Friday, February 24, 2006

Port Security vs Islamophobia

*** MILESTONE: 200th Post ***

UPDATE: Larry Kudlow takes my side ... check out his NRO article ... ***

Very exciting times for my two hundredth post, and all since tax day last year: April 15th, 2005. There's much to discuss, so hopefully the weekend will allow me to cover everything without sacrificing quality.

It is for this reason that I am so pleased with my most recent discovery; Mansoor Ijaz, an expert on Arab-America relations, wrote a stellar article for National Review Online Wednesday that finally allows me to comment on the proposed DPW acquisition of six American seaports and control of management responsibilities.

You see, I have found myself at odds with several of my favorite columnists, including Michelle Malkin (who is in frenzy mode over the deal). I rarely take a firm position unless I know that I stand on solid ground with which to base my argument, and Mr. Ijaz's most recent column has given me the foundation I need.

Until now, the best I could come up with were simply White House talking points, saying the same old thing about how the U.S. would run day-to-day security operations and the like, and so on, and so on. However, if one wants to make a plausible argument, one can't expect to do so by using one source that isn't the most neutral observer to say the least.

Indeed, I am a gung-ho supporter of American sovereignty and would even put myself close to those who suggest we leave the United Nations to fend for itself. However, while the U.S. may be getting the raw end of the deal from that bureaucratic nightmare, it still serves a purpose (if only a minimal one at that). Nevertheless, the ports deal has nothing to do with sovereignty and everything to do with the fact that the UAE is smack in the middle of Arab Central. Were one to cross the Persian Gulf to the north, one would find themselves in good ol' America-loving Iran. To the east is Oman and to the south is Yemen, site of the 2000 USS Cole bombing that seems to have faded from memory after 9/11. To the west is Saudi Arabia, a half-ally in the War on Terror but a freedom-embracing democracy it is not.

Now, this brings me to point #1; would anyone be so up in arms against this deal if the proposed buyer were, say, the Netherlands. Home of the largest port system in the non-Asian world (in 2004 the largest five were Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Shenzhen - China, and Busan - South Korea) in Rotterdam, the Netherlands is a shipping powerhouse and governed in much the same way as the rest of Europe. The point is, no big terrorist threat.

Of course, the same is true of Dubai, one of the seven states that make up the United Arab Emirates. According to Mansoor Ijaz,
"it was a citizen of the UAE ... who piloted United Airlines Flight 175 into the second World Trade Center tower, and it was through the banks of this country that the 9/11 attacks were partially financed."
Nevertheless, Dubai today is a metropolis and Ijaz says,
"it is rapidly becoming the prototype city-state that could serve as an important example for the future in Muslim societies bedeviled by high unemployment, low literacy rates, bad trade policies, and authoritarian political structures."
Let's imagine this scenario for a second from a business perspective. Dubai is what Vegas would look like if it were an entire state and sat on an ocean. It is, basically, New York meets Las Vegas. Dubai hosts an annual golf tournament that attracts Tiger Woods and other world-wide golf heroes (the bonus of several million dollars also helps). It is far from the decrepit, terrorist-harboring, Islamofascist nation that many somehow believe it is.

The truth that few bother to dig up is as Ijaz sums up in the following,
"Dubai was the first Middle East government to accept the U.S. Container Security Initiative as policy to screen all containers for security hazards before heading to America. In May 2005, Dubai signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy to prevent nuclear materials from passing through its ports. It also installed radiation-detecting equipment — evidence of a commitment to invest in technology. In October 2005, the UAE Central Bank directed banks and financial institutions in the country to tighten their internal systems and controls in their fight against money laundering and terrorist financing."
How is that for a wake up call?

And you thought security would be jeopardized with this deal? I presume we'd have more to fear from a deal with the Netherlands ... you know, with all those legalized drugs.

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