Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Anti-Arab Paranoia

Quite a stink is being raised by Congressmen and Senators from both sides of the aisle on President Bush's decision to allow shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to be run by a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The objections raised by Senators and Congressmen to having shipping operations at these major ports run by a UAE company reeks of anti-Arab paranoia. I don't recall Senators or Congressmen howling when these port operations were being run by a British company. In addition, it would be one thing if the port operations were being taken over by Iran or North Korea or some other country that wishes us ill. However, the UAE is one of our strongest allies in the Arab world. Not to mention, the U.S. has previously sold highly sophisticated F-16s jets to the UAE , and if we can trust that they're not going to use our own military technology against us, I don't think we have to become all paranoid that once we allow an UAE company to run the ports that the terrorists are going to leave a nuclear weapon in some shipping container the next day. That being said, I second the thoughts of Will Collier, that the company should be carefully vetted, but I would say that about any company the U.S. chose to run the port operations.

A couple more things to keep in mind about the ports being run by an UAE company. The UAE company will have NOTHING to do with the security of the ports. That responsibility will remain with the U.S. Coast Guard, and the various state port authorities. Furthermore, all this contract with the UAE company grants is that they will be the company that will be able to competitively bid for contracts to handle cargo going on to or coming off of ships at these six seaports. Most of that labor of loading and unloading ships will be handled by locally based union labor, so its quite a stretch to say that port operations will be taken over by foreigners.

I hope everyone takes a few deep breaths about this situation rather than further alienating ourselves from the Arab world.