Skip to comments.Political Posturing & the Ports Flap (by John F. McManus)
Posted on 03/18/2006 12:22:15 PM PST by Cannoneer No. 4
Both sides in our nation's latest exercise in political posturing succeeded. Democrats who were anxious to make Republicans look bad and Republicans who increasingly find a need to distance themselves from a president with plummeting poll numbers jumped aboard the Dubai ports controversy and now claim victory.
Only about a month after the announcement that Dubai Ports World (DPW) a firm controlled by one of the governments that make up what is known as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) would purchase the rights to manage operations [at terminals](edited by Cannoneer No. 4) at six major U.S. ports, the firm backed out of the deal. Much of the objection about DPWs management of the ports stemmed from the UAEs past support of al-Qaeda terrorists. Allowing such a firm to oversee shipping operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Miami, and New Orleans smelled of an invitation for potential terrorism. Hence, the thunder from many sources. Its hard to remember a more robust protest from the public and from Congress about any other issue.
Theres no doubt that pressure from back home stimulated the uproar in Congress. Here was a sitting president not only eagerly supporting the deal but also threatening to use his veto power to block any congressional action to cancel it. Well into his fifth year in office, George W. Bush has never vetoed any measure, meaning that his threat in this instance was significant. But House Majority Leader John Boehner, a stalwart Republican backer of the president, claimed that rank and file members of the party were outraged about the deal. Excusing GOP congressmen for opposing their president, the Ohio congressman stated that many of his colleagues were obviously representing their constituents. Even the topmost GOP leader, Speaker Dennis Hastert, announced that he wouldnt stand in the way of legislation to block the move. House GOP Conference Chairman Deborah Pryce chimed in with claims that her Ohio constituents inundated her office with calls to kill it.
On the Democratic side, New York Senator Charles Schumer loudly objected to turning the ports over to a country that has been linked to terrorism. New Jersey colleague Frank Lautenberg likened the proposal to transferring title to the Devil. New York Senator and presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton missed no opportunity to register her opposition. Schumer then speedily introduced an amendment to block the handover and took advantage of the media attention he drew to bash the incompetent Republican administration and to urge voters everywhere to elect a Democratic Senate and House.
As is frequently the case, the issue had far more to do with political maneuvering than widely expressed fear of terrorism from Dubai. Lost in the noise coming out of Washington is another Dubai companys already existing contract with the U.S. Navy to provide services both for U.S. warships in the Middle East and for commercial vessels in dozens of American ports. Time magazines Daren Fonda reported that Inchcape Shipping Services, a firm recently purchased by a government investment firm based in Dubai, is now responsible for providing all logistics requirements of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships in ports throughout the [Middle East] region. Other Dubai-based firms provide maintenance for the equipment used by our nations troops in the Middle East, food for our servicemen in Iraq, and delivery of vehicles to our armed forces in the region. And the very Dubai Ports World firm that intended to purchase the contract to manage the six ports is already the manager of port operations in the Texas cities of Beaumont and Corpus Christi, through which pass heavy armor and helicopters bound for our forces in Iraq.
Why is there no concern about these other Dubai contracts? Why no upset about South Koreas control of a portion of the huge Long Beach, California, shipping terminal? Or about communist Chinas firm, China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO), owning another terminal in Long Beach? Objection to the move by Dubai Ports World is reasonable, but most of the noisy resistance is obviously based on pure politics.
Something else is missing from all the hoopla about saving the ports from foreign management and potential terrorism. How is it that a contract to manage our nations most important seaports could be purchased by any foreign company? Are we not masters of our own fate?
We buy oil, automobiles, electronics, and a vast array of other products from overseas companies. Our trade deficit just last year totaled more than $700 billion and is rising. The money we spend on all these imports comes back to purchase U.S. businesses including the firms that manage our ports.
The same political forces that raised an alarm about Dubais desire to manage our ports are responsible for locking up offshore and Alaskan oil deposits and keeping us dependent on imports. They tax Americans for unconstitutional programs, destroy the value of the dollar with inflation, operate government with enormous deficits, and leave our nation vulnerable to Chinese, Japanese, and other foreign purchasers of U.S. debt. These are issues that all the worriers over DPW management of American ports ought also to be raising. Until they do, its perfectly proper to see all of their blather about the six ports as pure political maneuvering.
Yes, but Mr. Manus the deal MUST have been bad because Pete King told us it was. He got his good friends on WABC to help him and he got his good buddy senator chuckie to help convince us. They MUST be right, right?
Dems and 'Pubies are the cacocracy's left and right wings.
My Sarcasm meter is twiching
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