The Spectacle Blog

Isolationist Fever

By on 2.23.06 | 10:58AM

Is at the heart of the domestic opposition to the Dubai ports deal, David Brooks writes. Rarely does the erstwhile conservative come down so strongly on any issue. I think he's wisely reserved his ammo for when it really matters:

But let's be clear: the opposition to the acquisition by Dubai Ports World is completely bogus.

The deal would have no significant effect on port security. ... Nor would the deal radically alter the workplace. ... Nor would the deal be particularly new in the world of global shipping. ...

Nor is Dubai a bastion of Taliban radicalism. All Arabs may look alike to certain blowhard senators, but the United Arab Emirates is a modernizing, globalizing place. It was the first country in the region to sign the U.S. Container Security Initiative. It's signed agreements to bar the passage of nuclear material and to suppress terror financing. U.A.E. ports service U.S. military ships, and U.A.E. firms have made major investments in Chrysler and Time Warner, somehow without turning them into fundamentalist bastions.

In short, there is no evidence this deal will do any harm. But it is certain that the xenophobic hysteria will come back to harm the U.S.

The oil-rich nations of the Middle East have plenty of places to invest their money and don't need to do favors for nations that kick them in the teeth. Moreover, this is a region in the midst of traumatic democratic change. The strongest argument the fundamentalists have is that they are engaged in a holy war against the racist West, which imposes one set of harsh rules on Arabs and another set of rules on everybody else. Now comes a group of politicians to prove them gloriously right.

God must love Hamas and Moktada al-Sadr. He has given them the America First brigades of Capitol Hill.

Brooks imparts the worst motives to the opposition. I wouldn't go so far, but it's hard to disagree with his general point: that the ports deal is opposed because the buyer is an Arab nation. Beyond that, there's no intelligible, rational standard being offered against the deal.

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