The Dubai Deal Was it really security or misguided revenge?

Immediately after Congress nixed the Dubai ports deal, House Speaker Dennis Hastert announced that he would push through legislation to block any company with Dubai interests from running US ports. This legislation would stop DP World from “encroaching on American security,” was the reason.
I found myself to be a bit shocked and awed. Congress was finally speaking up. Five years after 9-11 Congress somehow found their lost voice. It is a concern, however, that this voice seems to be riding high on fear and xenophobia and the Arab company DP World is the target.
The company owns and operates ports in Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. It successfully operates 22 container terminals in 15 countries including Hong Kong, China, Australia, Germany, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic. The blocked business deal would have given DP management rights to six US ports. Congress, however, stopped the transaction cold in the name of “security.” DP World has not had security problems in any of these places.
The Congress was quick to point out that President did not share any of these facts with them. However, judging by their swift reaction, it does not seem that they would take the time to review them anyway. The Congress instead was intent on being outraged. DP World was finally forced to restructure the agreement leaving out the management of the six US ports in question.
“Congress made a warranted decision,” said Lou Dobbs on CNN. “The President is compromising US security,” spouted Senator Hillary Clinton. “There wasn’t a full investigation in the context of a post 9-11 world,” bellowed Representative Peter King. Similar statements were released from Republican and Democratic Congressional members alike.
A little research on DP World certainly tells you that they are a sound commercial operation. British courts confirmed this when it approved the merger with the original operators, the British owned P & O. Even the Chairman of the largest Israeli shipping company, Zim Integrated Shipping Services, took the time to write to Congress to endorse the transaction. Despite this, the American Congress would rather paint them as the evil rendition of Al Qaeda. “Not in our country,” they are all screaming aloud for the cameras.
But I ask you, why now? Where was the American Congress when Stephen Flynn, a former Commander in the Coast Guard, sat on committees and wrote books about the vulnerability of US ports? Where was Congress when Commander Flynn said “that only 5% of cargos shipped into the US were being inspected” and “US ports are wide open for terrorist attacks?” Not a peep was heard from Mr. Chuck Schumer, who led the Congress in blocking the DP deal. His now vocal colleagues on Capitol Hill were silent too.
Furthermore, where was Congress when the Bush Administration increasingly failed to implement safety procedures to protect our homeland? How about when the levee reports were handed in, the ones that could have saved New Orleans? Why has it taken Congress five years to all of the sudden care about security?
Getting in front of the media at a time of crisis is not enough. The Congress must hold themselves and the Administration accountable on behalf of the American people. US representatives are responsible for checks and balances. In spite of this fact, partisan bickering has taken the place of important policy making since the onset of this Administration.
The bottom line is the Congress really doesn’t care about DP being Arab, they are angry. They gave the President broader powers and now he is using those powers without consulting them.
This was apparent on the Sunday morning talk shows. Democrats all over the networks were stating that, finally, they found an issue they could win. The Republicans were also angry, but for different reasons. This was clear in a statement made by Representative Mark Foley in the New York Times. “We’ve defended them [the Administration] on wiretaps, we’ve defended them on Iraq, we’ve defended them on so many things … that to be left out here supporting this thing in a vacuum is kind of offensive,” were his words. So you see, Congress is using fear with intolerant remarks, but in truth they are just mad at the President.
Congress made a decision about DP World that suited their interests. In this case, it was revenge for being ignored. Any concerns for real security, constituent’s safety or improving relations with Arab countries were not taken into account.
US actions in the Middle East are fueling the anti-American fire and fewer countries are interested in helping America change its image. The United Arab Emirates, home of DP World, is the alternative. Sure it has its scares from the past, however now it is cooperating with the US government in the “War on Terror” and is providing the military with a base to support our soldiers in Iraq.
Congress has been so busy with partisan politics that it forgot who it was working for: Americans and US interests. In the party pandemonium, no one but Congress is responsible for giving the President more authority than he should have had. Congress let the American people down and now, they are offended?
Americans are the ones who should be furious with their representatives for not speaking up for them in times of need. Americans are facing a plethora of questions from the international community about US intensions and legitimacy, specifically in regard to US policy in the Middle East. Congressional behavior toward DP is only making this worse.
Furthermore, instead of making things right and taking back their responsibility, Congress would prefer to further isolate this country picking issues that they feel are safe – like DP managing American ports.
There are plenty of things that the Congress could address in order to “get” the US President. Issues that, unfortunately for them, are not safe. Even so, they would help this country move out of the current war quagmire. One of those issues includes seriously debating the war and developing a plan to end it. Another would be to promptly find a just solution for the captives in Guantanamo and ending accusations of abuse there once and for all. And instead of ranting about security, start holding yourselves and the Administration accountable for it. Using DP World or anyone else as a scapegoat for US security failures only excuses the American government from doing its job.
Finally, look at the opportunities that an international company like DP could provide. DP World could actually aid the US in counter-terrorism efforts. In fact, negotiating with DP to put customs officers at their various export points may give the US much needed protection not take it away. Simultaneously, this would give US inspectors the opportunity to stop any threats at the point of origin, far away from home docks. DP is a business. Keeping this in mind, DP would no doubt choose to help protect its interests, which include US critical infrastructure, not let it be destroyed.

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