politics still stops at the waters’ edge. Sometimes so does our long-term thinking.

2 thoughts on “Dubai And Unintended Consequences

  1. I couldn’t agree more about the last couple of sentences. As my latest article on my blog details, I feel that America is at this time giving in to irrational fears and anxieties at the expense of our international reputation, particularly in the Middle East, where it hasn’t been exactly stellar for decades.
    Congratulations, Congress: you’ve managed to effectively destroy any good reputation that we had left… simply because that’s what seemed the popular thing to do. I have taken note of the most prominent voices against this deal… be assured, none of these self-serving hypocrites will be getting my vote in any upcoming election.

  2. Bush and Cheney have been winkingly selling the premise for the past four years that shared ethnicity and religious backgrounds constituted a connection between Iraq and the 9-11 attackers. The Bush administration is being backed into a corner on both selling our ports to the Arabs and abortion because, apparently, a large number of the people who voted for him actually took his hard-line campaign rhetoric against Arabs and abortion seriously!

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