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Monday, February 20, 2006

Arabophia Gone Wild

America, and our Congress in particular seem to caught up in a case of "Arabophobia", as far as I can tell.

A company from the United Arab Emerites , Dubai Ports World, has purchased London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. the current operator of six eastern seaboard ports.

Most of congress and a lot of the press, both MSM and blogging, have their undies in a knot over this. I say so what, get a grip, folks. The "port operator" is a management company, they aren't the one's providing security, per se, or doing vessel inspections, or even working the docks.

Stephen E. Flynn, who studies maritime security at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, said even under foreign control, U.S. ports will continue to be run by unionized American employees. "You're not going to have a bunch of UAE citizens working the docks," Flynn said. "They're longshoremen, vested in high-paying jobs.
Yes, as port operator they would be the one's who hire, and fire, security companies. But not the company doing dock checks of cargo, that's handled by DHS, with the Coast Guard and DHS approved contractors doing the work. They handle gate security, etc at the ports.

What concerns me is the Arabophobia that is surrounding this issue. Much like after Pearl Harbor, we, as a country have suddenly become suspicious of anything Arab, like we did anything Japanese. We see boogy men (and women) everywhere we see someone who might have come from the middle east, or be muslim.

We have a chunk of the media, again MSM and bloggers, along with congress, claiming on one hand we are a "kinder gentler" country towards those who don't look like us. At the same time the same folks are trying to block this purchase, not for any actual reason other than "they are from the middle east".

This arabophobia isn't just linked to Democrats or Republican's, Charles Schumer (D) and Lindsey O. Graham (R) are both just as ticked about the sale. And both have the same, lame, arabophobic reasons.

We get angry when the French, or Iranians, stereotype all American's as "ugly Americans, evil Americans", yet in this instance we are being ugly and evil. How far are we from Muslim internment camps, when respected companies, with no ties to the problems we've had in that area of the world, can't compete for contracts here?

I'm officially ashamed of all involved in this fiasco from both parties, for their parnoia, and arabophobia.

New York and Maryland's Governors are looking for ways out of their leases, and Hillary Clinton and Robert Mendez are introducing legislation to prevent the sale of any port operations to a foreign government.

Evidently as long as the foreign owners are British it's okay to have US Port's under the operation control non-Americans.

Doug at Below the Beltway has a different View
Tracked back at Blue Star Chronicles, Don Surber

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Blogger walkingcanes said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:17 PM  
Blogger faeriebell said...

I wholeheartedly agree that at the heart of this issue is prejudice against anything Arab. It's sad that this type of behavior is so easy to fall back on. I am ashamed too, this is not the tolerant America I grew up believing in.

(I was signed in on a different account and accidentaly posted the comment with that username. My embarrased apologies!)

3:19 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

CP- Is this really you writing this intelligent, thoughtful commentary and not a knee jerk neo-con attack piece? Wow I am in shock! (Just kidding, it is a fair and balanced opinion, something we need more of in this country).By the way, I re-did my blog and added a new post today, so check it out. I'll even blogroll you if you leave a comment.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

faeriebell, thanks for the agreement. Definitely a step back in our xenophobia time machine.

Tim, most of my stuff is reasonable, and well thought out. In fact the only guy I regularly attack is EJ Dionne from the WaPo... But he makes it so damn easy :)

Took at look at the blog, great sketches.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Toni said...

I did hear Frank Gaffney and his comment about this was that although the UAE wouldn't have anything to do with security and workers are still the longshoreman union the UAE would have access to all security information relating to port security. What this really means or the level of detail I don't know but figured I'd throw it out there to see what your thoughts would be on this aspect.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Toni, The company, not the UAE government (which happens to be very pro-US) would be running the port. They already operate them in 18 other countries world wide, with no complaints of terrorists getting shipping schedules and security information.

Regardless of who's running the port, you can always end up with a Jose Padilla on a fuel rig causing havoc, or a moron with a speedboat.

7:12 PM  
Blogger Lone Pony said...

These are the times that I appreciate your Navy background. Thanks Bob.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Toni said...

Then I'm just not getting this at all. Wouldn't members of Congress know some of this crap. Especially the "esteemed" senator from NY? I mean Shumer has been flapping his lips all over tv about this. Why would Frank Gaffney think it's the wrong thing to do. I do respect Gaffney and think he's pretty in the know on security issues.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Hey Bob...One point I'd make. In my experiences in southeast Asia one didn't know who to trust and who not to trust, so one just distrusted everyone if one wanted to ensure staying alive everyday. It's something we all had to decide on our own. Thanks for the insight.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Toni- I don't know. The only reason Schumer, Boxer, Graham, etc. have been giving is 'they are from the area of the world al Qaeda originates'. Using that logic why do we allow direct flights to the US from countries in that area, when we don't do any security checks on them?

Mike- The trust issue is a big one, but the UAE has never given us reason not to trust them as a country, and DP hasn't given us a reason not to trust them as a company. To me this reeks of distrust based on unfounded fear, which bugs me.

3:44 AM  
Blogger Michele said...

