Update 03.03.06: Article published on Kuro5hin.
A pending $5.8 billion port operation deal with Dubai Ports World has sparked acrimonious response from both sides of the aisle. Politicians are seizing on an opportunity to be tougher than the president on national security without much trepidation about ostricizing Arabs. Rhetoric abounds about the dangers to our borders, the security of our ports, the collapse of America as we outsource our labor to the UAE (and who the hell are they anyway?).
But it isn’t the Arabs you should fear. There is only one thing that politicians like more than scaring you and that’s money. The deep and sinister links between the Bush family, Carlyle Group and Dubai Ports World aren’t making the ten o’clock news, but don’t be fooled – this is just the latest way for Bush & Company to profit off of the “War on Terror”. Congress’ maligning of Arabs might suffice to derail the deal, but we still deserve to know what’s really going on.
A Partner in Peace
Bush has called the United Arab Emirates a partner in the so-called “War on Terror”. But Democrats point out that Dubai’s history with terrorism is far from spotless: two of the 9/11 hijackers were from the UAE; Osama bin Laden has a history of friendship with members of the UAE royal family; and that country recognized and supported the Taliban regime. The latter two do not warrant out-of-hand dismissal as either anti-Arab rhetoric or flawed logic, yet some argue that UAE has changed since 9/11 and so is somehow beyond questioning. It appears that the administration is on board with that assertion. In light of the United States’ history in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, it is perhaps unfair to characterize Dubai in the light of its historical indiscretions, particularly when one accounts for the delicate geopolitical balance that country has to maintain as an ostensibly pro-Western Islamic non-democracy. So the past notwithstanding, why shouldn’t we trust this country enough to let them run port operations? To find the answer to that question, you have to look closer to home.
Follow the Money
Controversy surrounding the DP World deal has been framed as us versus them but the money trail tells a different story and leads to the one person not concerned about national security: George W. Bush. Despite claiming to have no prior knowledge of the deal, it stands to reason that as major shareholders in the Carlyle Group, the Bush family must have been aware of the impact this deal would have on one of its major investments – a company called CSX Transportation. DP World owns the $1.5 billion freight terminal division of CSX Transportation, operator of the largest rail system in the Eastern USA, and there are at least two important connections between CSX and the Bush family:
- The former chairman and CEO of CSX Transportation is John W. Snow. Snow was appointed in 2003 to be Secretary of the United States Treasury by George W. Bush. In his role, Snow is also the chair of CFIUS, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the body that oversees large transactions in the USA involving foreign companies to ensure they are not national security threats. This would appear to be a major conflict of interest since Snow no doubt stands to reap significant stock gains as a result of the deal. Yet Snow did not recuse himself from the review process and his committee approved the DP World deal on January 17, after conducting an abbreviated 30-day review instead of the 45-day investigation required by law. Little difference, it seems, the additional 15 days would likely have made.
- The global investment firm Carlyle Group owns a majority interest in CSX Lines domestic container shipping. Carlyle Group made a name for itself by working behind the scenes, influencing global events to serve the needs of their elite investors. Their reach extends into aerospace, telecommunications, defense contracting, Iraq rebuilding and foreign policy. Executives and shareholders in Carlyle, a $13.5 billion company with offices just spitting distance from the White House, include former president George H. W. Bush, former British Prime Minister John Major, Colin Powell and former State and Treasury Secretary James Baker. Carlyle also boasts ties to another important family: the bin Ladens. According to a Wall Street Journal article from 2001: “A Carlyle executive said the bin Laden family committed $2 million through a London investment arm in Carlyle Partners II Fund, which raised $ 1.3 billion overall. … So far, the family received $1.3 million back in completed investments and should ultimately realize a 40% annualized rate of return, the Carlyle executive said. … But a foreign financier with ties to the bin Laden family says the family’s overall investment with Carlyle is considerably larger. He called the $2 million merely an initial contribution. “It’s like plowing a field,” this person said. “You seed it once. You plow it, and then you reseed it again.””
Reseed it indeed. With the power to make or break a global corporation, The Carlyle Group is in the unique position of being able to guarantee return on investment for its elite shareholders. In another context that might be called insider trading; Bush calls it a good deal.
- Download a Full-size JPEG or PDF of my handy flow chart illustrating the Bush-Dubai scheme.
- Meet the Carlyle Group — with links to articles from major news sources.
- Article on the Carlyle purchase of major stake in CSX.
- More on the Carlyle Group.
- Article on the DP World purchase of CSX World Terminals.
- American Dynasty by Kevin Phillips — a comprehensive history of the Bush family and how they came to power.
- House of Bush, House of Saud by Craig Unger — explores the relationships between the two most powerful family dynasties in the world.