Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Why It's a Bad Idea


Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John W. Warner (R-Va.) said last night that he will convene his panel today for a public briefing to be led by Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert M. Kimmitt and five other administration officials involved in the security review of the deal. Warner was briefed yesterday by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The senator said he was satisfied that proper procedures were followed on the deal.

But he said he would withhold judgment on the deal's national security implications until after today's briefing. The United Arab Emirates provides docking rights for more U.S. Navy ships than any other nation in the region, Warner noted. He added: "If they say they have not been treated fairly in this, we run the risk of them pulling back some of that support at a critical time of the war."

This is precisely the point. State actors have different interests than at least the idealized view of business actors. The latter are pursuing profit, the former are pursuing a variety of interests. While in practice the world is not as neatly divided up like that as it should be, when you completely merge business deals and diplomacy you've got problems, especially when those business deals involve port security issues. Handing the keys of our ports over to a foreign government which is pursuing a variety of interests is not such a good idea, especially when that government is a hereditary oligarchy and not a liberal democracy.