My DH just told me about this topic. I had no idea that it was out there or what , truly, was the issue. But I knew one place I could go to and get the skinny.

You didn't disappoint me.
You brought up some good points. I'm going to show him your blog when he gets home.
If we had never leased a port to an un-American, I could understand their stand, but since we have, and have opened up the Pandora's box, it's too late.
Granted, no one wants to have a possible fast-track into our contry open to terrorists, but just because they are Arab is not a reason to take the stand. The same could be said of Greeks, Chinese or Koreans.
Being cautious is OK, but not hypocritical.
This bears watching though. Form our end, by our end.
I can't stand the possibity of "witch hunts" in this day and age.

I'm so glad you gather facts like you do.
Helps those of us that don't have time or know-how.

2:21 PM  
Blogger Toni said...

Bob - this whole issue has me confused to be honest. I hear great arguments from both sides of the issue. I'm not talking about discussions from politicians but more from security type people. Maybe, I just have an inclination to distrust the ME and Chinese. My other thought on this would be long term consequences and changing our practices since 911. I'm still not convinced on either side though. The other point for me is anything that Shumer and Clinton want, I don't. :-)

4:21 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Michele, thanks. I try to get as many facts as I can. You can go to DP World's website and see the other places they manage world wide.

Toni- Glad it's making you think, that's the purpose of this place. As for the politicians, I try to ignore them too, but in this case they shoved it to the forefront.

BTW to all, the sale was approved by the group Congress set up to approve the sale of US companies foriegn groups.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Karlos said...

From someone who spent 21yrs in the US Coast Guard (retired 2003), much of which was spent in Port Security...Bad move. Port Security is arguably the weakest link in our national security. Allowing the UAE, with its background, is an egregious error in judgment. I won't get into the arguments against UAE port operations; you've probably already heard/read them. Besides I'm whipping up a quick post for my blog.

The “port operator” is management, but it’s management with a hell of a lot of control over what goes on in the port. The DHS, USCG and contractors handle security, sure, but that doesn’t mean that a focused and intent port manager couldn’t work around the security infrastructure and do something we’d rather they not. Port security leaves a LOT to be desired.

If you're ashamed of our politicians for their "paranoia" about allowing a company from a country with the questionable history that UAE has, then I sincerely hope you're equally ashamed of the same politicians who are paranoid enough to conclude that everyone who calls offshore should be suspected of conducting terror-related communications and subject to monitoring by the NSA.

I enjoy reading your blog on occasion.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Actually Carlos, I'm not ashamed over the call monitoring. Because, as any number of folks have pointed out, not "anyone who calls offshore" is monitored. It's very specifically targeted.

And if the UAE is such a threat, why does the US allow all it's warships in the Persian Gulf to dock at Dubai, the original port DP managed?

6:47 PM  
Blogger Karlos said...

That's what they tell us anyway ;-)

Big difference between warships overseas and citizens and cities here.

Thanks for the response. I'm still not sold on the decision, though I'm still reading and absorbing.

Did you hear Sean Hannity's show yesterday. I caught some of it on the way home from work yesterday. Interesting commentary on the whole debacle. He opposes it.

The whole deal just doesn't feel right. It gives me an uneasy feelingn.

5:17 AM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Carlos, why, because they are from an Arab nation? Did you know how many American's are on their board of directors, including retired flag officers? You'd be surprised.

Again, since THEY don't handle security in the ports, the Coast Guard does, maybe you should talk to hour representative (where all spending originates) and ask why the CG isn't funded better.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

BTW, cause I forgot, the British run the ports now, and have started more wars against with the US than anyone on the arabian pennisula.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Robosquirrel said...

As usual, my thoughts exactly, Bob. I have more improtant things to do, like figure out how to set my DVD recorder to record "Lost" tonight.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Karlos said...

Yes Bob, because they're an Arab nation...an Arab nation that thwarted our government's atttempts to track Bin Laden's bank accounts, and all that other stuff you've surely already read.

Funding. Yes! The Coast Guard has been underfunded for years and years and years, long before I entered in 1982 and continuing on after my retirment in 2003. I've been whining, complaining and crying to anyone who'd listen for years...and I'll keep on doing so because the USCG is and has been one of the most diverse of our five armed forces....and spread way too thin, especially post-9/11.

Port operators are responsible the handling of cargo into, out of and within the port. They are also responsible for hiring and screening of employees.

I'll concede that the British have started more wars against the US. But consider this: How many declared wars has the US fought against Arab nations? None.

Anyway. I don't mean to occupy so much of your time and sapce Bob. This is your blog, and I value and appreciate your opinions. Hope you don't think I'm picking a fight. I'm not. Just interested in intelligent, respectful discussion with intelligent, respectful people.

I'll keep reading and listening to both sides. I'm not so old that I can't change my ways or my opinions :-)

6:59 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Carlos, while the operator does the hiring, they are from the Longshoreman union's pool, and they are also required to conduct federal checks through the FBI (just like day cares).

Actually there have been some declared wars against muslim (today) nations, like the Barbary Wars and the invasion Tripoli.

9:19 PM  

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