Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bush, ports, UAE, racist/xeno overtones and stupidity.

Nation: How did something like this get so way out of hand? Blame goes all around on this.

The White House appeared stunned by the uprising, over a transaction that they considered routine — especially since China's biggest state-owned shipper runs major ports in the United States, as do a host of other foreign companies. Mr. Bush's aides defended their decision, saying the company, Dubai Ports World, which is owned by the United Arab Emirates, would have no control over security issues. Some administration officials, refusing to be quoted by name, suggested that there was a whiff of racism in the objections to an Arab owner taking over the terminals. The current operator of the six American terminals, P&O Port, is owned by the British company that Dubai Ports World is acquiring. The ports include those in New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia, as well as New York. Mr. Frist, in a rare break from the Bush administration, declared that "the decision to finalize this deal should be put on hold until the administration conducts a more extensive review of this matter." He added, "If the administration cannot delay this process, I plan on introducing legislation to ensure that the deal is placed on hold until this decision gets a more thorough review." Representative Edward Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts and a persistent critic of the administration's actions on port security, said in an interview that "this is now a bipartisan posse chasing the president." But firestorm of opposition to the deal drew a similarly intense expression of befuddlement by shipping industry and port experts. The shipping business, they said, went global more than a decade ago and across the United States, foreign-based companies already control more than 30 percent of the port terminals. That inventory includes APL Limited, which is controlled by the government of Singapore, and which operates terminals in Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, and Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Globally, 24 of the top 25 ship terminal operators are foreign-based, meaning most of the containers sent to the United States leave terminals around the world that are operated by foreign government or foreign-based companies. "This kind of reaction is totally illogical," said Philip Damas, research director at Drewry Shipping Consultants of London. "The location of the headquarters of a company in the age of globalism is irrelevant." But the reasoning did not resonate in Washington, where members of Congress from every end of the political spectrum piled on to condemn the deal and to propose emergency legislation to block it if necessary.
The first blame goes to the White House for not being prepared for this sort of reaction, it was tailored made for a press/congress critter frenzy. From a business standpoint its a good deal. Dubai has become a international center of finance and one of the friendly Middle East countries to America and the West. It already owns multiple places in America and as the Times points out, its not an strange to have ports being foreign owned. Yes I know the talking points about UAE are already out, they recognized the Taliban, bank transfer for 9/11, 2 of 19 terrorists came from there, may be a hub for terrorism fund-raising. If we applied this to all of the Middle East. The only place we would be comfortable with is the Kurdish north. This is not personal, its business. There were legit reason to oppose this without going into hysterics, now its being played out by the usual suspects are going to take advantage to paint America being racists.
James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, said on Tuesday that politicians were exploiting fears left over from the September 11 attacks to gain advantage in a congressional election year. "I find some of the rhetoric being used against this deal shameful and irresponsible. There is bigotry coming out here," he said "Bush is vulnerable so the Democrats jump on it. The Republicans feel vulnerable so they jump on it. The slogan is, if it's Arab, it's bad. Hammer away," Zogby said. Anti-Arab bigotry According to some industry analysts, the change in management would have no real effect on security, which would still be carried out by American workers to international standards. The UAE, whose government owns Dubai Ports World, is an international financial hub and close US ally. "The Emirates have been very pro-active partners in helping our security. They have a solid track record of cooperation," said Peter Tirschwell, publisher of the Journal of Commerce. Rabiah Ahmed of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said members of her organisation also believed anti-Arab bigotry was driving the debate. "The perception in the Arab-American community is that this is related to anti-Arab sentiment," she said.

UAE is among the top countries not only in the Middle East, but the Muslim world to have a good business relationship with as it becomes a business center. The security is not going to be handled by them, they are just running the operations.

The interesting part of all of this is Bush could come out of this looking good as trying to fight the "racist" congress(that is being played out in Arab Media) or to find a way to point out everyone is just being a bit crazy over this.

Expanding on my earlier bit about the White House not being prepared for this. This is yet another self-inflicted wound. Whoever is the day to day operation person behind these policies, if there is any, should be fired. If Karl Rove is in on this, then he shows again while he is a big event planner(elections) with the day to day stuff, he has no clue. Time for changes in the media/information center.

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