the UAE port controversy

“We all need to take a moment and not rush to judgment on this matter without knowing all the facts. The President’s leadership has earned our trust in the war on terror, and surely his administration deserves the presumption that they would not sell our security short. Dubai has cooperated with us in the war and deserves to be treated respectfully. By all means, let’s do due diligence, get briefings, seek answers to all relevant questions and assurances that defense officials and the intelligence community were involved in the examination and approval of this transaction. In other words, let’s make a judgment when we possess all the pertinent facts. Until then, all we can offer is heat and little light to the discussion.”

–senator john mccain, quoted here.

mccain’s making a ton of sense. i agree with this. i think we need to look at this port sale deal carefully and make sure we have fully vetted any company who wishes to be involved with our ports on any level. i’ll be honest. i have my doubts about the wisdom of allowing this deal to take place. on the other hand, i’m not sure if we really want to alienate a country who has provided some level of operational support to the united states in the war on terror. opponents and supporters of this sale have both made convincing arguments.

i don’t think that democrats who have spoken out against this port sale are doing so for the sole purpose of looking tough on security, although that may be a fringe benefit. i’m also not cynical enough to suggest that some of those democrats are protecting union interests by opposing the deal, as some conservatives have done. maybe they are, but i would like to believe that they have actually thought about this before taking a position on it. the most inane argument against it is the accusation that those who have concerns about this deal believe that all arabs are terrorists…that we are racists, in other words. that’s not the right sales pitch.

of course we don’t believe that all arabs are terrorists. we realize that we can’t paint them all with the same brush. that said, based on dubai’s past history, it is rational and natural to have legitimate concerns about any involvement they might have with our ports. it’s not racism. it’s common sense. i think mccain has the right idea. we need to examine all the evidence before we rush to judgment based on limited information.

i’m ok with dubai ports world leasing space in our ports, with these conditions:

  • there is a thorough and complete vetting process, including questions about their effectiveness in providing service in other countries
  • port workers should be screened carefully, and be subject to extensive background checks (this goes for all of them, not just those from any UAE-affliated company)
  • the coast guard will continue to control security at the ports
  • the local port authorities will still be in charge of owning and operating the ports

there may be other needed conditions to make this transaction work for both sides, but i think that we need to consider the deal. once we get all the information on this, i think the president could win this argument, but i have absolutely no confidence in his ability to sell any of his policies to us (or even to his own party).

related posts/articles:

The UAE purchase of American port facilities
(FAQ)–council on foreign relations (CFR)
The Ports Deal Makes a Comeback–real clear politics blog
Security fears about infiltration by terrorists–washington times (bill gertz)
Ports of Politics– (WSJ editorial)
Port Security: We Weren’t Wrong To Question, But We’re Satisfied By The Answers–california conservative