The Great Ports Export

Frankly, I’m grateful that Dubai Ports World struck a deal to buy the London-based Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company which has control of six major U.S. Ports.We have not had an honest discussion on why we allow foreign companies – any foreign companies – to assume control of U.S. ports since 1998, when Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., blocked the Clinton co-presidents from leasing a 144-acre terminal at the former Long Beach Naval Station to the Chinese Ocean Shipping Company – a subsidiary of the People’s Liberation Army. This is long overdue!

In 1997, in response to the proposed COSCO deal, former CIA Director Robert Gates said that “… any time you turn over an American port facility to a foreign-owned company, especially one with significant government connection, then at least it ought to be vetted through national security agencies.”

In the post 9-11 world, should our concern be any less? Certainly, there are some areas where foreign investment simply is not worth the risks. This is one of them!

How can the Bush administration expect us to take its efforts to protect us seriously, when it is giving control of our major ports to a country that supplied two of the 9-11 hijackers and whose banks have been laundering money for terrorist organizations?

Sure, in the last year and a half, the United Arab Emirates has been a model – well almost – of good behavior. The UAE was one of the first countries to join the U.S. container security initiative and has assisted in training security forces in Iraq.

However, this $7 billion port deal didn’t happen overnight. Isn’t it reasonable that the UAE extended its help expecting a qui pro quo? What kind of behavior can be expected after the deal is approved? Was all this cooperation from UAE for love or money – or were there more sinister motives?

If we nix this deal, will the UAE still be a true believer in the war on terror? Hmmm.

The truth is we really can’t be sure, so why take the risk of giving an Arab country access to our plans for port security and allowing that country the ability to control access to these ports. This is nuts!

Let us not forget that the parent company of Dubai Ports World – which is wholly owned by the UAE – participates in the Arab boycott against Israel. Terrorism expert Steven Emerson reports that the royal family is divided and, as late as last year, UAE money was funding Hamas interests in Gaza and the West Bank.

This controversy has taken the issue of national defense – an issue Bush owned – off the table in an election year or, worse still, given it to the Democrats.

A couple of weeks ago, the vice president shot his hunting companion in the face and upper torso. Now, the president has shot himself in the foot!

But, put aside the security risks for a moment, if you can. There should be even more to this discussion.

Heavy taxes and government relations have destroyed our manufacturing base. The “Made in America” label is going the way of the dinosaur. Meanwhile, the “Made in America by Americans” label is, well, a sick joke.

“Not to worry!” we were told by those most responsible for cutting the legs out from under American manufacturing. “We are high-tech now. Americans are too educated to perform menial tasks. Soon, all of us will be working in the satellite and computer industries”

Fast-forward: The space-age technology the Russians and the Chinese didn’t steal from us covertly was transferred overtly. Now, most of our satellites are built with Chinese-made parts and launched off shore.

Silicone Valley is heavily populated by foreign workers who were educated in our universities. Meanwhile, many highly skilled U.S.-born engineers and computer programmers are collecting unemployment checks. These foreign workers think we are crazy to allow them to displace American workers – and they are right!

The technology we developed has made it easier than ever before to outsource and American policy has made it profitable. If you have trouble installing a computer program or tracking down a credit-card charge, just call an 800 number and you’ll talk with an “expert” in India who doesn’t mind working nights to solve all your problems.

“Not to worry if foreigners not only do the menial tasks but those requiring high levels of skill. We’ll keep our workers busy managing everything.”

Then why are we letting foreign companies come in and manage our ports?

It seems about the only thing we have left to export is stupidity.

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