February 22, 2006

My thoughts on the port issue

A million things have been written on this already so here's my quick take:

I agree that Americans should be in charge of American ports. That makes tons of sense as presumably Americans would be take American security very seriously. And, one of the main arguments against Dubai taking over the ports is the possibility of a terrorist infiltrating our security system via this foreign port company. But, what is an American? Can't someone from Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq or Iran become an American, or even just get a work visa, and get a job with one of the fine American companies running the ports?

Have we suddenly admitted, as a country, that we're not at war with Islamofascism or terrorism but actually Muslims, specifically of the Arab variety? I understand the mistrust but we have all spent the last 5 years since 9/11 saying that's not the case. The war in Iraq is proof of that. Why would we even bother democratizing the Mideast if we believe the people there to be inherently evil? Why bother with elections in Iraq or building the infrastructure in Afghanistan? Why not carpet bomb the place and call it a day? As for people who deny that there is any racism (I realize this isn't the right word because Arabs are not a race but I'm in a hurry and can't think of the correct word right now) involved in the criticism of this move, I have to wonder where they all these critics were when China took over a couple of our ports.

No, it doesn't seem like a great idea to leave our security to foreign companies but the reaction to this move has been beyond odd. Agree/disagree? Let me know.

Posted by Karol at February 22, 2006 07:41 PM | TrackBack
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While its not necessarily the smartest security move to sell any authority over U.S. ports to ANY country, I have to agree that its quite prejudiced to unilaterally declare Muslim businesses security risks when we apparently had no problem with white Christians from foreign countries doing precisely the same work.

Posted by: Dorian Davis at February 22, 2006 08:48 PM

I am puzzled by the hysteria surrounding this; it seems based on the fact that an Arab country is involved, but conveniently ignoring that the UAE is allied with us. Shouldn't we be demonstrating to our allies in the Middle East that they can do business with us if they play nice?

It's not like the buyer was Syria or, well, the Saudis.

Posted by: Fallen Sparrow at February 22, 2006 09:01 PM

Given 9/11, it makes sense to give extra scrutiny to this transaction. Port security is more important than ever. The 9/11 atrocities were committed by Muslim Arabs from the Middle East. The port deal transfers control of some of our major ports to a state-owned Arab company in the Middle East. So why shouldn't the American people have a good look at this transaction before it goes through?

Congress and the American people are upset about this deal precisely because the UAE is an Arab and a Muslim country. No one cared when a British company ran the ports. And the Chinese may not be our friends but they are not going around killing people over cartoons. When it comes to our nation's security, I would rather be un-PC and single out a company from the UAE than make a mistake that could jeopardize American lives.

Posted by: Dan at February 22, 2006 10:04 PM

Still, it is beyond absurd for Democrats--who opposed racial profiling in airports (which is an obvious and consistently effective way of IDing suspects)--to come back now and cry over the possible involvement of brown people in our port operations, when the U.S. has retained the right to control security in those ports. It exposes Democrats as either 1) playing politics with national security, 2) racist or 3) too incompetent to figure out that their position is contradictory.

Posted by: Dorian Davis at February 22, 2006 10:27 PM

hear hear! and here i thought we were starting to lose track of one another on politics. :)

Posted by: candy girl at February 22, 2006 10:50 PM

"1)playing politics with national security, 2) racist or 3) too incompetent to figure out that their position is contradictory."

You left out "all of the above."

Posted by: Oschisms at February 22, 2006 11:51 PM

We still monitor the ports. We will still have the final say of what comes in and out. They will just be doing the transactions on our soil. It is ridiculous to think that any one would just say here you go six American ports do what you want with them. The same security measures in place now will be the same ones in place when the contracts go from a British company to a U.A.E company. Plus whatever happend to you watch my back an i'll watch yours??

Posted by: David at February 23, 2006 01:22 AM

I was watching Biden on TV, and he was having issues articulating it, but I think the big concern the Congress has is that it is not just a foreign company, but that it is a foreign state owned company. I don't want any foreign country be it England, Canada, or the UAE, running American ports.

Posted by: Sam L. at February 23, 2006 08:37 AM

Just a couple of points, not necessarily debating anyone here

This isn't about a country or a company running SECURITY. And American companies haven't controlled U.S. ports since the 70s, when they all got out of the business because it wasn't profitable.

If you want to make the case that the government should control the ports from top to bottom--and even a libertarian could make that case in terms of security and defense--then that's a case to make. But if you're a capitalist, a free-marketer and such, you shouldn't be bitching about this deal. A "state-owned" UAE company is quite a different thing than, say, a state-owned Chinese company. UAE goes around spending seed money on things like a drunken 19-year-old sailor who's been at sea for three years.

Posted by: Ken at February 23, 2006 12:21 PM

"I agree that Americans should be in charge of American ports."

The company to be acquired by the UAE company is British.

Where does that leave your argument?

Not sure the nationality of the parent company is relevant.

Posted by: Dave at February 24, 2006 12:16 AM

Saw an interesting movie a few years (?) ago. Where the muslim terrorist was from Chechnya - the people are essentially, but not totally, northern european looking - light complexion, light to dark hair, light to dark eyes. And the terrorist who's supposed to blow up some ship totally passes for a white American college student.

And, of course, we have our own home grown terrorists here - remember Oklahoma City anyone? Timothy McVeigh, blond, blue-eyed, ex-military - are we going to ignore the fact that there are more like him?

I wish that more American companies would be used for security of our country and am really tired of hearing about non-American companies being used for all sorts of things. But the reality is, it's the bottom line that counts for everything nowadays and someone who wants to do damage can infiltrate an American company as easily as a foreign one. Besides national security, I don't want to tell someone in India or wherever my Soc number, just to resolve some issue with my bank account but that's the way it is nowadays.

Posted by: Caryn at February 24, 2006 12:13 PM

This is a non-issue. The rights to operate the ports leased. Port operations are things like making sure the tugs get out to haul the heavies in, making sure that there are cranes to onload and offload with, and that the shipping companies can get their loads transferred to trucks and rail.

The border patrol and customs service (whatever they are called now) along with the coast guard are charged with securing the borders.

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