Monday, February 27, 2006

(S)UN Spots, Katrina, Dubai & Dubya

The irrationality of some people about the United Nations leads one to impertinent questions. Did a UN peacekeeper wearing nothing but a blue UN helmet jump out of the woodpile today and frighten them when they were children?

The New York Sun led with what has to be one of strangest and stretchiest attacks on Kofi Annan yet. The UN Secretary General had won a half million dollar environmental prize from Dubai and therefore kept silent about the whole ports affair.

Why Annan should adumbrate on the affair at all is a mystery. And since the rest of the article bashes the UN for being anti-Israeli, one could assume that Annan's default position would be pro-Arab and thus supportive of Dubai against the waves of xenophobia slurping oleaginously around the US. Why would Dubai bribe someone who the New York Sun is accusing of being prejudiced in favor of Arabs anyway?

What complicates this perfect conspiracy theory even further is that Annan was donating the prize to charity, as he did, for example the Nobel peace price he won, which personally I think is pretty noble, what with his retirement looming at the end of the year. But then the Sun spots, what about the interest on the money while it is waiting?

Obviously the Sun has Kofi Annan confused with some Congressman or other whose voice and votes await the drop of a lobbyist check.

So consider the news values inherent in the selection of stories. AP last week ran a story that seemed to be confined to the back pages of most papers. Ten years ago, some of the UAE sheiks had sent at least a million dollars to the George H.W. Bush memorial library. Which of course had nothing to do with Dubya's decision to do the right thing by Dubai about the P&O ports takeover.

The AP reported, less than half a year ago, the UAE, including of course Dubai, sent a $100 million in cash donation to the US after Katrina. The Bush administration could have given it to charities for discretionary spending, but instead sent two thirds to FEMA and one third for educational expenditure in the New Orleans region.

To take a sneering tip from the Sun, one cannot help wondering if the checks were just endorsed to Halliburton to save on accounting costs and bank charges.

However, sneering apart, that means is that they took Dubai's generously donated money, and used it to reduce Federal expenditure, in other words to help finance their tax cuts. Think about this carefully. This is not understandable materiel, logistics supports and aid in kind to meet unprecedented shortages.

It was cash. That puts the US in the same position as a third world country that needs budgetary support to carry out its duties to its citizens after a disaster.

Perhaps that is one reason it has taken almost half a year for this news to leak out. At least the administration was not as stupid as Giuliani, who returned a multi-million dollar Arab check because it did not come with a round of applause for Ariel Sharon.

But there are a lot of homeless people from New Orleans who would have thanked the Emirates for their kindness, if any of it had trickled in their direction. So why did the administration keep it secret? And why did it appropriate it for Federal Agencies instead to using it supplement Federal cash?

And while I still think Bush is right about the Dubai World Ports, I do indeed suspect he was right for the wrong reasons, and that he went about it in the same arrogant and secretive way he has transacted most of this administration's business.

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