Today’s article in the WSJ entitled “Ports in Storm” (subs req) makes the case that Bush is right to aprove sale of port management to Dubai World Ports. On balance, I concur with this assessment.
The author Zachary Karabell rebuts the three major objections to the approval of the sale:
1. Concerns about the Deal itself and the concern among critics that a relationship exists between the Dubai comapny and terrorists.
Dubai is rapidly becoming a major entrepôt in the Middle East. Like Switzerland, it is a haven for assets owned by individuals who crave anonymity. It has become a duty-free shopping haven that actively courts global companies. It aims to become the financial hub for the region, with a new stock exchange and offices throughout the world. The ruling family currently owns property and assets across the globe — including a minority share of the gambling and resort company Kerzner International and a controlling interest in the Essex House in New York and Madame Tussaud’s of London. Dubai is, in fact, an example of global capitalism taking root in unlikely places, a hybrid cross between Miami and Singapore with a dollop of Las Vegas on the fringe of the Arabian Peninsula. And precisely for these reasons, it has as much to worry about from fundamentalist terrorism as the United States.
2. Critics are concerned the Bush admin is placing economic interests over port security.
However, many American ports are currently operated by foreign entities, a fact which seems to have been overlooked. The port of Los Angeles has terminals run by companies from Taiwan, Denmark, Singapore and even China. The model the administration should follow is that of the airports, which are managed by private companies but whose security is the responsibility of the U.S. government. Yet while decrying the proposed sale is a way to score political points — because the company is Arab and thus can be easily (and wrongly) equated with Islamic terrorism, and allows for revisiting a failing of the administration’s homeland security policies — it is not without considerable costs. Think of it: America says that it wants Muslim partners in its struggle against terrorism, yet politicians on both sides of the aisle are willing to tar a potential partner. The president may deserve attacking, but doing so in this way is truly cutting off our nose to spite our face.
3. Critics are concerned with “globalization” – that the U.S. is “outsoucrcing” U.S. jobs to foreign comapies.
Having committed ourselves to a system and crafted its rules, we are suddenly confronted with the possibility of real competition, whether from China, India or the emirates of the Gulf. There is a debate to be had about the perils and promises of globalization, but invoking national security to block corporate sales or instituting retaliatory tariffs risks eroding both our global leadership and our economic growth. In the coming months there will be calls to label China a “currency manipulator,” which may satisfy domestic discontent with the trade deficit but is unlikely to strengthen our economy or enhance our security. In the quid pro quo of international politics, other nations are likely to retaliate the only way they can: by making it more difficult and costly for U.S. companies to operate within their borders.
The author does a nice job of hitting on the most important aspect of the debate that many are missing:
The real national security question is not who owns the ports, but how to ensure that they are safe and secure. Period. The economic question is also simple: Do we really want a world where capital and goods flows freely, trade barriers are minimal, and companies can operate on a global scale? Or, do we only want that when it is convenient and comfortable? Nothing the U.S. government can do is likely to halt globalization, but in the process of trying we might unwittingly make the U.S. less competitive, more isolated — and ultimately less secure.
Matt Margolois of Blogs For Bush has a great post on how Dems are flip flopping on racial profiling by opposing the sale of the 6 ports to the UAE.
Michelle Malkin provides a diferent viewpoint here.
Vodka Pundit has this on what Peggy Noonan see as the real story that is not being covered. I could not agree more.