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THE GREAT DUBAI PORT DRAMA

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    THE GREAT DUBAI PORT DRAMA Eric Margolis February 28, 2006 http://www.ericmargolis.com/ DUBAI - Terrorism and the Green Peril from Araby now menace America s
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 2, 2006
      THE GREAT DUBAI PORT DRAMA
      Eric Margolis
      February 28, 2006
      http://www.ericmargolis.com/


      DUBAI - Terrorism and the Green Peril from Araby now menace America's
      major ports. That's what a bunch of hysterical American lawmakers and
      governors are loudly claiming after the takeover of Britain's
      venerable Pacific & Orient Steam Navigation company by Dubai Ports of
      the World, a state firm owned by the United Arab Emirates.

      President George Bush did not have prior knowledge of the deal but
      does back it and dismiss such claims as nonsense. He is absolutely
      correct.

      The once majestic P&O Lines was founded in the 19th century to
      provision the far-flung British Empire and transport its troops and
      their families. Kipling and Joseph Conrad sailed east of Suez on its
      fabled steamers.

      When I was harbor master in Montego Bay, back in the distant 1960's,
      the P&O's large, elegant liners were among the finest ships afloat and
      always welcome callers. P&O operated 3-month cruises from Australia to
      the US and UK renowned for being packed with attractive young partyers
      from Down Under.

      Besides all the pretty girls and very pukka British officers in
      starched whites, P&O was famed its crews, who came from India's
      Cormandel Coast. Their uniform was red turbans, blue vests with a red
      cummerbund, baggy blue or red Turkish pants and pointed slippers. Pure
      Kiplingesque Imperial exotica at its finest.

      The P&O's majestic liners are long gone. The last served in the
      Falklands War. The firm long ago went into more lucrative harbor
      management business, running the ports of New York, New Jersey,
      Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia. Now, it seems, Dubai
      Ports will operate America's most important east coast harbors.

      Cries of outrange are coming from rustic Republicans, Evangelical
      Christians and the Israel lobby at the prospect of Arabs managing US
      ports have caused Dubai Port World to postpone part of the deal. A
      similar uproar occurred after the Hong Kong shipping firm, Hutchison
      Whampoa took over running the Panama Canal. US Conservatives yelled
      bloody murder that the `Reds' had a stranglehold on America's
      `strategic jugular.'

      This turned out to be paranoid silliness. Hutchinson, owned by
      billionaire Li Ka-Shing, is one of the world's best-run firms and has
      huge investments in the US and Canada. The Red Guards did not seize
      the Panama Canal which is anyway semi-obsolete by now and too narrow
      for many major US warships.

      Dubai, which most hysterical conservatives could not even find on a
      world map. Cleverly built itself into a hub of world commerce as a
      sort of Arab Vegas cum Hong Kong.

      Today, Dubai's main business is commerce, not dwindling oil. Dubai's
      royal family wisely invested in scores of future-oriented businesses
      that are an example of smart business to the Arab World and Africa.
      Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, of which it is a member, are
      increasingly enriched by brains and entrepreneurship rather than oil.

      True, two of the 9/11 hijackers came from the UAE. A few of its
      citizens supported al-Qaida. But most hijackers came from Saudi Arabia
      and the Saudis have over $100 billion invested in key US industries.
      It is preposterous to claim tiny Dubai will threaten the US.

      American port security is run by the Coast Guard, FBI, and Homeland
      Security, not Dubai's Bedouin guards. All three agencies and the
      Pentagon cleared Dubai, a very close US ally, to run east coast ports.

      Congress would do far better to cease pandering to domestic lobbies
      and focus its intention on that yawning gap in US border security: the
      entire southwest border with Mexico. Over one million illegal,
      undocumented aliens flood into the US each year while Congress fusses
      about P&O and browbeats Canada.

      Why? Because, as usual, gutless Congress fears angering Hispanic
      voters by imposing effective border controls. It's safer and easier to
      fulminate against Arabs, a sure vote-winner in New York and Miami.

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