I can't remember the last time such a complete non-issue went from total obscurity to screaming headlines in three days flat, for entirely political reasons. Even my Hill staffer friends were left breathless by how fast this came out of left field. It's not like the purchase of Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation
by Dubai Ports World
was a secret; the BBC reported on the deal
almost three months ago. This also isn't the first time DPW has gotten involved with US shipping -- last year it purchased the international port assets of CSX
, an American rail corporation, although admitedly none of those ports are in the US. To my mind, this is a tempest in a teapot that is really the opening shot of the 2008 US Presidential election. Many members of Congress would love to find a way to either distance themselves from GWB (if they're Republicans) or bolster their homeland security credentials (if they're Democrats). Thus we are treated to the bizarre spectacle of bipartisan Bush-bashing from the Hill and a White House arguing that Arabs are our friends and not crazed terrorists whose jihadi intentions make the Patriot Act indispensible. Ain't politics fun?
What nobody seems to have noticed is that the Emir of Dubai, who is essentially the entire Dubai government and thus the owner of DPW, is a Rashidi. In 1890 the House of Rashid captured the hereditary Nejd lands of the House of Saud, forcing the clan into exile in Kuwait. In 1902 Abd al-Aziz al-Saud
(a.k.a. Ibn Saud) recaptured Riyadh from the Rashidis in a daring midnight raid with 20 men, and began the reconquest of what is now the modern state of Saudi Arabia. The two great clans continued to fight for much of the early 20th century. Today's House of Saud are direct descendants of Ibn Saud, and are on extremely friendly terms with the House of Bush. No doubt they recall this history quite well. One wonders what they think of the scion of their American friends loudly defending a company owned by one of their hereditary enemies.
And while we are on points pelagic, let us not forget the international fiasco involving the French aircraft carrier FS Clemenceau
, whose asbestos-laden hull was apparently too dangerous for European workers to dismantle but not for Indians. Fortunately the Indian and French Supreme Courts stepped in
, and this ugly environmental racism was stopped. The toxic tonnage is now headed back to France and an uncertain future.
Oh, and hi. It's fun to be blogging here. :)