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Uproar over UAE deal

Posted by Richard on February 22, 2006

It looks like the only people who aren’t upset over the prospect of a United Arab Emirates company running U.S. ports are Rush Limbaugh, me, and some other libertarian free-market types.

Oh, and it turns out that Jimmuh Cah-tuh supports the Bush administration on this one. Hmm… Now I’m thinking of moving into the "anti" column.

Seriously, I just don’t buy the national security concerns here. The Arab company, Dubai Ports World, wants to buy the British company, Peninsula and Oriental, that’s been operating the American ports in question (New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami, and New Orleans). P&O stockholders approved the DP World bid, which beat out an offer from a Singapore company.

Do you think DP World will replace the American longshoremen actually working at those ports with Arabs who have suspicious backgrounds? The Brits have been running these facilities for years — how many limeys are working Baltimore harbor?

Besides, if you’re worried about DP World being in charge of the unloading of containers in Newark, what about the loading of those containers in their ports of origin? DP World is one of the top four port and container operations companies in the world, managing container terminals in Dubai, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Germany, Australia, India, South Korea, Venezuela, … need I go on? If there are Islamofascists in DP World management who want to facilitate a terrorist attack on U.S. ports, couldn’t they best accomplish that at the Shanghai or Busan facility where DP World processes thousands of containers bound for those U.S. ports?

All that having been said, this was a politically stupid decision, no matter how off-base the criticisms are. And for W to exercise his first veto in six years over this? That’s just crazy. Where the heck is Karl Rove? Did he know about this public relations disaster?

Well, I’m sure Hillary’s delighted. I’ve noted before that she’s got problems trying to appear tough on national security without alienating the anti-war Democrat base. This issue was made for her to demagogue: 

U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, is once again attempting to do an end run to the right of any and all potential Republican opponents she might face for the presidency in 2008. Of course, when you are vying to be the first female president, it never hurts to appear as tough as possible on national security issues, either.

Hillary says she will join with a fellow Democrat, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, in sponsoring legislation that would ban companies owned or controlled by foreign governments from acquiring U.S. port operations.

Isn’t that odd — as far as I can tell, in the 90s, Hillary didn’t object to letting "companies owned or controlled by foreign governments" acquire Long Beach port operations or operations at the Panama Canal. Maybe if DP World put Johnny Chung on their payroll and arranged for the appropriate donations…

There aren’t any American companies that do large-scale ports management and container terminal operations. Probably the American company that’s closest to being qualified is KBR (formerly Kellog Brown & Root), a subsidiary of Halliburton. Oooh, wouldn’t that be a fun outcome — Congress passes a Clinton bill requiring a U.S. company, so the contract goes to Halliburton! You think maybe Cheney was behind this all along?

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One Response to “Uproar over UAE deal”

  1. Trevor said

    I’m more concerned over the tendency of the Bush Administration to claim everything is “classified” when questioned on an issue than anything.

    I’ve watched Dubai television for about 3 months now, and they are pretty gosh darned Westernized.

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