Some members of Congress, exhibiting post-9/11 jingoism and paranoia, are pressuring the Bush administration to reconsider its decision to allow Dubai Ports World, an Arab company, to take over operations at six U.S. ports. The approval should stand.
Congressman Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and, more importantly, a Congressman from an area near two of the ports that will be operated by Dubai Ports World, expressed this xenophobic view about Dubai's acquisition of the British company that is currently operating the ports: "In the post-9/11 world, there should have been a presumption against this company."
Why? Because two of the 9/11 hijackers happened to be from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the country in which the company is based. Yet the British company, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, was allowed to operate the ports in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Miami, and New Orleans despite Richard Reid's (the infamous "shoe bomber") British citizenship. And American companies are permitted to operate some U.S. ports despite the fact that Timothy McVeigh, Jose Padilla, and other U.S. citizens are convicted or accused terrorists. For that matter, how do we know that even an American company running the ports would be immune from terrorist infiltration?
In fact, since two of the 9/11 hijackers were from the UAE, Dubai Ports World might even have a stronger interest in operating safe and secure ports than companies from other nations. Dubai has a worldwide presence, an extensive history of operating ports, and a reputation to uphold. If a terrorist incident occurred in one of its ports, the company would probably lose more business worldwide than a non-Arabic company would under the same circumstances.
The company should be evaluated on its qualifications to operate the ports, not on McCarthy-like litmus tests for Arabs or the UAE. Besides, although Dubai Ports World will operate the ports, U.S. federal and local authorities will remain in charge of security.
Members of Congress such as Congressman King and New York Senator Charles E. Schumer certainly get points with their New York constituents for defending the nation against the onslaught by "Arab terrorists," and perhaps trying to protect U.S. companies from foreign competition as well.
But if Arab companies truly cannot be trusted to operate U.S. ports, then shouldn't they be banned from all involvement with U.S. airports, farming, electrical generation, water works, nuclear power plants, chemical, biomedical, and pharmaceutical production, and tunnel, bridge, stadium, and skyscraper construction? Extending this flawed logic further, perhaps even airlines from Arab countries should be banned from landing at U.S. airports because they might be used in terrorism or bring terrorists into the United States-in spite of the fact that the planes used on 9/11 were U.S. airliners.
After 9/11, U.S. authorities incarcerated and questioned people based on their Arabic nationalities and Islamic religion. The vast majority of them had no connection to terrorism or the 9/11 attacks. This was widely perceived to have been an overreaction. Yet more than four years after 9/11, this racial and ethnic profiling has now moved from individuals to businesses. The Bush administration was right to insist that no security threat emanated from a routine business purchase of a British firm by an Arab company. The politicians should quit posturing and move on to more important issues.
Ivan Eland is the Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California and author of the book, Putting "Defense" Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World.
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Airports also have terminals.
What event was missed by all the attention given to this possible event.
this article is not written by a Muslim. Scroll to the bottom of the column to see who wrote it.
Muslims arent killing Muslims - thats what your media shows you here. Are you really that naive? What about the millions of innocent lives that are lost in the Iraq war and COMPLETELY untallied in the media here.
Open your eyes Jim - Peace be upon you!
I can tell you this. I am as equally upset as when I found out Great Britan was running our ports. As far I and many Americans are concerned, this should be American run operation, and not any any foriegn country, whether it be England or UAE. We are agaist that. Our ports should not be run by another country. Period. So get off you high horse quit feeling left out. This isn't an Arab thing. It's a Muslim thing. All that we see on the left wing major networks, is Mulsim violence day in and day out. It's not just that many Muslims hate America, it's that now we see you hating each other. Frankly it's very hard to put your trust and faith into such a thing. If you could see it from our view, you would feel the same way. As a matter of fact, I get a lot of hatred to America from some of these comments about this article.
Now, why so much contoroversy. Are those (UAE, SA) countries not US partners/allies?.Is this not a double or ...standard?. There must be mutual trust and understanding and work for each other.
There are many ports (West and East Coasts) that are controlled by foreign countries. As long as they maintain the security standards of this country , they should be OK.