Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Port of Contention

Maybe I am starting to come around a bit? James Glassman with a convincing argument:

DP World is a company that knows this business well, currently running what The Guardian, the British newspaper, calls "one of the most efficient port organizations in the world"...

And Dubai -- I don't have to tell you -- is an Arab nation. Yes, two of the 9/11 hijackers were citizens of the UAE, but, then again, as Ivan Eland of the Independent Institute notes, Richard Reid, the attempted "shoe bomber," was a British citizen, and Jose Padilla, among others, is an American citizen (as was Timothy McVeigh). The UAE has been a staunch ally in the war on terror, training security forces in Iraq and helping to cut off the flow of money to al Qaeda.

Isn't this precisely what the United States preaches? Don't we want places like Dubai to fight terror and to grow, to invest, to buy, to trade, to adopt Western commercial practices, to expose themselves to the rest of the world and thus become tolerant and moderate?

Instead, congressional leaders are trying to kill the deal, which is set to go into effect next week. Why? "Outsourcing the operations of our largest ports to a country with a dubious record on terrorism is a homeland security and commerce accident waiting to happen," says Schumer.
This is rank racist nonsense. Schumer knows very well that responsibility for port security in the United States lies not with DP World or any other operator, but instead with the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs.
" Nothing changes with respect to security under the contract," said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "The Coast Guard is in charge of security, not the corporation."
Using Schumeresque logic, the U.S. should ban flights into the U.S. by airlines from Arab countries, and we should certainly bar any cargo from being loaded in Arab ports and bound for the U.S.

Maybe it is the Schmuckie Shumer-bashing that I cannot resist; but there is a certain logic in the fact that the more countries like Dubai have significant investment in America; the more it make sense for them to take actions that are in America's best interests. And of course seeing the Democrats engage in racial profiling is a delicious example of leftist double-standards at work.

This doesn't erase the fact that the Bush Administration now needs to do a thorough job of convincing ordinary Americans (not the Democrats; they will never be convinced) that this deal will not affect the security of the United States. An open process, with plenty of public Q & A, is the only way to settle this hash; the fact that at this writing Bush appears amendable to a delay is a positive move. By finally responding to the cry of the "American Street", he can re-establish his bona fides as someone who is in touch with the electorate, and not allow his position to be weakened by politically charged attacks on his efforts to safeguard the country.

Of course, while the media is having a field day Bush-bashing, rioting in Iraq is taking a back page. But I am sure that by tomorrow, the media will sense an opportunity to blame Bush for the civil strife overseas, and drop the port story, having given it their full 15 minute attention span...

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