Home / US Rejection of DP World Shows Irrational Fear

US Rejection of DP World Shows Irrational Fear

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The Dubai ports deal has me somewhat upset. Of all the things the legislature could have chosen to disagree with Bush on, they had to choose this: an issue on which he was (if inadvertently) correct.

The GOP is voting against the ports deal because they know that they need to distance themselves from Bush so as not to go down with the ship, and the Democrats are happy whenever there’s a criticsm to be made; happier still when the opposition measure actually passes.

The members of the legislature have the resources to get facts; they all know that DP World is a legitimate corporation, not some kind of terrorist front. The public has an image of bearded men in turbans fashioning home made explosives and loading them onto ships. But DP World is the world’s third largest ports operator. They’re as motivated as any business in the US to prevent terrorist attacks, because they’ve invested money that they don’t want to lose.

Another negative factor is that DP is controlled by the Dubai government, so it’s a slight against Dubai, which is rich and westernized. The Brits go there for vacations, and it’s possible to go there and conduct business without speaking any language other than English. The Middle Easterners are being led to think that the US doesn’t care what they do as much as who they are.

To acknowledge the existence of Arabs amenable to the ‘US way’ interferes with the Arab’s current status as the great heathen ‘Other’ who Uncle Sam must civilize — the same way that we ‘civilized’ the Africans, the American Indians, and the Communists. If the US public starts to think in more than one dimension, who knows what they might start thinking?

Nothing in our government stood in the way of another knee-jerk reaction in the name of ‘security,’ born out of irrational fear. The President’s staff failed to anticipate the uproar and has not said anything much other than, “Well, we didn’t really think about it, but yeah, now that we look, they’re okay.” This hardly inspires confidence. And then the political calculations I mentioned earlier caused the House committee to overwhelmingly shoot it down. 62 to 2 is the ratio of politicians who put expediency first to those who do not.

Discussion of port security is all well and good, and no doubt we could improve in that area, but this detour into xenophobia has helped no one.

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  • Sam,

    Thanks for the comments. No one really knows if it would be worse of not, some say yes, others say no, that is the conjecture, they are opinions and guesses. Regarding the second point, I am not advocating isolationism, I am just suggesting that considering we are at war with extremist elements from the Middle East, we might not want to invite the fox into the hen house. One could say this is a type of racial profiling, which I would agree with. However, this is war, lives are at stake, the world is dangerous, why gamble? Is DP worse than a non-Arab company? Maybe not. That is not the point either, it is the political fallout if there were an attack after all this media madness.

    I have a good friend who lives in Dubai. He loves it and says it is a great area, very cosmopolitan. That does not mean that the company is necessarily secure from Al Qaeda infiltration. Given the state of things, if I had a choice I would error on the side of caution and not be overly stupid.

  • Hi Chip:

    With regards to your first paragraph, I don’t think that DP should be denied the contract on the basis of ‘conjecture.’ They entered the low bid, and they are one of a very few companies who can do the work.

    And as to your second, the same argument can be made against any entity. I don’t think that the fact that some people are not to be trusted means that we shouldn’t trust anyone. I think it’s ridiculous to go roaring around the Middle East with tanks and spy planes and then suddenly get all cautious on something like this. If we’re going to pursue a policy of isolationism, we shouldn’t be in Iraq.

  • One can certainly argue with the security issue. Many commentators have stated that turning the ports over to DP would have no effect, others have argued the opposite. Perhaps it would be easier for Al Qaeda to infiltrate DP, or get a sympathizer inside the company who could then turn over security plans, or schematics or whatever. We do not know. Considering the horrible state of security at out ports I don’t know how it could be worse. All this is conjecture.

    What is certain, is that IF something happened after turning over the ports to an Arab company controlled by its government, and there were an attack which was traceable to someone inside that company, we, the U.S., would look like the absolute, dumbest, idiots on the planet. The political fireworks and circus would be a sight to behold.

  • Well, Dave, I don’t really live in Kansas intellectually. I live on the internet. Heh heh.


  • nitpicker

    Roosevelt said it succinctly —

    “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

    Pogo also got it right —

    “We have seen the enemy and it is us”

  • Well put, Sam Jack. Surprisingly insightful for a high school junior from ‘flyover country’.