Tuesday, February 21, 2006

On the Waterfront: I can't believe President Bush actually made this statement regarding the controversy surrounding the UAE's running six of the major ports here in the United States.

I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company.
Needless to say, he needs no explanation why a Middle Eastern company automatically draws suspicion. I do appreciate his rhetorical statement that all will be treated fairly, and we're not at war with Islam, or Arabs, or guys with long beards. But it's ridiculous for him to throw out the PC card so casually.

It makes perfect sense to be concerned about the United Arab Emirates. After all, the country has had previous ties to terrorism, although we must also note that we're not talking about Iran or Syria here.

Even weighing the controversy, however, we should not put any undue burden on that country from competing in our marketplace. If no other company can step up and pay what it takes to gain control of those ports, then the U.S. government should not interfere. We cannot stop global competition, and so long as the UAE has a legitimate business interest in running those ports, our government should stay laissez faire.

But this does bring up the larger issue of port security -- something that has been long neglected. Our government should pass regulations to prevent dangerous people or materials from passing through these ports. These regulations, though, should apply to all ports. And if the UAE company can't live up to these regulations, it should not be given a free pass.

First we need to figure out what more we should be doing to secure our ports. Until then, let's not demonize any one company, no matter where it is from.

The UAE has no plans to spend billions of dollars just to blow up what would be a huge money maker. But we can't be naive either, and therefore must keep a watchful eye about what happens at these and all other ports.


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