So now we know why they do it. Islamic extremists go berserk at satirical cartoons of the prophet Mohammed for the same reasons that Congressional extremists go wild at the thought of a corporation from the Middle East operating some terminals at major U.S. ports. It is equal parts ignorance, misplaced anger and political opportunism. In neither case does the apparent injury or danger warrant the kind of near-hysterical response. In both instances, the real damage is being done to the reputation and world standing of the accuser rather than those that are being wrongly accused.
On the facts alone, there is little reason to deny a company from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai Ports World, the right to operate in the United States. A number of foreign firms operate terminals in U.S. ports. Indeed, Worldports is entering the U.S. market because it bought a British company that had previously operated those same terminals. Security will be solely in the hands of government agencies. Virtually all the staff of the former British company – most are Americans – will be retained.
The U.S. economy is part of a global trading system. Foreign companies and countries buy hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of U.S. securities, property and companies in the U.S. every year. Our trade deficit would swell dramatically were it not for these investments. Some of these foreign companies contribute also to U.S. national security. Maersk, the great Danish supply chain manager, not only enables goods to flow to and from the United States, it also manages part of the military’s fleet of prepositioned ships. BAE Systems – Great Britain’s premier defense firm – and France’s Thales are both major suppliers of defense goods to the Pentagon.
But the real problem is that critics of the deal are focusing on the wrong ports. The place of maximum danger to the United States is at the port of embarkation, where cargo is loaded on its way to our shores, not where the cargo is offloaded. By then it will be too late. Two recent studies, one by the Defense Science Board and the other by Secretary Chertoff’s own advisory council, concluded that once a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) has reached U.S. territory, the game is up. It does not have to be unloaded.
Ironically, when it comes to securing cargoes bound for the United States, the UAE and Dubai Ports World are among this country’s best friends. They were among the first to implement the Cargo Security Initiative, permitting U.S. customs agents to operate in the port of Dubai. The Emirates provide valuable intelligence on Al Qaeda. Those who carp about having foreigners in our ports should ask themselves a simple question: how safe would we be if the UAE took the same stance they want the U.S. to take?
Find Archived Articles: