Friday, March 24, 2006

A Brief Note on Dubai

In response to John Cole, my good friend Finn, and the general uproar of "good sense," mainstream anti-isolation heroes of the left and right, I just want to put in my two, thoroughly under-informed, cents. I am not prone to isolationsim, and I don't think there is a problem as such with foreign national companies outsourced to handle certain infrastructure -- such is the way of an inter-dependent world, and in the long run, ties of mutual business interest may have an ameliorative effect on violent jingoism. However, what the critics of many of the critics of the Ports deal -- though certainly not all -- miss, is that the deal was infuriating to certain quarters because of the ideologiacl dissonance it evinced. The Bush regime has risen to power by welding together a range of phobias, ignorances, and parnoias, in the name of Americanism, and with the aim of occluding what is, in general, an old-fashion pro-concentrated-and-unequal wealth agenda. With the Dubai Ports deal, the regimists suddenly said, no, no, no, we are most certainly NOT racist, chauvinistic, and ignorant operators -- we are modern men with a pro-business and pro-globalization agenda, who are willing to accept minor ideological deviance on the part of our business partners.

The truth is, I think, that they are both pro-business and ignorant chauvinists, a mix that has historically proved quite palatable. The bottom line was, however, that on the one hand, they had drawn lots of their support based on their rhetoric of chauvinism, and those supporters were betrayed. And on the other hand, their liberal internationalist talk of eliminating tyranny from the world, no matter what the circumstance, was once again given the lie -- what critics of the critics haven't dealt with is that quite simply the UAE is not a pure partner by any means in the "war against whatever." The real-politik answer is, of course, that there are no pure partners, or very few. Fine. But that is NOT the nuanced rhetoric that Bush has used to push his agenda of intervention and civil-rights violation.

So the Ports deal got nailed, NOT because most Americans, on the left and right, are ignorant little peasants who don't understand the fabulous complexities of the global market, but rather because the governing rhetorical paradigm was unmasked as wholly incoherent, and a scene of resistance was openend. Those on the left and the right who smugly state with assurance that this was one more ignorant non-cosmopolitan American mis-step miss the point. Whether or not the deal was safe re: national security, so be it. If you have problems with our current rulers in this country, then you don't always get to pick your battles. I for one don't particularly care about the Ports deal. I think if you take seriously the idea of locating and eliminating all those governments that abet terrorism then you have to take a look at the UAE. But whatever.

The point is I think it is a little ridiculous for people, especially for those who are passionately anti-tyranny as it is being manifested in this country currently, to pride themselves on maintaing a cool analysis of the "facts" when what is being fought is a battle for rhetoric as much as a battle for logic.


At 4:06 PM, Blogger Finnegan said...

Just a couple points to add to that: The UAE indeed is not a pure partner in the GWOT because there is not GWOT, and therefore no pure partners in it. The other important thing is that the UAE doesn't really exist; what exists is a very loose coaltion of emirs, many of whom have very little in common. What's true of any part of the UAE is not necessarily true of any other part; Dubai, regardless of whatever is true of the rest of the UAE, is a Vegas/Switzerland hybrid in the Persian Gulf. Its government likes money and dislikes not-money, and has very few opinions about anything else.

Just one more point: whatever was going on in the country, the tropes that the Democratic leadership invoked in attacking the port deal were fairly blatantly xenophobic; juxtapose that the the Democrats can't be bothered to stop the president when he promises explicitly to violate felony statutes, and you've got a party that doesn't even deserve your pity.

At 4:17 PM, Blogger jeremy said...

If you could find quotes for me of the "blatantly xenophobic" rhetoric, that would be appreciated. I just haven't seen much. More on the Repub side. As for your latter point I whole-heartedly agree. I'm not pro-Democratic party at all. Most of them disgust me. But I recognize political opportunity, and will take whatever I can get for the moment. But of course -- there is so much better opportunity they are missing.


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