February 23, 2006


Good for America (James K. Glassman, 23 Feb 2006, Tech Central Station)

Just last week, the shareholders of P&O, that venerable relic of the British Empire, agreed to sell their company to a group called Dubai Ports World, for $6.8 billion. DP World won a bidding war with another company from a developing country, Temasek Holdings of Singapore.

Pacific & Oriental Steam Navigation was created in the 1830s and, by 1868, had the largest steamship fleet in the world. But the days of Kipling and Maugham (who, by the way, wrote a wonderful short story called "P&O") are over. Today, four-fifths of P&O's revenues come not from ships but from ports.

The irony is that, while the British understand that empire has given way to globalization, many Americans -- especially protectionist politicians like Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and xenophobic TV hosts like Lou Dobbs -- do not.

As a wholly-owned subsidiary of corporate America, the congressional leadership will yield when business starts complaining about their proposed intervention in a private business deal overseas.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 23, 2006 8:07 AM

You tell 'em Jimmy.

Posted by: erp at February 23, 2006 8:15 AM

Singapore is a developing country? I don't think even United Arab Emirates is one.

Posted by: Mörkö at February 23, 2006 8:33 AM

Thank goodness the ports didn't go to the Singapore company! We would have had American dock workers being caned for spitting on the ground!

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at February 23, 2006 8:36 AM

This port decision is a peacetime decision being during a time when we're told we're at war.

Posted by: Palmcroft at February 23, 2006 8:45 AM

But it would be nice to get out of the hypotheticals and show how the new chain of command would specifically hurt the U.S. due to UAE control. Just dealing in generalizations comes across a bit like shooting at the Chinese after the attack on Pearl Harbor because you can't tell the difference between them and the Japanese.

Posted by: John at February 23, 2006 9:48 AM

The MSM storyline is going to morph into a general discussion of port security (and probably border, airline, etc.), which is not going to redound beneficially for the Republicans.

And it's going to give the Democrats a toehold in their clawback on the national security issue.

Posted by: Rick T. at February 23, 2006 9:49 AM


We're not at war against capitalism and prizatization, well, the Left is.

Posted by: oj at February 23, 2006 9:55 AM

Bush's MBA grooming is not serving him well here, or, rather, it's serving him too well. He needs an ear to the ground on this one. Here's Pinkerton in Newsday today, basically promo-ing the Demo commercials this fall:

"UAE had warm relations with the Taliban when it ruled Afghanistan and played host to the likes of Osama bin Laden. And nobody quite knows when and if all those cozy relationships were ever shut down; here's a headline in the Feb. 17, 2002, Washington Post: "Al Qaeda's Road Paved With Gold/Secret Shipments Traced Through a Lax System in United Arab Emirates." Indeed, the U.S. government is still trying to unravel UAE banks' relationships with terrorists, both Arab and Iranian."

Posted by: Palmcroft at February 23, 2006 9:58 AM


All you have to do is have someone propose spending the billions that port security would cost and the issue dies.

Posted by: oj at February 23, 2006 10:00 AM

I'm sitting here listening to Laura Ingraham reading this exact piece on the air and commenting on it.

Unlike Savage, Bennett and Ingraham are covering every aspect of the issue and allowing commentary on it.

One of the best comments/e-mails is instructive, for it echos what we often hear from OJ.

Paraphrasing... "Is everything for sale?" "is the search for 'global profits' more important than security?"

Here we have OJ arguing on the side of the interests that "wholly own" our Congress (and the president too, to many people).

The fact is that our an Adminstration that has sold itself on "security" handled this situation in a manner that seriously undermines their credibility.

As this issue winds down (if in fact, it does), the public's take away will be that the Administration is once again "trying to slip one by."

The idea that Bush "just heard about this" will be highly suspect. The first reaction of "I'll veto" was stupid, regardless of the actual truth of the matter.

The fact that Bush may actually have negotiated HIGHER security with the UAE, in terms of concessions that give us inside info on terrorists backfires as it becomes public.

Let's stop pretending that Rove/Bush are supergenius Machivellians. They cheesed this one big time...

...and whatever the outcome, I'm glad I live in a country where peasants with pitchforks still have enough of a say to throw this on the radar screen.

Posted by: Bruno at February 23, 2006 10:02 AM


The United States welcomed the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, why wouldn't our allies? All Democrats can do is destroy their own argument that W is being too tough about national security.

Posted by: oj at February 23, 2006 10:02 AM


The security argument is an indulgence of emotion, not reason.

More importantly, no one who votes will ever hear about the issue, nevermind care about it.

Most importantly, the kind of security that would make our ports "safe" isn't worth it. We'd do more damage to our economy and country than any terrorist could. That's why every "conservative" who's whining now has opposed every proposed expenditure to increase port security. It's an unserious issue being pushed by unserious people.

Posted by: oj at February 23, 2006 10:15 AM

OJ: shortly after 9/11, Bush said "you're either with us or you're against us," at the time, UAE fulfilled every requirement for being against us.

We are at war, this is not a simple commercial transaction. This is a nefarious middleman-of-a-country who should not be treated as if it were Britain, or as if this were peacetime.

It is as politically idiotic as Fonda going to North Vietnam. Saying either Bush or Fonda are within their legal rights is utterly beside the point.

Posted by: Palmcroft at February 23, 2006 10:16 AM


That's false about the UAE, but even so, since then they've been incredibly co-operative.

We're not at war with Arabs generally, no matter what the wahoo Right thinks.

Posted by: oj at February 23, 2006 10:24 AM

Treating all Arabs as if they were terrorists is as mindless as ignoring - or explaining away - terrorism when it occurs.

We trade with responsible Arabian economic partners, when it is within our economic and security interests to do so. That is the case with the UAE company.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at February 23, 2006 10:29 AM


Especially delicious is that none of these folk propose to do anything about our dependence on Arab oil, which is a genuine security threat.

Posted by: oj at February 23, 2006 10:42 AM

Most importantly, the kind of security that would make our ports "safe" isn't worth it.

Indeed. What would make our ports "safe" would require, currently, a ban on receiving shipping containers from unfriendly nations. Once a bomb gets loaded in a foreign port into a shipping container headed for the US, it doesn't matter much who runs the port.

Posted by: John Thacker at February 23, 2006 11:14 AM


And "friendly" nations, like Britain.

Posted by: oj at February 23, 2006 11:25 AM


The president said, "You're either with us, or with the terrorists."

I used to get riled up when things like this happened and I'd start to think they've lost it at the White House, but after five years of being proved wrong and the president proved right, I've decided to cut him a whole bunch of slack and wait until it all shakes out before going postal. Much easier on the nerves this way.

Posted by: erp at February 23, 2006 12:03 PM