I don’t read Strategy Page anywhere near as often as I should. For example, they currently have a bit of analysis on the UAE – ports deal that provides a few things sorely needed to the discussion — easily-overlooked items such as facts, perspective, and history.
Is there an innate danger in letting a foreign nation run our ports for us? Yes. But that’s not what’s happening here. A foreign corporation from a nation that has been a great ally for decades that had been managing our ports quite successfully is being bought by another foreign corporation, this one owned by a government that has been a pretty good friend of ours. The company in question has a long track record of successfully managing ports, and has agreed to extra scrutiny on this highly-sensitive issue.
And more to the point, not a single American company — not even the evil incarnate Halliburton — expressed any interest in managing the ports.
This is a tempest in a teapot, full of sound and fury. That’s the main reason I speculated that the brouhaha might have been either engineered or exploited by the unions — such hype over trivialities is a hallmark of the Left.
It is understandable why so many otherwise-rational people got so bent out of shape over this — it infringes on border security, a “gut” issue to many (myself wholeheartedly included). But now that more and more facts are emerging, and truth is winning out over speculation, unfounded rumor, and partisan-motivated out-and-out lies, the responsible commentators (as opposed to the irresponsible ones) need to step back, reassess, and stop typing with their glands.
Yeah, the Bush administration screwed the pooch, PR-wise, on this one. This SHOULD have had big red flags all over it, and they should have gotten out in front of it and sold it to the American people, instead of letting the left run with it and stir up the flames of fear, bigotry, protectionism, and hateful stereotyping with innuendo, half-truths, and outright lies. But that mistake should not be allowed to trump a few basic facts:
1) If Dubai Ports Worldwide does NOT take over management of the ports, they will essentially be unmanaged — NOBODY ELSE expressed interest in the job.
2) Port security will, in all likelihood, NOT be affected in the least by the changes.
3) The potential risks in this are utterly negligible, while the potential benefits are great.
A bunch of us got suckered. That’s a harsh but true statement. (In our defense, when one has Jimmy Carter on one side and Senators Schumer and Clinton on the other, one is going to find oneself taking a side with someone one would rather not. But Carter usually errs out of gullibility, stupidity, or ineptitude, while Shumer and Clinton usually take the side of self-interest and political gain. That should have been a key tipoff.) The question is, what do we do now? I’m choosing to step back from the position I got suckered into taking, deciding on my own what is the right position, and remembering just who suckered me so I’ll be better prepared next time.