It may be that we have gotten ourselves into a terrible position in which we cannot "offend" the UAE by blocking this deal because they may reciprocate by blocking access to their deep water ports. If that's the case, then we are being blackmailed by the UAE for big money and potentially putting our own ports in danger in the process.
So the situation is more complicated that it appears at first glance. The results of the UAE port deal will have broader strategic implications for the U.S. in the Middle East. Nor are they the only regional "ally" to stick it to the United States. Saudi Arabia joined Egypt in rejecting a call by the U.S. to cut off the Hamas-led government in the Palestinian territories.
Even our toadies are giving us the rhetorical finger. Iraq's Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari recently responded to a U.S. warning to avoid sectarianism--
When someone asks us whether we want a sectarian government the answer is 'no we do not want a sectarian government' -- not because the U.S. ambassador says so or issues a warning..." (Reuters, 2/21/06)
Ouch. That's sort of like Jim Henson getting bitch-slapped by Kermit the frog.
I don't want to pretend that our relationships with our allies in the Middle-East are somehow different under the foreign policies of the Bush administration than they were under previous administrations. Governments from the UAE, to Saudi Arabia to the nascent Palestinian Authority have played both sides of the fence for years. At best they've been that buddy that borrows 50 bucks and then doesn't pay you back or return your calls. At worse they've been that buddy that runs off with your wife.
But I am feeling that same old frustration at lost opportunities that I get every time I think about events after they unfolded after the September the 11th attacks. With unprecedented international goodwill and calls for solidarity with the United States from countries as diverse as Iran and Russia we were in a position to effect international politics to an extent we won't see again in our lifetimes. We had practical carte blanche to change the world in a way that would ensure the security of our country. We had a huge store of political capital.
It seemed liked such a no-brainer that we would spend that capital on addressing the obvious roots of the problem that led to the attacks: oppressive, anti-democratic regimes in the Middle-East that were nominally classified as our "allies." Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE spring immediately to mind. If the United States was willing to play it's cards right and apply a tactful, thoughtful and global policy towards democratizing those regimes the U.S. could work itself into a much stronger strategic position. We were in the cat bird's seat towards making REAL change in the region for the first time in a generation.
Instead of all that we took tact, grabbed it by the shorties, threw it on the ground and kicked the living shit out of it. We burned up all that unprecedented international goodwill by going after Iraq. We took the bull-in-the-china-shop approach to foreign policy and it cost us.
It's costing us still.