March 22, 2006

Bush Gets a Dubai Mulligan!

Hatched by Dafydd

No, he doesn't get to replay the DP World purchase of P&O... but a new Dubai deal is in the works that would allow a different company, also owned by the government of Dubai, to acquire a different British company, the Doncasters Group.

Doncasters is an aerospace company that does extensive work on American airplanes, notably the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. (The F-35 JSF is a joint venture between the United States and Great Britain, and it is expected eventually to replace the Harrier, the Hornet, the Fighting Falcon, and -- well heck, practically every fighter/attack plane we and the Brits have, it seems.)

Arab and US officials are growing nervous at the prospect of a second congressional uprising against the acquisition of American assets by a Middle Eastern-controlled company in the wake of the Dubai Ports World debacle.

A person familiar with the thinking of both the US and United Arab Emirates said officials were concerned that the pending investigation of Dubai International Capital’s £700m ($1.2m) purchase of Doncasters, a privately-held British aerospace manufacturer that works on sensitive US weapons programmes, including the Joint Strike Fighter, could provoke a similar backlash and further damage the relationship between the two countries.

But there is a big difference this time: now that the Bush administration is on notice that Congress tends to hit the ceiling about these sorts of things when they feel neglected and ignored, two things will surely be handled differently:

  • This time, the 45-day review period will be conducted at a higher level, probably even cabinet level;
  • The administration will, I predict, bring Congress in early -- Republicans and even some Democrats -- and work it all out with the liberal Congressal chairmen of the two Homeland Security committees: Pete King (R-NY) in the House and Susan Collins (R-ME) in the Senate, the ones who led the revolt last time.

The administration can work with all the other relevant committee chairs (Armed Services, Commerce, etc.) and ranking members to craft a series of safeguards that will prevent any compromise of national security. I'm not exactly sure what Doncasters' role in the development of the JSF is, but one of their prime clients is Pratt & Whitney, who make the P&W F135 powerplant that will drive the F-35. I would guess that is where the Doncasters Group contributes. The F135 is brand new, developed from the F119-PW-100, which powers the F-22 Raptor.

In any event, this time, the Dubai connection can be dealt with efficiently, with both Congress and la Casablanca getting to toss in their two cents' worth (that probably overstates the importance of Susan Collins' opinion on fighter jets). Nobody will feel left out, so nobody will turn this into a cause celebre.

If everyone can come to a deal, great; Dubai will be very happy. But if the congressional Republicans stamp their feet like Rumplestiltskin and just refuse to consider allowing any A-rabs to invest in defense-related companies -- at least it will happen privately, before the deal becomes a huge public-relations nightmare.

There are several possible deals that can be cut here:

  • Congress -- this time being consulted -- may have no problem with the deal as is.
  • If Congress does have a problem, there is this consideration: during the bidding, the Pratt & Whitney powerplant was selected over the Rolls Royce F136. If worse comes to worst, they could switch, which might cut Doncasters -- and their new owners, Dubai International Capital -- out of the deal entirely (assuming they're working on the powerplants).
  • Most drastically, the U.S. could do what they did in the DP World case: go ahead and let Dubai International Capital buy the Doncasters Group, but spin off the American market to any of a number of U.S. companies that work on turbojet powerplants.

None of these solutions seems drastic, so I hope they would not delay the JSF project very long. We really need a new generation of fighter/attack jets. Our mainstay, the F/A-18 Hornet, is 1970s technology, first flying in 1978.

This is what I mean by Bush getting a "Mulligan": the president gets a chance to negotiate another Dubai deal... but this time, to do it right, and right from the beginning. Let's hope he carpes the diem.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 22, 2006, at the time of 4:07 AM

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More than a month ago, in Bush Gets a Dubai Mulligan!, Big Lizards gave readers a loud shout of "fore!" about another deal where a company owned by the government of Dubai wanted to purchase a British company that was... [Read More]

Tracked on April 28, 2006 9:29 PM


The following hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi

dafydd, here is a really good analysis of the Doncaster deal.
'Aquol will also be posting the COMPLETE transcript of the Wafa Sultan/Al-Khouly debate later.
You can be sure i will draw it to your attention.

The above hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 23, 2006 6:32 AM

The following hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi

Do you think you could possibly convince Malkin not to throw a knee-jerk reactionary hissy fit over this one?

The above hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 23, 2006 6:34 AM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

This is where I hope to see Michelle parting company with Savage. If she does not, whe will go the wayof Anne Coulter: down hill. Laura Ingraham had better be very thoughtful on this issue as well.
DP World was a good deal for the US. Mob action is always bad, and mob action killed that deal and hurt this nation's security.
I hope level heads prevail in this.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 23, 2006 9:06 PM

The following hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi

Not to mention the 19 BILLION dollars that Airbus will be getting instead of Boeing. ;-)

here yah go, dafydd.
Can you find anything like a death fatwa in here?

you can read it for yourself, but i believe he says, "Wafa is an aetheist, so he cannot condemn her."

it is interesting that it is a debate on the Clash of Civilizations. the MEMRI translation makes it look more like a speech than a debate.

The above hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 23, 2006 10:43 PM

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