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Will the UAE strike back?
 
 
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Although I don't see the security threat -- "port security" is an oxymoron generally -- I am loving the ports scandal for the exquisite rift it's creating in the conservative coalition.

Eighty percent of Americans oppose the deal, as do many Republican legislators. And that's going to cause problems for the big-business community, a group that's moved past that antiquated Westphalian concept of the nation-state.

Nativism, you see, is bad for bidness:

Dubai is threatening retaliation against American strategic and commercial interests if Washington blocks its $6.8 billion takeover of operations at several U.S. ports.

As the House Appropriations Committee yesterday marked up legislation to kill Dubai Ports World's acquisition of Britain's Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation (P&O), the emirate let it be known that it is preparing to hit back hard if necessary.

A source close to the deal said members of Dubai's royal family are furious at the hostility both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have shown toward the deal.

Aaaaw, poor babies.

"They're saying, 'All we've done for you guys, all our purchases, we'll stop it, we'll just yank it,'" the source said. […]

The Emirates Group airline will decide later this year whether it will buy Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner or its competitor, Airbus A350. The airline last fall placed an order worth $9.7 billion for 42 Boeing 777 aircraft, making Dubai Boeing's largest 777 customer.

Aerospace, remember, is one of our last strong manufacturing sectors.

The UAE military also bought Boeing's Apache helicopters. Meanwhile, Boeing has been in talks with the emirates to try to sell its AWACS planes.[…]

Any repercussion to Boeing could put House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) in a delicate position. Boeing's decision to move its headquarters to Chicago has been seen as calculated to facilitate a close relationship with Hastert. He is against the ports deal, and his office did not return calls by press time.

Several businesses have expressed concern that the controversy over the $6.8 billion ports deal could damage trade with the UAE. Dubai is one of the seven emirates. The United States and the UAE are meeting next week for a fourth round of talks to sign a free-trade agreement. […]

Last year, the U.S. Navy docked 590 supply vessels in Dubai, plus 56 warships, Gordon England, deputy secretary of defense, said in a Senate hearing last month. About 77,000 military personnel went on leave in the UAE last year, he added.

Another lobbyist monitoring the controversy said K Street still believes there will be a compromise that allows the Dubai deal to go through while meeting congressional security concerns, even though a bill aimed at that result, put forward by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.), was widely repudiated amongst lawmakers Tuesday.

There it is: a trade deal, military basing and aircraft sales on one side -- with all the weight of the Whitehouse, K Street and the Chamber of Commerce behind it -- and the will of four out of five Americans, and probably the entire Republican base, on the other.

Will key GOP politicos back down and let King George have his way? Going into the 2006 election season, it's a win-win situation: either GOP legislators stand tall and Bush's lame duck status is solidified, or they fold and have to face the voters in November.

Joshua Holland is a staff writer at Alternet and a regular contributor to The Gadflyer .