President Bush has asked anyone opposed to the operational sale of a half dozen American ports to a United Arab Emirates company "to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company."
Well, one overwhelming reason is that it was spawn of the Middle East, not Great Britain, that hijacked four American passenger planes on Sept. 11, 2001. And it was United Arab Emirates, not Great Britain, that served as a financial and operational base for the Sept. 11 hijackers (two of whom came from UAE), and a hub for Pakistan's rogue nuclear export business. As Great Britain is Islamized, the distinction narrows; for now, it's reason enough to hold a UAE company to that "different standard." But such evidence -- and there's more -- is obvious; hardly the stuff of great debates. The fact that the president even begs the question is what requires deeper consideration.
Bush threatens to veto any legislation drafted against the port sale. Why? The only explanation I can think of -- and it spells disaster -- is that George W. Bush has decided that international feelings trump national concerns; that upsetting the UAE is worse than upsetting Americans: "I am trying to conduct a foreign policy now by saying to the people of the world, `We'll treat you fairly,'" he said. Fairly? That's how you treat people after the war, not while the outcome remains undecided.
I didn't set out to write about the port story. Today's subject was meant to be Karen Hughes, Bush's diplomatic envoy extraordinary: the lady charged with making Them love Us; the lady who is supposed to make the world -- namely, the Muslim world -- see that "we'll treat you fairly."
In international circles, this requires leveling the existential playing field. Where Bush labors to knock down our historic affinity with Great Britain to a par with UAE, Hughes, in her address to the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Qatar, tries to belittle America's history of ever-expanding freedom into a We Are All Flawed narrative. As in: Once upon a time (that takes care of the first 300 years), there was a lady named Rosa Parks, who, as Hughes put it, "was tired of a life of indignity and injustice in a country that was failing to live up to its founding conviction that all of us are created equal." We Are All Flawed.