Arab Port Controversy: Should We Turn Away Japanese Planes Too?

Squeezed February 25, 2006

Just what is our country coming to? A foreign company buys out another foreign company, both of whom are in the business of managing terminals at seaports around the world, and suddenly alarm bells go off on Capitol Hill because the buyer just happens to be (gasp) an Arab company, Dubai Ports World based in the United Arab Emirates.

While we’re at it, let’s demand that Honolulu Airport refuse to let any Japanese planes land. After all, it was Japanese airplanes that bombed Pearl Harbor, yes? We certainly don’t want their kamikaze planes to be divebombing our skyscrapers. Especially those huge 747s! Yes, I know, we’ll have to forego the $$$ that comes from their tourism, but hey, this is a war, right? We should protect ourselves from foreign influence at all costs.

If you actually agree with what I said in that last paragraph, there’s a little red button in the top right corner of your Web browser. Click it. Now.

Still here? Good. A few deep breaths here are in order.

Certainly, the fact that the United Arab Emirates was home to two of the September 11th hijackers can is worth taking a little closer look. And yes, once bitten, twice shy. But the strong, knee-jerk, visceral opposition I’m seeing here is way out of proportion.

And speaking of swatting a fly with a sledgehammer, some in Congress are even suggesting that all foreign companies be banned from operating at U.S. ports. Come on now. Some of our largest ports have terminals that are operated by foreign-based companies. The ports of Long Beach and San Francisco have a Chinese company (and not just a Chinese company, but a Chinese STATE-owned company) leasing their terminals to load and unload containers. And by some estimates, many ports around the nation are in the same boat, so to speak, with companies based in different countries. Do we really think that we’ll be doing the nation a service by disrupting the operations of our largest seaports in the name of nationalism?

Nothing but racist, anti-Arab xenophobia.

Richard Silverstein’s Tikun Olam, which I read regularly for his moderate, pox-on-both-houses take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has jumped on this issue big time. Go read.

Tags: Dubai Ports World, Arab ports controversy

4 Responses to “Arab Port Controversy: Should We Turn Away Japanese Planes Too?”

  1. Richard Silverstein Says:

    Thanks for that nice mention of my blog.

    You folks in Hawaii appreciate the vital nature of world trade I’m sure as you’re a conduit for Pacific trade to the U.S.

    You just can’t get around the fact that we’re a globally interconnected economy whether we like it or not. You can’t turn back the hands of time to a more innocent, more American age when we owned & controlled our destiny lock stock & barrel.

    In fact, one could argue that world trade gives all nations more of an incentive to promote stability and harmony. So how does the U.S. win by trying to run against that current & making even worse enemies of the hundreds of millions of Arabs in the world?

  2. eric Says:

    If people in India are taking my drive thru order at McDonalds (maybe not India, but some are routing it through to call centers)m then this should not surprise anyone. We are willing to outsource jobs to almost anyone, but not the Arab Nations.

    If we are so scared of this port deal, we should stop selling/giving military equipment to these same countries. As we have seen with our Stinger Missles, these packages of “Military Aid” end up in the hands of terrorists. World trade and globalization is here already – we can’t pick and choose.

    The real outrage is that there is a cover of secrecy in the White House over everything from regular trade deals to hunting accidents. ONE THING THAT WE NEED TO DO IN THIS CURRENT PORT SITATION IS FOLLOW THE MONEY. WAS THIS A NON-COMPETITIVE SWEETHEART DEAL? That is something I want to know. Did the administration allow this deal to go through over other companies that could have done the same job for the same or less money?

  3. Keith Says:

    From this timeline, not at all. It looks like P&O put itself on the auction block and DP World won out…a private transaction. My point is, I don’t understand all the sturm und drang over threats to security. The port operator isn’t responsible for that; the government is. If security is such an issue, I think it’s a symptom of distrust in Customs, the Coast Guard, and Homeland Security to keep us safe. If we really trusted them, there would be no issue.

  4. Jere Krischel Says:

    I suppose it’s just politicians being politicians. The most important thing to them isn’t consistency, or looking at the facts, it’s finding something to bash the other guy with.

    On an NPR broadcast today, I heard someone comment to the effect that never in their life had they seen the public debate over something so divorced from the facts of the matter (after calling Schumer’s office for port security professionals who would back his POV, he got a hold of them and they completely repudiated Schumer’s assertions).

    Boy, if there’s anything in the world that makes you dream of a third party, it’s this kind of partisan mudslinging.

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments from first time commenters are moderated and will be posted at my first opportunity, usually within 48 hours.