That Port Thing
Facing a sharp bipartisan backlash, Bush took the unusual step of summoning reporters to the front of Air Force One to condemn efforts to block a firm from the United Arab Emirates from purchasing the rights to manage ports that include those in New York and New Orleans.
Now, superficially, that seems wrong…especially to someone who knows nothing about ports.
However, the article, like most commentary on this issue is misleading. USA Today gets it right:
Dubai Ports World is a port operator owned by the United Arab Emirates, an oil-rich Persian Gulf nation. The company would take over the management rights to some terminals at six U.S. ports.
The “rights to some terminals.” In fact, Dubai will be only operating one terminal in New Orleans (along with eight other companies), and now more than 30% of the terminals at any port. This is far different than Dubai managing the whole port – yet that is what is implied by all the pundits and critics of this deal.
Imagine an airport with 50 terminals. Now imagine that Dubai Ports World takes over operations at 5 of the terminals, kind of like United Airlines operates terminals and many airports. Does it still seem outrageous?
Consider that 24 out of the 25 largest companies that operate ports around the world are not American. Consider that 4 out of 5 terminals at Los Angeles are run by foreign companies. Consider that China operates 50% terminals at Los Angeles. Who is the bigger security risk, Dubai who is an ally with us on the war on terrorism or China who does deals with Iran and Sudan?
Foreign companies operating terminals at our ports…. Hmmm… Is this an outrage. Or is the reaction to Dubai outrageous.
Talk show hosts such as Sean Hannity and Hugh Hewitt and Bill Bennett compare this incident to the Chinese bid for Unocal and argue that the President will have to back down. However, it increasingly looks a lot less nefarious than Unocal. Perhaps the President will win out on this one.