Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Port Deal

Republicans and democrats alike are in an uproar over the acquisition of some big city ports by Dubai Ports World which is owned by the United Arab Emirates. In fact, it seems that the only people in favor of this transaction are President Bush and some in his administration.

The uproar of course is entirely understandable. It just does not sound good when you hear we are letting a Middle Eastern country takeover several of our ports of entry. It does not matter that it is the UAE who has been an ally in the War on Terror. Opponents were quick to point out that the UAE's lax security allowed the 9/11 conspirators to use their banking systems to help fund the attacks.

Republican and democrat lawmakers have finally found common ground. The Republicans who have been preaching about being vigilant with national security had the same "what were you thinking?" reaction that citizens had when they heard the news. The democrats perceiving a crack in the republican monopoly on national security are seizing this opportunity to show that they are concerned about the issue. In reality neither side, including the President apparently, knew a whole lot about the situation before it was made public. Due to the political atmosphere of this election year and because no matter how you say it this deal just sounds bad, both parties have felt compelled to voice strong objections.

Officials in Bush's Administration are without a doubt to blame for this public relations fiasco. Whoever it was that decided this issue was not worthy of Presidential review before it was finalized should be fired, immediately. How could this person and others involved in this not forsee what the public reaction would be without all of the facts presented? Without a doubt there was a quick knee jerk reaction from both sides of aisle when this was made public but how could you blame them. Not trying to beat a dead horse but take a minute and say it in your head, the United Arab Emirates is taking over several major U.S. ports of entry. Sounds absolutely insane doesn't it?

In accordance with Newton's laws of action and reaction, Middle Eastern and American Arabs are now upset at what they see as racism. This point of view is also somewhat understandable. Although, until all of these countries do more to reign in their radical elements this type of xenophobia will continue.

We have learned a lot since the port deal was initially made public. The most important fact is that Americans will still be in charge of security at the ports. There are also other ports that are run by companies owned by foreign countries most notably one owned by China. There is also the fact that the UAE has been a cooperating ally in the War on Terror. On one hand we tell them that if they do not join us in the War then they are our enemy and on the other we show them that even if they join us they are still looked at with suspicion of being an enemy. So what is the reward for cooperating with the U.S.?

This has certainly blossomed into a major political debate that is not good for the President and consequently is not good for republicans. It is also not good for relations with Middle Eastern countries that we have desperately been trying to strengthen friendly ties with. After learning that we would still be in charge of security and that the UAE has stated that they will adhere to whatever security requirements made by us I am not as worried as I was in the beginning. However, I agree with Sen. Bill Frist this deal should be put on hold for more extensive review. I also hope that this will lead us to encouraging United States owned companies to retake ownership of all of our ports. Besides, in reality if Jimmy Carter is for this deal just how good could it possibly be?
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