Friday, March 10, 2006

Dubai Ports World Post Mortem

Ed Morissey provides his take on the Dubai Ports World decision to withdraw from contention and that a US intermediary would instead purchase the British P&O company that currently operates the ports in question.

Meanwhile, Brian Markowitz emails that President Bush had urged Dubai to withdraw from the deal.
The White House asked Dubai Ports World, a company owned by the United Arab Emirates, to give up its management stake in U.S. ports, to save President Bush from the politically difficult position of vetoing a key piece of legislation to protect America's ports, ABC News has learned.

When the company announced Thursday that it would sell its management stake in six U.S. ports, it was a stunning defeat for Bush, who had put his political capital on the line to back the deal, ABC News chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos said.

"Certainly, it's the most significant break with the Republican leadership in the Congress this term," he said.

The Democrats — suddenly feeling united — insist the scuttled ports deal is proof that the White House is weakened and divided against its own party.
Wait a moment. The article claims that the Democrats are now suddenly united? You mean to tell me that they weren't united before this? Go figure that that story was underreported, with the focus being the problems facing the GOP on any number of fronts. Democrats have been struggling to find any coherent message for most of the last five years, and on the single issue that they might have had a chance to resonate with the general public, the Administration managed to pull the rug out from under the Democrats by sidestepping the issue altogether.

The fact that the GOP in Congress voted overwhelmingly against this deal shows what can happen when facts get lost along the way. Is DPW any more dangerous than Saudi National Airways flying into and out of JFK airport? What about EgyptAir (and they had a mysterious plane crash to boot)? Kuwaiti Air? Or what about COSCO (the Chinese National Shipping Company) operating US ports?

Those issues didn't raise any eyebrows, but this deal did?

Something smells rotten here, and it isn't just that the CIFUS failed to do its job of vetting the DPW deal. That needs to be corrected. And fast.

What also needs to be corrected is port security, and that situation has been neglected for years. On top of this, there are reports that the TSA is still having problems at Newark Airport with screening, which should raise alarm bells:
Federal officials have ousted the head of security at Newark Liberty International Airport following four years of security breaches and staffing problems at one of the nation's busiest airports.

Marcus Arroyo, 55, took over at Newark shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, part of which were launched from the airport.
The only good to come out of the DPW mess is that peoples' attention is focused on security issues once again (and one has to wonder why that attention ever waivered in the first place).

It can only be hoped that those in charge stick to the facts instead of engaging in demogoguery.

More immediately, the DPW deal has meant that trade talks with the UAE are likely to stall and Arab businesses may reconsider investing in the US.

Kim at Wizbang has a roundup of reactions on the DPW deal 'falling apart.' So does All Things Beautiful.

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