February 19, 2006
Ann Coulter Syndrome
In response to a report that a Dubai company will help run a number of ports in New York a few webloggers went goofy about how there will be a huge hole in homeland security and how we shouldn't trust anything having to do with "those Arabs." It's sad when smart people get into knee-jerk mode. Then end up looking a little like Ann Coulter who treats Muslims as one big, monolithic, think-alike, act-alike group.
Captain Ed calls Dubai Ports World getting permission to help operate "the cruise-ship terminal on the West Side of Manhattan, one of the biggest cargo terminals in New York Harbor, and terminals in Philadelphia, Baltimore and other big ports" "surrender of port management to Arab-based firms." He then picks out some passages from the Sep. 11 Commission's report (the same report he has justly bashed for not including anything about Able Danger) that mentions the United Arab Emirates. Well, a few of the Sep. 11 terrorists used Frankfurt, Germany to organize their attacks, yet we still allow German firms to do business in the U.S. Could it be Captain Ed is afraid simply because Dubai Ports World is run by Arabs? I would hope that isn't the case. He needs to clarify what his concerns are.
Along with the "evil Arab" argument I reject Sen. Barbara Boxer's belief that "We have to have American companies running our own ports." I guess that means we should be dumping Canadian wood products, Sony televisions, Norwegian cell phones, Hong Kong textiles, British and German financial services, Indian tech support, and a host of foreign goods and services. Yes, economic nationalism will lead to national security. It sure worked in the span between the two World Wars.
My claim isn't that the Dubai World Ports deal is a good idea. It's that opponents' arguments have been flimsy.
Judith Apter Klinghoffer makes a far better case of the problem:
All companies should not be treated alike. State owned or controlled companies must be treated differently. Pretending that private companies located in tyrannies are independent, is bad enough. Treating a government controlled Chinese oil company or Port service company owned by Dubai as mere businesses is absurd. Profits motivate businesses. Geopolitical strategy motivates governments and, ultimately, the businesses they control.
UPDATE: For what it's worth I predict the deal will go down. Congress will investigate, and both Democrats and Republicans will have something to agree on for once. There will be plenty of bloviating and the administration will change its mind.
"Stop the Port Sellout"
"Despite Fears, a Dubai Company Will Help Run Ports in New York"