It’s The Principle Of The Thing
By: Edward L. Daley
Back on February 11th, I was very troubled to learn that a government-run United Arab Emirate (UAE) company called Dubai Ports World (DPW) had bought out a UK-owned ports group called the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, giving it control of roughly 30 percent of the terminals at U.S. seaports in New York, Miami, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Baltimore and New Orleans.
To be honest, I had little understanding of what exactly the deal entailed when I first read about it in a Middle Eastern newspaper called the Daily Star, and although I’ve learned considerably more facts regarding the situation since then, few of those facts have helped to ease my mind about the potential threat to our national security that such a takeover represents.
As most everyone in the country knows by now, President Bush is insisting upon letting the deal go through, claiming that the federal government has thoroughly investigated DPW, and has found no reason to prevent it from assuming what basically amounts to logistical command over certain seaport operations in the United States.
Elected representatives from both political parties have insisted that further investigation be undertaken in this case, mostly because DPW’s country of origin has a very troubling history. For instance, the UAE was a key money-laundering center for Al-Qaeda terrorists only a few short years ago, as well as home to two of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers, and it is now known that at least seven more of these Al-Qaeda madmen passed through the UAE on their way to the U.S. in 2001.
Furthermore, prior to 9/11, the UAE recognized the Taliban as the legitimate governmental authority in Afghanistan, and the port of Dubai was the headquarters of rogue Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khanâ€™s black-market nuclear supply network before it was broken up in 2004.
The UAE claims it had no knowledge of the operations of the Khan network in Dubai prior to its exposure to the world, and it is fair to add that it has taken steps over the past few years to clean up its banking system so that Al-Qaeda and similar terrorist groups can no longer manipulate it for their own gain. It has also been helpful in gathering anti-terror intelligence in the region, and rounding up high-level Al-Qaeda operatives, which is something that the Bush administration appreciates, as do I. Still, to this day the UAE has failed to support Israel’s right to exist, and questions concerning its ability to prevent the infiltration of its DPW components by radical Islamic groups still abound.
Representative Peter King of New York has said that he believes “The administration should freeze the contract until a full and thorough investigation is carried out,” calling for a 45-day probe into the matter, in spite of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Stewart Baker’s assurances that DPW has already been subjected to a rigorous screening process involving over a dozen governmental agencies.
Maritime Security Specialist Stephen Flynn noted that even though DPW is state-owned, many of its high ranking management personnel are Americans, going on to add that seaport security considerations are not limited to operations at U.S. ports alone, and that the cooperation of companies in all foreign ports which inspect containers bound for America is required in order to assure that cargo ships are not used by terrorists for smuggling.
In the eyes of our security teams charged with deciding the issue, alienating the UAE by suddenly blocking the DPW takeover agreement could do more harm than good in terms of preserving our national security, because the UAE and other Muslim nations might react negatively to such an insult.
Of course, many people in this country strongly disagree, arguing that no company that’s controlled by a nation like the UAE, which contains such a large percentage of Wahhabist Muslims, should have anything to do with our seaports, and if that pisses them off then, tough nuts! Some have even argued that no foreign-run companies should be allowed to operate any aspect of our ports system, however, most of those folks have been utterly silent on the issue until now, which makes me wonder if perhaps they’re not just piling onto the huge mound of criticism that’s been dumped on George W. Bush of late.
The fact is that foreign companies have long been involved in the day-to-day operations of U.S. seaports, and it is unlikely in the extreme that the current situation will change in the foreseeable future. That having been said, companies that originate from parts of the world where radical Islam has taken root are not like other international business interests we deal with. Muslim countries like the UAE are dictatorships, regardless of the amount of cooperation they lend to us at any given time, and many of the people who live there are openly hostile toward the west, and the United States in particular.
It is, therefor, my considered opinion that America’s best interests would not be served by allowing them to control any aspect of our seaports, or any other part of our nation’s critical infrastructure, and if we have to insult a few Emirs to effectuate such a policy, so be it. Turning away companies like DPW will indeed send a message to certain Muslim leaders that they have yet to earn our trust in such matters, yet we should not be as concerned about what they think as they should be about what we think.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe it was President Bush himself who once said “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” If that’s the case, then how the leaders of the UAE may react if we decide to deny them this port deal is irrelevant. The question isn’t, what should we do to prove our allegiance to them, but rather, what are they willing to do to prove their devotion to the cause of freeing the world of terrorism? If you ask me, I think it’s time we made it clear to these people that for them to support our long-term efforts in this war is indeed wise, not because we’ll reward them with lucrative contracts if they do, but because we’ll destroy them utterly if they don’t.
By Edward L. Daley
Owner of the Daley Times-Post