Monday, March 13, 2006

Americans went against their better selves to block the DP World Deal

American politicians went against the advice of their own thinking classes when they scuttled the DP Word deal. All along the conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation have stressing the UAE, or DP World for that matter, is not a threat to American society. Stresses James Jay Carafano, Ph.D, the foundation’s senior research fellow:

The UAE government is not a state-sponsor of terrorism, nor has any evidence been presented that Dubai Ports World has ever facilitated terrorist activities. In addition, Dubai Ports World is a holding company, and would have little to do with the day-to-day management of U.S. port facilities. Its ownership alone does not entitle its employees to access classified or sensitive security information, unless, as now, they meet the requirements of ISPS and U.S. law. Moreover, almost all of the employees at these facilities are U.S. citizens. Additionally, with over $6 billion invested, no company would want to see its facilities used by terrorists. Finally, terrorist tradecraft does not involve high-profile purchases of companies. Terrorism infiltration, like criminal smuggling, involves penetration by individuals, often at very low levels. That is a challenge for any company.

Daniel Ikenson, trade policy analyst of the Cato Institute castigates politicians who blocked the deal, specifically Democratic senator (New York) Charles Schumer, as being ignorant of the real issues. Said Ikenson:

To speak from a position of authority without understanding port security operations is reckless and misleading. Such demagoguery is worthy of stern rebuke, particularly considering the potential collateral damage caused by the hysteria.

Ikenson laments that the failed deal may have dealt a serious blow to America’s fight against terror. He said:

The Bush Administration's Middle East policy, which some argue has been an utter failure, consists of carrots to complement the more familiar sticks. The carrots include access to the U.S. market through bilateral free trade agreements. The United States has agreements with Jordan, Morocco, Bahrain, and Oman, and is in the process of completing a deal with the UAE. None of the Arab free trade agreement partners participates in the Arab boycott of Israel. Bahrain turned its back on the boycott right after signing the agreement. The UAE would likely follow suit….Encouraging moderate Arab states to remain moderate and to embrace capitalism and other western institutions is the quiet success of the administration's Middle East policy. It is also threatened by reflexive political opportunism that is driving the furor over the port deal.